Former Olympians to head the field

Two former Olympians will head the field in this year’s Beach Hotel Ocean Swim Classic at Byron Bay on Sunday (May 2).

‘Madame Butterfly’, Susie O’Neill and iron man and Olympic open water competitor Ky Hurst, who won the event in 2002, 2003 and 2005, will compete in the elite division of the 2.2km ocean swim – considered one of the best and most popular open water swims in Australia.

Last year’s men’s winner Trent Grimsey of Brisbane and women’s winner Melissa Gorman also of Brisbane will return to defend their titles.

Other high profile swimmers competing in the 2010 swim include previous winners Brendan Capell and Josh Santacaterina.

This year’s swim, organised by the Byron Bay Winter Whales, is expected to draw 2500 swimmers.

 “We aren’t sure just how many entires we will get, but once again the swim is proving very popular,” race committee secretary Syl Reid said.

“As of today (April 23) we have 1200 entries and we still have another week before entries close.”

The swim will start from 10am at Wategos Beach and finish at Main Beach with swimmers competing in a number of age divisions.

The elite swimmers will start at 11am.

There will also be a mini swim at 8.45am starting from in front of the Clarks Beach Caravan Park and finishing at Main Beach.

The mini swim is suitable for novice swimmers and nippers.

The Beach Hotel is once again the major sponsor of the main race, while the mini swim is being sponsored by Westpac.

Mail entries close today (April 29) while online entries close tomorrow (Friday) at midnight.

Swimmers can also register in person at the Byron Bay Surf Club tomorrow between 3pm and 5pm.

No entries will be taken on Saturday or Sunday.

Once again the swim will raise money for 16 local charities and sporting clubs.

“The swim is a great day out for everyone and a great event for spectators,” Syl said.

“The weather seems to have cleared up, there’s plenty of sand on the beach and I reckon conditions should be great.”

And it’s not just the big swim which is expected to turn the spotlight on Byron Bay in May, a number of other sporting events are also scheduled.

Friday, May 7 marks the start of the three-day 30th annual Byron Bay Malibu Classic.

With some of the east coast’s best longboarders competing for some great prizes, the classic will be held at Wategos Beach (surf permitting).

On the Saturday of that same weekend, the very popular Byron Bay Triathlon will be staged with the field well and truly filled.

 On May 16 attention will move from Byron Bay to Bangalow, where the annual billycart derby will be held.

A great event for all the family, Bangalow’s main street is transformed into a racetrack for the day.

And if all that competition in May hasn’t worn you out, then the second Byron Bay Ocean Paddle is scheduled for July 17.

The 12 kilometre event is open to ocean skis and ocean kayaks in five divisions.

There will be a six kilometre paddle for stand-up paddle boards and sit-on-top plastic kayaks.

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