A Tale of Two Swimmers: Mr Nathan Perrett (Northshore) and Mr Jordan Thyer (SCEA Board Member) swim the ‘Port To Pub’ Race

The daunting task of swimming up to 25 kilometres in open water became a reality for two men from different corners of the SCEA world last weekend, as Mr Nathan Perrett (Northshore Christian Grammar School Design & Technology Teacher) and Mr Jordan Thyer (SCEA Board member and 2024 SCEA Commissioning Service keynote speaker) drew on their training and dedication to complete the marathon journey from Port Beach to Rottnest.

The early morning start meant that the alarm clocks were set for pre-dawn hours in the Thyer household (pictured below), with all of the family descending on Port Beach, Fremantle for the starter’s whistle just before 6.00 am.

How do you swim that far without giving up?

For Nathan, it was about conquering the big tasks in small increments:

“When you have lots of little goals: just the next five-kilometre stretch, the next break for food, counting my stroke rates – that’s when we conquer them.”

So how do the other 700+ members of the SCEA staff get involved next year, swimming to Rottnest for a SCEA Celebration Day on the beaches there?

“You’ll need to do some training. Four times a week, you will need to wake up at 4:30 am to swim – and you can’t skip training just because it’s dark and cold!”


Nathan was fortunate to have a training group of swimmers (two of them swam on the day with him) spurring each other on when the temptation to stop was lingering.

“You constantly have that verse in Ecclesiastes about two is better than one [because if they fall, one will lift his fellow] in your mind, knowing that they are in this struggle with you.”

So, how did the busy pastor Jordan Thyer regulate his training, knowing that the swim would be the farthest he had ever swum in his life?

“Living too far to train with a swimming squad meant I would swim every weekday morning, mostly by myself (unless my brother joined), at Bilgoman Pool. It was tough to stay motivated by myself, but having the flexibility between 5.00 – 8.00 am each morning meant I could help at home when the kids had a rough night or got up early. The Saturday morning training sessions were longer, open water swims to bring the weekly total to 25-30km,” said Jordan this week.

“Also, I am known as being ‘half-ranga’ [Ranga is an Australian slang term colloquially attributed to a person with orange or red hair], I had to get my training in very early in the morning so I didn’t get sunburnt!”

Each of the 54 swimmers who took on this gruelling challenge had a support team around them, with kayaks paddling near the swimmers, coaches cheering them on and regular food stops to ensure that the competitors could withstand the hours of physical exercise.

Mr Perrett completed the course in 6 hours and 52 minutes, a colossal effort which saw him finish near the top of the field.

Jordan Thyer also finished strongly in the 19.7-kilometre straight swim and reflected on the morning’s work:

“Today was the culmination of lots of training and sacrifice – especially from my wife Rachel, who has been amazing through this training process. I have achieved a dream of a solo crossing of the Rottnest Channel.”

How does the body cope after more than seven hours in open water?

“I went downhill at the 11-kilometre marker due to being so cold. I was uncontrollably shivering at the food stops and in the medical tent after the race. Truth be told, I was hoping for a shark sighting so I could get pulled out with no shame!”

Mr Perrett was swimming for his charity cause, Pink Elephants (an organisation that enables early intervention, emotional support, and care for those who experience the trauma and heartbreak of miscarriage and early pregnancy loss), which had also benefited from a swim in WA’s southwest earlier this year with Principal Mr Stuart Chisholm and fellow staffer Ms Sascha Dallo.

For Jordan Thyer, the opportunity to rest and recover after such a physical ordeal may be possible in the next month or two!

“I’m feeling a weird mixture of relief, gratitude and satisfaction at this point,” said Mr Thyer this week.

“My support crew of skipper Joel, first mate Ian, and the paddlers (Jordan and Brayden) were everything I could have hoped for.”

So – who’s up for seven or eight hours of heavy swimming and hypothermia in 2025?

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