fine ocean swimmers tallies 2018/19

It's the series wot done it

warriewood mona vale swimmer 600

Another season done, and ocean swimming continues to grow robustly. Since we started reporting the annual tallies of all swimmers’ total distances, from season 2005/06, there has been only one season when the total number of swimmers in Strã’a and New Zealand has not grown. That season was 2014/15, which was when we began to experience cancellations and postponements due to weather events.

In the season that ended on May 31, we recorded 53,003 swimmers (up from 51,686 in the prior season) in events around Australia, NZ, and the near and some farther spread Pacific. There were 96,001 individual swims (93,417 a season earlier) by those swimmers over 952 events (868 in 2017/18), and they swam 199,977.68km (197,792.83km). (Bear in mind that this reflects the total number of swim events, not the total number of swims. Many events offer more than one swim. Given the resources available to our staff propellor-head, Colin Reyburn, who compiles the tallies for us, it has not been practical to tally the number of individual swims. Colin has a life to lead, too.)


But it’s not weather events that we note from this season’s tallies. Perhaps we’re becoming blasé about them, given how frequently they get in the way of swims these days. Ho-hum, another big sea. Another ferocious storm. (Weather events are changing; we don't care what some say. The weather is far more volatile now, erratic, extreme, than it was even a few seasons ago.) But in season 2018/19, we notice the stark effect of swim series on the season’s tallies.

We’ve been watching this coming for a while, but this time, it really stands out. The effects of commercial swim series is so marked that we have decided to present the data to you now in two formats: the traditional way, simply tallying up swimmers’ individual distances; and now also in terms of numbers of swims done. Both forms are valid means of presenting the effort that you exert over the course of the season. Do you swim a long way? You can do only the swims that are convenient to you. Do you turn up more often than others? Both are indicators of effort and worthy of acknowledgement.

This season just finished, the upper echelons of the tallies are dominated by swimmers from Wessna-Strã'a and New Zealand. Both offer swim series with either distance or frequency unlike other regions that we cover, thus offering cumulative distances very unlike any other. This has been evident for years, looking at the tallies at the end of each season. But this season, it really is pronounced.

The series in Western Australia, run by WA Swimming, includes four 10km events and 12 x 5km swims. The West also has three Rotto swims, of 19.7km to 25km. The result is that swimmers in the West can build their individual tallies with far fewer events than can swimmers from any other area. Good on them, by the way. Those punters who take part in these swims really do put in the effort.

In Auckland, there is a mid-week series offering four (sometimes five) distances up to 2km. Add those distances to the already busy weekend program there, and your distances accumulate.

(Parenthetically, there were 12 rounds in the WA series in the season just ended. One wonders how far larger series can go before they crowd out smaller, more traditional events. They may not run on the same day as the smaller swims, but how many punters will do a 10km, or even a 5km swim on Sat’dee then front again on Sundee at another beach for 2km? Is this an issue in the West?

In NZ, the scene is dominated by a 7-event, commercial series. Smaller awgies have been reluctant to decide their dates until the commercial series announces its own, for fear they’ll find the series climbing on top of them. The NZ series says it will be announcing 2019/20 dates “soon”, which means other organisers will still be waiting till mid-late June or so before they can work out with certainty when they can run their own events. This is a late call.

We're sure the commercial series are on guard to the danger of hubris creeping into their business plans, and they are aware that they are part of a larger caper.)

bilgola swim 161211 800 05


Illustrating the issue in this season's tallies, of the first 30 in the traditional list – based on total distances swum – 22 are from Wessna Strã’a, 5 are from NZ, 2 are from NSW, and one from Victoria. In the old days, when we were kids, there was hardly anyone in the top order from anywhere other than NSW.

In the list based on swims swum, 27 of the top 30 are from NZ – that’s the Auckland mid-week series for you -- and one each from NSW, Victoria, and swimmer from the West sneaks in at 30.

In the swims swum list, we sort first by number of events, then by total distance, so both are recognised. In the total distances, it’s just pure distance.


We started the tallies as a matter of interest to swimmers overall, but also to acknowledge the efforts of your rank-and-file mug swimmer, who otherwise remains on the beach unnoticed, just minding their own business. But they turn up, week in, week out, doing their bit, schlepping around the ocean and ordering their cuppas afterwards. They have their own boasts; their own achievements; and these are just as valid as your more serious types over longer distances. They take part often in many more swims than your fancy pants 10km swimmers, although it’s harder for them, time wise, to rack up the distance.

This is to take nothing away from the efforts of 10km swimmers. There is a movement towards longer distances these days, with more 5km events in NSW and Victoria, as well as the multiple 10km swims in the west. The interest is there and growing, although by necessity they don’t pull as many swimmers as the longer established events of 1km-2km that are the bread and butter of ocean swimming.

We don’t wish your rank-and-file mugs to be lost. They deserve due acknowledgment, too. This is why we’re presenting the tallies this time in both forms. Neither are a perfect reflection of the efforts individual punters "put in", but they are more representative than just the distances, we've com to realise. Maybe, in future, we'll find some other means of an even more egalitarian presentation. Constructive suggestions are always welcomed... Click here

Some swimmers are noticeable in both versions, particularly those from Auckland who also have the opportunity of the mid-week series that allows them to build their total distances.

Good on all of youse for the efforts you put in. We’ve long reckoned that the most effort comes from those at the back of the pack. They do it tougher than the slick smarties at the front. Most of them were never taught proper as kids, and that is the difference.

Remember, the tallies are not a competition. They are a compilation of individual results to acknowledge all swimmers, not a ranking of merit. You might say, Why, then, do we number the rankings? Well, if you can suggest a better way of doing it (alphabetically, perhaps), but then interest is in the totals, and it's important that swimmers can easily get an idea of the range of achievements. Also, we have little data on many individuals due to the scant data in individual event results that allow us to differentiate amongst them. A pure alphabetical list would not allow easy identification. You'd be surprised at how many swimmers in any region have the same or near identical names.


... go to Colin Reyburn, our staff propellor-head, and a dab hand at Excel, for compiling these tallies. Without Colin, we simply could not do it.

This season – By distance… First 10

Rank Surname 1st name Age From State Total distance Events Av.
1 TARR Bob     WA 134.10 20 6.71
2 DONALDSON Jim 61 WESTLEIGH NSW 118.00 31 3.81
3 MAXWELL Aaron 50 SUBIACO WA 114.30 16 7.14
4 MUIR John     WA 112.10 17 6.59
5 ELLIS-KERR Aaron   ILUKA WA 104.55 18 5.81
6 ANDERSON Stuart     WA 101.40 19 5.34
7 WILLIAMS Richard     WA 99.60 14 7.11
8 COTEN Max     WA 97.40 22 4.43
9 COSSEBOOM Peter     NZ 92.70 28 3.31
10 WATKINS Joe 44 NEUTRAL BAY NSW 92.30 20 4.62

Distance by region...
Rank Surname 1st name Age From State Total distance Events Av.
NSW DONALDSON Jim  61 WESTLEIGH NSW 118.00 31 3.81
NZ COSSEBOOM Peter 61   NZ 92.70 28 3.31
Qld EVANS Jessica 31 WAVELL HTS QLD 59.50 6 9.92
SA NAZIMI Leila 35 LOCKLEYS SA 41.90 10 4.19
Tas MUIR Stephen     Tas 19.7 1 19.7
Vic HARWOOD Michael 60 WILLIAMSTOWN Vic 79.70 24 3.32
WA TARR Bob 61   WA 134.1 20 6.71

By events…

Rank Surname 1st name Age From State Total distance Events Ave Distance
1 HOOLE Jacqueline     NZ 66.50 36 1.85
2 BRADLEY Brett     NZ 89.20 35 2.55
3 BREWER Meegan     NZ 57.60 35 1.65
4 COCHRANE Mike     NZ 88.70 34 2.61
5 STARK Jenny     NZ 86.00 33 2.61
6 DONALDSON Jim 61 WESTLEIGH NSW 118.00 31 3.81
7 DICK Danielle     NZ 73.30 30 2.44

Events by region...
Rank Surname 1st name Age From State Total distance Events Av.
NSW DONALDSON Jim  61 WESTLEIGH NSW 118.00 31 3.81
NZ HOOLE Jacqueline     NZ 66.50 36 1.85
Qld CANDLER Karen 55 TOWNSVILLE QLD 32.90 10 3.29
SA MURPHY Serena 44 NOVAR GARDENS SA 17.70 9 1.97
  Tas 16.7 9 1.86
Vic HARWOOD Michael 60 WILLIAMSTOWN Vic 79.70 24 3.32
WA COTEN Max 61   WA 97.40 22 4.43

Details, details...

By distance...
By events...
Even more...

Get your certificates of effort

fos certificate 600

This year, we bring back the Fine Ocean Swimmers Rewards. If you’d like your effort for the year recorded “officially” on a personalised certificate, one that you can frame and hang on your wall in your own personal shrine at home or in your office or the cab of your truck, or the back of the loo door, so you can gaze at it admiringly for hours on end every day, then order it from us and we’ll get it out to you. Certificates will be signed by and the Queen of Ocean Swimming, Mrs Sparkle, to make it all as official as you can get it in ocean swimming.

Certificates cost $35 plus $9.30 postage/packaging … Click here


If you find errors or other problems with these tallies, please let us know... Click here

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