Rottnest Channel Swim

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The start of one wave of the Rottnest Channel Swim, 2004

The Rottnest Channel Swim is an annual open water swimming event from Cottesloe Beach through Gage Roads to Rottnest Island, off the coast of Western Australia, near Perth. The distance is approximately 20 kilometres and it is one of the largest open-water swimming events in the world, with 2400 swimmers participating in the 2015 event.[1]

It is held in February each year and is open to solo swimmers and teams of two or four. A second event, Champions of the Channel for elite swimmers, was introduced in 2016.[2]


When Rottnest Island was used as a prison it was rumoured that some of the prisoners swam back to the mainland, although there is no proof that any did. However some may have crossed by resting on Carnac and Garden Islands. The first documented crossing by a swimmer was Gerd Von Dincklage-Schulinburg, on 24 January 1956. This led the Weekend Mail newspaper to hold the first organised race to the island in March later that year, which was completed by four participants.[3] The first woman to swim to the island was Lesley Cherriman on 13 April 1969.[4] The youngest swimmer to compete was Kutraleeswaran from Tamil Nadu, India, who completed the swim at the age of 13 in 1994.[5]

Despite the modest success of the 1956 event, another organised race to the island would not be held until February 23, 1991, with sixteen solo swimmers and seven teams competing. The success of the swim lead it to it becoming an annual event.[3] Due to the overwhelming popularity of the race, a ballot has been held since 2006 to limit the number of participants in the competition.[1]


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