Local Heroes: Making a Splash In The Fight Against Cancer
THE BALMORAL SWIM IS ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS IN OUR COMMUNITY CALENDAR, WITH THOUSANDS OF LOCALS DOING THEIR BIT TO HELP BEAT CHILDHOOD CANCER. THIS YEAR, THE POPULAR EVENT TAKES PLACE ON SUNDAY, MARCH 18, WITH HOPES OF REACHING THE MILESTONE MILLION DOLLAR MARK IN DONATIONS, AS ANNA USHER REPORTS.
PHOTOGRAPHY by GRAHAM MONRO
It started as a small community event, with a group of locals quietly deciding to raise funds for childhood cancer.
And now, 27 years later, The Balmoral Swim has grown to become Sydney’s finest open water ocean race, attracting thousands of people from around Australia.
This year, the family friendly swim takes place on Sunday, March 18, with a new race on the program, for competitors who are keen to challenge themselves beyond the popular 1km event.
A five-kilometre “Around the Bay” challenge is open to 200 swimmers over the age of 15, providing a rare opportunity to experience swimming Sydney Harbour in a safe environment.
“It is set to be a spectacular race and already, many have registered for our new race,” Director of the Balmoral Swim, Peter Ellis, tells Mosman Collective.
“Swimmers can expect some wonderful views of the bushland over Balmoral, as well as the underwater beauty of the reefs below,” he said.
“We are so excited to have a new challenge, along with our annual one kilometre swim and the team events.
“This year, we look set to have more competitors than ever before, which is great news for our chosen charity,” he said.
The Children’s Cancer Institute has been the beneficiary of funds raised since 2006, and Peter says it’s hoped that this year, the “magic million” milestone will be surpassed.
“The money we’ve raised over the years stands at about $850,000 and we think that 2018 will be the year that we reach $1 million,” he said.
“It will be a massive achievement not just for those of us on the committee, but for everyone in our community, who has done their bit for this cause over the years.
“People in Mosman and its surrounding areas are known for their charitable work and a willingness to donate, especially when it comes to kids in need.”
The Children’s Cancer Institute was established in 1976 by a dedicated group of Parents and Doctors of children with cancer.
Today, it is the only independent medical research institute in the country devoted to researching the causes, prevention and cure of childhood cancer.
“Sixty years ago, cancer was nearly always a death sentence for a child,” Peter says.
“And now, eight out of 10 children survive – and it is medical research that’s making the difference.
“So, to the people in our area who swim in this event, and donate money – we are forever thankful for your contributions.”
When it comes to fundraising, Peter says there is one local family in particular, who have gone “above and beyond” with their charitable efforts.
“The family of Tony Arena have a team called “The Aces”, and they’ve swum the event for 13 years, raising more than $150,000,” Peter says.
“The Arena’s swim in honour of their sister, aunt and friend Anita Comelli – and three generations are now involved.
“They are a true inspiration and wonderful ambassadors for not just the swim, but for Mosman too,” he said.
For those interested in entering the Balmoral Swim this year, there are a number of options:
200m Junior Swim
4 x 150m Age Relay
4 x 150m Schools Relay
Dash for Glory
“The Dash for Glory is always a real highlight of the day, and it brings so much joy to both the swimmers and spectators,” Peter says.
“We are expecting happy faces all round this year though, with Kazzi Beach Greek providing coffee and delicious snacks, and the Balmoral Beach Club putting on a sausage sizzle.
"It is a great day and we urge everyone in our community to support this wonderful cause."