Spectators and participants alike are being urged to keep their fingers firmly crossed for good weather, after poor conditions last year forced the race to be cancelled for the first time in its 30 year history.
Fingers Crossed for Good Weather.
PAYCE Managing Director, Brian Boyd said it was a pleasure to be associated with the Cronulla Surf Life Saving Club under a five year sponsorship agreement and support the club's annual major fundraiser.
"This one of the biggest annual sports events in the Shire calendar and PAYCE is pleased to proudly support the club and the local community," said Mr Boyd.
"We wish the club and all swimmers a great day and hoped the weather is more favourable than last year.
"It was a shame that the event had to be cancelled in 2016 as there is a lot of preparation that goes into the lead-up for an event such as this," noted Brian Boyd.
"I was very disappointed last year when the event had to be cancelled", says Allan Metti, who has taken part in every Shark Island Swim since the event was launched back in October 1987.
Describing the waters as 'treacherous' on the morning of the 2016 race, Metti says that, despite the disappointment of the swimmers and spectators at the time, the cancellation was "a wise decision by the club". Luckily, the conditions for this year are looking much better, and the swim is expected to go ahead as planned.
Let's Meet the Competitors.
The 1km fun swim enables participants aged 10 years and over to take part, while the main 2.3km Shark Island Swim welcomes swimmers aged from 13 years – although there's no upper limit.
In fact, some of the most well known swimmers taking part in the race this year demonstrate that age is nothing but a number, and are ready to put their younger counterparts through their paces! 77 year old Metti will be joined by Georgene McKenzie-Hicks, who turns 90 in September, and takes part in many swim events in the region.
Metti is the first to admit that competitive swimming at his age isn't always ideal, but he never lets that get in his way. One year, he even completed the race with his arm in a sling rather than miss the event entirely.
"I was able to strap my arm to my body with some board ropes", he says, recalling his makeshift solution. "I swam with one arm tied behind my back".
How did Metti's injury affect his performance? "I still didn't come last", he says cheerfully. Metti hopes to be able to swim this race with both arms!
The 2017 Champion.
During the last few years, the average time for completion of the Shark Island Swim has been around 46 minutes, with the winner coming in at a pretty impressive 27 minutes. Will Metti stand a chance of making it into first place this year?
"My best time was exactly 40 minutes", he says, and he's hoping to beat his record time this year – though he would happily settle for being somewhere in the first half. However, Metti may have a bit of competition from Mckenzie-Hicks, who claims she will 'certainly' beat her personal best this year.
Regardless of which swimmer is crowned the PAYCE Cronulla Shark Island Swim champion for 2017, we can be sure that this is going to be an exciting and lively day for everyone involved. These include representatives from PAYCE, the Cronulla Surf Life Saving Club, the swimmers, and the local community.
They'll head down to the beach on Sunday to watch the action and soak up the atmosphere, in their iconic commemorative Shark Island Swim t-shirts and caps.
"It's a wonderful day for all the family and friends, and we're all hoping for great weather conditions", says PAYCE Director Dominic Sullivan.
A Community Event.
Sutherland Shire is known for its strong community, and community participation is something that shines through in the PAYCE Cronulla Shark Island Swim.
"The first year of the Shark Island Swim we had around 80 starters" says Metti, who now describes the race as "one of the Shire's major community events". The race now attracts around 700 swimmers, although even more are expected to register for this year's event. Metti takes it all in his stride, saying there are plenty of people available to lend a hand if necessary.
Local Support for the Cronulla Shark Island Swim.
This year, PAYCE continues to back the Cronulla Surf Life Saving Club under a 5 year sponsorship agreement, providing additional support for the club to host exciting community events such as the Shark Island Swim.
"The annual Shark Island swim is a remarkable event made even more so by the community that get behind the Life Saving Club", commented Mr Brian Boyd. "This is the biggest annual sports event in the Shire and like everyone else, we are hoping for good weather on the day," said Mr Boyd - fingers crossed.