Sydney man Ned Wieland swam 62 laps of Bondi Beach on Saturday to raise awareness for mental health. The 48km swim was the longest one he’d ever completed. The 20-year-old athlete and swim coach raised about $23,000 for mental health organisation R U OK? in the process, his R U OK? page shows.
He also invited along members of the public to join him on the swim (in limited numbers) for parts of the journey. Ned told DMARGE: “Swimming is really good for your mental health. Probably not good for your mental health when you’re going for bloody 20 hours [he joked], but if I can get people down there and get them swimming I thought that was kind of the best way – you see with the older generation as well as the little ones, the ocean is such therapy for people. You let your thoughts flow and lose yourself in there.”
Ned’s R U OK? page describes the challenge as such: “Every year I set the goal of a big swim challenge. Due to Covid and the recent lockdown, I have set this year’s challenge in my own ‘backyard’, Bondi Beach. The Ben Buckler to The Boot Enduro swim is my attempt to break the current record of 60 laps swimming of Bondi. Set up as an 800m line from North Bondi to South Bondi will count as one lap.”
“My aim is 62 laps maybe more!! I have always used my big swims as Fundraisers for RUOK. Having the experience of losing one of my swimming mentors when I was young, drives me to swim as far and as long as I need and can. My swims are done to raise as much awareness in my community for suicide prevention, nothing hurts more than losing someone close to you. I have decided to fundraise for R U OK? to help spread their message and help prevent suicide.”
Ned successfully completed the 62 laps on Saturday.
This is not the first time Ned has broken records. In 2017, he became the youngest Australian male to swim the English Channel – a 33-kilometre feat. This year Ned prepared for the big Bondi swim for about seven weeks, swimming every morning and aiming to get through about 65 kilometres a week.
Ned told DMARGE: “Every year I try to do a challenge to raise awareness for mental health. In 2017 I did the English channel. I have also done Catalina (between Long Beach and California).”
Ned also spoke about his motivation for the swim: “Growing up I had a mentor who was at every ocean swim with me. When he wasn’t on that start line anymore and I found out he committed suicide, to not have him there, it was just a great shock I guess because you have them there, you’re speaking to them every day, and you don’t notice what they’re going through. People can appear ‘yeah sweet’ – but you just don’t know what they’re going through.”
Ned says this is part of what got him through the long day of swimming: “I got myself into the headspace [of] I’ve only got to be out there for a certain amount of hours on end,” he told DMARGE, but there are other people suffering all day, every day.
It took Ned more than 10 hours to complete the swim, and he told 9News he would celebrate the achievement by going to sleep or going to the pub.