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Where: Hervey Bay, Queensland Next event: 13-14 April 2013 What: A 3.4km and 1.6km ocean swim from Urangan Pier to the jet y opposite Torquay Hotel, and from the shore at the corner of Esplanade and Alexander Street to the jet y opposite the Torquay Hotel, respectively. Distance: 3.4km and 1.6km See:


Where: Heron Island, Queensland Next event: 18-22 October 2012 What: The second Great Barrier Reef Swim, with two courses, around beautiful Heron Island, which sits right on the Great Barrier Reef Distance: 3km and 1km See:


Where: Rot nest Island, Western Australia Next event: 23 February 2013 What: A challenging and extremely popular channel swim with over 750 support boats. Distance: 19km See: rot


Where: New South Wales. Next event: 1 December 2012 What: Return swim around the headland then along the cliff towards Dee Why, then running/swimming the three points  North Curly, South Curly and Freshie. Distances: 2km See:


Where: Manly Beach, New South Wales Next event: 3 February 2013 What: Very popular ocean course from Manly Beach to Shelly Beach. Distance: 1km and 2km See:


As quick as O'Shea is to highlight the positive side to Lorne, she also laments its broad appeal. “I do think it's too popular. It takes longer to register than to do the swim. I think it was over 4,000 people the last time I did it. Lorne can also be too hot, too cold, too rough but are always too crowded. It's hard to fi nd a clear patch of water to swim in.” Ellercamp says: “For some years it's hovered around the 3,000-4,000-participants mark, although there are always are quite a few who enter to get the shirt but don't enter the water to take part in the race. Numbers are constrained by a limitation imposed by the organisers. There's always a lot of grumbling from swimmers who nominate for entry but who miss out.” That said, Lorne remains one of Australia's most important swims, and for those who have competed in 10 or more races, and received in turn a much coveted place as a member of the Shark Bait Club, the bragging rights are massive. The Shark Bait Club gives a clue to what, arguably, lies at the heart of the swim's popularity, particularly for the overseas visitor. The club is named aſt er Vic 'Sharky' Marshall, so called because as a youngster in the 1940s and 50s, he'd swim behind the shark nets in the waters of the Queensland coast. Marshall was a life member of the Lorne SLSC and, by all accounts, an all-round-top bloke who embodied the sense of fun and character that has become synonymous with the public face of Australia. Lorne is these things too. It's inclusive. It could so easily have become consumed in a soulless corporate soup of sponsorship and celebrity, but its beating heart is the grassroots, or rather the rolling waves, of the Lorne Surf Life Saving Club that imbue the event with a rich community spirit. Funds and proceeds from the race maintain the club's crucial life- saving work, and much also goes towards assisting local charities, including the Lorne Hospital. Entries for next year's race will begin on the last weekend of October. If you happen to be in Australia in January 2013 you will be hard pushed to fi nd an open water experience quite like Lorne anywhere else in the world. ○

Tom Gallagher is a freelance writer and journalist who has travelled extensively in the course of his career. Based on the south coast. He is also H2Open’s ‘Becoming an Open Water Swimmer’ blogger. You can read about his trials, fears and successes in the blogs section of our website,

The course ends with a sprint for the fi nishing line on the beach, opposite the club house

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