The Pod: Ocean Swimming

The Pod: Ocean Swimming

There’s more to ocean swimming than swimming in the ocean.


May 30, 2023 59 mins

Andy Donaldson is a world-recorder holding open-water swimmer. In 2023, he is attempting to swim the Oceans Seven in one year, and is making a pretty good fist of it, having already swum the English Channel (in a British record time), the North Channel (only 4 minutes off the record), the Cook Strait (in world record time) and the Molokai Channel in Hawaii. At the time of recording, he was setting off to swim the Strait of Gibralta...

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Pedro Ordenes is an Alcatraz legend, having swum the famous route over 1000 times!! Pedro runs Water World Swim that organizes many swims in San Francisco Bay, California and across the world. I was lucky enough to swim Alcatraz with Water World Swim recently in April 2023.

Pedro is an exceptionally accomplished open water swimmer, perhaps the highlight being swimming the Strait of Magellan in South America, in 3.5°C with 60 km/hr ...

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Peta Bradley is a member of the Australian ice swimming team that recently competed at the World Ice Swimming Championships in France. She competed in the 1000m, 500m, and 50m butterfly, bringing home a bronze medal in the 500m. Peta hails from Gilgandra, quite some distance from any coastline, and does a lot of her training in dams. She has also completed the coveted ice mile at Thedbo. Peta is the manager of sheep genetics, withi...

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June 18, 2022 56 mins

Lynne Cox is arguably the most accomplished ocean swimmer of all time. She set the record for the English Channel in 1972, was the first woman to swim the Cook Strait in New Zealand in 1975, famously swam between the US and the USSR in 1987 across the Bering Strait in bone-chilling 3 degree waters, and then even colder in Antarctica and Greenland. She has a list of achievements too long to list here. Lynne is also an author, and ha...

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Professor Peter Ralph is Executive Director of the Climate Change Cluster in the Faculty of Science at UTS, and is partnering with Australian surf brand Piping Hot to develop textiles made from seaweed for surfwear. Nature-derived alternatives for the fashion industry have the potential to revolutionise products and vastly reduce their impact on the oceans.

Apologies for a little bit of building noise in the background!

Songs in th...

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February 24, 2022 54 mins

Eli Ball is training to swim the English Channel... butterfly. Yes, you read that correctly. Butterfly. He is an exceptionally accomplished butterflying ocean swimmer, having completed a plethora of marathon ocean swims, including the 20km Rottnest Island swim, along the way setting the butterfly record.

Songs in this episode - all licensed under a Creative Commons License:

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October 10, 2021 20 mins

Lauren Tischendorf is the first woman to swim solo around Lord Howe Island - 32.2 km of sharks, currents, 25 knot winds and 2.5 metre swell, finishing in 13 hours 50 minutes and 26 seconds. She has also filmed a documentary of the swim, I just went for a swim, highlighting the spectacular ocean as well as the importance of the empowerment of girls and women. You can watch this film throughout Australia very soon in the Women's Adve...

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September 20, 2021 54 mins

Brendan Cullen is training to swim the English channel, but what makes his journey exceptional is that he is a sheep farmer from Kars Station, east of Broken Hill in NSW, and is about 350 km from the nearest coastline. Four mornings a week, Brendan swims in the murky waters of Lake Pamamaroo and Lake Copi Hollow in the Menindee Lakes, where he can't typically see more than 20 centimetres in front of his face (video). And there's no...

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August 12, 2021 57 mins

Peter Hancock has now swum well over 1000 consecutive days, most days in Dumaresq Dam in Armidale, central NSW. Often the temperature is down near freezing. But this is not the first time Pete has conquered an incredible swimming challenge. In 2014, he swam in 333 different locations in the one year, including in the 1.6 degree Fox Glacier River in New Zealand.

As a freshwater ecologist, it's not just the swimming that Pete likes -...

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July 4, 2021 31 mins

Jaimee Rogers hosts the Big Sports Breakfast program on Sky Sports Radio, is a national level swimmer in the 200m breaststroke, and is now tackling the English Channel. She is raising money with Gotcha4life to support mental health programs. You can sponsor her here.

Songs in this episode - all licensed under a Creative Commons License:

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June 4, 2021 42 mins

Jon Stagg has completed the Dark Mofo Nude Solstice Swim every year since its inception. What makes someone swim nude in the middle of the Tasmanian winter? Jon has some fabulous stories - he even did it himself when the event was cancelled during covid!

Songs in this episode - all licensed under a Creative Commons License:

Image from ABC


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April 18, 2021 17 mins

If you live on the east coast of Australia, your ocean swimming season has been rudely interrupted by the weather, with swims cancelled up and down the coast because of high swells and flooding. Australia has just experienced its wettest summer for five years because of a climate cycle known as La Nina.  Associate Professor Andréa Taschetto is an oceanographer and ARC Future Fellow at the Climate Change Research Centre, UNSW.


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Associate Professor Anna Clark is an ocean lover, fisher and historian at the University of Technology, Sydney. She has extensively researched the history of beach culture in Australia, an important place for thousands of generations of Indigenous culture,  a place of last resort during the Great Depression, and a place of upheaval during the more recent Cronulla riots. And throughout all that time, it has been vital for food and i...

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February 2, 2021 39 mins

John Sheely is head gardener at the Warrnambool Botanical Gardens, an acclaimed ocean swimmer who, with pools closed due to covid, has now swum 300 consecutive ocean swims, and is aiming at 365 - a fair achievement when you consider he's swimming without a wetsuit off the coast of Victoria! It will end up being over 1000 km swum. He's also got quite the take on beer and steak as sports nutrition!

You can find John on Strava and Twi...

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November 24, 2020 72 mins

Chloe McCardel is probably the world's best ocean swimmer. She holds the record for the world's longest unassisted ocean swim (124.4 km), has crossed the English Channel 37 times, was inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 2016 and was International Marathon Swimmer of the Year, 2014 & 2015. Her achievements are too long to fully describe! She is also an acclaimed coach, and in November is giving free onl...

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October 21, 2020 57 mins

Craig Clarke is a champion Australian surf life-saver who has had a dream of swimming the English Channel since watching Des Renford in the 1970s. He had a slot booked in for this year, and then Covid-19 hit. Undeterred, not wanting to waste the training, and to raise money for Beyond Blue, Craig developed the 36 km “Coals to Newcastle” ocean swim on the Australian East Coast, a swim leg that has never been attempted before.  The c...

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September 21, 2020 44 mins

Heather Massey is a senior lecturer in the Extreme Environments Research Group at the University of Portsmouth. Heather has done extensive work into the human response to cold water, both the physical and mental effects, and her areas of research interest include thermal, altitude and survival physiology.

She's also an amazing ocean swimmer, having swum the English Channel and around Jersey, among other things. And has a podcast ca...

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Bold and Beautiful are an informal Sydney swim group for all ages and abilities who meet out the front of Manly Life Saving Club every day and swim at 7am, 7 days a week from Manly to Shelly Beach and back.

Dorset Sutton is a philanthropist and along with Bold and Beautiful has been a key part of Operation Crayweed, an effort to bring crayweed back to Sydney beaches - you may remember this from the last episode. Dorset, along with ...

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Crayweed, a type of seaweed, forms dense forests on shallow reefs all the way from Port Macquarie to Tasmania. However, there is a 70 km gap in crayweed off the coast of Sydney. Sometime during the 1980s, crayweed disappeared completely between Palm Beach and Cronulla, likely due to the poorly treated sewage that used to be pumped directly onto Sydney’s beaches. However, despite Sydney's water quality improving dramatically since t...

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June 5, 2020 69 mins

Dr. Shane Gould is the only swimmer to hold every world freestyle record from 100 to 1500 metres and the 200-metre individual medley simultaneously. She is the first female swimmer to win three Olympic gold medals in world record time, and the first swimmer to win Olympic medals in five individual events in a single Olympics. She is also the only Australian to win three individual gold medals at one Games.

And now she's a card-carr...

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