December 10, 2023 - January 20, 2024: Issue 609


Pittwater Swim Series 2024: 5 great opportunities to dive on in - details of each beach and swim courses

Thousands of ocean swimmers are expected to descend on Pittwater for the annual Pittwater Ocean Swim Series starting in January 2024. The biggest group of ocean swims in Australia, the Series, conducted by surf clubs in the region, is popular with ocean swimmers of all levels.

With a range of swims to choose from swimmers, of all levels are catered for, David Madew, coordinator of the Pittwater Series, says swimmers can test their ocean swimming skills at some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. All entrants will go automatically in the draw for an OceanFit Swim The Whitsundays tour for one, valued at $2,295.

“Swimmers can test their swimming skills in an ocean environment with short courses such as 400m and 800m which are very popular for those less experienced in an ocean environment. The longer events such as the iconic “Around the Bends 2kms from Newport to Avalon” and up to 2.8kms in the Big Swim.

“The first swims in the series will be at Newport on Sunday 7 January 2024 followed by Bilgola on 14 January, Then it’s Mona Vale’s turn, on 21 January with their popular Warriewood to Mona Vale course. The Big Swim from Palm Beach to Whale Beach one of Australia’s original ocean swims is celebrating its 50th anniversary with its event on Sunday 28 January.

“Then on Sunday 17 March, Avalon will hold its “Around the Bends” ocean swim from Newport to Avalon to complete the Pittwater Series. Each of the ocean swims not only offers a challenge to those wanting to take on the ocean. Each swim is an important fund raiser, for the surf clubs involved, so that they can purchase and maintain essential lifesaving equipment. This in turn make sour beaches safer for the many swimmers who visit Pittwater each summer,“ said David.

To be eligible to win, the Oceanfit Whitsunday holiday prize, swimmers must enter at least three of the swims in the series. “It is a dream prize for ocean swimmers. The winner is drawn from those who have entered three swims, so the winner can come from any swimmer,” David added.

The Pittwater Ocean Swim Series is generously sponsored by Council, who obviously recognise the tourism value of the event with the knowledge that swimmers and their supporters flock to the local cafes, clubs and restaurants as well as the boutique shops after the swims.

There is a strong emphasis on safety for each of the swims as would be expected from the surf clubs. Swimmers are urged to train for their event and take notice of directions from lifesavers on the beach.

Entries for each of the ocean swims will be available on You can also go to the website for full details on all swim courses available and entry fees.

The 2024 Series is expected to be a bumper event following the interruptions of Covid. It is a great event showcasing Pittwater and some of the best surf beaches in the world.


Newport Pool To Peak
Sunday January 7 2024

The Newport Pool To Peak Ocean Swim is the first Sydney ocean swim of the new year and one to kick off your ocean swimming new year’s resolution in style. 

Organised by experienced ocean swimmers, the Pool to Peak is known as the friendly and affordable swims with an emphasis on safety and fun.

The swim takes place at Newport Beach, located a 35-minute drive from Sydney’s CBD.

This ocean swim offers three different swim distances; 400m for 10 years and over, 800m for 13 years and over and 2km for 13 years and over. Great prizes are available via a lucky swimmer draw and medals are presented to category winners and placegetters. Fresh fruit is provided for swimmers on their return to the beach and there is a succulent BBQ.

If you’re after a good coffee and late breakfast or lunch after your ocean swim, head to the popular cluster of cafes on either Barrenjoey Road or Robertson Road.

Newport Beach is an open beach, with shifting breaks, gutters, and rips meaning it can pose a challenge at times, but for the most part, you’ll find it completely manageable. Its intensity really depends on the tides, winds, and swell, with a reef off the southern end of the beach offering protection from some swells from the South East.

The 400m ocean swim is a kids-sized circuit out around the buoys and back into the beach.

The 800m ocean swim course is a simple circuit out and around the buoys and back. This course is great for beginners or as a warm-up for the 2km ocean swim if you are wanting to do the double on the day.

The 2km ocean swim course takes you out away from the beach, before turning north, and following a rectangular route around the beach – from pool to peak – eventually bringing you back to shore near the beginning.

Entries are open and will close 6 Jan, 3:00 pm. Enter here

Blackmores Billy Swim
Sunday January 14, 2024

Tucked away on the Northern Beaches of Sydney is Bilgola Beach -one of the smallest and most picturesque beaches in the Sydney area -and home to one of the more challenging swims of the Pittwater Ocean Swim Series.

Despite its bucolic setting, the swell is tricky, reflected in the Guringai Aboriginal meaning for the original place name ‘Belgoula’ of ‘swirling waters’. But fear not -alongside this reputation, another reputation is the water safety offered by Bilgola SLSC for the 500M and 1500M swims on the day which is second to none.

The Blackmores Billy Swim, affectionately known as the ‘Billy’, has two different swims starting an hour apart, 500m and 1.5km and the more daring of swimmers can certainly try to complete both.

The event is a major fundraiser for Bilgola Surf Life Saving Club, supporting patrol activities and equipment acquisition throughout the season. Your entry fees help keep Bilgola Beach safe.

Blackmores is once again the major sponsor, with Harris Farm supplying fruit for after swim replenishment. While you’re in Bilgola, make a day of it and explore the northern tip of the beaches.

There are two courses as part of the Bilgola ocean swim: a very achievable 500m swim and the 1.5km main event.

The diamond-shaped 1.5km course offers the challenge of a straight run out through the break, then turning NE, aiming towards the dramatic headlands that mark the boundaries of the beach.

Turning SE, the furthest point out for the swim is about 500m from shore. Then, turning SW, if you care to look, you’ll see southern neighbours, Newport Beach -but stop before you reach it, as you’ll turn NW on the next-to-final leg approaching Bilgola.

The final leg is directly back through the break, with the waves and the high tide at about the time of your return to the beach, allowing a gracious and spectacular return to the beach.

The 500m swim is a smaller circuit just off the beach.

Entries are open and will close 14 Jan, 8:30 am. Enter here.

Warriewood To Mona Vale Swim (& Family Swim)
Sunday 21 January 2024

The Mona Vale ocean swims, proudly sponsored and supported by The Pittwater, is a two-swim event on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and one of five events in the Pittwater Ocean Swim Series.

The first of the swims is the 1km Janice Mason Family Fun Swim at Mona Vale, a relaxed and enjoyable swim for the whole family that starts and finishes at Mona Vale Beach.

Following that, the longer of the two swims, the Don Jenkins Memorial Swim, takes swimmers on a 2.26km journey from Warriewood Beach to the Mona Vale Basin.

The Warriewood to Mona Vale swim was first held during the 1977-78 season with 20 swimmers, and it is now named after the founder of the swim, Mona Vale life member Don ‘Doc’ Jenkins. It is recognised as one of the first organised swims in Australia.

Once you finish your ocean swim head up to the club’s members’ lounge, the Cook Terrace, for live music and a drink from 11 am, visit the Bright Side Café or The Basin Dining for lunch or spend the day in Mona Vale exploring the area, attractions, and cafes, we have something to suit everyone’s taste.

The 1km Janice Mason Family Fun Swim is a great ocean swim for the whole family. This swim starts in front of the clubhouse at Mona Vale Beach and heads east before rounding the rock shelf and into Bongin Bongin Bay (the Basin).

The 2.26km Don Jenkins Memorial Swim starts on Warriewood Beach to the south, and after heading out through the break, it rounds the small headland and follows a course outside the breakers, past the surf club, and into Bongin Bongin Bay.

Entries are open and will close 20 Jan, 3:00 pm. Enter here.

The Big Swim
Sunday January 28 2024

The Big Swim is one of the premier events on the ocean swim calendar, with a proud history and a satisfying and challenging course.  The primary swim shares the same name as the event and is a 2.8km point-to-point epic from Palm Beach to Whale Beach.

The challenge was first taken on in 1974 with just 48 competitors but it regularly attracts 1000s of ocean swimmers from all over the country and overseas. 

In 2024 the event will be celebrating its 50th, with huge celebrations planned. Entries for this historic milestone are expected to reach the 2,000 swimmer safety limit so don’t delay your entry and risk missing out.

If the main attraction is beyond your reach this season, the Little Big Swim is a 1km ocean swim conducted at Palm Beach before swimmers leave on the big coastal journey.

Some say you graduate as an ocean swimmer once you’ve completed the Big Swim.

The Big Swim is a 2.8km course that starts from the Palm Beach Pavilion and finishes right in the middle of Whale Beach to the south.

The swim runs out from Palm Beach, then follows the coastline around Little Head and into the centre of Whale Beach. Initially, you might think Whale Beach is ‘just around the headland’, however, one of the greatest tales you will indulge in post-swim will be the ‘never-ending headlands’, giving credence to the name, the ‘Big Swim’.

This swim can be one of the toughest ocean swims of the year depending on the ever-changing surf conditions, but it will not disappoint. It can also just as easily be a leisurely swim with calm, flat water when conditions are at their best.

Elite swimmers can typically finish the course in roughly half an hour, while the average time is closer to 50 minutes.

The Little Big Swim is a great family-friendly 1km swim for those that want to be a part of the festivities but don’t want to take on the full swim, just yet. 

The course is a beach start and goes out past the break, around four coloured buoys before coming back to the starting point.

Swim aids such as wetsuits, fins, snorkels and pull buoys are allowed during the swim, but swimmers who choose to use aids will not be eligible for major prizes and will be required to start at the back of the pack.

Entries are open and will close 28 Jan, 9:00 am. Enter here.

Avalon Beach Surf Swims
Sunday 17 March 2024

The Avalon Beach Surf Swims event hosts two previously separate swims in one awesome day of ocean swimming.

There’s a 1.2km ‘family’ swim around the buoys off Avalon Beach and the pinnacle event, the ‘Around The Bends’ Newport to Avalon Beach 2.5km point-to-point journey swim.

For the real keeners, there is a rare opportunity to swim both events for the same price! Organisers have scheduled it so that any parent in the ‘Around The Bends’ swim can be finished and ready to join their kids in the shorter swim – making it a family affair.

While you’re in the area, check out the cafe scene.

There are two events as part of the Avalon Beach Surf Swim event; a 1.2km swim and the 2.5km ‘Around The Bends’ swim from Newport to Avalon Beach.

The timing of the two main swims means that swimmers can challenge themselves by doing both swims, and parents can join the 1.2km swim with their children.

Designed for the whole family, the 1.2km swim starts at the northern end of Avalon Beach, heading out through the ‘Avalon Express’ rip, before making a turn towards the southern headland, and then back north towards the surf lifesaving clubhouse on the beach.

The shore dump on the way out and back in can be a bit tricky at times, but once you’re out past the break, Avalon offers one of the most scenic swims between the two headlands.

The 2.5km ‘Around The Bends’ journey swim starts at Newport Beach (which also hosts its own ocean swim), and after turning left around the first turning buoy, it heads north to pass the first of two headlands.

On the other side of the first headland you’ll spot Bilgola Beach (there’s an ocean swim here too), but don’t start to head in toward the beach just yet as you’ll need to head slightly east to get around the next headland.

Next is perhaps where the ‘Around the Bends’ name comes from because rounding Bilgola Head will seem endless because the sand of Avalon Beach doesn’t start until 500 odd metres from the tip of the headland.

Follow the buoys north-west towards Avalon, ensuring you breathe to your left to take in the scenic cliffs the northern beaches are renown for.

Entries are not open yet but when they are you can Enter here.

Photos; A J Guesdon