The Melbourne Swim Classic is on this Saturday 28 February, raising money for over 600 charities through a variety of swimming courses for all ages and skill levels, from a free-to-enter 200m swim, to a competitive 5km open water swim. The event was started by Floyd Taylor, who suffers from a rare blood disorder, which means he has no white blood cells and no immune system; Floyd started swimming as a means of strengthening his lungs as his illness has resulted in hundreds of bouts of pneumonia and chest infections over the years.
Taking part this year is five time winner of the Lorne Pier to Pub swim, Sam Sheppard who will be joining other swim greats such as Dawn Fraser at St Kilda Beach. We sat down with Sam to find out a bit more about him and how he got involved with the Melbourne Swim Classic.
1. How did you get involved with the Melbourne Swim Classic?
I’m always looking around for new fun open water races to be a part of and having the race at St Kilda is such a good location for open water swimming. That’s when I thought it would be a great opportunity to swim the Melbourne Swim Classic when Floyd got in contact with me.
2. What are you most looking forward to at the event on Saturday?
I’ve seen that it is meant to be pretty good weather on race day so just having a fun swim at St Kilda followed by lunch at a café on Acland st.
3. As a 5 time winner of the Pier to Pub, you obviously have a lot of experience swimming in the ocean. Do you have any tips for those that have never done an ocean race?
If you’re new to open water, the main thing is to be relaxed in the water while swimming. Its not like swimming in the pool where you have your own lane and a black line but rather you’re sharing your space with other swimmers and you have to navigate instead of just swimming up and down a pool. In saying that, once you have done a few open water races they just get easier and you will learn what works for you.
4. You’re in the midst of training for the 2016 Olympic trials. What’s your pet event and how do you keep inspired with reaching your goal of reaching the Olympics.
My pet event is the 10km open water marathon swim, which takes around 1-hour 50 minutes to swim. Last year I competed all over the world racing the best athletes but more importantly racing in some magnificent locations and that’s what separates racing in a pool and being able to race in amazing lakes or tropical paradises. Unfortunately with how the Australian Olympic trials works I am no longer in the qualification race for Rio for the 10km open water race as it is a knockout qualification and the last event I needed to finish 3rd and I finished 5th but sadly I was only 15 seconds off first. However that’s racing and at the end of the day whether you reach your goals or not don’t matter it’s the friends meet and the experiences along the way that I’ll remember.