IT’S one of the toughest events on the Victorian swim calendar.
But veterans and young challengers are already lining up for the 30th Jalna Big Bay Swim across Port Phillip Bay on Sunday, February 24.
Lifesavers from Frankston, Mentone, Williamstown, Port Melbourne and Altona have rallied to ensure the 3.2km race from Port Melbourne to Williamstown goes ahead after rough weather forced organisers to cancel last year’s event.
This month’s swim is guaranteed, with an alternative course in place if the sea is too wild.
The iconic bay swim attracts the state’s best open water swimmers – including Pier to Pub champ Sam Sheppard – and a host of social swimmers who love the challenge.
A strong throng of western suburbs swimmers is among this year’s earlybird entries. Youngsters Robbe Dilissen, Altona, and Jesse Coulson, Williamstown, finished hot on the heels of Sam Sheppard in the previous bay swim and will be hoping to turn the tables this year.
Chloe McCardel, Australia’s English Channel champion, will greet swimmers at the finish line in Williamstown. She hopes to recruit a few more swimmers for the UK Channel crossings she organises.
Michael Harwood does about 40 open water swims a year with mates from the Williamstown Dolphins swim group, and rates the bay swim “one of the best”. “It’s a good swim, probably the best straight line event in Victoria. And it’s always well organised and prepared for all eventualities,” he said.
Entrants compete for cash prizes and valuable points in the Great Victorian Swim Series in the event run by the Rotary Club of Point Gellibrand.
Melbourne’s shipping channel will close for an hour during the swim, and a community festival on Williamstown’s Commonwealth Reserve will entertain swimmers and spectators.
Proceeds from the event support Rotary charities including a Pirates’ Day for Kids with Cancer and a weekend camp for disadvantaged youths from Melbourne’s West. Swimmers can enter at bigbayswim.com.au
- Media and pic inquiries: Ron Coleman, 0411 723 669