Shien is an avid ocean swimmer who finds it relaxing, calming and a great way to start the day. We caught up with her to talk about her fundraising swim from Frankston to Portsea, down the Mornington Peninsula, to raise funds for Arctic Rescue Victoria.
1. What has led you to become so happy ocean swimming?
When I lived in Auckland, I used to watch other people happily swimming way out in the sea, and it mesmerised me! I couldn’t believe they could swim from Rangitoto Island which was right across the Waitemata Harbour. It’s only a distance of 5km which was a big deal for me then! I was very envious and told myself one day I’d be able to do that too. Swimming in the ocean is also soooo calming for the soul. All of us spent 9 months floating in the mother’s womb and I think there’s something to be said for being underwater when you can’t hear the outside world. It’s a great start to my day, to wash away the anxieties. You’re on your own, one with the water fish and reefs, you can think of nothing and be at peace. The phone can’t go wth you so that’s even better.
2. What has your training looked like over the past few months for your upcoming event?
Intense! I officially started training on Nov 1 last year, 3 months ago, with support from Swimwell Australia who provide a programme every week. In the first week I only totalled 7kms…. and by week 5 worked I had worked up to 17kms.
Since then I have consistently covered between 20-25kms a week, a combination of ocean and pool. Things haven’t been plain sailing as injuries have inevitably cropped up and I had a wonky neck which an excellent chiropractor has fixed over the months since July 2021.
3. Why have you chosen this event?
It’s been a goal of mine to swim down the Mornington Peninsula (from Frankston to Portsea) for over 2 years. I haven’t been able to get started except for printing out the map and working out distances between towns because of various injuries. This event which starts at Safety Beach is half way down the Peninsula and I am very proud to say I’ve swum from Frankston to Rosebud already this summer!
4. You are fundraising for Arctic Rescue Victoria. Why are you passionate about this organisation?
Well! It all started with a dog we adopted back in 2013! He is a cross Husky and Labrador who has given us much grief and love ha ha! We wanted to give back to the rescue organisation and started fostering their surrendered dogs. We do many yard checks for potential adopters and foster carers, and fostered quite a few dogs too. Arctic dogs - mainly huskies, Alaskan malamutes, samoyeds, and akitas - are all challenging dogs to rehome and rehabilitate. They have a very high prey drive, shed a mountain of fur (not for everyone!), and you pretty much need a garden you don’t care about because most will dig holes the size of Africa, climb over fences because there’s a whole wide world to explore out there! They’re very intelligent and independent dogs and need lots of exercise and mental stimulation like going to school once or twice a week.
5. What would your bucket list swim be?
The Cook Strait! Then perhaps Lake Taupo and Foveaux Strait. This will make up the New Zealand Triple Crown of marathon swimming.
6. What other events do you have coming up?
I’m planning a 10km in 10 degrees … won’t happen till winter of course. It’ll be tough and I’ll have to swim fast to not get hypothermia! 10km usually takes me 3:45 min. Another charity swim for the dogs :)
7. What is qi-gong and how do you use it in your training?
A literal translation would be “breathe work”. It’s body posture/movement, breath practice, and meditation, all designed to enhance your Qi function, which is your life force. The exercise and practises help to optimize and balance your energy within. It is practised in yoga as pranayama, free divers practise it for breathe retainment, and you can simply sit, close your eyes and do box breathing for a start, in for a count of 4, hold for 4, out for 4.