Jono makes splash in shallow water



Photo by Simon Santi

Jono van Hazel’s days of early starts to stare at the black line at the bottom of the swimming pool feel like a lifetime ago. 

The 39-year-old former Olympic swimmer now devotes his time to teaching his three young children how to swim. “Most chances I get it is with the kids in the splash pool, so I haven’t been in anything but waist-deep water for quite some time,” he said. This weekend van Hazel and his wife Anna are taking part in the North Cottesloe Splash ‘n’ Dash.

The family-friendly event ranges from a 150m swim and 500m run to a 1km swim and 1km
run, which can be done as a relay with two people. This year’s Splash ‘n’ Dash has attracted under-19 world aquathon champion Rahul Jegatheva, open water swimmer Jaime Bowler and Port to Pub founder Ceinwen Roberts.

Race director Kath Conway said the event, in its second year, had an emphasis on safety and fun. “We are all about getting everyone down to the beach — from competitive swimmers to young kids we hope can have a go, watch some inspiring professionals and embrace our open water swim culture,” she said.

True grit wins Splash 'n' Dash hearts!

 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!’