Hedland community goes the distance in Port2Port

12 March 2019
Port2Port, a swimming initiative by South Hedland Aquatic Centre (SHAC), was a four-month-long challenge among the Hedland community that finished up at the end of February. 

The virtual swim challenge involved swimmers and participants in aquatic activities working together to achieve the equivalent of swimming the distance from Port Hedland to Fremantle Port. The challenge was open to all ages and abilities and included swimming lessons and aquarobics classes by ‘converting’ them into laps.

Royal Life Saving WA Pilbara Development Officer Jacqui Forbes participated in the event along with 308 other eager participants. Jacqui achieved a personal tally of 688 laps during the challenge, saying “the event was really well received by the community and the pool staff were actively engaged with the progress of all the swimmers.”

Port2Port progress map“The event was very inclusive – the kids having swim lessons were able to contribute, the swim and water polo club added their laps and the public who would just come for a leisurely swim set themselves a target. And the regular fitness swimmers got a little competitive!” laughs Jacqui. 

A map of Western Australia posted by the pool kept track of the progress, the final tally being 71,119 laps – or a whopping 3,556 kilometres! SHAC Aquatics Coordinator Kim Johnson, who oversaw the challenge, said there were some huge numbers put in by individual participants. “One of the participants is our own Duty Manager, Sandra Schmich, who individually swam 5,000 laps. That is the equivalent of swimming from Port Hedland to Karratha.”

Luke Whatley“Another inspirational story is Luke Whatley. Luke is wheelchair bound and initially started swimming only two to three laps of the pool. Through the P2P Swimming Challenge he is now swimming every day and swims up to 70 laps per day! Luke actually came second in the lap tally with 3,180 laps, and that’s without the use of his legs!”

With a target of 1,770 km, the community was faced with a daunting 35,400 laps of the 50m pool. But the challenge was no match for the determination of the Hedland community, who not only made the distance to Fremantle but managed to ‘turn around’ and keep going – swimming all the way back again to Port Hedland with laps to spare!