The Annual Swansea Belmont Across the Lake Swim will be held this Saturday, February 25th , and will mark the 53rd Anniversary of the first crossing of the lake by past and present long serving Surf Life Saving Club members.
The swim will start from Wombat Park Coal Point at 8.30am with the first competitors expected to reach the finish line at Belmont about 40 minutes later. The swim presents for competitors a crossing of the largest salt water lake in Australia.
Prior to the swim, registrations will be taken from 6.30am until 8.00am at Belmont 16ft Sailing Club and entrants will be transported across to the starting point by motorised craft.
The Across The Lake swim from has become an iconic event on the long-distance swimming calendar.
The first crossing of Lake Macquarie took place in 1960 when a group of Swansea Belmont Surf Life Saving Club members took up the challenge to be the first to swim across Lake Macquarie.
The group included John Regan, Bill Cambridge, Cliff Marsh, Jim Corkett, Kevin Aspley, John Davies, Ray Breckenbridge, Peter Lee and a young lass named Anne.
Whilst the first crossing was done simply to complete the swim, in 1961 the competitive nature of the event was introduced, the winner being Graham Sargent of Newcastle Surf Life Saving Club.
The Across The Lake Swim is the longest running open water swim in Australia with competitors of all ages taking part in the 3.8-kilometre event.
It is also believed to be the longest straight swim in Australia.
Although swimmers have always entered the water at Coal Point on the western side of the lake, the finishing point has varied over the years.
The finishing line was originally at the baths on the waterfront at Belmont, and then moved to Belmont South holiday park.
Some years ago a permanent finish was established at Belmont 16ft Sailing Club, a major sponsor of the swim.
The record field of starters numbered 380 during the mid-1990s, and the record time for the crossing is 38mins and 50secs, held by Olympian Glen Houseman.The female record time 10 seconds slower than Glen’s is held by another great Olympian Donna Proctor - a local Newcastle product. Both records have been in place since 1991(21 years).Again the record will be hard to break as both Olympians were in their prime at the time.
Many swimmers have enjoyed multiple crossings.
Spectators wishing to view the event at close range have the chance to see the swimmers emerge from the water at the finish line at Belmont 16ft Sailing Club.
All details for this year’s event are available on the club’s website at www.acrossthelakeswim.org.au the oceanswim website www.oceanswims.com.au and facebook site “Across the Lake Swim”.