TWO LOCALS are vying to be the world’s first women to swim the treacherous 27km Green Island to Cairns• Ocean crossing, dubbed Australia’s equivalent of the English Channel, for the charity event Swimming the Gap. The swim, which raises funds for AFL Cape York House Foundation, is one of the world’s largest ocean swims, with only six people ever successfully completing it. However, fourth-year Cairns medical student Harriet Grant, and local swim teacher, Kaname Woodfield, are set to change that. Both Masters Swimming Queensland champions Harriet and Kaname said knowing they were helping a worthwhile local charity gave them the motivation they needed to commit to the extreme ocean challenge.
“l ‘ve never done marathon swimming before, and knowing I am helping to make a difference in local children’s lives helps me push and challenge myself to achieve it,” Harriet said. “Plus having a good cause to focus on takes your mind off the sharks, crocodiles and other marine creatures out there.” With the event in its second year, the pair will embark on a gruelling 10-week training schedule, following in the footsteps of Swimming the Gap founders Jesse O’Hara and Marijn Kerkhoven. The ladies will swim from Green Island to Yorkeys Knob under marathon conditions, meaning it will be a nonstop, up to ten-hour, open ocean swim of 27 kilometres – if they swim straight. If the girls veer off course or the wind isn’t in their favour, it could be more than 30 kilometres.
Kaname says she feels the strongest she’s ever felt after taking home 13 medals at the Masters Swimming Queensland State championships this year. She knows it’s mind over matter to swim distance in the open ocean. Feeling only a little bit worried, Kaname is confident that she can swim the distance, spurred on by the thought of raising funds for the Foundation. “To get there alone would be hard, but I have amazing support from Harriet. We train together and cheer each other on,” Kaname said. AFL Cape York General Manager Rick Hanlon OAM said he is in awe of the girls and hopes Swimming the Gap will become an annual event attracting people from all over.
The money from Jesse and Marijn’s inaugural swim was extremely vital to the Foundation because it went into the well-being program for the students. Well-being support is really important for young people when they are coming from a remote community to a boarding environment for up to 40 weeks a year,” Mr Hanlon said. I’m in awe of them. To be able to swim 27 k’s in the ocean and ten hours in the water is extreme athleticism. You’re using your whole body, and it’s an amazing feat.” To donate to the swimming, visit: mycause.com.au.
About AFL Cape YorkHouse Foundation AFL Cape York House Foundation’s purpose is to support disadvantaged students and families participating in AFL Cape York coordinated programs in the areas of Education, Well Being Support, AFL Pathways, Careers, Transition, Residential Care and Outreach Programs.
AFL Cape York Boys and Girls Houses, are purpose-built facilities aiming to provide accommodation, educational, employment and training opportunities for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women from some of Far North Queensland’s most remote communities in a culturally appropriate, safe and secure residential environment to ensure every boarding student has the opportunity to transition successfully into what they want to pursue.
AFL Cape York House aims to assist the transition from remote communities by working with families and the individual on their transition support. We provide a supportive and structured environment that is centred around culture and family by building positive relationships and skills as they transition through secondary school. Construction of AFL Cape York House – Boys boarding facility was completed in January 2013 and can support a capacity of 48 young men. AFL Cape York House – Girls facility opened its doors for 50 young women in 2019.