NEWCASTLE’S iconic Australia Day harbour swim will return next year after organisers gained approval to run the event.
There were fears the trans-harbour swim would never return after Stockton Surf Life Saving Club was forced to cancel it in January due to safety concerns and “increased marine activity”.
Club president Callan Nickerson said the swim had been running for 24 years and had only been cancelled twice.
“It’s a really uniquely Newcastle event and we wanted to ensure it had a future,” he said.
“The swim is great way to kick off your Australia Day and not something that we wanted to lose. You don’t get to swim across the world’s biggest coal port every day.”
Up to 400 swimmers from across NSW and Queensland are expected to compete in the ocean swim on January 26.
Previously about 60 per cent of the swimmers have been from the Hunter, with other large groups from country NSW.
Newcastle-bred Olympic swimmers Thomas Fraser-Holmes and Justin Norris are both previous winners of the charity swim that raises money for Stockton surf club.
The swim has traditionally been the club’s major annual fundraiser.
Mr Nickerson said funds were used to buy infrastructure or equipment for the club.
“It’s basically for buying surf life saving equipment that allows us to patrol the beach,” he said.
“This has always been our biggest fundraiser and the funds are vital for our surf life saving operation.”
The main 1400-metre swim across the harbour to Stockton and back begins at Queen’s Wharf at 11am.
It will be preceded by the single crossing for social swimmers and juniors at 10am from Stockton to Queens Wharf.
Ferries will be available to take swimmers from Newcastle to Stockton for the start.
Swimmers in the 700-metre event are allowed to use flippers and other swimming devices.
“You can swim in a three-piece suit if you like for the single crossing,” Mr Nickerson said.
“We’ve had people in their eighties do the swim and there will be plenty of water safety on hand in IRBs, boards and skis to make sure everyone has a great day.”
The harbour swim was cancelled in January 2015 due to debris and increased marine activity.
Flooding left its fate in limbo until the last minute in 2016, but it ultimately went ahead.
Mr Nickerson said he was confident the harbour swim would continue well into the future.
For more information visit www.oceanswims.com