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All Hands on Deck for Ocean Swims

By Duncan Horscroft on January 2, 2019 in News

Pre-swim cuddles, by Mark Hunter (@bondihunter)

There is no better display of surf lifesaving skills, outside the competition arena, than those displayed at open water events.

Coogee kicked off the ocean swimming season in late November with the Coogee Island Challenge, which featured more than 1400 swimmers taking part in the 2.4-kilometre swim around Wed- ding Cake Island, the 800-metre Junior Dash and the one-kilometre swim inside the bay.

The event was blessed with good weather and a plethora of volunteers were on hand to deal with any problems, though nothing more than a few minor first aid issues eventuated.

Joshua Attard, 22, was the first male home in the Island Challenge, with 15 year-old Cassandra Fayers the first female across the line. The one-kilometre event was won by Oliver Spanton and 12 year-old Max Moylan from Randwick won the 800-metre junior event.

A week later it was Bronte’s turn for the Macquarie Bondi to Bronte Ocean Swim. After rough conditions on the Saturday it looked like the event would have to be held around the bay at Bondi, but the ocean gods smiled upon them and the event ran as originally planned.

Bronte Surf Club President Basil Scaffidi said they didn’t make the call to swim to Bronte until early on the Sunday morning when they were greeted with near perfect conditions.

“We were really worried the event would only be held at Bondi, the same as last year,” Mr Scaffidi said.

“On the Saturday the conditions looked ominous and we were dreading the fact it would be at Bondi again.

“But when we saw the condi- tions on the Sunday we knew it would be on and it turned out to be one of the most success- ful swims in the event’s 17-year history.

“The conditions were amazing and there were no incidents bar a few first aid incidents and we raised $20,000 for the Kids’ Cancer Project.”

More than 2000 swimmers turned up and registered for the event’s three courses and there were almost 300 volunteers on hand.

Joining the swimmers in the ocean were 80 water safety crew, along with 11 IRBs from six surf clubs, two jet skis and two offshore rescue boats.

More than 600 sausages and 40 kilograms of bacon were consumed, along with 600 apples, 700 bananas and 3000 drinks.

The overall winner in the open event was former ironman Kendrick Louis in an amazing 23 minutes and 10 seconds. He only just beat the first female home, with Tayla Martin finishing in 23 minutes and 30 seconds. The junior male event was won by Jake Andrews and Sophie Ferenczi won the female division.

It was a great effort from all involved in both swims and a credit to the great training and skills volunteer lifesavers gain from their local Eastern Beaches surf life saving clubs.