Dubbed the largest open water swim in the world, thousands of people will head down to the Victorian coast this weekend to witness the iconic Lorne Pier to Pub on Saturday.
In what is a great display of swimming's inclusivity, competitors from as young as 12 and as experienced as 89 years old, will swim. Now in its 39th year, nearly 5,000 entrants will take part in the 1.2km swim which starts at the Lorne Pier and finishes on the foreshore in front of the Lorne Surf Lifesaving Club house.
The event is organised and run by volunteers of Lorne Surf Lifesaving Club — one of those volunteers is Peter Williamson, who is the Superfish director. Williamson took part in the first Pier to Pub back in 1981 and has been involved in the Surf Lifesaving Club for more than 40 years.
During his time, he has been amazed by the growth and popularity of the race, which now includes interstate swimmers and Olympians.
“I think 50 people swam in the initial race and then from there it’s just kept doubling each year for quite a few years, until all of a sudden we had 2,000 then 3,000 and now we have around 5,000 swimmers,” Williamson said.
Open to people of all ages, the field always comprises of a vast mix of competitors, including some famous faces.
“In terms of older swimmers, we have two 88-year-olds swimming on Saturday, one is Dorothy Dickey, who is a Masters swimmer and also Keith Peter,” Williamson said.
“We also often get Joel Selwood and CEO Brian Cook swimming from Geelong and we have the Cats’ No.1 2018 AFLW draft pick Nina Morrison swimming this year.”
Following the 1.2km age group race, a special ‘Superfish’ category takes to the water, with a select group of fast-paced swimmers battling it out for prize money and the coveted title.
This year 25 males and 16 females will compete, including Sam Sheppard who is a seven-time winner, as well as defending junior champion Lani Pallister.
Unlike the open category, Williamson said this small pool of swimmers must meet certain standards.
“It’s by invitation, they request to swim in this category and then we look at their swimming records and bios and they send us their CV, so it’s always a competitive field,” Williamson said.
Former winners of the race include Olympians Kieren Perkins and Daniel Kowalski, Tammy Van Wisse and Naantali Marshall, while Michael Klim also took home the junior crown in his early his swimming career.
“Basically, anyone who has won it, has won an Australian, if not a world medal in either surf lifesaving or pool swimming – it really is a prestigious event to win,” Williamson said.
PETE’S STANDOUT SUPERFISH:
Men: Sam Sheppard, Noah Millard, Tristan Read, Jorden Merrilees,
Women: Lani Pallister, Naantali Marshall, Zoe Whitfield, Annabel Luxford
What: GMHBA Lorne 5000
When: 12 January at 10am
What: GMHBA Lorne Pier to Pub
When: Saturday 12 January at 12:30pm