West Coast Eagles’ midfielder Hayley Bullas participated in a 24 hour swim to raise funds and awareness for Ocean Heroes, a not for profit organisation that takes children on the autism spectrum surfing.
The swim took place last weekend at the Scarborough Beach Pool from 4pm on the Friday, until 4pm on the Saturday.
73 swimmers across six teams combined for 530km with one team contributing 105km.
For Bullas, she was one of 15 other swimmers in one of two novelty teams. The other four teams were made up of 10 swimmers.
Over $35,000 was raised, which, in her words goes “an incredibly long way to getting more kids in the water.”
Thanks to her housemate who introduced her to Ocean Heroes, Bullas has been involved since she arrived in Western Australia a year and a half ago.
Because of her devotion to the cause, she couldn’t say no to the swim.
“My housemate, she would go down and volunteer with Ocean Heroes, so she kinda dragged me along and I fell in love with it. I’ve been going ever since,” Bullas told The Inner Sanctum.
“When they asked if I wanted to be a participant in the swim, I thought ‘Sure, absolutely! I wouldn’t miss the opportunity.'”
As a passionate beach goer and surfer, Bullas’ desire to give children on the autism spectrum the same opportunity drew her towards the cause.
“I love the ocean and I love the water. I’m a surfer myself,” she said.
“To find out that not many people on the autism spectrum access the beach and the ocean was really disappointing to hear.
“To jump onboard with Ocean Heroes which encourages more people on the spectrum to get in the water and utilise what’s in their backyard… I couldn’t say no to that.
“And to give everyone equal opportunity, I think it’s an absolutely great organisation”
The challenges that presented themselves on the day were quickly outweighed by the goal and task at hand.
There was plenty of encouragement all around towards the swimmers as the community got behind them throughout the day.
“It was just really good vibes,” Bullas said.
“It didn’t matter if it was four in the afternoon, or four in the morning. Everyone was still upbeat and just encouraging everyone to keep going.
“Great to have the whole community come down to support at the end there. I think we had about a hundred people poolside to celebrate the end of the 24 hours and just onlookers over the top of Scarborough beach pool celebrating with us.
“It was pretty epic to just have so much support for the organisation and for you too, just knowing that what you’re doing is help more kids get in the water and to surf.
“I only swum about an hour and a half, so I didn’t swim as much as other people did because I had a team of 15, which was beneficial for me.”
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Swimming for an extended time period is a challenge in itself. Bullas used this as an opportunity to test herself and see how far she could go.
“I didn’t really prep for the 24-hour swim which is a challenge in itself,” she said.
“I was quite busy in the lead up; obviously I was playing footy myself and I would get in the water and do a few laps here and there.
“It was a good challenge for me to see how far I could push myself and to see how many laps I could get in in that half an hour and just try and beat it each time I got in the water. That’s how I challenged myself.
“It doesn’t matter how many laps you do, [because] at the end of the day, you’re just getting in the water and having a go and trying to raise money for an awesome cause.”
Ocean Heroes are also open to more volunteers to come down and help out over the warmer months. If you don’t have time to volunteer, donating is always an option.
“You can come down and volunteer on Sundays, they run an event one Sunday every month,” Bullas explained.
“The events have stopped through winter though. They will start back up again toward the middle to end of the year.
“If you jump on Facebook, you can join the volunteers page and it tell everything you need to know.”
For those located in WA who would like to get involved, there are two more events this year in Geraldton and Broome.
Bullas hopes to be there for those events, and encourages people to join in.
“I’ll hopefully be joining them going up there and doing their regional events as well,” she said.
“So, if people are around at the same time, they can come down and help volunteer which would be awesome.”
For more details about Ocean Heroes, check out their website or their Facebook and Instagram pages.
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