RCSA Committee Members

11 min read

Iain McCarrey (RCS 2425)

My favourite Rotto Swim memory is from 2008 when I swam in a team with my three brothers with our Dad as Skipper. It was a day filled with plenty of excitement and lots of arguments. I will always remember my naivety at thinking we were almost finished when Rottnest began to appear so tantalisingly close to the eye. A wise bit of advice to first timers - at this point there is still 5km to go. When we finally did make it, the feeling of stepping on dry land is unparalleled.

Iain was elected onto the committee at the 2016 AGM. Since joining, Iain has been involved in many facets of the Event, including being part of the Event Safety Sub-Committee, taking on the role of Assistant Race Director in 2017 and Race Director in 2018/19. Iain has competed in the Rottnest Channel Swim as part of a team on six occasions and completed the duo, twice. In 2020 Iain successfully completed his first solo in an out of event crossing two days before the Event. Iain was first elected President of the RCSA in 2018 and was elected for a further two years at the 2020 AGM.

Kirsty Bellombra (RCS 1194)

My favourite Rotto Swim memory was the first time I experienced the start line as a soloist. The energy leading into that day was amazing, but the moment I got down to the beach, it all became even more incredible. It was a flurry of nerves and excitement. I was lucky enough to go off in the first wave of the day and the moment the horn blew, the months of preparation became all worth it. It's a feeling that I will never forget and is what drove me to give back to the race that has given me so much.

In August 2016, Kirsty was asked to fill a casual vacancy on the RCSA committee and subsequently elevated in 2017. Since joining, Kirsty has been involved in the development of Champions of the Channel, merchandising and was Assistant Race Director in 2020. She is a Chiropractor by trade, a five time soloist in the Rottnest Channel Swim and featured in the 2017 Briefing video. Kirsty was elected Vice President of the RCSA in 2020.

Shane Cartwright (RCS 1646)

My Rotto Swim journey has so many different emotions and experiences that it makes it hard to pick a favourite memory. Whether it be when I initially became involved in the event as a skipper for a team and experiencing the fear of the unknown and absorbing the atmosphere for the first time. To supporting a great mate achieve his first solo and being in awe of his determination to push through and achieve his goal. This was the influence for my first swim and solo crossing the next year. But after skippering for many years, some duos and a solo, my favourite memories are the separate team crossings involving my daughters and my mate’s sons when they became eligible to swim. Knowing how physically and mentally challenging the swim can be, it still amazes me how inspiring it was to see them challenge themselves, to go through the various emotions of the day and still have such a fun day, so proud of them

Shane was elected onto the committee at the 2014 AGM. Since joining, Shane has been significantly involved in the assessment of the RCSA’s risk management plan, simplifying several internal processes and being part of the On-Water Review Group as well as the Strategic Planning sub-committee. He has also served as the Financial Controller for the past four years and has extensive experience in finance and accounting. Shane has been the Financial Controller of the RCSA since 2016 and was elected for a further two years at the 2020 AGM

Olivia Williams (RCS 1684)

After being involved with the swim from such a young age (courtesy of my dad), when it finally came my time to be able to swim in the event, I thought why not do a solo? It couldn’t be that hard, I said to myself after watching three of my dad’s previous successful solo crossings. So at the tender age of 13 I informed my parents of my decision and off I went to the pool to train with my sights set on being the youngest ever female to complete a solo crossing. Fast forward to February 21st, after five long months of training I started the swim aged 14 and 3 weeks. 9 hours and 40 minutes later I crossed the finish line. It’s an achievement I will be proud of forever.

Olivia was elected to the Committee in 2019, she has held the position of shadow Race Director and helped run the VIP function on race day. In 2021 she will take on the role of on-water Assistant Race Director. She is also an avid boater with a lot of experience skippering in and out of event crossings. Olivia is currently half-way through her nursing degree at The University of Notre Dame in Fremantle and hopes to do another solo before she has completed her degree.

Joe Bennett (RCS 1220)

My favorite memory is...

Joe joined the committee filling a casual vacancy in August 2019. With Joe’s professional background as a lawyer, he has been involved in reviewing Event Rules and T&Cs. During the 2020 Event Joe undertook the role of Assistant Race Director and intends to undertake the Race Director role for the 2021 Event.
Joe has participated in the Rottnest Channel Swim 12 times completing six solo, one duo and five team swims. Joe has a keen interest in seeing the Event continue to flourish and was elected to the Committee at the 2020 AGM after serving a year as a casual Committee member.

Scott Turner (RCS 456)

My favourite Rotto Swim memory is running up the beach at the end of the 2005 swim. The reason that the finish of that swim resonates with me is that I had competed the year before, and I felt that I did not swim the race well in that year. I had struggled in the last 7km as I had not paced the swim properly, and I was swimming in survival mode. I finished the race a little disappointed with myself. So 2005 was my chance to right my wrongs from the 2004 event. Leading into 2005 I was more disciplined with my training, and I was more disciplined on race day with my pacing. I ended up swimming 4 hours 39 minutes and running up to the finish line, I felt great. I was proud of myself for working through and overcoming the challenges that I had faced the previous year and that satisfaction for a job well done is my favourite Rotto Swim memory.

Scott has been involved in teaching thousands of people to swim in Perth, having owned many of Perth’s busiest learn to swim schools over the last 25 years. Currently, Scott owns and operates Go Swimming with two swim schools located in Subiaco and Floreat.
Scott is a qualified accountant and has also worked in advertising and marketing, previously partnering with oOh Media to build a network of advertising billboards across Australia.
Scott started competing in the Rottnest Channel Swim way back in 1995 in a team. Since then, Scott has managed three solo crossings in 2004, 2005 and 2021, a duo crossing in 2010, as well as a bunch of other team crossings. Scott was elected to the Committee at the 2021 AGM.

Rob Herkes (RCS 776)

My favourite Rotto Swim memory is sitting on the pub wall with family & friend back in the early days cheering the late comers across the finish line. Always such a great atmosphere!

Being first introduced to the swim in 2002 when he undertook a support role, Rob Herkes has since been hooked and in awe of the event. Along with a number team swims, Rob has completed 14 solo crossings of the Rottnest Channel and will be chasing his 15th crossing in 2022.
Rob likes to assist first-time Rottnest Channel swimmers in training and nutrition as well as paddlers, support crew and skippers in helpful tips that will assist them in completing their crossing successfully, whilst promoting the iconic event.
When he’s out of the water, Rob is a full-time senior career fire fighter of ten years with DFES and a casually employed zoo keeper at Perth Zoo. Rob hopes to bring his experience in dealing with emergency situations and incidents as well as his passion for the swim as he joins the RCSA Committee as a casual Committee member in 2021.

Tess Hayes (RCS 1681)

Rotto for me is like Christmas – one of the most fun and joyful (albeit often highly stressful) days of the year. I love the quiet anticipation and bubbling undercurrent of excitement as dawn approaches at Cottesloe, I love watching the sense of relief, achievement and pride as swimmers cross the line, I love the crazy paddler hats and the comradery between skippers, paddlers and crew, and I love when the commentators switch between talking about “the amazing athletes” to the swimmers who “just have a whole lot of heart” (as a 3.30pm finisher – that was me).
However, perhaps my most enduring Rotto memories were formed 3000km east of this action – at a 25m indoor pool in the landlocked Barossa Valley, where I spent hours and hours in 2014 and early 2015 training for my own solo crossing. I wore off the skin on my fingers from touching and turning (I really should learn to tumble turn), I had to have an operation on my foot after pushing off the wall so often and I am sure the locals all thought I was a bit nuts – most never having heard of the Rottnest Channel Swim. Perhaps my favourite effort was in early January during an 8km set when I realised I was going to be late for lunch with a friend. So, after 6km I got out, met my friend for lunch and a glass or two of red and then returned to knock off the last 2km. The dedication of swimmers training for Rotto really is second to none - I commend every one of you.

Tess is a communications professional with more than 20 years' experience both as a journalist and devising, leading and implementing PR and marketing campaigns. Tess has worked in the tourism and events sectors and managed Swimming WA's PR, marketing and sponsorship functions for the 2015/16 and 2016/17 seasons as well as overseeing the 2015/16 Open Water Swimming Series. Tess completed a solo Rottnest Channel Swim in 2015, after training on her own in a 25m indoor pool in the Barossa Valley, and has also done a team crossing and supported as a paddler. A passionate advocate for the Event, Tess managed PR for the 2019 and 2020 events, volunteered in 2018 and was involved in the 2016 and 2017 events via Swimming WA. Tess was elected to the Committee at the 2020 AGM.

Nic Blackburn (RCSA Staff - Executive Officer)

My favourite memory of my Rotto journey so far is the arrival of the Peter Dunn, the last solo of 2020, at Thomson Bay. The crowd was gathering for presentations, the sun was shining and the Freo Sea Rescue boats were crowding around the end of the finish shoot as Peter reached the final 400m. Peter had been swimming for over 10 and a half hours in what were deceptively gruelling conditions. As he approached the finish the crowd began to get lauder, cheering him on and chanting his name over the final stretch. As Peter ran up the ramp into the bright evening light, the crowd erupted with applause celebrating his enormous achievement. This epitomises what I believe is the spirit of the Event - the celebration of incredible effort by ordinary people.

Nic Blackburn has been the Executive Officer of the RCSA since the 2019 Event and was the Event Officer in 2018. Prior to this Nic organised the Open Water Swimming series for two seasons running over 30 open water swimming events across the state. He has completed two team crossings (2010, 2017) and one day (when he gets a dad bod) hopes to tackle the solos.