More than 170 young swimmers took part in Bushfire Relief Swim Clinics in Wollongong at the weekend to raise money for those affected by the devastating bushfires that have ravaged our country.
Organised by Australian Dolphin and Olympian David McKeon, the Comm games gold medallist was compelled to organiser a fundraiser after his family saw firsthand the devastation caused in New South Wales.
“We have property down in Lake Conjola where on New Years Eve there were 90 homes destroyed and lives lost,” he said.
“My mum and dad and sister Emma were there at the time and had to evacuate, and while they were safe, there were a lot of other people less fortunate in that area.
“I was up in Queensland at the time when it all happened and I felt a bit helpless and wanted to do something that was meaningful and helpful, so I thought about running a clinic. I then got in touch with the right people and I was able to gather a great group of athletes for both clinics on Saturday and Sunday.”
Those athletes included host of Australia’s best Olympic and Paralympic swimmers including Cate and Bronte Campbell, Thomas Fraser-Holmes, Emily Seebohm, Monique Murphy, Jess Hansen and retired Dolphin and swimming legend, Ian Thorpe AM.
“I contacted each of them individually and they were more than happy to be involved. That’s the great thing about the Dolphins, we’re all family and everyone helps out each other.”
The two clinics were broken up into two one-hour parts, with the first hour dedicated to a question and answer session and the second hour the participants jumped in the pool to learn tips and skills on each stroke.
Despite the rainy conditions – which was much needed – McKeon said he received amazing feedback from families and the children about the clinics, while the local community rallied in support.
“The community got behind us and I’ve got to thank the University of Wollongong for donating the pool for the two hours each day as well as Swimming New South Wales and Swimming Australia who were very supportive.
While the total number is still being counted, approximately $17,500 was raised across the two days, with the money going to the Red Cross and the Rural Fire Service.
Top Image L-R: Thomas Fraser-Holmes, David McKeon, Jarrod Poort, Emma McKeon, Bronte Campbell, Emily Seebohm, Jess Hansen and Jason Cram.