Em­brac­ing the deep blue

Multisport Mecca - - News - Grant Ed­wards Grant.Ed­wards@apn.com.au

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.

PHOTO: GRANT ED­WARDS

Alexan­dra Head­land's Donna Mills is pre­par­ing for the Mooloolaba Mile.

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