Lauren Tischendorf - Around Lord Howe Island

Lord Howe Island circumnavigation (CW)

28.2 km (17.5 miles)

13 hours, 50 minutes on 20 April 2021

Observed and documented by Belinda Bullivant

First woman



  • Name: Lauren Tischendorf
  • Gender: female
  • Age on swim date: 37
  • Nationality: Australia
  • Resides: Sydney, NSW

Support Personnel

  • Jim McFayden - boat captain, island board member, marine rescue manager
  • Bradley Farley - paddler, photographer
  • Bernard Tischendorf - coordinator between observer, nutrition, paddler
  • Brenda Tischendorf - nutrition / feeder
  • Michael Dietrich - island police officer
  • Belinda Bullivant - observer

Escort Vessels

  • LH40 ‘Fearless’ - LHI marine rescue vessel (16m LOA)
  • Tender to ‘Fearless’ - 4.8m rigid hull inflatable

Swim Parameters

  • Category: Solo, nonstop, unassisted.
  • Rules: MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, without exception or modification.
  • Equipment used: Swimsuit (Budgy Smuggler, Wild Flower, Thick Strap Racer, size 10), goggles (Zoggs), pink silicone cap.

Route Definition

  • Body of Water: Tasman Sea
  • Route Type: circumnavigation
  • Start & Finish Location: Lord Howe Island boat ramp (-31.522574, 159.057840)
  • Minimum Route Distance: 28.2 km (17.5 miles) (map)


One reported (unratified) previous swim, by Lynton Mortensen.

Swim Data

  • Start: 20 April 2021, 06:47 (Lord Howe Island Eastern Time Zone, UTC10.5).
  • Finish: 20 April 2021, 20:39
  • Elapsed: 13 hours, 50 minutes, 58 seconds.

Summary of Conditions

Feature Min Max
Water Temp (C) 22 25
Air Temp (C) 22 25
Wind (knots) 10 20

GPS Track

Trackpoint frequency: 15 minutes. Download raw data (CSV).

Click to expand map.

Speed Plot

Nutrition: 150ml Tailwind every 1 hour on the 0:30. Alternating 1xCliff gel /Vegemite bread /Date & almond paste every 1 hour on the 01:00

Feed Plan

Observer Log

Download PDF

Swimmer Statement

by Lauren Tischendorf

What inspired you to do this swim?

I had been swimming for the past three years consistently, clocking 135km per month, which is not hard when you love the water. Covid hit and we all took our swimming to the ocean only. Two gal pals and I swam daily, not just for the exercise, but to keep tabs on each other, it was sublime relief to the world around us (& not seeing our families). As the restrictions started easing mid 2020, a group of us ocean swimmers planned a long swim. An easy 6km distance and nothing hard. Perfect conditions. As we started, a gentleman, who is lovely, made an off hand remark that I could not swim with my gal pals, I needed to swim with another group (a group who were much slower than us). Whilst I respected his call and I was curious as to why, especially as we had always swum together, we were super tight, there was space, it could have only been that I didn't have stature or experience. Something in me switched. Here I was, someone, who had swum for months with the girls and we were, stroke for stroke on par, ready for a great morning swim (it was a glorious Winters day). I started with the group, I waited while they got all their nutrition sorted (this was not a long swim, so I didn't need to use any), after a while, I was getting cold at having to stop and wait for them - I am all for swimming and keeping to the group, it's important. My frustration was mounting and I was questioning if I was just 'being a girl & hormonal' (not). I took a risk, swam to my mates and continued swimming with them. We then get to the meeting point with the fast group - and then on our return I beat them! I remember Colleen saying, in her broad Irish accent, 'I don't know what was in you today, but you were flying and so strong, I couldn't keep up' (Colleen is a multi-channel, incredibly experienced ocean swimmer). After that, I just decided, I need to keep adventuring, pushing my boundaries, there is nothing stopping me. What started off as an off-hand remark, from a mature man, ( I would not keep up with the 'group') - I did it and then beat them! I sent myself on a mission to explore my physical potential and adventure more within NSW (covid restrictions encourages you to look for adventures within your borders). My gal pals and I had already swum from Palm Beach to Little Bay and I wanted to do something for myself, not to prove a point, more to keep myself in check, my worthiness of being able to keep up, being accountable and with a goal to work towards, No girls, or woman, should be told they are not worthy or strong enough (yes, we have to be humble and heed advice and train). If we know our own capabilities and boundaries, no person has the right to judge us.

Please describe how you planned for the swim.

In August I looked at the weather, tides, current, water temperatures around the island and picked a window for myself from April 10th to 18th (flat water and cool to warm water). I initially met with my coach, Vlad Mrvac to set out a training plan as well as discuss pointers and a training regime. In September I started contacting the island, the board and tourism board to gain support as well as source boats, accommodation and community support.

In February I started meeting with Ketih Huong once a week online for approximately an hour to 2 hours to discuss planning junctures, sponsorship, support and sharing the swim as part of this is producing a film. Keith is an experienced athlete, adventurer as well as film producer.

I had gathered a team in January, however, the physiotherapist and initial support crew could not attend due to family issues. There is the anniversary of women in surf lifesaving at the start of April. Many people wanted to support and help,however, due to the island only being able to hold 400 visitors, and high season, the number of crew had to be reduced and kept to a few. So i Sourced a different crew, who I knew could handle challenges of endurance sports (the paddler and photographer an endurance runner, the coordinator a long distance runner and the observer, a triathlon Australia coach.). My parents were keen to come, however, we had many lengthy discussions on their need to maintain this as ‘work’ and not love and family - they were remarkable, in spite of suffering the emotional charge of this.

My training consisted of 4 weekly pool sessions of a minimum of 5km per session and 4 ocean swims with long swims between 3 to 6 hours. I had a 6 hour swim in an 8 foot swell and didn’t eat or drink for 3 hours in Bondi, so I felt prepared and strong. I thrive and love big swells, so felt confident that no matter the conditions, I would be safe.

I practised my varied nutrition and met with a nutritionist to refine my diet which I religiously practised. I rotated between Tailwind and water, as well as vegemite on white bread, dates with almond paste as well as boiled sweet potatoes and Snickers bars.

Unfortunately I was assaulted by a student I teach, who twisted my upper spine and stretched my shoulder slightly out of the cuff a month before the expected swim, on the 4th of April. This impacted my physical and mental preparation.

Due to the nature of the island population setting, I could only find beds 5 days before arriving on the island as well as flights for myself and 4 crew. This impacted on preparation for the trip and made for a quick turn around.

I wanted to ensure that the unique biodiversity of the island, being UNESCO World Heritage Listed, meant that everything needed to be in reusable containers and that no rubbish was left in the island, boat or land. As such, I had ensured that limited packaging was used on the boat and that the nutrition planner needed to prepare the food and store the food as we went, to ensure that no unnecessary containers and plastic equipment was used.

I had to have a boat change the Friday before the swim as the initial boat captain was not supportive of the swim anymore nor felt confident. I was pleased to have the quick and professional support of the island Marine chief, who was confident in my skill and ability and also called in the island policeman to assist.

How did the swim go, generally? Did you face any unanticipated challenges?

The swim was a great challenge and overall I felt a well-earned title - to be the first woman. The conditions,which I already knew about, were large swell and chop, for most of the swim. I absolutely loved it!

I had set a 1 to 10 rating between myself and the team and I wanted continuous monitoring and a 10 meant that I was going well. I absolutely loved it all - the cliffs were incredible and I felt strong the whole way.

Due to the changing waters and currents I was continuously changing my position and stroke approach, which kept me busy and focused. The initial entry into the water to North Point and the sections prior to Blinky’s beach I felt I had a rhythm and was ‘flying’ as well as at the end of the swim.

The waters were clean and clear. I enjoyed the birds swooping throughout. Due to the student assault and injured shoulder I tried to maintain a 30 second backstroke to keep my shoulders stretched, which helped, however, after being followed by many sharks, I did not want to risk this.

My nutrition, though well planned and prepared, did not go to plan for a number of reasons. Those included:

  • the swell filling up the container or my hand making the sandwiches soggy

  • the time between stopping & getting the feeding container was slow in the heavy chop and the sharks circling made for needing a quick movement onwards

  • the swell was too big and often I had to swim longer distances towards the boat to get the nutrition which slowed down the stop to feed process

  • I physically decided that I wanted to change and have gels and not food, to help speed the process of delivery

I had expected there to be sharks and knew of the dangers of the sharks in the area, I had swum with sharks before. Whilst I stayed calm and was collected, I was very much aware of their presence. Only at one point, when a tiger shark came within a hand's length at the chest when stopping for a gel, did I put the feeding lid down my chest and move forwards with my swim.

I was aware and prepared that I would face varied and tricky currents and knew of a number of approaches to take. Only after Blinky’s beach, about around Gower (I think) did I get into really tough current with the winds channeling through the head lands. I tried: firstly to swim fast for half an hour through them, however, there was a lactic acid built up and I had to slow down and stop for a feed, at which point I knew there were at least 5 galapagos sharks circling me. After this, I changed my apn unexpected challenge was how quickly the sun had set. I had timed myself and thought I had 3 hours of the sun set which would be enough time for me to get in, however, within half an hour the sun had set. This meant I had to swim in the dark (and apparently there was also a shark feeding frenzy, which I was not aware of). The main boat escort also could not come into the Lagoon, due to low tide and the reef. Jim had to move off to deeper water and the rubber duckie took it’s place and the kayak rejoined as an escort in the dark. The darkness meant the observer lost the ability to track exactly the last section (photographs, temperature, stroke count & wind) in the lagoon, however, we had the coordinates non the less. It was great having torch light to guide the way, the reef life was incredible, including a reef shark I swam over.

Whilst I had strict and clear guidelines for my observer and the team, due to the constant large swell and choppy waters, they were all violently ill and not fully able to complete hand writing all the data exactly. Furthermore, much of the photographs after 3pm onwards were unavailable due to the huge swell. With a late night finish which was not expected the images did not come out as clearly as one would have hoped. As such, some temperatures and stroke counts are not included, so too the photographs and videos.

What was hard in the last section in the dark and in the lagoon, were my goggles which were now covered in channel grease, everyone (my support) calling where to go and I couldn't exactly see where I was meant to be aiming for. I knew the line I needed to take, however, due to the rubber ducky avoiding the reef, I had to listen to them and trust their directions.

It was amazing, and wonderful that as I headed into the boat ramp, cars were hooting and people clapping and shouting. The doctor was on site and covered me in a silver blanket once I was well cleared on the top of the boat ramp. The piece of stone I had picked up at the start was still well secured in my swimming costume. The island community were so very congratulatory. It was interesting that many of the island community who had told me the night before that I would (1), not be able to swim, (2) nor be able to complete it, were there at the end, the first people to congratulate and support me.

I need to acknowledge my entire team. Each of them were incredible and at no point did they not believe in my ability to complete it nor that I would get out or give up.

It was a brilliant swim, huge swell and incredible scenery.

proach and was slow, controlled, steady to maintain calm and eliminate the lactic acid build up. I was also tracking myself against the cliffs, which agitated me as the sun was also behind the cliff, so it felt cooler and I just wanted to push through. At this point I changed my direction, my sighting point, away from the main island and used Mick, the police man and his hand and verbal direction as to where I needed to guide myself. My kayaker was incredible during this as we knew we were not moving and he pushed through. After about 45 minutes in the one point, he retired exhausted to the boat and the police rubber duckie took over guiding me. As hard as this section was, at no point did I want to stop.


Click to enlarge.



Appendix A: Permit

Appendix B: Crew Itinerary

Appendix C: Weather Data

Observations from Australian Bureau of Meteorology: 1, 2, 3