A note from Richie Stewart, organiser of The Big Swim, Palm Beach to Whale Beach ...
Taking the link off the Cole Classic site to oceanswims dot com indicates there is a lack of history and knowledge or perhaps faded memories on just what the ocean swims web site has done for ocean swimming and all participants.
Whale Beach Surf Club held the first ocean swim in 1974. A few years later, Mona Vale SLSC started up and ocean swims appeared on the calendar of surf clubs generally in the Sydney metropolitan area.
Advertising our event was difficult, the media were generally not interested in the small (but growing) sport of ocean swimming, so we handed out pamphlets at each other's swims, stuck posters in the local shops from whom we sought prizes and generally had immense difficulty in signing up sponsors for our swims.
The sport was unknown and unacknowledged. Sponsors were few and funding difficult.
Generally swim organisers relied on a local shop or business or a contact from within our club. The Cole Classic started at North Bondi some years after the Palm Beach to Whale Beach swim and over the years a fraternity of ocean swim organisers/race directors has developed.
Along came ocean swims dot com in 1999 and the fragmented individual ocean swims were glued together with a common source of information. Potential sponsors could evaluate the size and scope of the sport.
Following every swim, a comprehensive report and results are posted on the site and all were able to again enjoy the experience of last weekend's swim, photos, text with a lot of good natured fun.
After years of manual striving, finally organisers were able to connect with all swimmers interested in finding out where swims were to be held. Then, on-line entry came along. All through the innovative efforts of oceanswims dot com.
Following the break from Nth Bondi, I attended a swim organisers meeting from where ocean swims dot com introduced Manly to the Coles as the new site for Cole Classic.
It is right to remember that first/start up swims are given full publicity by ocean swims dot com, free and available, instantly connecting a new swim with the entire ocean swimming community.
Ocean swims dot com noted there are probably many new ocean swimmers entered in the Cole this Sunday. For their sake, and for those whose memories have faded, I trust there are many new ocean swimmers who will understand and respect the pivotal role ocean swims dot com have made in the development and promotion and incredible growth of ocean swimming, the community involvement, and the funding for charities including surf life saving clubs, cancer reseach etc.
We all owe a debt of gratitude and appreciation to the oceanswims web site.
Perhaps after Sunday's swim, those new to this wonderful sport will be motivated to continue ocean swimming and be challenged to enter one of the "Journey Swims", from beach to beach (Palm Beach to Whale Beach and Bondi to Bronte for example) in the open ocean.
To be told to "check with your local surf club, as the Herald does on its Cole website, suggests we may well be experiencing an unwanted wind of change in our wonderful sport.
I certainly hope not. First and foremost, ocean swims are there for the community to enjoy, for charities' bank accounts to be helped and for the community of swimmers and non swimmers to participate in a healthy enjoyable sport.
Ocean swims dot com is the link, the common bond that ties all of these together.
Whale Beach SLSC Incorporated
The Big Swim