Inaugural Lake Burley Griffin Swim Proves a Winner
The race was started by the Chief Minister, Jon Stanhope, and Alan Towill, who as a school-boy in 1965 became the first person to swim the length of the newly-formed lake. This time, however, he was there to cheer on his successors.
While many competed as members of teams, 26 individual swimmers soldiered on for the entire distance. Despite the cold weather, many of the swimmers considered it a perfect day for the event. The main hurdle was a strong wind, which resulted in some choppy waters- but this merely provided an extra challenge. All the solo swimmers completed the event, as did all but one of the teams.
Final honours went to Teresa Donnelly, who finished in 2 hrs 28 mins 14 secs- despite no wetsuit! The first man home without a wetsuit was Peter Brooks, in a time of 2:47:29.
Though the top prizes were awarded to the non-wetsuit swimmers, the wetsuit-clad efforts of Ross Blake (2:08:22) and Alanna Hale (2:17:19) were impressive- as were the efforts of 70-year-old Geoff Llewellyn, the oldest solo competitor (3:22:23).
After the success of this inaugural race, the Self-Transcendence National Capital Swim is certain to become an annual event. The race, which traversed the lake from Scrivener Dam to Grevillea Park, is the latest to use a lake that has long been a popular site for Canberra's sporting community. Scenic runs, cycling events and triathlons are held along the lake, and on the lake itself, swims and regattas are a regular part of summer life. With the lake's versatile beauty, we can expect many more events over the next 40 years.