Wayne Barry is the epitome of a ‘waterman’. He’s been a surf lifesaver since the early nineties, an avid ocean swimmer, as well as a passionate watercolourist artist.
Mr Barry swam in his first Dorsal Club2Club Ocean Swim 20 years ago and this Sunday, April 2nd, he will finally get around to tackling it for the second time “as a rematch”.
“I’ve been patrolling at Cape Hawke Surf Club for roughly 30 years and for 20 of those years I’ve been a patrol captain,” said Mr Barry.
“Because I was regularly patrolling at One Mile Beach I would often swim up and down the beach which is roughly 3km. So when a few of my friends from both the Forster and Cape Hawke Surf Club did a swim from surf club to surf club I decided to join in.
“They did the first swim in 2001 which wasn’t an official event but I got on board and did the swim in 2003 and had a great time.
“I was going to it the year after but I got roped into organising an IRB to accompany the swimmers and they took off without me because the event was very loosely organised back then.”
Over the years Mr Barry has watched the event evolve to be the great community event that it is today.
“The biggest change over the years is that it’s got a hell of a lot more formal,” said Mr Barry.
“Once the event got more official and became a supervised swim a few years after I did it, I became involved with the guiding committee as the water safety officer,” said Mr Barry.
“We saw the event continue to evolve from there and I would be in the IRB leading the swimmers and then further down the track, I was with support operations for Mid-North Coast and on the jet ski for a number of years.
“But in recent years I have been in my ocean kayak paddling alongside swimmers and last year I accompanied a lady who did the swim with just one leg and she was a huge inspiration for me.
“I’ve now managed to extricate myself as the water safety officer and now I have the time to enjoy being in the water and swimming the course rather than being on it.”
In recent years, Mr Barry has gotten a group of mates together to form the ‘Eh? Team’ swim group which started as an offshoot of the Foster Mudcrabs.
“A few years ago I started to do swimming more regularly again with a group of mates,” said Mr Barry.
“We call ourselves the ‘Eh? Team’, it’s a bit of cheek but we started out as an offshoot of the Foster Mudcrabs which is a competitive cold water group. But we didn’t want to swim in the ocean pool so we would hit the ocean instead and we just started getting a few more people from there.
“We’ve been building up our distance slowly, we started at 1km and now we’ve built up to 2.5km/3km a session which we do four mornings a week.
“We swim at a few different spots, depending on the day, we either do Main Beach, One Mile Beach or if the ocean is out of control we swim in Breckenridge Channel which has beautiful turquoise waters.
“Swimming in the channel is also great resistance training because you swim against the tide one way and then with it the next.”
This year Mr Barry has not only challenged his swim group mates to do the Dorsal Club2Club Ocean Swim but also his fellow patrol captains.
“Since I am back doing the swim this year, I put the challenge out to my fellow patrol captains to get wet and do the swim as well,” said Mr Barry.
“I mean I am 70 and doing it so those young ones shouldn’t have an excuse to do such a great swim and support the surf club.
“Plus, we have a fairly dynamic club at the moment with some young blood coming through, so I thought it would be a good idea to set a good example for them.
“I hope that they come down and do the swim this year and then they can make a tradition out of it and come back and do it every year.”
To find out more and enter head to the Dorsal Club2Club listing.
To see more of Mr Barry’s artwork check out his website and Facebook page.