AS the boat took off, Pauline Newton felt pain as though she had broken her back and heard a snapping sound as loud as a gunshot.
"I've had three kids, but that pain just didn't compare to this," the Chirnside Park mum says.
It was New Year's Day this year, and a picturesque day on the Murray River had turned to disaster.
Mrs Newton was set to water ski, but when the boat took off her legs moved in opposite directions, tearing her hamstring off the bone.
"I just remember screaming until I passed out in the water," she says. "I wanted to cut my leg off."
She was taken to a nearby hospital in Mildura but could not be treated there so was flown to Melbourne.
She was hospitalised for 3½ weeks, and bedridden for four months with a 90-centimetre scar down the back of her leg. "My hamstring needed to be screwed back onto my pelvic bone," Mrs Newton says. "It took a long time and a lot of confidence to even start walking again."
As well as the physical suffering, the mother of three suffered post-traumatic stress as a result of the accident. She has now decided to compete in this year's Sunday Age City2Sea event on November 11 as a way to both "feel normal again" and raise money to fight world poverty.
She had sponsored children in Africa until her accident forced her out of her work as a gym receptionist.
"The driving force to do the City2Sea was World Vision. I'm very passionate about 'making poverty history'," she says. "But I also wanted a personal challenge to complete. My physio doesn't really want me to do it, but I'm determined to finish. My surgeon said I'd be using a walking stick until Christmas, so I'm doing okay."
Mrs Newton will be attempting to finish the full 14-kilometre walk with her sister-in-law Irene and children Teanau, 17, Jake, 13, and Jorja-Lilly, 8. "I don't care if I finish at midnight," she says with a laugh. She's taking part with the help of Chirnside Park sports store, which is fitting her with runners.
The course for runners, joggers and walkers starts at the Arts Centre in the CBD and finishes by the sea in St Kilda.
Donations to Mrs Newton's team can be made at teamworldvision.com.au/team_bono.