Newcastle’s iconic Australia Day harbour swim will become one of the richest open water swims in Australia after the doubling of prizemoney for next year’s event.
Stockton Surf Life Saving Club announced this week that it would be doubling the prizemoney for the top three places in the overall races. Male and female winners will receive $1000 each, second $500 each and third $250 each.
More than 400 swimmers took part in the social and competitive events, held across 700m and 1400m respectively, this year.
Club president Callan Nickerson said increasing the prizemoney was designed to attract more competitors from outside the Hunter.
Once a year keen swimmers are legally allowed to swim across the harbour from Stockton to Newcastle.
The harbour master gives Stockton SLSC the all-clear to let the swimmers cross the world’s largest coal port.
“This is a long-term strategy for the club designed to increase the profile of the race outside the Hunter Region,” Mr Nickerson said.
“To embed it as part of the culture of Australia Day in Newcastle and get as many competitors as possible taking part.”
Newcastle-bred Olympic swimmers Thomas Fraser-Holmes and Justin Norris are both previous winners of the charity swim that raises money for the surf club. The swim has traditionally been the club’s major annual fundraiser.
Mr Nickerson said funds raised were used to help the club buy the most up-to-date surf rescue equipment.
“It all goes towards our essential life saving operations,” he said. “We had a lot of swimmers and a large crowd last event, so we are aiming to do even better with the upcoming swim.”
The main 1400-metre swim across the harbour to Stockton and back begins at Queen’s Wharf at 10.30am.
It will be preceded by the single crossing for social swimmers and juniors at 9.30am 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. Waratah’s Lucas Soars claimed this year’s 1400m race in a time of 15:46 and finished the 700m event in 7:34. He was closely followed in the 1400m race by Chris Wilson (16:07) in second and Jayden Wright in third (16:28).
In the women’s category, there was over a minute between the first three with former winner Shelley Clarke winning in a time of 17:07 over Brinlei Baxter (17:46) and Seraina Danoser (18:14).
For more information and online entries please visit www.oceanswims.com.au