Aching muscles and a run-in with jellyfish were never going to stop Samantha Doust from completing the Rottnest Channel Swim in Western Australia.
The Great Lakes College Forster campus teacher completed the 19.7 kilometre course from Cottesloe Beach to Rottnest Island in six hours, 25 mins and 23 seconds.
This placed her 96th overall, second in her age group and 25th in the women's division.
"I was pretty happy with that.
"I enjoyed it most of the way until I started to hurt. I did quite well until about the 16 kilometre mark and then I started to get really tired and lethargic.
"It was a real struggle at the end," Samantha said.
I listened to a few podcasts of water swimmers and some elite athletes who had done it before so I was prepared for the mind games and struggle, burning sensation and my whole body hurting.Samantha Doust
So why would Samantha put herself through the pain?
For the second successive year, Samantha used the event to raise the profile of organ donation awareness.
She teamed with longtime friend Kelly Seagrave in 2018 as the 'Water Rats'.
"We did it as a duo and swam half of it each," Samantha said.
"I really enjoyed doing that side of it, having the challenge with her."
The duo share a common bond and dedication to the cause.
"At the time, I didn't realise her dad actually needed an organ donation so we didn't really have that connection until we put two and two together," Samantha said.
"My older brother was an organ donor.
"He was able to help save the life of five other people through organ and tissue donation.
"Mum and dad used to do a lot of organ donation awareness when I was younger."
Samantha said she had talked openly about the topic in her workplace and to friends and family.
Her fundraising efforts this year collected just shy of $1000.
"Last year we got a few thousand dollars and I didn't really push it that much this year, I just wanted to do the swim, raise awareness and get people talking about it," Samantha said.
Samantha trained for eight months for this year's event, with the last six months dedicated to the ocean swim.
"After doing it last year and really enjoying it, I just wanted to challenge myself and see if I could swim the whole 19.7 kilometres.
"I started out swimming two to four kilometres a session, five times a week.
"Then I got up to doing about seven to 10 kilometres a session and would average about 30 kilometres or more a week.
I think because I did it the year before and was prepared for different scenarios, whatever happened I was alrightSamantha Doust
"It was a long time in the pool, then I swam in the lake at Forster on the weekends, doing laps and a few ocean swims as well," Samantha said.
Identifying a host of obstacles that she could have faced in the race, Samantha said she was mentally prepared.
"I listened to a few podcasts of water swimmers and some elite athletes who had done it before so I was prepared for the mind games and struggle, burning sensation and my whole body hurting," Samantha explained.
"I think because I did it the year before and was prepared for different scenarios, whatever happened I was alright."
Her preparation even covered jellyfish stings. That turned out to vital as she was stung twice.
"I got one right at the start and the other a few kilometres in.
"It was just stinging all down my arm.
"I just kept going, I figured that it stings and hurts but it's taking the pain away from everything else.
"There was a lot of people who pulled out of the race because of it but I didn't want that to stop me," Samantha said.
But she still enjoyed the experience of ocean water swimming.
"It was nice and calm, you could pretty much see the bottom of the ocean the whole way apart from two spots," Samantha said.
She was certainly up for the challenge but is happy to get back to the pool.
"It's a lot easier in the pool because you can get your rhythm and stroke," Samantha said.
"In the ocean, especially long distance and going for a long period of time, it's more of a mental game and building your mental strength than anything else.
"You're by yourself so you can get a bit bored."
She looks set to return in 2020, this time in the team division.
"It's a bit more fun and interactive rather than being by yourself for the whole time," she said.
Samantha mainly trains in Taree with people involved with the Forster Tri Club but does dabble in the pool and lake in Forster.
It appears Samantha has contracted the open swim 'bug'.
She hopes to swim the English Channel in the future.
"We'll see in about two years," Samantha said.
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