This year the Fremantle Swim Thru will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Western Australia’s original ‘Big Swim’ and the 20th anniversary since the Fremantle Masters Swimming Club (the Freo Fins) resurrected the event.
The first Fremantle Swim Thru was held in 1922 and won by 14-year-old Maisie Boyle, the only female winner in the history of the race. Her name has since become a legacy of the event.
“The event was held up until 1959 (or 1960), with a couple of breaks during World War two,” said event organiser Louise Ainsworth.
“Then in 2003, several Freo Fins Stalwarts, Peter Jones, Keith Jones and Martin King revived it.
“It originally started at the Fish Market Jetty in 1922 and finished at the South Beach Jetty (now demolished) at the end of Douro Road and was a one and a half mile long swim.
“When the Freo Fins started it back up again it ran north along South Beach to the Fremantle Sailing Club groyne, before swimmers turned and returned to the South Beach kiosk.”
Since the beginning, the event has kept the same values of being a community event and supporting the local Fremantle, however, some things have changed over time, to make it even better.
“Until 2015, the swim was a 1,600m (one mile) swim but in 2016, we grew the event to offer a 1.25km, 2.5km and 5km swim as well,” said Ms Ainsworth.
“That same year we also added the ‘come and try’ novice events which are the 250m (Try-it) and 400m (Novice) swims, which are great for those just starting out in open water swimming.
“In 2017 after such a successful response to the introduction of the new event distances, we continued with additional distances albeit over a differently shaped course.”
Since the resurrection of the event, all winners have the honour of having their names placed on the Maisie Boyle trophy, a replica of the teapot Ms Boyle won in 1922.
“The Maisie Boyle trophy has a great legacy, after she won the first event in 1922 she has been the only female winner in the history of the race,” said Ms Ainsworth.
“A few years ago, one of our early organisers managed to track down Maisie Boyle’s family, which was pretty special.
“Maisie’s daughter Valma Bibbings, joined us a few years before she passed away.
“Then last year Maisie’s granddaughters Leanne and Shauna joined us and bought the original tea set, Maisie won to show us.
“I actually dressed up as Maisie and it was just a great day.”