“Have a go. Get in and do it!” Jane’s motto after life-changing ocean swims

Written by Jane Gardiner

I have always loved the water, however, I had a long period in my life when I did not love how I looked in swimwear.

Fast forward to my 50th birthday and life changed, I found the body image movement and fitness for physical and mental health – I felt fit and healthy again.

Late 2017/early 2018 I had a run of bad luck, I broke my foot at the end of 2017 and then had surgery on a broken ankle in February 2018. My fitness took a dive when I was forced to rest and recover from my injuries.

After my ankle surgery, the only exercise I could do was swim. I needed that so much for my mental health, as much as I did for my physical health.

I joined masters swimming and was regularly swimming for an hour at a time, with the plan to do an ocean swim in early 2019.

I had looked into the Learn to ocean swim clinic with OceanFit at Bondi as a way of increasing my confidence in the ocean, and as usual, I talked myself out of it, sooooo many excuses.

Finally, I decided to book, and I committed to a clinic in October. I could have backed out twenty times. My mind and self-doubt were telling me ‘no’, my joy and love of swimming was saying ‘yes!’. I went along and it was really great!

The clinic gave me the confidence to just have a go.

My friend likes bike riding so we made a team for the Maitland Triathlon in November. I did the 750m river swim, Anne-Mare did the 20km bike ride then I did the 5km ‘Rulk’ (run/walk).

We felt like amateurs, but the rest of the triathletes at the event were really encouraging and supportive.

The first 375m of the swim was against the tide. The surf lifesavers were with me the whole time and I ended up spending 90% of my time in the river as the only swimmer!

The trip back to the jetty with the tide was much quicker. I was so proud that I had completed the swim.

Jane participating in the Maitland Triathlon with her friend and team-mate Anne-Mare.

When I got back onshore, the run to the bike transition went past the start of the fun run taking place at the same time, all the participants waiting to start the run cheered me in. It was a very emotional moment, and it felt like I had not only accomplished something amazing but that I fitted in with the sport.

A week later I did my first ocean swim at Jimmys Beach. It was a 600m swim and I was so nervous, as usual, I had my self-doubt and I was talking aloud to myself. I knew I could do the distance easily, so I just kept saying “it’s just 12 laps of the pool”.

With the welcome support of the surf lifesavers, I made it.

Jane at her first ocean swim, the Jimmys Beach Open Water Swim.

What was my time? Doesn’t mater. Where did I come? Doesn’t mater.

Did I enjoy it? You bet! Will I do it again? Absolutely!

Ocean swimming is loads of fun, it’s great for my fitness and even better for my mental health.

My new motto is “Have a go. Get in and do it!”

Jane’s training with OceanFit

To train like Jane, register for the following training with OceanFit:


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  1. Oh Jane I relate on so many levels I learnt to swim 10 years ago after a knee reconstruction but never kept at it. We relocated to a beach area and joined the Masters swimming club. I couldn’t manage one lap in a 25 metre pool. Fast forward one year and with support and encouragement from coaches and members I completed a 1.25 km open water swim. I too was 20 minutes behind everyone else but I crossed the finish line. Congratulations and thanks for the inspiration.