The Big Swim 2010 Whale Beach
The course runs for about 2.5 km. It starts in front of the Palm Beach Pavilion, where registration for THE BIG SWIM is completed. The course runs virtually straight out from Palm Beach, parallel to the coastline, around Little Head and into the centre of Whale Beach.
Conditions have varied over the years, from flat and calm to very strong swells and chop. In a south-easterly wind, the course becomes even more difficult as swimmers must plough through both the wind and sometimes heavy chop.
This is ocean swimming at its finest.
In all the 39 years, THE MACQUARIE BIG SWIM has been conducted safely. That said, entrants must be sure that they are capable of swimming the distance in difficult conditions before
they take part in the swim. In all those years, the event had to be cancelled only once due to extremely dangerous seas. This was widely publicised on radio stations from very early that morning.
THE BIG SWIM will be covered by helicopter surveillance.
That's how we get some terrific event photos, and how we keep
an eye on the course and surrounding waters. This is a regular
part of THE BIG SWIM.
THE MACQUARIE BIG SWIM traditionally is held on the last Sunday in January.
The next swim will be on January 26th, 2014.
Start time is 10am at Palm Beach.
  • Don´t breaststroke around buoys.
  • Don´t stop suddenly without checking for possible obstructions you may be causing to other swimmers.
  • Be tolerant: clashes and contacts are inevitable.
    Just because someone hits you in their stroke, it doesn´t mean they did it deliberately. With 2,000 swimmers in the water together, some contact is bound to happen.
    Don´t take it personally and don´t retaliate gratuitously.
  • Be tolerant of obstructions caused by other swimmers, too. Some swimmers will be slower than you. They can´t help it. Don´t get cranky just because someone is in your way.
  • By the same token, don´t knowingly cause obstructions. Don´t get into a row of breaststrokers, causing a broad barrier that faster swimmers coming from behind can´t get around. They will have to go through you.
  • If you see another swimmer who seems as though they may be in trouble, check whether they need assistance.
    We´re all fine ocean Swimmers. We´re in this together.
Water safety patrols are carried out by surf lifesaving club members from Whale Beach SLSC and nearby surf life saving clubs who crew inflatable rescue boats, all with radio communications.
A surveillance helicopter will fly over the event, monitoring with radio communications from the air. In addition, surf life savers on rescue boards and rescue skis and in surf boats will accompany swimmers along the course. The Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol - Broken Bay will provide further boats positioned along the course.
Medical doctors will be in attendance. The water safety officer reserves the right to insist on pulling a swimmer from the water
if they appear unable to complete the course having been in the water for over one hour, in the interest of safety.
No sharks have been sighted in all the years of the swim.
Some swimmers require assistance as they tire - usually around ten people - generally due to inadequate preparation and training. Please see our section on Training for advice on how you
can prepare.
Swimmers may encounter stingers such as bluebottles on the course. Stings can be treated quickly. As with swimmers who tire and seek help, swimmers requiring assistance should raise their hand and water safety personnel will come to their aid.
An electronic system has been introduced by Whale Beach SLSC using professional timing services, a company highly experienced in timing professional triathlons as well as ocean swims.
Each entrant is fitted with a secure ankle band with a unique computer chip. At the finish, entrants run over a special pad equipped with sensors which read the chip, instantly tabulating the finishing time and referencing to the entrant's name.
Around 30 minutes after the last swimmer finishes the race, placings in the various categories can be announced and prizes awarded. Following that, a full categories placing list will be placed on display.
Results will be posted as soon as possible on this website and through
On average, elite swimmers cover the distance in 30 minutes while the general average time is 50 minutes.
Swimmers are organised into 5-year age categories, male and female. There is also an Open or Elite category.
The start is staggered. Swimmers leave Palm Beach in 10 waves, each with a distinctively coloured cap. This avoids crowding at the start and during the swim when many swimmers are in the surf together. It also minimises bunching at the finish at Whale Beach.
The first starting wave will be the Open/Elite wave at 10am. Click here for the schedule of starting waves.
Wave 1 in THE BIG SWIM this season comprise elite and other faster swimmers, in what will be known as the Elite Wave. All those swimmers who rank in the top 10% in terms of fastest times overall will be eligible to start in this wave.
The top 10% will be determined by reference to the Order of Precedence maintained by
The Order of Precedence awards a point to a swimmer each time they finish in the top 10% in a NSW swim. Swimmers who finish in the top 5% of a swim receive 2 points. Those points are accumulated to produce the Order of Precedence. The Order of Precedence - something akin to accession to the throne - acknowledges consistent and regular performances.
There will be 100 places available for starters in the Elite Wave. Qualifiers will be compiled prior to race day. If you qualify or wish to apply to swim in the Elite Wave, you should visit the Elite Wave table at Palm Beach on race day, January31. Please check in for the swim under your age category before visiting the Elite Wave table. And, please, do not be late to check in on race day, or all available positions may be filled. We will cut off entry into the Elite Wave 30 minutes before race start time. If you wish to swim in this wave, do not be late.
Swimmers who fail to qualify for the Elite Wave under this provision may still apply to start in this wave by emailing the Race Director (click here) setting out a case supporting their application. Swimmers who have not completed an ocean swim before could submit a 1 km pool time.
This will improve safety for swimmers overall and allow swimmers with comparable speeds to swim together. It should make for
great racing.
Times will be displayed on a large digital clock at the finish line at Whale Beach. Results, including first three place getters in all age categories, and all competitions times will be will be displayed as soon as possible following the last swimmer completing the course. Full results will be posted on as soon as possible after the event. This is generally within 24 hours. Times recorded by the official timer are the only acceptable times.
THE MACQUARIE BIG SWIM is, first and foremost, a community event for recreational swimmers. It's a personal challenge to finish in a satisfying time. Some like to make it a race against friends and rivals in age groups.
Medal prizes are awarded to the winner, 2nd and 3rd placegetters in each category. There is a special prize for the overall winners - fastest male, fastest female. There are also special prizes for which all swimmers are eligible.
See Special Prizes for information about awards.
All entrants are given a swim cap at the start of the race and will be eligible for a certificate confirming their race entry and time. Colour certificates if individual results will be available here on-line after the swim.
Age category winners and placegetters must be at the presentation to receive their prize.
Usually it takes until around 12:30pm to confirm results. Prizes are presented in front of the Whale Beach Surf Life Saving Club by a well known personality and local political representatives. BBQ food and refreshments available immediately after the
swim finishes.
Elite Wave swimmers will be eligible for prizes in their
age categories.