Helen Hobday - Palm to Shelly

Palm Beach to Shelly Beach

24 km (14.9 miles)

9 hours, 18 minutes on 26 June 2022

Observed and documented by Eric Bateman



  • Name: Helen Hobday
  • Gender: female
  • Age on swim date: 38
  • Nationality: Australia
  • Resides: Townsville, Queensland

Support Personnel

  • Dan Hobday - feeder
  • Nick Miles - skipper


Eric Bateman

Escort Vessel

Name Type Port
unnamed 6-person RIB Sydney

Swim Parameters

  • Category: Solo, nonstop, unassisted.
  • Rules: MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, without exception or modification.
  • Equipment used: Textile swimsuit (TYR Surge Diamondfit one-piece), silicone cap, Speedo goggles

Route Definition


Swim Data

  • Start: 26 June 2022, 07:01:53 (Australia/Sydney, UTC+10).
  • Finish: 26 June 2022, 16:20:21
  • Elapsed: 9 hours, 18 minutes, 28 seconds.

Summary of Conditions

Feature Min Max
Water Temp (C) 18.2 19.8
Air Temp (C) 8 21.7
Wind (knots) 3 12

GPS Track

Trackpoint frequency: 20 minutes. Download raw data (CSV).

Click to expand map.

Speed Plot

Nutrition Plan

Every 30 minutes, alternating between Staminade, Powerade, Infinite Nutrition, Lemeon/lime/bitters, Warm black earl grey tea, Dr Pepper. Snacks with liquid nutrition included, LCM bar, Vanilla Cup Cake, Red Frogs.

Observer Log

Download PDF


by Helen Hobday

What inspired you to do this swim?

My inspiration to complete this swim was unfinished business. I had attempted the swim 6 weeks earlier with Tim Garretts organising as part of the annual event. The day had atrocious conditions and winds up to 25knts, I was 3km until the finish and got out as I was exhausted mentally and physically.

I am a very stubborn and determined person, so after a few days of feeling sorry for myself, I decided to organise my own swim and give it another crack. The more swims under my belt, the better marathon swimmer I will become, because I know that every swim is different and every swim teacher’s us something new.

Quitting the first swim, taught me a lot about my mental resolve and on that day it wasn’t strong enough, lesson learnt the hard way, hence my desire and determination to get the job done this time.

Describe how you planned for the swim?

Once I decided to take on this swim again, I rang my boat operator/owner Tristian from last swim and asked if he was keen for another adventure. He was super excited and was absolutely keen as to help me get it done. To say I had the most amazing boatie is and understatement. Nothing was too hard or no question/plan too complicated.

I chose a random week (Thursday 23^rd^ – Tuesday 28^th^) that my husband would be home and that we could plan with enough time. It ended up being approximately 6 weeks after my original swim. I booked our flights, booked our accommodation in Manly and rang Tristian and he blocked out a four-day window for the best possible chance of getting a good swim day.

Next was finding an observer that I knew was confident in making sure all boxes were ticked and understood how important of a job it was. Eric Bateman was that man. I had met Eric through mutual friends at another Marathon swim in Melbourne and knew he was a fantastic person to have on my team. He is a marathon swimmer, a local Sydneysider, swam at many of the locations I would swim past, is calm and meticulous and most of all has a wicked sense of humour (a prerequisite for my crew).

I started training in a new facility which didn’t heat its pool, a blessing for this North Queenslander who was about to head to Sydney in the middle of winter. It was the best thing I could have done to prepare mentally and physically come swim day. I thoroughly absorbed all that was to learn about myself and what I needed to do differently to succeed Palm 2 Shelly 2.0.

All of my crew is organised, my dates are locked in, I’m training hard and all that’s to do is wait it out until its time to watch the weather and decide on a final day to make the call.

How did the swim go, generally? Did you face any unanticipated challenges?

The swim was one of the most enjoyable swims I could have imagined. It started with two pods of Dolphins as we headed into shore at Palm Beach, so I knew I was in for a magical day. I got my final sunscreen and grease lathered on and slipped in the water. Omg, it was gorgeous. It felt instantly warm and I felt at home. The Dolphins continued to play and as I got to the beach and gave myself a minute to absorb what I was about to do, I took some deep breaths, waited for the ok from the boat….and away I went.

I was so calm and honestly felt fantastic as I headed around the first headland, unbeknown to me, my Dolphin friends decided to follow and make sure I was safely on my way for about 500m. The water felt like silk and the clarity was great. I saw plenty of jellies but none that bothered me. I tend to have an unwritten agreement with them…..they can sting me, just not too much and we can all cohabitate in harmony.

The whole day I was entertained by my crew. From them bossing me around with telling me I was talking to much (me, never), the elusive nature of how far I had swam and how far I had to go, to “no, you cannot have Dr Pepper yet”. I was treated to lots of laughter, smiles and jokes at my expense, but overall, my crew made my day special. I knew I was in the best hands all day and that this swim was a real joyous occasion. As the day progressed, I had a few tiny moments of doubt, but I never dwelled on it. It was just my anxiety about getting past Long Reef and having it in my background which was the nagging doubt from last swim. Once that was, over, I picked up the pace and headed from “home”. I never felt tired, I had a niggle in my Elbow, but all up, the day was just magical and surreal.

I could not have asked for a better day in regards to weather, temperature or crew. The wind didn’t bother me, the sun was shining and swimming down the northern beaches in the middle of winter was pure enjoyment. This swim was a rarity to get everything go so right. I don’t take that for granted, but I celebrate it. Its life’s moments that put swimming into perspective for me after such a contrasting swim the first time. Life is a learning curve. Everyday, every moment gives us a chance to learn and do better. And as someone who thoroughly enjoys life, this swim taught me to appreciate the good, you never know when the next lesson will be.


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