- Date29 Jan 2023
The Macquarie Big Swim from Palm Beach to Whale Beach is one of the premier events on the ocean swim calendar, with a proud history and a satisfying and challenging course.
The 2.8km point-to-point ocean swim started in 1974 with just shy of 40 competitors; but today, it is pushing 2000 competitors, attracting ocean swimmers from all over the country.
Located an hour's drive from Sydney's CBD, starting on the northernmost beach on the peninsula, this ocean swim offers two different swim distances; the Ray White (Prestige) Palm Beach Little Big Swim which is a 1km ocean swim and the main event, the ‘Big Swim' a 2.5km ocean swimming epic.
Some say you graduate as an ocean swimmer once you've completed the Big Swim.
The Macquarie Big Swim is a 2.8km course that starts from the Palm Beach Pavillion and finishes right in the middle of Whale Beach to the south.
The swim runs out from Palm Beach, then follows the coastline around Little Head and into the centre of Whale Beach. Initially, you might think Whale Beach is 'just around the headland', however, one of the greatest tales you will indulge in post-swim will be the 'never-ending headlands', giving credence to the name, the 'Big Swim'.
This swim can be one of the toughest ocean swims of the year depending on the ever-changing surf conditions, but it will not disappoint. It can also just as easily be a leisurely swim with calm, flat water when conditions are at their best.
Elite swimmers can typically finish the course in roughly half an hour, while the average time is closer to 50 minutes.
The Ray White (Prestige) Palm Beach Little Big Swim is a great family-friendly 1km swim for those that want to be a part of the festivities but don’t want to take on the full swim, just yet.
The course is a beach start and goes out past the break, around four coloured buoys before coming back to the starting point.
Swim aids such as wetsuits, fins, snorkels and pull buoys are allowed during the swim, but swimmers who choose to use aids will not be eligible for major prizes and will be required to start at the back of the pack.
If you've just completed the big swim then you're probably not in the mood for anything too strenuous, but that's ok, there is still plenty to see and do.
There are beautiful restaurants, cafes and clubs to choose from including Jonah’s, Dune Restuarant and The Boathouse Palm Beach.
Once you’ve grabbed a bite to eat, why not hit the Palm Beach Golf Course and complete 9-holes. If golfing isn’t your thing, take a guided tour and visit locations featured in the popular TV series Home and Away.
Finding a park in Palm Beach or Whale Beach at any time during the summer can be a mission, but with the event on, space is at a premium. So what can you do? Well, one of the benefits of the event having been run for so many years is that the clubs have an awesome bus service to shuttle you from one beach to the other.
Start by carpooling as much as possible, then get there super early and park at Whale Beach (the finish). The streets are narrow, and you may need to park some distance away, but the stretch will be good for you after the drive to the northern beaches.
Once you've parked up, you can walk the scenic road to Palm Beach or catch the shuttle bus that runs from Careel Bay to Palm Beach (returning after the swim). If you park at Palm Beach, you can catch the bus back the other way at the finish.
Swimmer ride free, spectators are asked for a gold coin donation.
For complete event information, please visit the official event website.
Wave 1 is known as the Elite Wave, and will be comprised of elite and other faster swimmers.
There are limited places available in the elite Wave. The top 10% will be determined by reference to the Order of Precedence maintained by oceanswims.com. Swimmers who have not competed in ocean swim before could submit a 1 km pool time for consideration.
For a space in the 2022 Elite Wave, please send an email to [email protected] with details and attend the timing tent on the morning of the swim for approval. Entry will be closed 30 minutes before race start time at 9:30am.
Fins n Skins
The final wave of the race is the Fins n Skins event. This is only wave where flippers and wetsuits are allowed. Should you wish to swim join this wave, make sure you select Fins n Skins on the entry form.
Getting there (parking & shuttle bus)
It is best to not attempt to park at Whale Beach and Palm Beach as space is very limited. Swimmers should consider carpooling.
For a map of recommended parking areas and information on the free shuttle bus, please visit the event website.
Your safety is paramount. For information on the water safety provided for this event, tips for staying safe, and some basic swimming etiquette visit the event website.
Please remind yourself of the entry conditions and race rules before you arrive.
The organiser of this event, Whale Beach SLSC, is a registered charity. This event is a major fundraiser for the club, and all proceeds go towards providing its volunteer lifesaving services to the community.
Cancelling your entry
Should you wish to cancel your entry, for any reason, at any time, the following applies:
Should the event be cancelled due to poor and/or dangerous ocean conditions, or Government-mandated health restrictions, the following will apply:
The organiser thanks you for your understanding and support.
WIN! Enter and complete 3 out of 5 swims in the Pittwater Ocean Swim Series and you'll go in the draw to win an OceanFit Swim The Whitsundays swimming holiday valued at $2,295!
There are five swims in the Pittwater Ocean Swim Series that are held across five different parts of Sydney’s Northern Beaches: Newport (8 Jan), Bilgola (15 Jan), Mona Vale (22 Jan), Palm Beach (29 Jan) and Avalon (12 Mar).
Immerse yourself in the exquisite waters of the Whitsunday Islands, cruising from one picturesque island to the next on your live-onboard tall ship, swimming at secluded bays, along white sand beaches and around tropical islands.
Little Big Swim
Late entries on-the-day +$20
Transfers: You can transfer yourself to a different distance or transfer your entry to another person via your Race Roster dashboard. Fees apply.
Palm Beach NSW, Australia
2023 results - Review this event
2022 results | 2021 Results | 2020 Results | 2019 Results | 2018 The Big Swim Results | 2017 The Big & Little Swim Results | 2016 The Big & Little Swim Results | 2015 The Big Swim Results | 2015 The Little Big Swim Results | 2014 The Big Swim Results | 2014 The Little Big Swim Results | 2013 The Big Swim Results | 2012 The Big Swim Results | 2011 The Big Swim Results | 2010 The Big Swim Results | 2009 The Big Swim Results | 2008 The Big Swim Results
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Andrew Rice30 Jan 2022 at 1:18pm
Amazing event! Well run and really enjoyable! Only clocked 2.4km instead of 2.8 but that hot the end of the world. Would highly recommend doing this swim!
Annie K30 Jan 2022 at 2:20pm
Such a well run event. All the volunteers both in and out of the water were friendly and helpful!
Thanks for all your efforts-will be back next year👍
Lisa30 Jan 2022 at 3:04pm
Fabulous event. Well organised. Fabulous vibe. Thanks to all who helped make it a success.
Patricia Major30 Jan 2022 at 3:17pm
I am so happy and proud that I participated in the little big swim. I will definitely be doing the big swim next year. Very well organized and supported event. Thanks to everyone involved.
Josh30 Jan 2022 at 4:14pm
Well organised. Beautiful swim. Delicious fruit to eat at the finish line
Sam Gilchrist30 Jan 2022 at 5:56pm
Thoroughly enjoyed todays swim to Whale. It’s been 11yrs since I last had a go.
The parking and shuttle service from the soccer park was very well run. Particular mention to the people who managed the exit and stopping traffic to allow us out.
Fin Crawford1 Feb 2022 at 9:49am
As always a well organised & great day out. Though it was The Shorter Big Swim this year – the start seemed to be 50 metres south of where it is normally is & the cans were in much closer than normal on the way around to Whaley & then when you got to Whaley the cans were
on an angle into the beach/finish gate where usually they take you pretty much straight across the beach then make a hard right into the beach/finish
We love the Big Swim because it usually is the Biggest/Longest Swim
@ around 2.8km (unless you like 5km swims ) Thank again for a fun day out.
Geoff Meers29 Jan 2023 at 3:32pm
Thank you for a flawlessly organised and executed event!! Perfect from transport to rego to water safety to those yummy nectarines at the finish!! Definitely a bit shorter this year which probably explains my huge time improvement!!😂
One suggestion- next year, if it’s blue and sunny, once there are swimmers right along the course, send up a drone and capture a 3 minute video of the course. Set it to majestic orchestral music like the previous video and feature it each year on your home page. A majestic swim deserves a magestic promo video!!
Blobby Bobby29 Jan 2023 at 3:49pm
Really well organised, safe and enjoyable challenge to take on. Only recommendation would be to get a better graphic designer on the merchandise.
Stephen29 Jan 2023 at 6:06pm
Heaven in the spray tent
brian lawrence29 Jan 2023 at 7:08pm
Well run as usual. The overcast weather was welcome, the choppy seas a bit less so. The race instruction that you need not go around the cans was strange, everyone would thus have done different distances. I did go round the cans but measured just over 2.3km, others had closer to 2.6kms. Maybe my Garmin at fault. In any case, thanks to all organisers and volunteers.
Sinclair29 Jan 2023 at 9:53pm
Lots of water safety, all so helpful and friendly. A great event and we’ll run!
CPR & Anaphylaxis completed30 Jan 2023 at 5:09pm
Brilliant course, the conditions were great, a bit of swell, chop & pull with a nice shorie at the end, as ocean swims should be. The Whale Beach club do a fantastic job, special mention to food guys, fruit & sizzle, just cannot go wrong as well as all the volunteers which enables those of us swimming to just have a great day.
Inge30 Jan 2023 at 7:48pm
I recommend this iconic swim! A few points: The long queues for women’s toilets at the start was a bit of a problem. It would be nice to have categories for five year age groups rather than ten. And it would be great to have recycling of swimming caps. A big thank you to the army of volunteers!
Paul31 Jan 2023 at 5:12pm
Always a great swim, well organised and an enjoyable start to the day.
Why are all the age group categories 5 years and then a +60?