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Rottnest challenge for youngest swimmer
Big test: Hannah Potts. Picture: Michael Wilson/The West Australian

Today marks the start of Year 9 for Hannah Potts, but the 13-year-old's thoughts are no doubt drifting out to sea, somewhere between Cottesloe and Rottnest.

In less than three weeks, the plucky Methodist Ladies College student will attempt the 19.7km Rottnest Channel Swim in a team with three of her friends.

Hannah celebrates her 14th birthday just two days before the February 22 event, making her the youngest competitor in this year's record field.

One of the world's largest open water swims, it is a gruelling challenge for experienced adult competitors, let alone someone of her size and age.

But together with Isabel Moss, Claire Maloney and Georgina McCabe, the UWA Uniswim Swimming Club member is determined to finish in the front half of the field.

"Georgie has done it once before and her team took just under six hours, so we're aiming for five hours and 30 minutes," she said.

"It's a lot different from swimming in a pool. You can swallow a lot of water if it's rough and there are jellyfish and things like that. I've been doing some 2.5km open water swims but this is 5km each and I'm a bit worried about getting cold."

The girls plan to make the crossing in five-minute sprints and have practised getting on and off their support boat, which will be one of about 900 vessels in the water on the day.

Hannah is 60 years younger than the oldest competitor, but her approach seems wise beyond her years. "I'm definitely nervous but I'm also pretty excited," she said.