Ocean race attracts 1500 swimmers
The 21st annual Beach Hotel Byron Bay Winter Whales Ocean Swim Classic is expected to attract about 1500 swimmers, with national and international swimmers competing.
Former Commonwealth and Olympic swimmer Hayley Lewis will swim in this year’s elite superfish category.
The two oldest swimmers who have registered for the race are aged 87, and once again this year the event will see three generations swimming – a grandfather, son and grandson.
Grant Hackett holds the record for the race of 19 minutes which he set as a 15-year-old.
The 2.2 kilometre open ocean swim from Wategos Beach to Main Beach is one of the most popular ocean swims in Australia.
For those swimmers who may not want to tackle the long swim, a mini ocean swim of 800 metres will also be held.
This swim will start west of The Pass and finish in front of the Byron Bay Surf Club.
The annual ‘Dash for Cash’ is also on again this year and swimmers will participate in a sprint to a buoy and back for cash prizes.
Secretary of the big swim committee Syl Reid said this year’s swim was sure to be another successful event.
“As of April 21 we had 789 entries, so we are expecting well over the thousand mark by the time the swim is held,” he said.
The major swim sponsor is the Beach Hotel with other sponsors NBN TV; Vorgee Swimwear; Sunnybrand Chickens; Byron Shire News; Bay Royal Apartments; Fosters Group; Ed Silk Real Estate; PMD Screenprints and Blanch’s Bus Service.
In the past 20 years, the swim has raised a total of $220,000 for charities and this year the money raised will go to the Byron Bay Surf Club; Byron Bay Swimming Club; Westpac Rescue Helicopter; Coastal Patrol; Byron Bay Sports Foundation; Salvation Army; Camp Quality and the Byron Bay Breast Cancer Support Group.
Postal entries for the swim must reach the post office box by today (April 30) while online entries close at midnight tomorrow (Friday, May 1).
Late entries will be accepted at the Byron Bay Surf Life Saving Club on Saturday (May 2) from 1pm-5pm.
PROGRAM FOR RACE DAY
7am: Registration opens at the Byron Bay SLSC for the issue of timing bracelets, swim caps and T-shirts.
8am: Registration for mini-swim closes.
8am-9am: Pre-race massage with Kelly Kennedy.
8:45am: Mini-swim starts (along Main Beach towards The Pass).
9am: Registration closes for swim classic.
9am: Pre-race briefing for classic.9.15am: First bus leaves for Wategos Beach with first three waves of competitors. (If you wish to wear some protective clothing around to the start, it will be collected by the Salvation Army as a donation! It will not be able to return to you later.)
10am: Ocean Swim Classic starts at Wategos Beach (staggered start).
11am: Elite Superfish division starts.
12:15pm: Beach Hotel Dash for Cash (for swimmers who complete the Ocean Swim only) after finish of Ocean Swim Classic.
12:30pm: Mini swim presentation begins.
1pm: Presentation begins (includes valuable random draw prizes. Competitors must be present to be receive prizes).