Andrew Donaldson was the first to finish today’s Rottnest Channel Swim — less than a year after his return to Perth in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Donaldson crossed the line in a time of 04:04:30, more than six minutes in front of second finisher William Rollo.
Mr Donaldson, who came out of retirement to take part in the challenge, started training for the swim 10 months ago upon his return to Perth.
“This time a year ago I was backpacking on the other side of the world, running away from life. I came back to Perth in the height of COVID and was lucky to have some phenomenal people around me who encouraged me to get back into the water…and that’s where the idea to have a go at the solo came from,” he said.
The record for fastest crossing in the event’s 31-year history was set by Solomon Wright in 2018 with a time of 3:59:28.
Chloe Truscott, 22, was the fastest woman to complete the 19.7km swim in a time of 04:33:20. She was seven minutes in front of her nearest female competitor, Josie Page.
“Nobody told me where I was in the field. I saw two people pass me at around the halfway mark and I thought they were females overtaking me so I put my foot down. I had no idea I was the lead female coming in,” she said.
“This is my first solo swim across the channel and the first open water race I have done longer than 10km. I’m a bit in shock.”
Peter Galvin, 50, the solo winner of the inaugural event in 1991, finished inside the top 10 in what was his first solo swim since his win.
Mr Galvin said he was surprised at his performance.
“Sure doesn’t get any easier with age. I felt a helluva lot better 4 hours ago,” he said.
“It’s a very different event (compared to 1991), with so many people, just coming in, seeing everyone, all the spectators and guys on the skis. It was pretty awesome.”
Winners of the Duo category were Kaiden Richards and Thomas Davis, two 16-year-olds from Bunbury, in a time of 4 hours and 19 minutes.
Swimclan Big Orse’s took out the team category in a fraction over 4 hours and 14 minutes. Teammate Paul Laver said they were swimming to help promote the organisations’ efforts to help adults learn to swim.
More than 2500 competitors — aged between 14 and 76 — dived into the surf at Cottesloe to take on the gruelling event.
More than 400 swimmers took on the channel solo, with 166 duos and 444 teams also completing the crossing.