Gift of Hearing Swim Q&A with Prof Marcus Atlas

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This week, we stopped by Prof Marcus Atlas's clinic in Subiaco to ask him about his upcoming swim to Rottnest, why he does it and why the Gift of Hearing Appeal is so important to him.

Marcus, can you tell us how you became involved with the Rottnest Channel Swim?

I've always been a lover of all things to do with the water; swimming, sailing, boats and I swam competitively at school when I was younger. So when my good friend John Harris said he enjoyed the Rottnest Channel Swim, I wanted to give it a go. I didn't realise at the time exactly how much hard work would go into preparing for such an open-water swim, even in a team!

How do you prepare for a swim like this?

Its all starts months beforehand and most dramatically within the last 3 months before the swim. I swim in a team with a group of friends and we all train individually or in a squad. We have to ensure we are fit enough to swim our various legs of the swim and to manage, if the conditions are not in our favour on the day, the difficult conditions. We also need to prepare our team including our skipper and paddler to ensure we all arrive at Rottnest safely.

With a busy schedule performing surgeries, running an ENT clinic and as Director of Ear Science, how do you find the time to train?

It's all about finding opportunities in my schedule. As the swim approaches, I need to ramp up the training to ensure I can last the distance and the choppy ocean waves. I try to swim both weekend days, Friday mornings and also when I have a break in my schedules on Tuesdays and Thursdays I race to either the pool or the beach to get in some swim time. So I always have my bathers and towel in the car, ready to go!

You mentioned you swim in a team, who else is swimming with you?

I swim with a group of close friends, John Harris who introduced me to the swim, Rhonda Tuckey, and Brad Same all join me in the water. We also have a skipper, Ian Beacham, who ensures our safety so that we swim in a straight line, keeps us safe and away from sharks! We also have a paddler, James Tuckey, who is the son of one of our former swim team members David Tuckey. He paddles the entire distance in front of us so that we know what direction to go in and also away from boats. I think that James looks even more exhausted than us at the end. As you can see, it is a big team effort and I am so deeply grateful to my friends for their involvement in the charity swim. Being in a team makes the training and the challenge itself so much more enjoyable and I wouldn't be able to do it without them. We are able to have a laugh even after a few hours of swimming.

When you swim in the Rottnest Channel Swim, you are fundraising for our Gift of Hearing Appeal. Why is this important to you?

The Gift of Hearing Appeal is so very close to my heart and has been a big part of my life ever since its inception. It provides us with a way to showcase to the community what we do at Ear Science to help people and to gain awareness about the impact of hearing loss and the critical importance of research in this field. We train and swim and survive this 20km challenge to raise money for Gift of Hearing as we are so passionate about it and the outcomes we achieve through our research. The support we get from the community is also very rewarding because it feels as though people are saying they care about what we do at Ear Science and I feel that, and our researchers feel that also - it gives us a sense of pride that what we are doing is worthwhile and acknowledged by the community but it also reinforces the feeling that it is our duty to do our supporters proud.

After the Rottnest Channel Swim, how do you plan on celebrating getting all the way to the other side?

We normally sit on the boat and stare at each other in disbelief for a few moments and comprehend that we made it!e have just done! We head off for lunch in Thompson Bay that is organised by our fellow team member John Harris and we have a laugh and a drink and vow never to do it again - knowing all the while that we will.