A CSU Bathurst student who has joined the exclusive club of successful solo English Channel swimmers did some of his training at the local pool.
Michael Payne, who is from Kurrajong in the Hawkesbury but is living on-campus in Bathurst as a second-year nursing student, says the channel swim was as much a feat of the mind as the body.
"You can see France the whole way during the swim and it doesn't even look like it's getting any larger - so that really affects you mentally," he said.
"Some people say it's [swimming the channel] 60 per cent physical and 40 per cent mental and that's what I experienced."
A lifeguard at the Manning Aquatic Centre, Mr Payne is a lifelong swimmer who was part of a relay team, that included his dad, that crossed the channel in 2019.
He was going to attempt a solo crossing that same year, but the weather conditions meant it couldn't go ahead, and then the HSC and COVID caused further delays for anything equally as ambitious.
Come 2022, though, and it was time to try again.
After training in the Sydney area's Hawkesbury River, in Wallerawang's Lake Wallace (to get used to the cold water) and at the Manning Aquatic Centre, Mr Payne, and his dad Steve, attended the Cork Distance Week marathon swimming preparation camp in Ireland.
And then, last month, they travelled to Folkestone in England's south-east and got ready for the big day - which ended up coming early.
"My actual channel slot was from July 20 to 28 [swimmers have a place allocated to them based on their predicted speed and the tide and other factors], so I would have been called up around then," he said.
"But because my pilot [swimmers have a boat pilot to guide them across the channel] had seen that it was going to be more windy around then, he decided that the conditions were better earlier, and we were already there in Folkestone, which is right next to Dover, which is where they start."
Mr Payne got into the water at Samphire Hoe, a beach between Folkestone and Dover, at around midnight on July 15 and got out of the water at France 12 hours and 48 minutes later.
And in the hours in between?
Mr Payne said he was stung by compass jellyfish four times (two of them during the night, when he couldn't see what was stinging him, which he said was a "bit scary"), but said it was being taken off course almost at the end of his swim that proved more challenging.
"I was swimming from stronger tides into easier tides, but because it's a spring tide, the currents can randomly get stronger as you get to France," he said.
"You're aiming to get to this point where there's a lighthouse, but I got swept past it because of the tides.
"That was probably the most difficult part of the swim, the end bit, because I was pretty mentally fatigued and physically fatigued. Mentally, I was in the shambles, basically."
Mr Payne, exhausted and confused, said he wasn't sure why his mum, dad, the crew and the two boat pilots were encouraging him to push so hard.
"But if I had not gotten to Cap Gris-Nez, it would have added two hours to my time, so I am very lucky that they were able to push me through," he said.
As he got to the rocky seawall that marked the end of his swim - and not a beach, as he had been expecting - his dad swam out to meet him.
"He's not allowed to touch me or anything [it would invalidate the swim], so he had to watch as I struggled to get out on the rocks," Mr Payne said.
"The horn blared on the boat to say that I was finished."
IN OTHER NEWS AROUND BATHURST:
He said it was a special feeling to have done it.
"I was very tired and everything, of course, but really happy that I'd made it, because Dad's tried a couple of times over the years and he hasn't, unfortunately, found any luck with it - he's done more than a couple of relay crossings, but he's never found luck with his solo ones.
"It was really great to have him there at the end and it just felt good to have that moment - father and son.
"I just felt like, wow, I've just swum the English Channel."
In terms of what's next, he said he will enjoy his achievement for "a little while", but would like to qualify for the open water nationals later this year.
"And there are other swims similar to the channel that I want to do - the Cook Strait [between New Zealand's North Island and South Island] and the Tsugaru Channel in Japan," he said.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.