Timor volunteer’s epic 60km swim for healthy hearts
7 March 2017
Melbourne marathon swimmer Paul Hoffman plans to swim the equivalent of two English Channels to help provide life-saving heart treatment for a young person from Timor-Leste (East Timor).
Paul’s epic 60km solo swim will take up to 25 hours, starting from Eastern Beach in Geelong and finishing at Brighton Baths, in bayside Melbourne.
A volunteer with East Timor Hearts Fund, Paul said seeing the medical charity transform the lives of young patients inspired him to take on the marathon swim.
“Some of these patients are not much older than my own kids, and quite often all they need is a fairly simple heart procedure so that they can get on with their lives and fulfil their aspirations,” Paul said.
“I’m lucky enough to have great health, and I’m happy there is something I can do to give others a second chance at a healthy life as well.”
This will be only the second time anyone has swum from Geelong to Melbourne, and is Paul’s second attempt at the bay crossing. During last year’s try, Paul tore a bicep tendon around five hours in. He gamely swam on for an hour using only one arm, before conceding defeat – but vowing to return.
After an operation, six months of physiotherapy and six months of training, during which he has swum up to 40 km a week in the pool and ocean, Paul said he was looking forward to success.
“This time it’s very personal. This is unfinished business for me. I don’t like leaving things unaccomplished.”
Paul swam the English Channel in 2014 to celebrate his 40th birthday. His other epic swims include Portarlington to Frankston (47km) and Bairnsdale to Lakes Entrance (40km).
Dubbed the Baths 2 Baths swim (as it starts and ends at Victoria’s last remaining sea baths, at Eastern Beach in Geelong and Brighton), the swim will take place over the weekend of 17-19 March. Tides and weather will determine the exact timing.
A support crew using a main 52 ft vessel and an inflatable boat will accompany Paul, but under the rules of open-water swimming he is not allowed to touch either boat or receive assistance other than food and drink. He will wear only Speedos, a cap and goggles as wetsuits are prohibited.
Paul aims to raise $10,000 – around 50 per cent of the cost of heart surgery for a patient. Supporters can donate to East Timor Hearts Fund and leave messages of support via Everyday Hero at give.everydayhero.com/au/baths-2-baths-swim-mending-broken-hearts.
Brighton Baths Health Club is sponsoring the event, which will also support a charitable foundation established for Will Murray, a young man who was injured in a diving accident in 2015 (wheretheresawill.com.au).