The Sunday Times - - NEWS - JOSH ZIM­MER­MAN

A RE­CENT knee re­place­ment will pre­vent lo­cal mum Sharon Shep­herd from tack­ling a sixth Rot­tnest Chan­nel cross­ing in Fe­bru­ary, but the self-con­fessed swima­holic has her eyes firmly set on the new 3km “Cotto Swim”.

An­nounced to­day as the re­sult of a part­ner­ship be­tween the Rot­tnest Chan­nel Swim As­so­ci­a­tion and Leeuwin Ocean Ad­ven­ture Foun­da­tion, the new event will be avail­able over 1km and 3km.

It will run im­me­di­ately af­ter the last wave of Rot­tnest Chan­nel swim­mers leave Cottes­loe Beach, with swim­mers in the 3km event tack­ling a per­pen­dic­u­lar course around the Leeuwin sail ship.

Mrs Shep­herd said she was ex­cited about still be­ing able to par­tic­i­pate in the event af­ter a ma­jor knee op­er­a­tion in June in­ter­rupted her train­ing for a sixth go at the 20km event.

“I love the Rot­tnest Chan­nel Swim and think the short course is an ex­cit­ing ad­di­tion that will re­ally go off,” she said.

“Long-dis­tance swim­ming takes you away from the here and now, and hear­ing the whoosh of the wa­ter in your ears puts you in your own peace­ful zone.”

Mrs Shep­herd com­pleted a solo cross­ing in 2011 and has also swum as part of teams and duos on four other oc­ca­sions.

She is hop­ing to con­vince her teenage kids, Cal­lum, 18, Jett, 17, and Kir­ralee, 13, to join her as part of a team for the 3km course, which is de­signed to at­tract new swim­mers.

“We are con­stantly look­ing for more op­por­tu­ni­ties for WA swim­mers to be in­volved in the Rot­tnest Chan­nel Swim,” as­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Chris Turner said. “As event boat num­bers are lim­ited in or­der to en­sure the safest pas­sage for our par­tic­i­pants, there are un­for­tu­nately some swim­mers who miss out. These shorter events are also a way for swim­mers who may not be ready to tackle the whole cross­ing to be in­volved and to see what it takes to par­tic­i­pate in a longer dis­tance in the fu­ture.”

Ship ahoy: Sharon Shep­herd is look­ing for­ward to the new “Cotto Swim” with her chil­dren Cal­lum, Jett, and Ki­ralee, around the Leeuwin sail train­ing ship. Pic­ture: Daniel Wilkins

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