Freely admitting he hasn’t “rolled his arms over in while”, Olympic medallist Andrew Lauterstein will jump in the ocean on Saturday to compete in the Portsea Swim Classic.
Commencing from Fisherman’s beach, the 1.5km swim will see participants head west around Police Point along the coast and finish at Jarman Oval at the historic Quarantine Station in the Point Nepean National Park.
As the 2008 bronze medallist for the 100m butterfly at the Beijing Olympics, Lauterstein joked on SEN in the lead up to the event that he wouldn’t swim the race solely in his preferred stroke.
“Wouldn’t have thought”, he laughed, when asked by the Breakfast program.
“I’ll be doing freestyle and will probably roll onto the back and do some backstroke otherwise I might cramp up a bit!”.
Fittingly, the Portsea Swim Classic coincides with the first official day of the Australia Swims campaign, which encourages swimmers to collectively swim a lap of Australia by pledging a distance to one of eight teams.
Lauterstein says the 10-day long activation was an inspirational way to get Australians in the water and has pledged his distance to Beyond the Black Line, which is co-captained by good friend and Rio Olympian Josh Beaver.
“It’s (Australia Swims) very cool because there’s just so many people that swim at least once a week,” he said.
“Close to three million people do some recreational swimming, so people can get involved and pledged their kilometres to one of the teams.
“The Lap Australia Challenge is happening from the 19th until the 28th of January, so you’ve still got a few days to make your pledge – it can give you extra motivation to knock out a few kilometres.”
To help swimmers keep track of the distance they’ve swum, Swimming Australia this week launched its new app – iSwim – which Lauterstein says has a plethora of functionalities.
“Swimming Australia has the iSwim app as well, so if you’re struggling for some motivation and what to do when you get to the pool, this training app has got a whole range of awesome athletes putting their programs onto this app.
“So, you can see what Mack Horton is doing or what Brooke Hanson has previously done, you can even see what some of the masters swimmers are doing.”
Lauterstein is one of 2,000 participants taking part in the Portsea Swim Classic, with swimmers set to take to the water at 12:15pm.
“It’s a ripping swim. The main race is 1.5km and the whole swim is done with the tide, so once you get out past the heads, you can pretty much lay on your back and then can be taken down to the finish line."
“It’s got an awesome finish line with thousands of people cheering everyone who finishes the race and then they have a hard ‘Dash 4 Cash’, so it’s quite an interactive race and quite different to the other swims – it’s a great time.”
With so many people hitting the water over the summer period, Lauterstein reiterated the importance of being safe around the water.
The 31-year-old, who owns a swim school in Frankston, said it’s crucial for everyone to learn how to swim and highlighted that it’s never too early for parents to enrol their children in swimming classes.
“It’s definitely still as important as ever (learning to swim), but as you can see there’s still too many drownings happening on a regular basis, and it’s over this summer period that our eyes are open to it,” he said.
“Unfortunately, I see parents start too late to get their kids into swimming. By the age of five or six, some of the key fundamentals a child can learn have been missed already.
“Classes as a baby graduate can teach key skills like how to float, turn around, get onto their back and then getting back to the wall.
“I would encourage every parent out there to get their kids to a swim school as soon as possible because it’s such a great skill to have – even just to be able to play around with their peers in the water is just so awesome in summer.”
To get involved in the Australia Swims ‘Lap Australia Challenge’, head to the Australia Swims website and follow Swimming Australia across social media via Instagram @swimmingaustralia and Twitter @swimmingAus.