By Robin Nicholls

My Activity Tracking


My Updates

The Beards go West #RottoForRobbo

Wednesday 19th Feb

You might have thought you'd heard the last of the Beards, but no, we're well and truly still at it. In fact, we're going bigger than we have before.

We're headed to Perth this weekend to take on our biggest challenge yet, we're attempting to swim from Cotteslow Beach to Rottnest Island. 19.7km as the crow flys, but we aren't crows nor will we be flying so it's likely to be a wobbly 20k-ish, straight-ish line swim from mainland Australia to a tiny little island to the West.

The Rottnest Channel Swim is famous on the global open water swimming stage. It's an incredibly well run event, and it needs to be with over a thousand swimmers who each have support boats and kayaks on the water at the same time. Traffic galore! It's also known for beautiful, clear water and the ability to see the ocean floor right across the channel. It's also known for occasional visits from Great White Sharks, which sometimes means swimmers being pulled out of the water. 

On that, sharks live in the ocean. No big surprise there. That is where they are meant to be. It's not scary seeing them, they've got no interest in people and especially no interest in going near groups of boats making noise. We're more likely to choke on a cabbage leaf than be taken by a shark. Kind of hope we see a couple, would still prefer they are reef sharks or nurse sharks rather than Great Whites...


Sad news for my family this past week. We lost a family friend to cancer. Robbo was an art teacher at the same high school that my Mum taught at and he became great friends with our whole family. Robbo was (I just had to edit out 'is'...) the sort of guy who could see beauty and hilarity in pretty much anything. Loved a drink, loved his people and will be very much missed. Robbo gave me a double CD way back in my early teens, an album that I still love today, Faithless - Reverence, at a time when I was listening to Pearl Jam, Metallica, Garth Brooks, Nirvana... it was different to anything I'd known and really opened up my music taste. It might seem like a small thing, but it had an effect on who I am and what I do even now. 

Robbo was laid to rest yesterday. My parents attended his funeral wearing brightly coloured shirts that Robbo had designed, actually nearly everyone had bright coloured shirts on. I'm pretty sure Robbo's wardrobe was exclusively Mambo and Ken Done designs. He would have loved it.  

So I'm swimming to Rotto For Robbo. 

I've said it before and I will definitely say it again, cancer is an indiscriminate bastard that does bad things to good people. 

I'm aiming to raise a few dollars to fund researcher through Can Too. 

Robbo should have died when he was 124, sky diving nude while drinking good red wine and laughing his arse off. Not from being dealt a low blow by this cancer bastard. 

I'm using this as more motivation to get this swim done. Robbo, I'm taking you with me. 


We fly out tomorrow and can't wait to get into it. 

Beards out. 

Swim The Capital - The Beards Lap The Lake

Saturday 30th Nov

The adventure of The Beards continues this weekend with a lap of Lake Burley Griffin in our nation’s capital.

Peter Vandeburgt and I will be swimming the 9km stretch from one end of LBG to the other tomorrow morning.

9km isn’t a short swim, but this the start of bigger things to come. We have to complete this swim in under 4 hours to qualify for the Rottnest Island Swim in February, a 19.7km ocean swim from Cottesloe Beach to Rottnest Island.

I believe we are ready for tomorrow’s lap of the lake, but still have plenty of work ahead of us to prepare for the Rotto swim in 12 weeks.

As always, we are swimming in the name of Can Too Run and Swim to fight the good fight against cancer.

Tomorrow I’m swimming for an uncle who has taken a few low blows from the Big C over the last few months and also for three cousins who have lost both parents to this bastard disease.

My Dad, Paul Nicholls, is my support paddler for this weekend’s swim. There hasn’t been much rain in Orange recently, so training (below) has been limited. Bloody legend.


Training accountability, a pain in the ear and a new job!

Friday 19th Apr

Hi All.

First up, a huge thank you to Allan, Matt, Kim and Jono for their generous donations. Thanks to these champions The Beards have already raised $466! Not bad for the first few days. 

As a form of accountability I figure I need to commit to a weekly update on training leading into the big event. It's 11km-ish from Bondi to Watson's Bay so anything to keep me on task is a good thing. That said, training has been going pretty well. For me at least, Pete is sidelined with an ear infection which I just know is killing him. What sort of a bloke would get up at 6am to be at the beach to see me off on my training swim knowing full well he couldn't join?! Pete, that's the sort of bloke. That's why we're doing this swim together, we support each other and won't let each other fail. I've been in the water the past 3 days; 4km at Manly on Wednesday, 2.5km of catch and kick drills in the pool last night and a 5km swim at Manly this morning. So collectively over the past 3 days I've done the same distance as our goal swim, all I have to do now is shorten the completion time from 3 days down to about 5 hours. Simple...

It's incredible swimming down at Manly lately. The water temperature is perfect (about 21), there really hasn't been much of a swell or breeze so great for stretching out the distance and the sea life is so entertaining that I could never get bored. On Wednesday I swam through a school of fish that were all about 30-40cm long, there must have been more than 200 of them, plus a few Dusky Whalers and a few bigger (maybe 60-70cm across) sting rays.  How could you not love this?!

So I'm starting a new job! I think this will be particularly exciting for my Can Too family as I will now be the Community Engagement officer for none other than our favourite cancer fighting foe Can Too! To say I'm excited about this is an understatement. I've been involved with Can Too as a participant in their (I guess I should say 'our' now) ocean swim programs for 4 years, with 3 programs as a Team Captain helping others experience and enjoy ocean swimming as I do. It's fair to say that I'm comfortable with my years of software sales being behind me, I learned a lot of new skills but also learned that sales at that level probably isn't the ideal occupation for me. And that's fine. I really am very excited that I am now part of the organisation heading up such an incredible community of amazing people and fighting the good fight against the bastard that is cancer. Lots of good things. 

So I'm putting in the hard yards to give myself the best possible chance of completing this goal. I've still got a lot of work to do but I'm getting there. The next few weeks will be ramping up the distance of the long swims and focussing on drills in the pool to increase my efficiency. This swim scares the shit out of me, but I know that I will feel much more confident going in if I can keep on track with training. The mental preparation is equally as important as the physical. 

I hope everyone has a great Easter. Remember, eat all the chocolate. Chocolate is high in calories, calories are energy, enegry can be turned into swimming and that's awesome. Eggs = awesome. 

Nap time.


Robin out. 

#BeardvsBeard take on the South Head Roughwater ocean swim

Monday 15th Apr

So I should probably start off by letting you know what #BeardvsBeard is, or more to the point who, and a little about the challenge itself. 

We (Peter Vandeburgt and Robin Nicholls) have known each other since the first few days of high school, coming up on 25 years, and we've always managed to drag each other into a variety of challenging situations and have always been very competitive. The past few years we've been getting stuck into ocean swimming and the friendly rivalry has been a theme throughout. This is where #BeardvsBeard comes from. Oh, and we both have beards...

We haven't kept an official record of which Beard has won more races but I think it's fair to say it's pretty even. Sometimes Beard wins and other times Beard wins. Either way, both Beards have a great time and a good laugh. 

Last year the Beards took on the Balmoral Swim For Cancer 5km, which was our first 5km swim, and we came back for the same event this year. For those wondering, Beard won both times. Distance seems to be our focus, possibly because outright speed certainly isn't and possibly because we're both stubborn and refuse to give up, whatever the reason we have set our eyes on a particularly long and challenging swim; The South Head Roughwater Swim. 

The SHRS starts on a Sunday morning in May at the Northern End of Bondi Beach and finishes on the beach outside the Watson's Bay Hotel sometime later that same day (I bloody hope it's the same day!). The distance really depends on your navigation skill in open water but will be somewhere between 10km and 12km once done. This will be twice the distance of any single swim that either Beard has ever completed at this point, so needless to say this is a pretty big chllenge. (translation: sh*tting myself).

A simple explaination of the course would be to start at Bondi, swim towards New Zealand for roughly 1km where we will meet our support crew/boat, then turn left. Swim along the face of the South Head cliff for roughly 8km then again turn left through the Heads of Sydney Harbour. Then, as if Zoolander planned the course homself, take another left and make your way to Watson's Bay where someone had better be waiting with a beer and several pies. 

Can we do it? Honestly? I don't know. However we will be upping the training schedule over the remaining 5 weeks (sh*t, that soon?!) to give ourselves a red hot chance. The one factor we do not have control over, and may be the deciding factor on the day, is the ocean and weather conditions. If we are lucky enough to have favourable conditions and all goes well we may be done in 4 and a half hours, if we're swimming into a current or breeze then there is a real chance we will have to pull out and not complete the swim at all. That's the harsh reality of ocean swimming, the ocean get's the final say. 

That question, Can we do it?, is one of the main driving forces behind taking this on. The second driving force is funding cancer research. 

Cancer is an indiscriminate bastard. It does bad things to good people and we're all for doing anything we can to put an end to it. Thankfully both of us have so far avoided cancer but have no shortage of family and friends who have, have had or had cancer. 

We may not be able to cure cancer but we can certainly help cure cancer. 

We'd be really greatful if you could help us along the journey with donations through this page to Can Too. Every cent of your donation goes directly towards funding cancer research, the admin costs are covered elsewhere. 

You could also help us out by sharing our story. Perhaps that astranged cousin who is a Nigerian Prince, that one who keeps sending you emails, can donate the billions you are going to inherate to this cause. 


Beards out. 

Thank you to my Supporters


Paul & Kerrie Nicholls

In memory of Graham and Robbo


Kerrie & Paul Nicholls

We hope you get calm waters for your big swim.


Annie Crawford

Congratulations Robin- I am in awe of your swim. Can't imagine it and all for such a great cause too. So sad for your loss. Robbo will be very very proud of you.


Annie Crawford

You Can Too do it Robin. Good luck and thank you for supporting Can Too


Robin Nicholls

For less shit days


Allan Bicknell


Julie Becke

We are so very proud of you both xxxx


Julie Becke

We are so very proud of you both xxxx


Belinda Korner


Gemma Burgess


Tim Gainsford

Now you're over halfway...you have to swim at least 6.5k


Mirek Craney

Go you good things!!! May the sea NOT be angry my friends!!! Good luck Robin & Pete, my amazing brothers!!!


Ashling Prendergast

Nice one guys! Well done ??



May the best beard win. And both beards triumph!


Alice Hay

Thinking of you! All the best for a great day.


Bernhard Elber

Great work Fridge! Awesome effort ????


Lesley & Denis

Congratulations Robin! Amazing effort.


Alice Hay

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