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The Booth, bet, and bottle of whiskey that created the Captain Christie swim

Learn the history of the Captain Christie Ocean Swim from its humble beginnings back in 1982.

Mark Booth is a legend of Gerringong Surf Club and has been patrolling the beaches for more than forty years on the south coast of NSW. 

Mr Booth has also been involved in the legendary local Captain Christie Ocean Swim since its humble beginning back in 1982.

“The swim originally came to be through a fundraising effort for the surf club, where we created a ‘surf spectacular’ weekend,” said Mr Booth.

“In this weekend we had a magazine and in an attempt to make it more readable we included some snippets from the local historical society.

“One of the snippets spoke about Captain Christie and his crew and the bet to swim around the headland to win a bottle of whiskey.

“We thought that was really interesting and we decided that the next year we would run the swim and the rest is history.”

Since 1982 Mr Booth has swum in every Captain Christie Ocean Swim apart from one, batting through even the toughest conditions.

“One year we swam in a howling northeaster and icy cold water, that was a tough one,” said Mr Booth.

“We’ve even had to reverse the swim one year, so we went from Werri Beach to Boat Harbour so we could swim with the conditions.”

When asked what Mr Booth liked about the Captain Christie Ocean Swim he replied “I suppose just finishing”.

“I do love that it is a proper ocean swim and it has a history and tradition,” said Mr Booth.

“As well as it being a very picturesque but challenging swim around the headland and rock shelf.

“Because of where the swim is located, on a pretty day, you can see every grain of sand on the bottom and all the sea life swimming by and on a not so pretty day you are just left very satisfied after completing the swim because it is very challenging and arduous, so it’s very self-satisfying.”

  • Written by Ocean Swims on 1 January 2022
  • (Updated on 10 August 2023)



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