January 22 - 28, 2017: Issue 297

Summer in Pittwater - Avalon Beach 

Avalon Beach SLSC's 25th Anniversary Ocean Swim

Avalon Beach's 2017 Ocean Swim this Sunday had 655 participants in the 1 kilometre and 1.5 k races. This year Avalon Beach SLSC had a Back of the Pack race, a non competitive wave - wetsuits, flippers, were no hassle! 

2017 marked the 25th Anniversary of the Avalon Beach Surf Swim. Three of the original four founding members of Avalon’s Ocean Swim, Stephan Jacek, Roger Sayers and Warren Young OAM, from the first event, are still there and were on the beach. The fourth founding member, Michael Rodgerson, moved to Queensland in 2001 and is currently Vice President, Coolangatta Surf Life Saving Supporters Club.
“…still here 25 years later having fun!” Warren said.

Warren Young, Stephan Jacek and Roger Sayers - 2017

Organisers begin at dawn setting up and this is an 'all hands on deck', or 'on the beach' event with masses of safety people in the water, great fruit being served up on the sand post-swims as well as scores of others involved in every aspect of the swims from timing through to checking your bag in pre event and sponsors with great support around the event - you can even get a barbecued snag courtesy of surfing legend and Life Member Bob Head.

'The Finish Line' - dawn setup and sort-out by Avalon Beach SLSC members.

Bob - on duty on the BBQ each year.

John De Mestre (Age 50-59 Division) was first in the 1 k event, completing the swim in 12 minutes and 15 seconds.

A mere minute behind this legendary swimmer was the first female back to the beach, Melissa Fokes (Age Division 16-19) who did the first swim in 13 minutes, 22 seconds.

Joshua Attard (Age Division 20-29 M) came back first in the 1.5k event, completing the swim in 16 minutes, 21 seconds and Maddie Spencer (Division 20-29 F) wasa first lady back in 18 minutes, 8 seconds.

Avalon Beach SLSC’s Patron Bronwyn Bishop was on the sand to cheer on each Division and on hand at the presentations. Kylie Ferguson was also present and started the first swim.

Hon. Bronwyn Bishop - Avalon Beach SLSC Patron

The Pittwater Ocean Swims series, of which Avalon Beach SLSC’s was the third, raise vital funds for these volunteer organisations that are put towards equipment, training and whatever else may be needed to save lives on our beaches. Avalon Beach SLSC members have already performed rescues during this Season, one of note being Patrol 4 who performed a mass rescue of three young girls caught in the rip at North Avalon in November 2016. The rescue was carried out close to the rocks in big and dangerous surf. A special mention to Brent Williams and Michael Kurtz on rescue boards and Alan Mahn and Sam Nesbitt in the IRB. 

Avalon Beach SLSC recently installed a new defibrillator, a life saving device which increases the chance of saving lives of those in cardiac arrest immeasurably, and had close to 30 members complete their Surf Rescue Certificate  (the SRC is the introductory award for patrolling surf lifesavers and allows the recipient to take part in beach patrols) in December. Their Nippers program is second to none while their Cadets extension has been winning awards.

Swimming is part of life at Avalon surf club too, with members regularly taking part in Sunday morning swims. Avalon Beach Surf Life Saving Club holds this regular swim event for its members every Sunday throughout the season. The Sunday swim is open to anyone who is a financial, proficient member of the Club and begins at the patrol tent at 11:00am when the beach is open. The swim handicapper sets the course depending on the conditions and the swimmers attending on the day. The course may involve a run to the north end of the beach followed by a swim around two cans and a finish across the line between the flags, or it may simply be a swim down the gutter if surf conditions are challenging. Sometimes the swim involves “guessing your time” over the course and the person who swims closest to the chosen time is declared the winner.

Water safety is provided for members with an IRB and patrolling members in the water on boards and with tubes, and we encourage some of our younger cadets and nippers to take part with the assistance of their patrolling parents or fellow bronze holders.

Everyone who participates in the swim accrues points which go towards a final tally at the end of the season. Presentations are made to the top three men and women for the season.

The annual Doug Crane Classic, named to honour the late longstanding Life Member Doug Crane, is another opportunity for the best surf swimmers in the Club to show their talents over a course of approximately 1km. Open to ALL Club members and Nipper carnival competitors to participate in, this is one annual in-club event everyone wants top be a part of. 

One of the great aspects of Avalon Beach SLSC is the range of ages that meet on the sand and in the clubhouse. From Nippers through to the Life Members who attend events and share insights into past generations of volunteer members, this surf club is at the centre of the community and provides a dynamic hub where friends old and new are formed year round.

Avalon Beach SLSC Life Member Michael Byrnes OAM and wife Pam

The results for the Avalon Beach SLSC 2017 Ocean Swims, the 25th Anniversary of a great ‘all are welcome, all belong’ ethos are here:

Below run some great pictures from this year’s event courtesy of Tim HixsonWarren Young OAM and Roger Sayers.

You can find out more about Avalon Beach SLSC on their website: avalonbeachslsc.com.au 
Or keep up to date with future events and happenings on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Avalon-Beach-SLSC

Pictures by Tim Hixson, Warren Young OAM and Roger Sayers, 2017.