Kirsty Tweddle - Queenscliff to Portarlington
Queenscliff to Portarlington
21.3 km (13.2 miles)
7 hours, 28 minutes on 16 May 2021
Observed and documented by Karen Weaver
First of this route
- Name: Kirsty Tweddle
- Gender: female
- Age on swim date: 49
- Nationality: Australia
- Resides: Barwon Heads, Victoria, Australia
- Steve Di Scuro - boat pilot
- Karen Weaver - observer
- Nikole Ramsay - 2nd observer, photos+video
- Andrew Snowdon - paddler
- Bill Strachan - paddler
- Adie Currie - support swimmer
- Murray Joseph - support swimmer
- Cathy Snowdon - feeder
Escort Vessel: Bellarine Fishing Charters (Portarlington)
- Category: Solo, nonstop, unassisted.
- Rules: MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, without exception or modification.
- Equipment used: Speedo bathing suit, silicone cap, goggles, earplugs, zinc sunscreen, lanoline/vaseline grease.
- Body of Water: Port Phillip Bay
- Route Type: one-way
- Start Location: Beach northeast of Queenscliff Harbour (-38.263402, 144.671639)
- Finish Location: Fairfax Street boat ramp, Portarlington (-38.112098, 144.664838)
- Minimum Route Distance: 21.3 km (13.2 miles) (map)
No known previous swims of this route.
- Start: 16 May 2021, 10:55:00 (Australia/Melbourne, UTC10).
- Finish: 16 May 2021, 18:23:10
- Elapsed: 7 hours, 28 minutes, 10 seconds.
Summary of Conditions
|Water Temp (C)||12||14|
|Air Temp (C)||12||14|
Trackpoint frequency: 15 minutes. Download raw data (CSV).
Nutrition: Carbo Pro + electrolytes; Milo; fruit pouch; tea & honey; cordial; porridge. Every 30 minutes.
by Kirsty Tweddle
Why the Big Bellarine 21.5km swim?
A couple of months ago, I did my first 10km swim (loved every second of it) and was looking for a longer marathon swim challenge. I’d started working with a coach (awesome marathon swimmer Sarah Thomas – first person to swim the Englich Channel 4 ways non-stop) and had the opportunity to give something longer a crack under her guidance. My first instinct was to do the well-established Rottnest Island swim from Perth to Rotto. However with Covid the borders were shut, and also made doing anything inter-state nerve wracking. Turns out my instincts were correct – borders were shut when the Rotto swim came around, so Victorians were unable to travel.
So I decided to look in my own back yard for a local patch of coast where I could do a long swim. We are very spoilt on the Bellarine Penninsula with many beautiful areas where we can swim, sheltered from any prevailing wind. I heard a podcast with Grant Siedel who organises the Rip Swim. He used organise a relay along the Bellarine Coast, and a solo swim from Portarlington to Point Lonsdale…. And I thought that’s it! That’s my swim! After many recce swims along the Bellarine coast from Potarlington around to Edwards Point (south of St Leonards) and Point Lonsdale north along Swan Island with my swim buddies, I settled on swimming Queenscliff to Portarlington - 21.5km. I estimated it would take 7-8hours. I talked to many many people about tides, and tidal flow, and tested the turn of the tide at various points along the coast. The water temp was supposed to be about 15-16 degrees C, but it dropped quicker this year so was about 13 degrees, which is getting cool. The cold was a challenge as I didn’t wear a wetsuit. I swam according to the Marathon Swimming Federation (MSF) rules and just wearing bathers, cap and goggles. My crew officially observed and recording my swim in the hope I can get my swim ratified with the MSF.
Personal reasons behind why I swim?
The reasons are varied. Personal challenge is a big part of my motivation. I’m turning 50 this year and wanted to do something big to celebrate. – and prove to myself I’m not an old hack just yet! I used to be a pool swimmer growing up, but now as an almost 50 year old I've lost my youthful speed, and just want to see how far I can swim, and how my cold water tolerance holds up. I booked a English Channel relay for 2022, which was my original goal for my 50th birthday. I worked towards my first 5km last summer, and then towards my first 10k earlier this year. I loved every second of my 10km swim event, and had plenty left at the end, so I was excited to try a longer swim to test myself, and answer the question of “How far can I swim?.
Another huge part of my motivation is my daughters - aged 6 and 8. My older daughter has had some challenges in life. I really want to show my girls that with hard work, training hard, commitment, discipline - and of course having lots of fun along the way, they can achieve big things.
I’m very passionate about women in sport and encouraging women and girls to have a go. There are often barriers to women and girls in sport, and I’m passionate about overcoming them, and helping others to do some. Also I’m keen to challenge the idea of beauty and body type shown in beauty magazines, and show that women with strong bodies and strong minds are more important in life. Strong, sporty female bodies can be diverse, and should be celebrated for what they can do, not the way that they look.
I also love to encourage people into swimming - we've formed a gang of ocean swimmers down at RAAFS beach in Ocean Grove – an off shoot of the RAAFS Iceburgers. . It was the Iceburgers who first inspired me and introduced me to winter swimming. We have a great gang - and we welcome anyone to come and have a go at ocean swimming regardless of their age or speed. One of our older swimmers is 74, and there's no slowing her down! Our swimming community has grown, and I've loved being part of our group helping swimmers achieve goals - maybe their first 500m, 1km, 2km or 5km. And one of my swims buddies did his first 10km with me! And a few of us tackled The Rip swim last summer. We're all very supportive of each other and I'm grateful for the swim community we have - we have some great swim adventures all over the Bellarine, with lots of fun and laughs along the way and great camaraderie. When I started this journey 2.5 years ago I was swimming at RAAFS and only felt comfortable to go a about 200m down the coast, and turn around and come back. Then slowly increased the distance, and slowly the numbers of swimmers increased, as did the distance. I firmly believe that anyone can have a crack at doing a distance that’s a challenge to them. Whether that’s 500m or 20k’s. If I can, then certainly anyone else can. It’s about setting a goal, doing some work towards that goal, getting some guidance I you need it, and giving it a go!
It's something for me – I was a stay at home Mum for 7 years. When I went back into the work force 2 years ago, I’d lost my confidence, and some of my identity. And my older’s journey had taken a toll. Joining the Iceburger group – spending time in nature, exercising and having a coffee afterwards for some socialisation (without any talk of children and nappies) was simply wonderful! I think sometimes parents who are the main carers find it difficult to carve out time for themselves, and swimming has become a very important part of my self-care routine. And I’m certainly much better for it physically and mentally. I’ve got to the stage now where I’m relentless about my self-care swimming routine – even if I have to get up at 5am to do it (and that certainly wasn’t something I thought I’d be doing a couple of years ago).
How did I plan for the swim?
My main source of info was my coach Sarah Thomas. She wrote my swim programs, and I followed. She answered all my questions along the way with her incredible knowledge and gracious willingness to share.
I also put a great support crew together. Andrew and Cathy Snowdon experienced marathon swimmers and Andrew a Paddler, Karen – Observer, and Nikole – overserver/photos/social media. Also a land crew headed by Adie Currie with a lot of support from my swim buddies as a larger group. And Murray and Adie support swims. We had many meetings leading up to the swim, including a larger meeting 1 week before.
I also worked with a sports dietician to plan and tweak my feeding plan. Practiced swimming with certain nutrition so see what my preferences were.
How did the swim go generally?
Generally the swim went really well over all. Got pushed along by a strong 4-5knot incoming tide and really enjoyed the ride for the first 10—15km. About the 4.5 hour mark I started to feel tired for the first time, and had the beginnings of a sore back. Took some pain killers, and felt much better about 20mins later.
The last 7km were harder.
The last 4-5km were tough!
Towards the end of the swim – the last 3km were really tough. I had anticipated I may finished in the dark, but was swimming ahead of schedule, so had dismissed this possibility. So when it started to get dark I mentally struggled. Towards the end I was swimming into chop as the wind swung a bit, and getting a big cold – water was colder than expected as the temps drops earlier in the season than usual.
And I was swimming slowly – only about 2km for an hour. So the last 2km took AGES!!!! I was mentally exhausted, although my body felt OK! I was pretty fed up towards the end.
there's a few other swims I've got an eye on - two or three within Australia, as well as an English Channel relay (or maybe solo) booked for 2022. I'm also planning an Ice Mile in the mountains at Thredbo or Tassie this winter, and The winter Rip swim in July. An Ice Mile is swimming a mile (1.6km) in water under 5 degrees celcius. BBBrrrrr! I was meant to do it last year, but lost it due to Covid borders being shut.
One of the bonuses of my Big Bellarine swims was that I accidentally swam an English Channel qualifying swim (not my intention) which requires 6 hours in less than 16 degrees C… so it’s got me thinking…. but this isn’t the week for decisions.
If anyone wants to contact me about swimming find me a \@sunriseswimmeraus on Insta. I love talking swimming!
WORK Connections – where I work as a Lifeguard
Bill Strachan - paddle support for 1^st^ half of swim.
Dave – shift supervisor– helped me work out tides, starting point and route as knows the local waters very well.
- RT Edgar Bellarine – for sponsorship of petrol
- Steve Di Sauro – Bellarine Fishing Charters – amazing local marine knowledge and great customer service.
- My wonderful crew – Andrew, Cathy, Nik, Karen, Adie, Murray, Hedley, Fi, Robbie, Steph and Alix in particular.
- My husband and girls for all their support over the journey.
Click to enlarge.