SWIMMING SINCE 2001.
Every year almost 100 Sunshine Coast locals brave the pre-winter dawn to gather on the shore at Mudjimba Beach.
Clad in togs and swimming goggles, many donning wet suits and flippers for added comfort, the swimmers’ shared ambition is to tackle an 11 kilometre open ocean swim from Mudjimba to Mooloolaba, via Old Woman Island. There’s a start line, a finish line and buoys marking the course, but the message is clear – it’s not a race.
"Competition is brushed aside at the annual Island Charity Swim. Instead, community spirit reigns."
Every year the goal is the same - to raise money for the kids at the Currimundi and Nambour Special Schools.
The swimmers, who range in age from 15 to 86 and in skills from amateur to elite athletes, are propelled by the knowledge their gutsy efforts will raise close to $80,000. Escorted by support crew in boats and surf skis (and sometimes humpback whales, dolphins and turtles), they swim as individuals or in relay teams of up to six people.
More than $1 million has been raised since the Island Charity Swim started in 2001 as a dare between two local larrikins Ashley Robinson and Bill Hoffman.
Currimundi Special School principal Alwyn Green is overwhelmed by the community support.
“It really shows the size of the heart that the Sunshine Coast has as a community,” he says of the event’s success, integrity and longevity. Over the years, he explains, the funds have enabled both schools to invest in much-needed equipment and programs for their respective students, who have learning and physical disabilities – many with high-needs.
“Before this event, our P&C would fundraise $3000 to $5000 per year,” Alwyn says, “so it would take years to raise funds for a substantial project.”
Funds from the Island Charity Swim have enabled Currimundi to buy, amongst other things, a hydrotherapy pool, sensory playground, gym and fitness centre, and wheelchair bus, while Nambour Special School has invested in a wheelchair bus, playground equipment, technology and curriculum resources.
Nambour Special School principal Kathy Beaumont joined the school last year, taking over from principal Ron Jones, who continues to be a staunch supporter of the event. Kathy says, “When you are at the beach and watch the swimmers come in, it does bring a tear to the eye: that these capable, successful people have taken the time to not only swim 11 kilometres but have gone out and raised the money for our kids. It also allows the school community to feel very much part of the wider community.”
The kids play their part in fundraising too. Last year, the students of both schools together swam the event’s equivalent of 11 kilometres in Currimundi Special School’s pool.
Donations can be made to Just Giving Fundraising Page or bank deposit: Island Charity Swim - BSB 124-001 A/C 20629313. Please state your individuals name or team name as the reference.
Brave, dedicated teachers hit ocean for gruelling 11km swim
By Tessa Mapstone, The Sunshine Coast Daily.
A BRAVE and dedicated group of teachers have trained up and hit the ocean for a gruelling 11km swim to support their school and community.
Michelle Atkinson swam from Mudjimba to Mooloolaba via Old Woman Island in last year's Island Charity Swim, and this year she and fellow teacher Michael Taylor persuaded enough colleagues to give it a go that Nambour Special School today sent two teams of swimmers into Mooloolaba Bay.
David Ogg lines up charity swim as next challenge to conquer
By Lucy Cantori, The Sunshine Coast Daily.
DAVID Ogg is no stranger to endurance races or raising money for charity. He has tackled an ironman for MS raising $18,000 and also raised $10,500 for miracle babies. Now Mr Ogg has his eyes on the 11km Island Charity Swim to raise money for Nambour and Currimundi special schools. Continue reading...