Swim teacher goes the distance in 25km Swan River swim

24 March 2022
Simone Blaser's 25km Swan River swim courseWhen this year’s Port to Pub event was cancelled, dedicated swimmer and local swimming instructor Simone Blaser didn’t want to let all her training go to waste and decided to complete her own version of the 25km course along the Swan River!

The Port to Pub is an annual open water swimming event that attracts hundreds of long-distance swimmers each year to make the journey from Leighton Beach across to Rottnest Island. Due to rising cases of COVID-19 in the WA community this year, government restrictions meant the event unfortunately had to be cancelled.

Simone had been training for the Port to Pub since October last year, increasing her kilometres each week with her peak training week being 42km in total! Registered as a solo swimmer for the event, Simone was planning to complete the 25km ultra-marathon distance in this year's swim. She had successfully completed solo crossings twice before in previous Port to Pub and Rottnest Channel Swim crossings.

Simone Blaser in the Swan River during her 25km ultra-marathon swimWhen the event she had spent months training for was sadly cancelled, Simone decided to go ahead with her own 25km solo swim. “I didn’t want all that training to go to waste,” she said. “When there were rumours about cancelling, I needed a Plan B. On the day Port to Pub would’ve been, 19th March 2022, I started at 6:30am in front of the big pole with the Aussie flag near the Narrows Bridge. I swam all along the north shore of the river and an extra 3km loop at Claremont Bay to make it to 25km, ending at The Left Bank in East Fremantle.”

Simone completed her ultra-marathon “Lizzie to Lefty” swim, as she called it (Elizabeth Quay to The Left Bank), in 8 hours and 15 minutes. She said she enjoyed the experience and luckily had no close encounters. “Mentally, having to do the same bay again was tough,” she said. “After that I was totally fine and really enjoyed the whole swim, it was very scenic and varied. I didn’t see any dolphins, only a few fish.”

“Every 30 minutes I had a quick break to eat alternating banana, baby food in pouches or energy gels with electrolyte drinks. I’m not allowed to touch the kayak or the boat. My original crew was with me the whole way: skipper, three paddlers and a feeder. They jumped in with me at stages and swam alongside me which was really nice.

“I’ve been a water baby since day one. Born in South Africa, I was doing comps at an early age, but swimming came to a halt when we moved to Switzerland when I was eight. I emigrated to Australia in 2008 when I picked up swimming again and started working as a swimming instructor at the Fremantle Leisure Centre. I recently got my coaching accreditation which I’m stoked about.

“I’m having a break from teaching, but I love being able to give back to the community, seeing others enjoying the water as much as I do and igniting a passion for it. It’s so good for your body and mind. Last year I started my own business, Swimwild Escape, offering swimming retreats in WA. I want to offer the swimming community what I love: going away for a longer weekend, having fun, being adventurous, meeting like-minded people. Spending your leisure time with swims with great company along with nice food and wine. What more can you dream of?

Simone Blaser on the morning of her 25km Swan River swim“For me, swimming is meditation where the hectic lifestyle stops for a bit. I love feeling totally immersed. It’s my happy place where I can follow my thoughts uninterrupted. No matter how you feel before jumping in, you always feel so much better after a swim. I love swimming in the ocean; the blues and greens just draw me in.”

Simone offers this advice to others for staying safe when swimming in open water: “Always take a moment to stand at the shore, observe the movements of the water and analyse the risks. Never swim alone and let people know where you are swimming and for how long. Know your limits – as soon as you feel different or weird, hop out. You don’t want to end up with hypothermia or swimming-induced pulmonary edema (SIPE).”

There’s no end in sight to Simone’s marathon swims, with another distance event already lined up. “My next big swim is on the 7th August this year, the 26km Lake Zurich swim. I’m really looking forward to it as Zurich is my hometown and it will be really picturesque passing all the small villages along the shore that I’m familiar with.”

Congratulations to Simone for her incredible river swim achievement, and we wish her all the best when she completes her swim in Zurich later this year!