World’s first totally blind swimmer to circumnavigate Great Keppel Island

Australian Paralympian Gerrard Gosens OAM will aim to become the world’s first totally blind swimmer to circumnavigate 20km around Great Keppel Island in 5th Swim Around Keppel on Saturday, August 12, 2023.

Gerrard’s solo swim will also form part of a para-athlete relay with husband-and-wife team Kerry-Lee (aka the Wingless Warrior) and former Australian Paralympic swimmer, Paul Gockel, who will each swim 5km (or more) of the distance.

Swim Around Keppel is part of a series of marathon swims that Gerrard and his team are undertaking in preparation for his greatest challenge – swimming 34km through the English Channel in 2024. Dubbed the Channelling Great Dreams project, Gerrard will aim to raise $340,000 for children’s charity – Great Dreams.

Gerrard’s rigorous training routine involves swimming twice a day in his local pool and swimming with his team in open water as well as running and cycling. He was born with congenital blindness and says:

“I’ve never seen Great Keppel Island”. It’s not about being able to see the challenge, it’s the inner belief that I can make it.”

When you’re swimming into nothing, it’s all about the feel of the water and movement around you,” says Gerrard.

“Sighted swimmers can see a landmark in the distance and know they are getting closer. I have no idea of how fast or how far I have gone. That’s why I am so pleased to have Kerry, Paul and my support team to help me achieve this challenge.”

Gerrard spent most of his school years in Yeppoon, only a short boat-ride from Great Keppel Island and has fond memories of his childhood spent on the beautiful local beaches.

At 16 years, Gerrard was the first blind student to attend Yeppoon High School and the young recipient of a guide dog in Australia.

The Swim Around Great Keppel will be another first.

“I am going back home to achieve a goal I never imagined.

“This swim, along with many more, will be another step towards achieving another first for me and the world – swimming the English Channel, said Gerrard.

Those wanting to support Gerrard’s Challenging Great Dreams Project to swim the English Channel and raise funds for his charity, Great Dreams can donate to the GoFundme Page.

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