Mega swim a festival of fun

WOLLONGONG Olympian Jarrod Poort is keen to take the plunge with dozens of other swimmers in this year's Wollongong MS Australia 24-hour Mega Swim at the University of Wollongong next month.

Jarrod, who just bagged his first national 10 kilometre title in Perth, says the annual Mega Swim is an "awesome" experience and a wonderful fund-raiser to help people living with multiple sclerosis.

Jarrod and Wollongong swimming star siblings David and Emma McKeon are supporting the Mega Swim, which will be at the University of Wollongong's Recreation and Aquatic Centre on March 22 and 23.

Organisers hope to raise at least $45,000 towards financial assistance programs and the Go for Gold Scholarship Program to the direct benefit of people living with MS.

With help from Figtree Lions Club members, MS Australia has been running 24-hour Mega Swims in Wollongong for the past three years.

Last year more than 225 swimmers from 17 teams swam more 1000 kilometres in total during the relay-style event at the Mega Swim, with more expected this year.

Points are awarded to teams for every 500 metres completed. It is run as a tag-team relay.

The Go for Gold Scholarships help people living with MS to aspire to their best and live out a life-long dream. Scholarships are awarded in the following categories: Education, Employment, Music, Sport, the Arts and Travel.

Past swimmers have included not only Jarrod Poort and the McKeon siblings but also Wollongong elite triathlete Ben Allen, long distance swimmer Robert Hurley and British triathlete and Xterra competitor Jacqui Slack.

David McKeon and Jarrod, who both competed in the London Olympics, train under David's father, former dual Olympian Ron McKeon.

Jarrod said if his training and competition calendar permitted he was extremely keen to swim again in this year's Mega Swim.

"Last year I saw a lot of people having a great time," he said.

The style of swim - back stroke, dog paddle or freestyle is entirely up to each individual participant and all abilities are welcome. The 24-hour Mega Swim is a fun team challenge and a great experience for all participants involved.

A special committee organising the event is looking for sponsors' contributions, which will be acknowledged in pre-event advertising and display of banners at the event.

Mega Swim committee chairman Bill Wright said Figtree Lions Club members would work around the clock supporting swimmers - barbecuing snags, steaks and eggs and bacon for breakfast while others will help log the number of laps completed by teams or hand out "goodie" bags containing swim caps, newspapers, T-shirts and other items donated by generous sponsors.

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