With the 10th anniversary of Splash Wollongong fast approaching (Sunday, 6 March 2022) we spoke to Rob Battocchio, event director, about how the event has evolved over the years.
Mr Battocchio started Splash Wollongong as a smaller pattern event to the Australia Day Aquathon after studying HPE teaching and exercise science as well as having a passion for triathlon, endurance running and surf lifesaving.
“A lot has changed over the years, we started the event in 2012 and it was originally called ‘Splash n Dash Festival’,” said Mr Battocchio.
“When we started it was run over two days with ocean swims on day one and an aquathlon and fun run on day two.”
“Eventually, we morphed the event into a single day of aquathlons and ocean swims a couple of years ago and that is where the current Splash Wollongong model was born.”
“Since last year we decided to keep all events in the Wollongong Harbour which gives them a nice point of difference from the traditional ocean swims with a beach finish.”
Now in its tenth year, we thought Splash Wollongong would have some great stories so we asked Mr Battocchio to share some of his favourites.
“All events create amazing stories and with Splash being around for ten years it definitely has ample,” said Mr Battocchio.
“There have been a lot of inspirational stories from swimmers who have gone from not being able to swim to competing in the aquathlon or ocean swim.
“Witnessing people of all walks of life, loving open water is truly special and seeing that feeling of accomplishment they have at the end never wanes.”
Splash Wollongong hasn’t been all smooth sailing over the years, the event has had to deal with some unruly weather on occasions.
“One of the most memorable moments has been when we’ve had some curly weather days to contend with,” said Mr Battocchio.
“One year there was a hurricane that hit the south coast with winds of over 80km and four-metre swell smashing over the harbour rock walls.
“It was quite the sight but we managed to hold all events, just modifying them to be held in a safe manner.
“It’s fair to say it was quite the bumpy swim for participants and made for a memorable experience we still talk about today.”
Having a background in triathlon, running and surf lifesaving we asked Mr Battocchio for some tips on how participants can prepare for Splash Wollongong.
“With such various race distances for participants to choose from, preparation is much easier because they can choose which distance they like.
“For those keen to try their first aquathlon participants should do some running practise as well as trying a few laps in the ocean or pool followed by a quick run to get used to transitioning from swimming to running.
“The Little Aquathon is a great distance for first-timers because it is only a 400m swim followed by a 3km run or if participants are looking for that extra challenge they can do the ‘Big Aqua’ which is an 800m swim followed by a 6.5km run.
“The ocean swim swims are in the majority in the harbour which means there is no waves or surf to navigate, so most pool swimmers should be fine from their pool training sessions, but some open water practice beforehand won’t go astray.”
When asked what Mr Battocchio’s favourite part of the Splash Wollongong event was, he replied “all of it”.
“Splash is such a wonderful regional event, that has a real feel-good factor that draws a real fun mixed crowd,” said Mr Battocchio.
“Having such a wide array of events, it really does attract a broad audience.
“The backdrop is also stunning, and Wollongong harbour offers a naturally protected and more intimate venue that is naturally beautiful and makes for a great event.”
To join Mr Battochino at the 10th anniversary of Splash Wollongong on Sunday, 6 March 2022, head to the Splash Wollongong listing to enter.