Swimmers signing on

HUNDREDS of entrants are expected to enter the Mainteck Shellharbour Ocean Swim this Sunday.

Shellharbour Surf Life Saving Club secretary Tracey Freeman said the club had been hosting this popular event for the past nine years.

"Ocean swimming is one of Australia's fastest-growing sports and we again expect visitors from all over the state to come to the Illawarra for the event," she said.

"Many entrants stay at our local accommodation providers prior to the event and enjoy our fine restaurants and local attractions, which is great for the region's local economy."

Freeman said the event was supported by Tourism Shellharbour.

"Our club uses this as a fund-raising opportunity to allow the club to continue to provide beach patrols and surf rescue facilities to the thousands of locals and tourists visiting our beach each year," she said.

"We also use the funds to provide surf education and training to members from the age of five years old."

The club expects several hundred swimmers to enter this year's event. There are cash prizes for the open male and female place-getters. Age category winners [which cater for individuals from 13 years of age to the 60-plus category] also receive prizes.

After the success of last year's inaugural Junior 400-metre swim, the event will be back this year for entrants under 12 years, and will be held on North Shellharbour Beach before the main swim.

The entertaining "Dash for Cash" will once again take place after the ocean swim for anyone who has entered the main event.

This provided an element of entertainment for the crowd last year, when some of the local boys fancied they could knock off an Olympian for the cash. They were to be sadly disappointed, as Jarrod Poort managed to take away the cash in the male event on the day.

The 1.2-kilometre course starts on the picturesque sandy foreshore of Shellharbour Boat Harbour, heads through the boat harbour entrance, around Cowries headland, follows the foreshore to Cunji Rock Platform and on to the main patrolled beach at North Shellharbour.

Ms Freeman said wetsuits would not generally be needed in the mild autumn conditions.

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