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Palm to Shelly set to challenge marathon swimmers

Australia’s longest marathon swim, the Palm To Shelly Beach, is scheduled for April this year and entries are open.

At 26 kilometres and snaking along Sydney’s Northern Beaches, the Ausbil Palm Beach to Shelly Beach is Australia’s longest ocean swim.

Organised by one of Australia’s top marathon swimmers, Tim Garrett, this internationally recognised event is one of the three swims in the prestigious Australian Triple Crown.  

Originally established as a preparation swim for those wanting to do the English Channel, it has expanded over the years to appeal to those of all marathon swimming levels.

“It’s a great swim for marathon swimmers of all abilities,” said Mr Garrett.

“We have lots of swimmers do it where it’s their first official marathon swim over 10km and then others who have done quite a few marathon swims and are experienced in that field.” 

Not only is this one of the premier marathon swims in Australia but swimmers are also greeted with some beautiful scenery for the duration of the swim.

“The backdrop and cliffs you swim along are just awesome,” said Mr Garrett.

“If I am comparing it to other marathon swims in Australia, I would say this has the best scenery. I mean when you swim Rottnest the water is a beautiful blue colour but it’s just the water around you, whereas when you swim the Palm to Shelly you are surrounded by cliffs and blue water beneath you.

“Visually you’ll be hard to find another swim with this scenery.” 

Mr Garret says the Palm to Shelly is an opportunity for swimmers to test themselves across varying conditions while practising feeding strategies and pushing themselves mentally. 

“The Palm to Shelly has various conditions across the whole swim depending on what the swell is doing on event day. 

“At times you can get a lot of bounce back off the cliffs which can make for a bumpy ride but that is all a part of the experience.

“Every swimmer will take a different route depending on what they feel comfortable with and what their skipper thinks is the best route.

“Some will go out a bit wider out to sea, following the currents if their skipper knows the area or some will hug the coastline and those will get a bit of bounce back off the cliffs and varying conditions over the reef.”

Swimmers can choose to do the 26km distance solo or in teams of two, four or six people.

In addition to the full 26km distance, there is also an Olympic marathon swim distance of 10km where swimmers set off from Narrabeen and finish at Shelly Beach. 

Events discussed in this article

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  • Written by Ocean Swims on 15 March 2022
  • (Updated on 10 August 2023)

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