Embracing the deep blue
AFTER years following the black line, an underwater world opened for Donna Mills.
The 36-year-old Caloundra hospital emergency worker from Alexandra Headland grew up pool swimming as a youngster in Bundaberg, but it wasn’t until a move to the Sunshine Coast that she found a love for the open water.
“About four years ago one of my good friends said ‘if you can swim in the pool I’m sure you can swim in the ocean’. It took me a little while to agree to that but I came down one morning and we went for a swim across the Mooloolaba bay and I was hooked,” Donna said.
“It was amazing. I like being out in nature and a lot of times you will see fish and stingrays.
“There is also a very big social aspect to ocean swimming here on the Coast and some mornings there will be 30 to 40 people out for a swim. You always find someone who is about the same speed.
“There is a pretty good camaraderie and healthy rivalry but support as well. Then there is always the coffee afterward which is just as important as the swim.”
During the early years breaststroke was Donna’s speciality. While in high school she coached in the mornings and then trained during afternoons and competed at carnivals around the state in 50m, 100m and 200m events.
Nowadays she takes part in as many open water events as possible, focusing on distances around 3km.
She completed last month’s 3km Noosa Summer Swim in 42:42 – good enough for fifth in her age group – while at the Caloundra 1.5km open water swim she was second with an effort of 27:47.
‘I like being out in nature and a lot of times you will see fish and stingrays.’
Training involves one session with Ken Denton at Kawana pool and then at least two swims across the Mooloolaba bay each week.
“I just love swimming. It’s exercise but it is also Zen time. You are just in your own headspace doing your own thing,” Donna said.
“I enjoy the fact it’s all-round fitness and is not as hard on all your joints. I used to do a lot of running but had a lot of knee issues... and the social aspects, I have met so many people through swimming.”
The Mooloolaba Mile is one of the most popular events on the World Swims Series calendar.
Organiser John Guise said the one mile (1.6km) was the most popular open water distance around the globe for a reason – it’s well within reach for beginners and
a great time trial for experienced swimmers.
Entries are open online until 4pm on March 3, and are also available on the day.
Alexandra Headland's Donna Mills is preparing for the Mooloolaba Mile.