Medical student braves 30km Reef swim

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James Cook University medical student Harriet Grant is preparing to swim 30km from Green Island to Yorkeys Knob.

James Cook University medical student Harriet Grant is preparing to swim 30km from Green Island to Yorkeys Knob.

A Cairns medical student who is swimming 40km across the Great Barrier Reef isn’t sparing a thought about dangerous marine animals – her only concern is raising money for charity.

James Cook University 4th year medical student Harriet Grant, who is currently on placement at Cairns Hospital, this Saturday will brave the treacherous stretch of water between Green Island and Yorkeys Knob as part of the Swimming the Gap marathon.

The marathon aims to raise funds for AFL Cape York House Foundation, to help young First Nations people obtain positive life experiences and opportunities through culturally appropriate education, sporting and wellbeing pathways.

Ms Grant, who is also a Surf Life Saving Queensland volunteer, has been spending at least five days a week training in preparation for her marathon swim, which is equivalent to swimming the English Channel – except, of course, with the added challenge of sharks, crocodiles and deadly jellyfish.

‘I haven’t really thought about the dangers,’ Ms Grant said.

‘I do Surf Lifesaving, so I do know that it’s not yet marine stinger season in Far North Queensland.

‘But with the crocodiles and sharks – I guess if I don’t hurt them, they won’t hurt me!’

Ms Grant will be accompanied by a team of support crew including boat, ski paddlers, feeders and support swimmers. The swim is expected to take about 10 hours.

Born and raised in Cairns, Ms Grant said she wanted to help First Nations people have an opportunity to have culturally appropriate accommodation, education, employment and training opportunities.

Ms Grant said as an Aboriginal person, she had seen first-hand the implications that education could have for future health outcomes.

She said has had a wonderful time learning the ins and outs of Cairns Hospital during her medical placement. Her proud aunt Fiona is a clinical nurse working in the hospital’s operating theatres.

‘Everyone’s been super-helpful in teaching and welcoming,’ she said.

‘I’ve learnt so much on placement.

‘I think you learn the most out of when you are on placement rather than sitting at a computer screen or in class, especially in Cairns with a wide variety of presentations.’