THOSE who regularly swim in ocean baths can be a fanatical bunch.
The same faces show up day in, day out, and if the early morning goggle marks don’t give them away, their smiles do.
Merewether couple Phil and Marie Hewitt are no exception.
They were swimming in Newcastle ocean baths and watching the sun rise on a particularly beautiful day when the seeds for their Pools for Prevention fund-raiser were sown.
‘‘We go into Newcastle ocean baths almost every day and swim, right up until June,’’ Mrs Hewitt said.
‘‘We usually have the winter months off.
‘‘We were in there swimming on an especially beautiful morning when Phil said, ‘I wonder how many of these pools there are up and down the coast?’’’
A quick search online revealed there to be about 60 on the NSW coastline between Yamba and Eden.
The couple thought swimming a kilometre in each of them the year they turned 60 would be a nice way to mark the milestone.
Type 1 diabetes prevention was a cause close to their hearts, so the idea soon developed into a fund-raiser.
‘‘My eldest daughter, Amy, is a type 1 diabetic and has been since she was 12,’’ Mrs Hewitt said.
‘‘So when she had her children, she was approached by people at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead to see if she would participate in a cord trial study for type 1 diabetes.
‘‘Each of Amy’s three girls have been involved in the studies.’’
The team at Westmead studied potential environmental and viral triggers for the disease.
Promising results suggest prevention of type 1 diabetes could be just around the corner.
‘‘We decided to swim 60 pools in our 60th year and we want to raise $60,000,’’ she said.
‘‘My children’s dad was a type 1 diabetic, Amy’s cousin is a type 1 diabetic, and it just goes back for generations,’’ Mrs Hewitt said.
‘‘We’d like to stop any further members of the family from getting it.
‘‘I personally lost a good friend last year to it as well.
‘‘There is 1000 children a year diagnosed with it, and it’s a daily struggle.
‘‘It affects everything they do.
‘‘It would be lovely to know that just around the corner there is the bigger chance that no other little children will get it.’’
Mrs Hewitt has also recruited enthusiastic members of camera clubs at each location to help capture their adventure.
‘‘They are going to meet us on site and take photos of us and also of the pools,’’ Mrs Hewitt said.
‘‘We’re going to try to get a coffee table book published of all the pools we swim in, and the proceeds will all go to our cause.’’
The couple completed their first Pools for Prevention swim in Newcastle on January 10.
The Hewitts’ swimming schedule, which at one point has them swimming 20 pools in 14 days, can be found via the Pools for Prevention Facebook page.
As well as helping organise and promote the cause, Mrs Hewitt’s son, Tom Lynch, will join them on most of the swims.
‘‘We will finish off on May 2 with a dip in the Bogey Hole, and then have a big bash at King Edward Park to celebrate,’’ Mrs Hewitt said.
‘‘We’d love people to join us on any of the swims.
‘‘We find that people who swim in the ocean baths love to have a dip any time.
‘‘You see the same faces at the pool every day, and they are all smiling.
‘‘It’s kind of like the fountain of youth really.’’
To help the Hewitts reach their fund-raising target, visit give.everydayhero.com/au/poolsforprevention.