A YOUNG woman preparing for her fifth Rock to Rock Ocean Swim at Elizabeth Beach on Easter Sunday, has completed the Sydney Harbour Mini Swim Classic.
She is Mel Eustace, 23, from Turramurra. She also has Down syndrome.
Five years ago Mel just played in the backyard pool and was not able to swim 50 metres. After watching family friend and mentor, John Trevillian do the Rock to Rock swim she said, “I can do that” and started training.
At the moment her regime is 24 laps a week at the Andrew ‘Boy’ Charlton Pool, but as it gets closer to Easter she will do 30 laps of the 50 metre pool, the equivalent of one and a half kilometres.
She took on the Sydney Harbour Mini Swim Classic together with her mentor, as a training session and completed the one kilometre distance in 45 minutes.
The initial section from the Man’O’War steps to the first buoy was a tough swim, her mother Fran said.
John encouraged her with, “You’re on the home stretch now,” to which she replied, “OMG”.
She was elated when everyone cheered her across the line.
It’s much the same with the Rock to Rock swim which she has completed in one hour two minutes – her best time. She wants to crack it this year in under an hour but that depends on the sea.
“It’s fantastic seeing the lifesavers stay out there with her after everyone else has finished,” her mother said, “and to have everyone cheer her over the finish line.”
The Rock to Rock swim is a gutsy swim for anyone to do, but even more so for a person with a disability.
Mel is involved with the Special Olympics, a participant in the swimming and softball program. She has recently returned from the World Games where she won a bronze medal.
Their motto is, ‘Let me win, but if I cannot win let me be brave in the attempt’ and she lives by that motto.
“Mel is pretty much a pocket rocket,” Fran said. “She loves life and loves sport. She’s only knee-high to a grasshopper– she’s not the best, but she gives her best.”
Mel works three days a week at Sydney Girls’ High School and another day at a girlfriend’s office. She does a lot of public speaking for corporate and school groups.
Her mother said she would never ever have imagined in her wildest dreams Melissa doing what she is doing.