Coffs Harbour’s annual Ocean Swims are just around the corner. The event, held at Coffs Jetty Beach on Sunday 8th April, is for locals and visitors alike.
The different distances on offer take into account all ages and swimming abilities – from those new to ocean swimming to those of you who are part fish.
Speaking of those very much at home in the water, the Coffs Harbour Mermaids are just one group of locals who have been training regularly in preparation for the event. Rain, hail, wind and shine, the Mermaids meet every Saturday to swim across the harbour.
The Mermaids first came together a few years ago, when two individuals were training for an Ironman event. Their motivation was two-fold: to overcome their fears of open water swimming; and to keep one another company. Initially, they chose not to venture beyond the Jetty but as the group grew, so did their confidence, and soon they were covering the 1,500 metres to the boat ramp and back.
The Mermaids range in ability from those accustomed to following the black line in a pool, to experienced ocean swimmers. The group now includes up to 40 regular members, with ages ranging from 10 years to over 60. Anne Grundy, one of the original Mermaids, turns 70 this year, and the group will celebrate her birthday by jumping off the jetty.
Although swimming is the primary motivator for meeting each week, the company and sweet treats afterwards are also part of the appeal. The Mermaids often enjoy coffee and baked goodies after their swim. Conversation always flows, even if the topics may include rough seas, sting rays, dolphins and jelly fish encounters. To challenge themselves, the Mermaids visit a different beach once a month.
The group are known to mark milestones in style; Summer Solstice was celebrated with champagne at the end of the jetty while treading water and giggling, and to mark 2017’s Winter Solstice, they swam around Little Muttonbird Island, before tucking into warm fudge and mulled wine in the Surf Club car park. The Mermaids are very brand conscious too, with their own Facebook page and chat group – not to mention their customised swim suits.
As the name suggests, the Mermaids are female, but Mermen are welcome, admittedly by invitation only, so long as they are happy to provide tasty post swim treats.
In addition to the Mermaids and Mermen, other groups swim regularly in the ocean here, such as the Walruses and Coffs Jetty Swimmers, a group from Council who swim around the Jetty during their lunch breaks. All groups welcome newcomers, with the prerequisites being a swimming costume, pair of goggles and a smile.
The 2018 Beachside Radiology Coffs Ocean Swims cater for all ages and abilities, with the 2 km Harbour Swim, 600 m Jetty Swim and the 150 m and 300 m Junior Swims. All events will be held at the protected Coffs Jetty Beach on Sunday 8th April.
For more information and to enter, go to www.villagesports.com.au