The Hotel Rottnest Port to Pub was a huge success this past weekend. Thousands came out to cheer and swim in this spectacular race. Race organizers said that both spectator and competitor numbers had grown significantly since last year’s inaugural event. There were over 900 competitors taking part in the challenging race on this beautiful course from Leighton Beach to Hotel Rottnest. The swim is the longest race in Australia and seems to be doing an excellent job catering to an increasing demand for ultra-distance swimming in Australia.
In the 20km distance it was the young guns who dominated the field in the grueling swim. First-over-the-line honours at Rottnest Island went to duo competitors Byron Kimber and William Rollo, aged 15 and 20 respectively.
Kieren Lawrenson posted the top time in the 20km with a 5:21:26 winning by about 7 minutes. 16 year-old Alyssa George left all her competitors behind as she cruised in to take 1st place as the 1st female solo swimmer across the line. This was her first solo crossing which she completed in 5 hours and 51 minutes.
“Everyone wanted me to wait until I was older, Now I can say ‘I told you so’. I knew I could do it.” – Alyssa George.
In the ultra-marathon 25km distance there was a showdown everyone was excited for between defending champion Bradley Smith and 2016 Olympian Jarrod Poort. It was a close race throughout the crossing but in the end it was Poort pulling ahead and taking the title with a 5:34:47 over Smith’s 5:41:53.
The first female to complete the crossing was Rachael Elkaim, in her case winning the swim wasn’t even the most exciting moment of her day.
New South Wales man Michael Hanisch had told girlfriend Rachael Elkaim he would remain on the east coast while she took on the 25km course. But Mr Hanisch, who himself is also an accomplished open water swimmer, had secretly arranged to fly to Perth. He joined in the race for the final 2km alongside Ms Elkaim and then proposed at the finish line. Ms Elkaim, who accepted, said: “I had no idea. “When he went down on one knee I thought ‘It’s about time’.” Mr Hanisch added: “I was a little nervous before it all happened, but more nervous that I would slow her down.”
With all the fast swimming and great support by spectators and tremendous organization by the race crew it was another great year at the Hotel Rottnest Port to Pub. Make sure to mark your calendar for next year’s date, March 17, 2018!
GSS Rankings will be up shortly, in the mean time full results can be found here.