The race organisers watched on.........
‘Does he need assistance?’
‘He said he’s OK so let him finish.’
‘I come from Liverpool,’ says JP. ‘No one swims in the Irish Sea. After moving to Australia I thought - this is something different, something the kids and I can do together.’
‘When I looked out at the 500m ocean loop, I thought that was the whole course, but it was only half! At 150m, I had a panic attack and had to steady my nerves (laughs). I had to catch my breath and am embarrassed to say, for a few seconds, I reverted to doggy paddle.'
‘The half way mark was the worst’, he recalls. ‘I saw the crowd, but no competitors. My wife yelled out ‘You’re last!’ I really wondered if I could finish. Then I thought about my girls and was determined to show them I could.’
And so it was, in one grand hour, 40 minutes behind the first finisher, that JP ran the last stretch. Flanked by cheering children, Pied Piper style, embracing everything that Splash ‘n’ Dash is all about.
‘At the end of the swim I was slightly embarrassed and absolutely knackered’, says JP. ‘But the kids running with me, and the crowd cheering me on gave me a huge boost. It was community spirit at its finest.’
Will he do it again? ‘Yes, absolutely’, says JP. ‘But I will practice a bit and hope to improve my PB in 2018!’