Posted on Monday 27th August, 2018

Paul Bailey Completes his 15-kilometre Butterfly Challenge in Style.

On August 21, Warringah Masters Swimming Club member Paul Bailey completed a whopping 15 kilometre butterfly swim at Warringah Aquatic Centre all in the name of charity. 15 kilometres of any stroke is nothing to sneeze at. Most high-performance swimmers would shy away from attempting such a swim, however Paul not only successfully completed it… he is already planning the next one.

“What’s six, seven hours of pain when there are people out there living with cancer, mental disorders, chronic illness. For a lot of people the pain, both mental and physical continues. That’s what really keeps me going.’”

Paul Bailey in good spirits during his 15 kilometre butterfly swim. Photo by Terry Gainey.

It was a croaky voice that greeted me on the phone the next morning. I was calling to congratulate him and assumed said voice was an after-effect of his mammoth feat. I was shocked when he apologised for his voice, explaining he had been suffering with a chest infection since Monday.

‘Wow! So not only did you just swim 15k of fly in one day, but you did it with a chest infection?’

‘Yeah I actually pulled up pretty good‘ he replied. ‘I prepared for the swim and this is pretty much how I expected to feel.’

‘So what are you doing today Paul? Resting?’

‘No straight back to work’ he said. ‘I’m working across three desktops as we speak.’

I didn’t want to keep Paul on the phone for long. Running an accounting business would definitely keep one busy. On top of a 40 hour plus work week, Paul still finds time to swim train three times a week and complete a variety of dryland training sessions. Paul works countless hours as a Surf Life Saving Patrol Captain on the Sydney Northern Beaches during summer and he is also on the Masters Swimming NSW Coaching Team. On top of that he is one of the newest board members at Masters Swimming NSW. So why, or should I ask ‘how’ does one find the time and energy to swim 15 kilometres of anything, let alone butterfly?

Paul set himself a goal of swimming 15 kilometres of butterfly in one day. That is a feat that would sound a tad crazy to a lot of people, but Paul has done it before. This year he set up two donation accounts so he could raise money for two charities close to his heart. The Butterfly Foundation and Beyond Blue.

Paul asked his friends and family to help support his endurance swim by putting a small donation into one, or both causes. During his 7 hours of swimming a number of gobsmacked people asked ‘how are you doing this?’ ‘How is this possible’ or ‘where do you get the energy from?’

Outside of all the preparation work both in and out of the water Paul credits his resilience, focus and commitment to his empathy for the people he is raising money for.

‘What’s six, seven hours of pain when there are people out there living with cancer, mental disorders, chronic illness… the list goes on. I know that when I finish my seven hours of pain that I’ll be good. That’s not the same for a lot of people out there. For a lot of people the pain, both mental and physical continues. That’s what really keeps me going.’

When asked if he’s going to do this next year Paul said ‘of course!’ I hope to continue to raise money for a variety of charities along the way. Hopefully this is something we can get other people involved in. 5k, 10k or 15k in one day of any stroke you like. Even doggy paddle! When you put your mind to something and you’re passionate you will amaze yourself at what you can achieve.

Stay tuned for upcoming charity swims including the Brain Swim in November at Lane Cove Aquatic Centre plus a number of other upcoming swims that the everyday swimmer can be a part of.