Melbourne Camp

Thursday, April 25, 2019 to Sunday, April 28, 2019
Water temp: 
14-15.8 °C
Average: 5 (1 vote)
Extreme Marathon

Melbourne Trip - The Cold Water Swim Camp

Cold water swim

The Cold water swimcamp is designed for distance swimmers who are preparing for extreme marathon swimming events with a cold water element, such as: the English Channel crossing; the Cook Strait swim; the Manhattan Island swim; and the Irish Channel.

The camp includes 4-6 long distance swims in cold (13-14C) water off the coast at Brighton, South Melbourne. One of the swims is 6-8hours long which can be signed off by the Coach as the official qualification swim for the English Channel.

This year the camp will focus on those swimmers attempting the English Channel crossing and other Channels.

The Camp program includes:

  • 7cold water swims sessions ranging from 1hour to 8 hours
  • One night swim
  • Two lectures about planning and preparing for your event
  • Practising nutrition – to assist swimmers in understanding their specific feeding needs.
  • Working on swimming skills – there will time during the swims to practise pace, technique and feeding routines.
  • A Teamwork environment – whilst swimming together, participants can work as a team and experience supporting each other mentally as well as physically
  • Learning further about swim events – build up your knowledge about the swim by talking to and, sharing information with others
  • A log book, T-shirt and Cap – by which to remember the swim and the valuable information you will have learnt
  • Expanding your swimming network - make new friends with swimmers with the same interest and keep in touch with them before, during and after the camp


Melbourne cold water swim camp is run by Vladswim that specialises in preparing swimmers for their open water and extreme marathon goals. Since the program was established in 2008, Vladswim has prepared: 13 swimmers to successfully cross the English Channel and around 33 people to complete solo crossings of the Rottnest Channel (with one female swimmer taking first place in two consecutive years).

Cold swim boot camp coach - Vladswim Vlad Mravec

Vladswim coaches:

Vlad Mravec and Charm Frend – will be present to co-ordinate your daily program and answer your questions

Vlad, head coach – Vlad is the founder of the Vladswim program, which provides all level of swimming services from stroke correction at beginner to elite level through to coaching of an open water swimming squad.
Vlad’s expertise lies in increasing interesting and effective pool and ocean swim sessions covering all levels of intensity and skills to help swimmers achieve their long distance goals. He has a clear understanding of how to structure training programs and plan for specific endurance swim events.
Vlad designed the camp program and manual and will share his extensive coaching and planning experience throughout your time on the camp.

Melbourne Swim Camp Vladswim - sunriseVlad  are also specialise in related fields such as advice for support crews, built up through hands-on experience accompanying English Channel swimmers.

To attend you must acclimatise for cold water swimming for at least 3-4 weeks prior to the camp.
We strongly recommend that you do this by:

  1. Showering in cold water every morning and evening
  2. Experimenting with cold water baths, especially if you are coming from warmer states. This involves immersing yourself in a mixture of ice and cold water over incrementally longer time periods, - starting at 10minutes and increasing to 1hour - 3 times per week.
  3. Cold water swim camp - VladswimAvoiding warm places and wearing warm clothing - try to keep your body cold
  4. Embracing the cold – mentally prepare yourself by learning to forget the word “COLD” !
  5. Build up your swim edurance

If you have any questions, please contact Vlad via

We believe you can achieve your swimming goal and look forward to assisting you with it.



Thank you and see you at the camp.

Vladswim Team


Cold water swims - VladswimCamp price: $750 per person (15 - 30% discount for Vladswim active members)

Camp price includes:

  • Five cold water swims 1- 3hours
  • One cold water night swim 1 hour
  • One long cold water swim 8 hours
  • Two experienced open water coaches
  • Three briefings about: Channel swim preparation; 8 hour swim and all other ascpects
  • Support guidelines – how to organise boat crew for the day of the swim.
  • You’ll also receive a camp manual/log book, T-shirt and swim cap

Night swim - Vladswim

Camp price excludes:

  • Transport to and from Melbourne
  • Meals
  • Accommodation

Optional package:

For the camp this year I have secured some rooms at the Quest Brighton on the Bay (03 95915000) at a corporate rate. When you book mention you are part of the Vladswim group. This location is perfect as you can walk to the Baths in about 2 mins and this is where our swimming will occur.

All the lectures will be held at a house that we have also rented just across the road from the Quest.


Please book your own accommodation. We strongly suggest to book in Melbourne's suburb of Brighton.

For example: Quest Brighton on the Bay


What to bring - Vladswim

  • Swimmers
  • Swim cap
  • Towel
  • Goggles – two pairs
  • Vaseline
  • Warm clothes (track suit, jumper)
  • beanie hat
  • 3-4 Glow sticks – for night swim
  • Energy/ nutrition supplements
  • Mesh bag for your swim supplements
  • Drink bottles marked with your name
  • Medications


MELBOURNE - 23rd to 26th April 2020

Arriving to Melbourne

THU -  arriving to Melbourne

  • 2:00pm meeting to go through the camp program
  • 3:15pm first swim for 1.5 hour
  • 5:00pm light dinner
  • 6:00pm night swim for 1 hour

Ocean swims

FRI - 2x swims

  • 8:00am - 3hour swim
  • 11:00am to 3pm free time
  • 3:00pm - lecture about Channel preparation and upcoming 8 hours swim
  • 4:00pm - 1.5 hour swim
  • 6:30pm  - shopping and gear (incl nutrition) set up for the 8 hour swim

Long ocean swim

SAT - longest swim

  • 6:00am - 8 hours swim
  • 2:00pm - rest and recovery
  • 4:00pm - lecture and summary of the 8 hours swim
  • 5:30pm - play in the water - 45min


SUN  – conclusion

  • 8:00am to 9:00am swim with 'Ice Bergs'
  • Breakfast at Ice Bergs Last
  • Packing and departing Melbourne


Schedule created by Vlad Mravec - Vladswim head coach

*Please note that the times of individual swims and lectures maybe slightly altered to group needs.

Swim Camp 2013 in review

We ran the first Melbourne camp in 2012 with the sole aim of exposing the then current batch of Channel swimmers to water temperatures more akin to what they would experience in their swim which Sydney waters don’t really provide until June/July. This camp ended up being a major part in our 8 channel swimmers being successful with their crossing. Afterwards Vlad and I sat down and decided to add the camp as a permanent fixture to our training program and make it bigger and better than the original.

So between 25th and 28th April of this year 12 keen cold water swimmers committed themselves to the challenge of the 2nd VLADSWIM cold water camp.

Below is the outline of what we planned to do. This year Vlad came down as well and we added in some lecture/discussion time between coaches and swimmers. This allowed the swimmers to get other training ideas from other swimmers and their experiences and to also learn from the coaches why we need the cold adaptation and the best way to prepare for their swimming goals.

We pretty well stuck to the plan with minor adjustments to timing of swims and lectures. The swimmers were all given a manual which included articles on training, nutrition, equipment, training logbook etc.

Thurs 25th

  • 2pm meeting to go through plan
  • 3pm 1.5 hrs.
  • 6pm 1hr swim

Fri 26th

  • 8am 3hr swim at baths
  • 2pm next lectures
  • 3pm 2 hr swim
  • Dinner at 7 with black ice guys

Sat 27th

  • 6am swim 8 hours
  • Rest
  • 5pm play in water for 1 hr

Sun 28th

  • 730 meet icebergers for their 8am swim
  • Breakfast at icebergers
  • 11am debrief

Below is a report on how the camp unfolded.

As the sun rose on Anzac Day and the diggers were remembering their mates, the next set of generals were watching the sun rise over Sydney airport ready to fly to Melb to train their cold water warriors.

Day 1

We all met at base camp which was a house that we rented 2 mins walk to the trenches (Brighton Baths). This was to go through the itinerary, meet the rest of the platoon and get ready for the days challenges ahead. We then led the troops down to the pier and then put them in the water for the first cold water hit. At 15 degrees it was significantly different and as expected they all squealed like little girls. For this swim most stayed by themselves at the start but by the end a few groups were beginning to form with teamwork coming in as a strategy which would then be a key factor in the success of the longer swim. We had Rach, Cae and Ben being "team Awesome" Lochie, Justin and Matt with Lochie the youngest becoming Sargent of this group. Marty wafted around by himself, john, Irene and Peter used this swim to get their head around the cold, Jim was just in shock and Tori was at the footy. Here we also discovered a few inadequacies on the nutrition front. Irene cramped as had no electrolytes, John didn’t have enough drink and Justin didn’t have his food bar. Even though it was a short swim this poor planning caused a couple of problems. But that’s why we were there – LEARNING.

We, being Vlad The Impaler and the Little General (myself), kept them in there for 1.5 hrs and then after they got out sent them back to the barrack to rest for the next swim which was a couple of hours later.

That night we returned to the same spot for just an hour but this time as well as the cold they had the dark to contend with. Glow sticks were attached to various parts of the body and off they went. They didn't swim as far put as we wanted to keep an eye on them but they all managed pretty well with a bit of fun added in by Justin who took great delight in scaring people by swimming under them. Everyone got out with a smile on their face and we headed off to the Brighton Baths for dinner and to prepare for day 2 of the camp.

Day 2

This started off with a relative sleep in as start time for the mornings swim was 0800 hours. For this field exercise when headed to the main trench where the action was happening and the Impaler and the Little General had better access to see everyone and for those who didn't want to swim inside the baths, there was a hole in the fence so they could swim outside. We worked out a 2.5/3.0 km loop which started and finished at the pontoon in the baths where all the feeding stuff was. This meant everyone could practice their feeding off a platform, the timing was about right for the feed and we were able to check the swimmers condition. On this swim we had Sonny and the Impaler out on kayaks as they were going to be on the 8 hour swim. This was great for the troops as they got to see friendly happy faces a bit more regularly during the swim rather than just the Little General when they came in for feeding.

When a swimmer trains in this water the main thing to look out for is hypothermia. For this reason each time the swimmer came into the baths I checked stroke rate, if it starts to drop they could be in trouble, speech, we had questions to ask the swimmers to see how "with it" they were and also their ability to take on food or liquid. By doing this we could also tell if they were just “bunging it on” and if so they went straight back out to fight. Another key factor in determining if they are really wounded and in trouble is the amount of backchat being directed at the camp leaders. If they can backchat – they can swim.

This was a hard morning out. 3 hours at continuous battle brought forth a few cracks in some swimmers armour. For some they needed warmer drinks, some it was conditioning and others it was a mental challenge. The first thought for a few was, how on earth am I going to do 8 hours in this let along the channel? A huge tactical error to do this as they took the swim as being it rather than just training and learning session for today – not a result of something a few months down the track.

This happened to Sergeant Lochie last year and even though he knew what he was in for over the next few swims, he wasn’t looking forward to it but he had in his head it was just training and worth it in the long run. It was great having him there as he talked to his platoon of Justin and Matt and helped them adjust to the situation as well.

For Dr Jim this was his first ever experience in cold water and he found it hard. I think as a Dr He was self-diagnosing himself as he was swimming around and convinced himself that he needed to get out or he would die. Luckily the Little General was there at the exit point to suggest in a very strong manner that a few more laps wouldn’t kill him and he did push on.

I think team Chaplin of Team Awesome Miss Rachael had a similar experience, she let the enemy (cold water) get into her head and win. It’s amazing how much more powerful the thought of something is rather than the physical actuality of it. It became mental warfare rather than physical.

The troops were not so chirpy after this swim as the 3 hours really put into perspective just how tough the 8 hours were going to be.

Once we had survived this training manoeuvre we all regrouped in the afternoon to debrief. It was here that Chaplin Rachael appeared with arms of inspiration. She had gone away from the first session, and worked out what had beaten her and how she could counter attack in the next swim. Purely mental. One of the words was BREATHE which Martin king of the Mess Hall had talked about and how it relaxes and works against the cold feeling. Another was “We eat this Shit” indicating it’s not an obstacle it’s something we can beat. As a group we went through equipment for feeding having worked out Buckets on ropes would be the easiest and each swimmer being allocated to a certain spot on the pontoon that they come to for each feed. Pacing was discussed as especially in cold water the temptation is to go out hard to warm yourself up which over an 8 hour operation was not going to work. Seasickness was discussed with the recommendation that a preventative tablet be taken before swimming just in case. It won’t harm your performance and it may stop you losing all those carefully planned feeds. To give yourself the best opportunity for success at a long cold water swim, preparation is the key – not just with training but as you have just read a lot of outside factors need to be considered and your food and equipment need to be ready to go.

This is also where the support crew are very important. They need to know everything basically as on the day, the swimmer has the least complicated job of swimming – just that - swimming. The supporter should know where food is, when to feed what to feed, how to feed, stroke rates of the swimmer to gauge how they are travelling, the swimmers physical idiosyncrasies so that if they come in with a twitch in their arm and they normally have that then they can keep swimming. If they don’t normally have the twitch it’s something to watch. For egg, when Tori did the channel last year all her support crew knew that at around the 3/ 4 point of a swim she slowed down a bit but she was always able to pick up after this lull. When she did slow done in the channel the boat captain began to express doubts about her finishing but her crew were able to stand up to the captain and say that she was fine this always happens. It’s this detailed knowledge of the swimmer that is important to the swims success.

So after our reality afternoon lecture session it was time to hit the water again for another 1 hour swim in the dark. A few choose to use this as a floating session with the idea in their head that they need to taper before the next day. Wrong. The idea was to get the adaptation to the water whilst swimming. As a few were not moving in the water – they got cooler and got out before the hour was up. The Little General was not happy and marched out. With long distance training you relax on the intensity of the swimming as you come up to your event but not so much on the time in the water. A comment I heard from someone when they were in Dover and waiting for their swim was that I hadn’t swam enough whilst I was waiting for my slot so I felt average in the water.

That night we caught up and had dinner with a group of Melbourne swimmers called the Black Ice. We joined up with them last year for the 8 hours and thought it would be good to do the same this year. Dinner was large and quick with a few tips being passed around to help swimmers on the day. Then home to pack and get as much rest possible for the big day.

Day 3

At 0600 hours platoon VLADSWIM presented at Brighton Baths for the main battle – 8 hours in sub 15 degree water. Day was fine, choppy later on, brisk and a bit of a breeze. Perfect Channel practice and not too uncomfortable for the crew. As it was dark, glow sticks were donned and off they went.

Team Awesome were off in a formation that had been worked out earlier taking it in turns to lead. They sensible stayed alongside each other so they could see one another as they went. No drafting and a good way to keep the pace going. Ben Cae and Rachael had prepared really well and accordingly their feeds went smoothly albeit a little long while a lot of laughing and joke telling was going on. If anything they could have been having too much fun.

 Lochies squad of Matt and Justin heading out on the long loop to make it a bit more interesting. After about 2 hours The Impaler on his trusty steed took them for a 2 hour loop to make the swim go more quickly. Longer loops are great as long as you have a safety monitor and some food which the Implaer did. Invincible Irene (who is 72) did 1 big loop and didn’t like the salt water washing into her mouth from the waves and so stayed inside the break wall and did loops around here and almost like clockwork she popped up every 45mins whinging about something or other and after the 6 hour mark trying to get out. “Can I get out now, I’m bored and cold” The Little General –”NO”. “How much longer?” “”Enough to do 3 more laps” “but I need to get out I’m tired, can’t do anymore” “If you can backchat me and whinge then you are fine” “Hate you” “I Know” Sounds fun doesn’t it. At one point she swam into a tennis ball whilst whinging and I gave her the chance to “take your best shot” It didn’t go very far but she was still able to tread water and through a ball after 7 hours of swimming so I knew she could do the 8.

Peter the machine ended up by himself a bit on the outside and at one point felt a little bit unsure so bought himself back into the Baths which we had dubbed the “Nursery” Anuska his partner was doing a fabulous job of supporting him and as she is on the boat with him it was perfect practice for both the feeding methods and also to see what happens to him when he gets tired. He decided he would be more comfortable staying in then nursery and we worked out that by the end of the 8 hours he had done at least 100 loops round and round and round. Great Focus.

Marty had bought his partner Sonny along to kayak for him on this swim who is also part of his Channel support crew. Marty’s 8 hour swim was unsuccessful last year and he was determined that this want going to be the case this year. Sonny had most of Marty’s feeds on the kayak and they stayed out of the baths and every hour or so would come close so I could get Marty’s stroke rate and check that he is OK. Marty nailed it.

Tori had done the Channel last year and so was using this camp to prepare for the Manhattan Island swim in June this year. She knew exactly what was going on, what needed to be done, food requirements, how to manage the cold and she completed the 8 hours in such a positive and happy manner it was hard not to be impressed.

Lochies squad was equally impressive. Lochie and Justin had their food down pat, stroke rate was consistent and they looked like they had fun doing it. Justin said he had used the experiences of the previous days of swimming to prepare himself physically and more importantly mentally for this swim. Lochie who also did the channel last year and his doing Manhattan approached it in much the same way as Tori, a training swim that needs to be done in the best way possible. Considering he had had a week of swimming 21kms a day leading into this, he swam brilliantly. One thing he said he did have to do was to give Matt and Justin a deep water pep talk along the lines of – the channel is longer than this, what are you going to do, stop cause your tired, No, get on with it. It’s like he was channelling the Little General. Matt was fantastic almost to the end, he may have had the 6 hour qualifying as something to get under his belt rather than the full 8 hours in his head as by 7 hours he was trying to get out which he soon learnt wasn’t an option. His brother Rob was there who is also going to be with him in the channel and as with Anuska and Peter it was great for them both to see how each other worked and signs to look out for in Matts swimming. One thing Matt I think got from this was that he does need to put a bit more weight on.

John having attempted the channel before came into this camp determined. His goal was to be first in the water and last out for each swim which he did up until the 8 hour swim. Here he got distracted by I think was different surroundings and different people around him. Some of these people were involved in his last attempt and this may have subconsciously bought up some negative thoughts. He did get the 8 hours done which was fantastic but is was not without a lot of fight from those on deck and other swimmers to keep him going. The funny thing was that at one point we gave him some black tea with some sugar in it and that perked him up no end. Often I think you can have all the fancy nutrition in the world but when you are struggling its often the simple comforting things you reach for. He also was able to see his daughter which inspired him to keep going as well.

Dr Jim after struggling on the 3 hour swim came down ready to give this his best shot. He was probably the least experienced in this sort of training and the furthest he would have gone before in normal water temps would have been about 4 hours. He got in and looked a lot better for the first couple of hours. Feeds were good and stroke and technique were holding together. Then on the next feed he came in and said he felt numb. The cold had got into his head again. We told him he was imagining things, it’s not cold, have a warm drink and off you go. After the next loop he wasn’t looking as strong so we suggested he stayed in the baths for a while. In hindsight it wasn’t the best to do as he took it as a negative. We kept him going for 3 ¼ hours and then he hopped out. Once he was warm, we suggested he could get back in again but left it to him to make the decision. The bravest thing I saw on that day was Dr Jim getting back into his swimmers and getting back in for a further 2 ¼ hours. To me that showed he is capable of overcoming most things and that if all remains well he will be ok in the channel.

At the end of the swim everyone came out full of smiles, proud and all were proud of each other which I found a great thing to see. Even more importantly they were alive and feeling relatively good. We all regrouped at base camp and were greeted with the most amazing goulash made by Martin - King of the Mess hall, along with fresh bread and warm drinks. A perfect way to refuel. We then sat around and debriefed and discussed good and bad aspects of the swim. Even at this point we were still learning from our own experience of the swim and also from others experiences of it.

After a brief nap, the Little General roused the troops, which weren’t so happy about this session, and took them down to the water where they hopped in for almost an hour for a recovery session. The aim of this was gain cold water adaptation. It wasn’t about swimming laps at this point; it was time in the water. Good use was made by Martin of the glow sticks to make a glow in the dark tennis ball that they through at each other. I think a few may have strayed suspiciously close to the little Generals head. Then off for food, glass of wine and bed.

Due to it being end of school holidays reasonably priced flights were few and far between so by the time we got to Sunday morning a fair number of the troops had deployed on different missions. Marty, Irene and the Little General (yes she still can swim) were the only ones who got in for the final session which was a swim with the Icebergers who operate out of the Brighton Yacht club.  A few of the others joined for Brekkie. Then it was just a matter of packing up base camp and heading home ourselves.

The experience I had over these 4 days was amazing, educational, frustrating and exhausting but I came away from it with more ideas for next year of how it can be better, how I can be better on the camp and how it becomes a great experience for everyone else. The teamwork, bonding and support given by everyone to everyone was amazing and inspirational to see. It definitely an event to look forward to.

The Little General aka Coach Charm



To reserve your space, please click "Book Now" and fill in the form. We shall contact you within 48 hours after your submission. 

Note: T-shirts for this year's camp we already ordered!  While we have ordered some extras for the late registrants, we may not have one for you.

Registrations are closing down on 30th May 2020



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Your swim adventure team

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