Memorable day for Coffs Ocean Swims

Race Ambassador Brooke Hanson with Saul Easman, the first finisher in both the Mike Blewitt Coffs Coast 600m Swim and the John Mills/North Coast Swim Academy Junior 300m Swim.

YEAR 10 Woolgoolga High School student Finn Casper won the two kilometre (km) Sawtell SLSC Coffs Coast Ocean Swim on Sunday 7 April at Jetty Beach.

His time of 26:52 put him just ahead of Richie Goddard, who came in four seconds later at 26:56.

The first female across the line was Anthea Warne with a time of 28:18.

In an impressive double win, thirteen-year-old Saul Easman took first place in the Mike Blewitt 600m swim, steaming in at 7:59, and in the John Mills/North Coast Swim Academy Junior 300m swim at 4:08.

A nipper at Sawtell Surf Life Saving Club, Saul attends Bishop Druitt College.

The winning female in the 600m was Larnie Mordue, coming in bang on 9:00 minutes.

The first young lady in the 300m junior swim was Hazel Gadsden with a time of 5:24.

Despite thunderstorms on Saturday night and flooding inland of Coffs Harbour, the races went ahead on Sunday morning in drizzle.

“Given the conditions we faced the Club was so lucky the event could proceed,” Race Director Kerry Bayliss from Sawtell SLSC told News Of The Area.

Long-time Race Ambassador, Olympic swimmer Brooke Hanson OAM, welcomed the crowds to the sandy shores of Jetty Beach at the crack of dawn.

“Coffs Ocean Swims 2024 was another memorable day for myself and my family,” Brooke told News Of The Area.

“Despite the rain and overnight thunderstorms, it didn’t stop hundreds of people from swimming in the event.

“For me personally it was wonderful to have my three children; Cooper Clarke, 14, Billy Clarke, 10 and Matilda Clarke 8, all competing for the first time together this year.

“My father Ian Hanson joined me in the 600m swim, finishing second in the men’s 70-plus age group.

“We all swam in memory of my grandfather John Mills.”

For Brooke the highlight was watching her daughter Matilda swim in the John Mills/North Coast Swim Academy 300m swim.

“It was Matilda’s first Coffs Ocean Swims and she woke up saying, ‘I hope it’s not cancelled as I’ve waited my whole life to do this swim with my family in memory of my great granddad’.”

The late John Mills is Matilda’s great grandfather and the young swimmer surprised herself by winning the eight-years girls’ race despite being a bit worried by the waves breaking into the Jetty.

“I kept thinking I’ve got to keep going and I know he would be so proud that I didn’t give up,” said Matilda.

As a longtime ambassador of the race, Brooke continues to enjoy watching the competitors who show up every year and have fun.

“I love the ‘Jetty swim’, it’s an iconic event which I will continue to support.

“Winning my age group is a bonus but to me it’s about making memories and honouring my grandfather’s legacy.”

Results are now on the Sawtell SLSC website and Facebook page.

Winner Finn Casper is one of the school students who rescued a woman from the surf at Woolgoolga Back Beach in March 2023, along with fellow students Koby Kudrins and Jack Hayes.


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