Naantali Marshall is a 6 time winner of the Powercor Lorne Pier to Pub, and also excels in surf life saving, having won many State and also National titles in surf swimming, board paddling and ironwoman events.
Incredibly, she is still very competitive in the Opens and yet she has been a ‘Master’ for quite some time (Editor – we have to be careful with that 🙂 )
She outlines some of the secrets of her success below, and some great tips for open water swims like the Powercor Lorne Pier to Pub.
What made you swim the Pier to Pub?
Although pool swimming was my focus as a teenager I had done Nippers and bodysurfing was our favourite family activity so I was very comfortable in the ocean. I did it as a Junior (15 and under at the time) which must have been around 1989. I discovered that even though I was a drop-dead sprinter in the pool I was a very different swimmer in the open water and could go out hard and hold the speed. After that I was hooked.
How many Pier to Pubs have you completed (what year was your first) and what makes you keep coming back?
I think I am at around 26 Pier to Pubs as have missed a couple due to being overseas or conflicting surf life saving commitments. It’s had a hold on me my whole life and I always placed huge emphasis on doing well in it even when I probably had much bigger events that I should have been focusing on. It’s only now that I’m mid 40s that I’m finally giving myself some slack when it comes to preparing and performing well in it
What is your favourite Pier to Pub memory and why?
My favourite memory is probably when I finally won it for the first time. I won as a Junior a couple of times but it wasn’t until about 10 tries in Superfish (Open) that I finally managed to get on top of the podium. The effort in getting the result made it very special. I won 6 in a row after that with the last one being in 2006 when I was 31 years old.
What is your most memorable swimming (&/or sporting) achievement and why?
There isn’t one achievement that is most memorable but it’s the longevity and breadth of my sporting career that I’m most proud of. I started as a pool swimmer and had national titles and records in the 50 freestyle as a 15, 16 and 17 year old. I held the state open record for over a decade. In my 20s I swapped to surf life saving and despite not having even paddled a board picked it up and made the professional surf ironwoman circuit (the Meadow Lea series back then) and competed in the series for the next 7 years. It changed to Uncle Toby’s and then Kellogg’s Series over the years. I was working full time in Melbourne as was particularly proud to be able to regularly come top 5 in the series and am still the only person to train and race in it whilst in Victoria. In my 30s and 40s I’ve dabbled in adventure races and off-road triathlon and was the open Australasian Multisport champion in 2014 and won an age-group ITU off-road triathlon world championship in 2016. Probably my most recent performance that I was really proud of was coming 3rd overall in the Coolangatta Gold as a 39 year old mother of 2. However, with all the different races I’ve won over the years I’m still introduced to people as being a Pier to Pub winner which just shows that it is held highest in most peoples’ view.
How has your training changed over the years? And how have you found the balance with your training and family life.
I definitely don’t do the kind of training that I used to do and now I like to refer to it as exercise so it feels low key with no pressure. I still do a lot compared to the average middle aged mother but it’s cross training and not much of any one activity. Every couple of years I decide I want to get fit and target an event rather than having to keep a high level of fitness all year round. I also don’t train in squads so I exercise when it suits me around my other commitments except that I do make sure I swim at least 3 times a week with our self-made group at MSAC with some decorated athletes and good friends Lisandra de Carvalho, Annabel Luxford and my husband Sam Hume. Lorne SLSC member Peter Williamson gives us a good run for our money a session or two a week as well. Sam and I have two girls aged 8 and 11 who have always been amazing sleepers which is a huge contributor to why we have been able to continue our own sporting endeavours.
What are your top training recommendations for a seasoned Pier to Pub competitor who is looking to take their race to the next level?
I’d recommend doing a few ocean swim races in the month before the Pier to Pub just to get some race practice before the big one. In addition, because the Pier to Pub has a deep water start the pace seems to be a lot faster at the start than other swims so it’s a good idea to have done some lactate tolerance sets in the pool so you can go out hard and try and hold on. In the race this gives you the opportunity to jump on the feet of anyone faster to get dragged along. If you are following someone keep checking they are swimming the right line and don’t just follow blindly as you don’t want to swim further than you have to. Trust no-one to swim straight and practice efficient head checks in your own open water training. Unique to the Pier to Pub is the possibility of a wave at the end of the race so brush up on your bodysurfing skills beforehand as catching a wave gives a huge advantage without having to be fitter! If the tide is out you might have a big wade and run up the beach so be sure to practice those when you do any open water training sessions as this is your opportunity to pass lots of people on the way to the finish arch and subsequent bragging rights
Tell us something interesting about yourself (e.g. other than ocean swimming, what do you enjoy doing for fun?).
I love to travel and am a Travel Agent by trade so can’t wait to get back exploring when the world opens up again.
I’m also involved in coaching and developing the Nipper and Youth area of Anglesea Surf Life Saving Club (with my husband, Sam) and we are preparing a group of 13 to 17 year olds to swim the Rip between Point Nepean and Point Lonsdale on January 20. They will be the youngest to achieve the 3.2km treacherous stretch of water and we are committed to helping them attain this goal given they have all had their lives turned upside down in 2020. The virtual Powercor Pier to Pub will be great preparation for their Rip event!