Wow, I can’t believe a week has gotten away from me before I managed to get to writing about this. I kept going to get started, but the whole thing was such a massive and fun undertaking that I wanted to take a bit of time and do it justice.

Last weekend was the MS 24 Hour Megaswim Sydney event. This event is a 24 hour swim relay, where teams of up to 15 people keep one swimmer in the pool, doing laps for a whole 24 hours.

My sister Pia came up with the idea a couple of months back, but as she has only been in Sydney for a year or so and all her swimming friends are back in Canberra, she wasn’t up to pulling a team together. Well, I figured that all the friends I’d made through swimming like a madwoman over the past few years stood me in good stead to be able to find 13 like-minded souls.

So we harnessed the power of social media, and I put the feelers out through a couple of my swimming groups on Facebook, and asked for expressions of interest. It soon became clear that we would well and truly have enough people to float a team, so I went and registered and set up a team and we were off and racing in no time!

I could go into endless points on logistics and how we worked out all the details of what we were going to do and when and how, but in the interests of not boring anyone, I’ll just say that creating a Facebook event and running everything through there was a lifesaver, and then move onto the excitement of the day!

It was a bit of a hectic start to the day for me, as I’d decided to push things a bit and go to a training session at Bondi in the morning before heading to the Megaswim. I made it in time to meet my other-half J who had come across directly from our house and brought a carload of supplies.

I registered and met up with the other members of our team who were there. Teams are limited to 15 members, and the rule is that you need one swimmer in the pool at all times. We had organised to have 4 mini-teams (3 with 4 members and 1 with 3 members) and had divided up so that each team did 2 3-hour shifts. That way each team got one easy and one difficult shift…starters were 12-3pm, then 12-3am the next morning. My mini-team was on the 3-6 o’clock shifts, but as team captain I was keen to be there most of the time, particularly at the start when everyone was trying to figure out how it was all going to work.

We had a table and chairs area set up at the far end of our lane. Decorations were going strong due to the efforts of Pia, and our “Storm” theme was looking good with lightning bolts all over the place and posters and banners. Bandanas were underway thanks to a template and a can of pray-paint (flouro orange and black…very stylish!). J was out the back setting up tents and inflating mattresses for naps and a few hours of snatched sleep later in the show.

The way it was set up to work was that there were two teams at each end of each lane: 4 swimmers per lane total, and each with different colour caps. The event was being held at the Sydney Olympic aquatic centre, so there was a massive screen..and at 12 noon the countdown began!

Timing Clock counting down 24 hours at the 2012 MS Megaswim

Oh my god, it turned out to be such a fun event! Everyone pretty much stuck around as much as they could and everyone was keen to have as much of a go as possible!

There were a LOT of snacks. Ranging from the super-healthy to the decidedly-lacking-in-nutrition. I don’t know what it is about swimming but it does tend to make people super-hungry, so the snack table was an invaluable addition to the smooth running of the event.

Funnily enough, each of our teams had different approaches to how they ran their 3-hour shifts. There were some teams who preferred longer swims, and some medium. Our team did 20 minute sets for our first shift. However, for our 3-6am shift we decided a different approach might be good and did 15 minute sets to keep things moving fast and so we didn’t fall asleep!

Having extra people guaranteed to be around was definitely the way to go, as there was also a requirement for someone to be beside the lane counting laps on a trusty clipboard.

Counting laps at the MS Megaswim As the swim progressed and we had more time to kill (posting photos to Facebook and instagram obviously high on the priority list), a poll was taken on how many kilometres team Storm the Pool would swim.

It was so lovely to be able to spend some time chatting to my fellow team members. This was really one of the highlights of the event for me, and a little unexpected. Although I see my swimming friends regularly, and we make it a rule to do as much post-swim socialising as possible, being able to really spend some extended time together meant I got a chance to sound some time chatting with just about everyone and I do so love the chance to hang out with lovely people.

On top of that, there was a fundraising element to the event. we had a bit of a slow start to that aspect. Not because any of the team aren’t altruistic, but almost the opposite. Almost everyone got into swimming the same way I did…through the Can Too swim program which has a very big fundraising side to it. Others in the team have been fundraising for Oxfam through the trailwalker event, and pretty much everyone had done quite a bit of fundraising over the past year. It is hard to keep your friends and family focussed if you ask too often for these things, but I have to say I was thrilled to discover that people still have plenty of generosity left in them. To my surprise, we collectively raised over $6.5K!!! A very exciting effort and one I’m truly proud of.

The most fun, though, was definitely the final hour. Coach Zoe (who had been full of good advice for the whole event, despite being there in an unofficial capacity as a team member like everyone else) came up with the idea of running the final hour as a relay with as many of the team as we could muster having a turn. We had asked everyone to come back if they were able for the end and for any supporters to come along for a big finish. Well…a big finish is what we gave them! We were certainly the noisiest team at this point and took turns doing 100m laps. I was lucky enough that they suggested I do the final lap and did a few somersaults and weird strokes on the final hundred to ensure I got the end of the pool right at the finish. People were cheering and photos were being taken and it was such a great feeling…as close as I’ll ever get to a glory finish I suspect!


So, all in all a fabulous event…all the photos from the big day (including some  cool underwater numbers) are available on flikr:

Photos from the event

And the final numbers were…..

  • 24 hours
  • 15 team members
  • 68 Kms swum!
  • $6875 raised for MS!
  • a serious lot of food!
  • about 3 hours sleep (explaining why it’s taken me a week to recover)
  • and more fun than I could possibly have wished for

Can’t wait for next year!