Although he admits you have to be a “bit crazy” to participate in the Rottnest Channel Swim, the iconic WA event continues to entice Geelong Cats’ CEO, Brian Cook.
Affectionately known as ‘Cooky’, this weekend will mark his 13th solo swim of the 19.7km event which takes place between Cottesloe Beach to Rottnest Island.
Preparing for the long-distance swim takes hours of training and keeps the 63-year-old very active, as he hits the water before sunrise nearly every day leading into the race.
“It keeps you fit so I love that part of it, but it’s this time of the year with a week or two to go that you get grumpy and tired and you have this permanent feeling of being tired all day and all night because of the training,” he said.
“So, in saying that I think you have to be a bit crazy to do it. We train before sunrise every day, maybe have one rest day per week and swim around 30km in the seven days, something like that – it’s tough going really.
“I think my family all needs to be given a gold medal, it’s hard on us but it’s also very difficult on them – we probably see our swimming partners more than we see our partners,” he joked.
With the race now at capacity, swimmers must qualify for the event by either competing a solo crossing in the last two years, or a 10km swim in under four hours and 15 minutes to quality.
Although Cook didn’t finish the race in 2018, there was a very good reason why.
“Last year a shark appeared and around 800 swimmers got out and we weren’t allowed to go back in so that was it. For me, it was around the 12km mark – so I need to go back and make amends.”
Not deterred by sharks or the ever-changing conditions, the Cats’ CEO says his best time has been seven hours and his worst around the 10-hour mark.
With so many hours spent in the water, swimming provides Cook an opportunity to gather his thoughts and ponder the events of the day.
“It’s a time to reflect and plan for the future a bit, I tend to do a bit of that, review how the week has gone and what might happen the following week, I think of one or two issues while I’m swimming and it gives you time to contemplate,” Cook said.
“Even when you’re tired, and there’s been mornings when I don’t want to go for a swim because I’m worn out, but after the swim I feel wonderful and refreshed and I don’t go through the day feeling tired and worn out.”
As one of nearly 3,000 people participating in the event, the swimming community comes out in force to support the race and encourage the ever-growing tribe.
After making life-long friends through swimming, the social aspect of hitting the water with mates is something Cook loves, referring to all his support networks as family.
“We’ve got a really solid (swimming) group and we always have coffee after it, we’re a family,” Cook said.
“One thing I’ve learned is you can’t live your life in silos, so I’ve got a family at Geelong, I have a family at home, I have a family at Barwon Health, a family at swimming, so I have six or seven families.”
Cook heads to WA on Thursday, with the first wave of swimmers departing Cottesloe beach at 5:45am.
For more information on the Rottnest Channel Swim, click here.