Australian Long Distance Swimming Federation

From Openwaterpedia
The Australian Long Distance Swimming Federation is an inductee (Honor Organization) in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in its Class of 2023

noun - The Australian Long-Distance Swimming Federation was formed by Chris Guesdon in 1973 in Hobart, Tasmania.




The mission of the ALDSF is to facilitate recognition of the sport of open water swimming as this was not forthcoming from the pool-orientated national body in Australia.

Australian Open Water Swimming Community

There are 350 open water swims in Australia which attract 100,000 individual swimmers annually.


1. This ALDSF brought marathon swimming to life in Australia for the first time.
2. This was the birth of marathon swimming accreditation in Australia.
3. The ALDSF set the environment for the rest to follow.

In launching this first national organisation across the country, the ALDSF needed to

• Firstly, create the environment
• Publicise the organisation
• Encourage local community participation
• Set general rules
• Provide event management presentations
• Provide guidelines for coaching/ athlete development
• Appoint officials/volunteers
• Set team selection rules
• Affiliate with pertinent organisations

The ALDSF's continued support of open water swimming has lasted the distance and seen the sport thrive from its birth to this day.

Thanks to the ALDSF, Australia quickly gained recognition through their association with the World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation and the International Long Distance Swimming Federation. Guesdon and Dick Campion of the ALDSF held positions in both international organisations during the 1970's.

In 1986 when FINA decided that Open Water Swimming would be included in their administration, Australian Swimming invited management members of the ALDSF to join the Swimming Australia open water committee. The role was to set strategy and manage national open water programmes. Australia’s golden era followed for the national team. In the late 1990’s, Guesdon was elected to the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee.

Between 1980 and 1986, the ALDSF used the name Australian Marathon Swimming Federation instead of Australian Long Distance Swimming Federation. The organisation reverted to its original name ALDSF in 1987 and is based in Hobart, Tasmania.

Australia had many world-recognised individual marathon swimmers. However, until 1973, there had not been any form of sanctioned national recognition and there was no organisation to formalise their swims or to provide an opportunity for those swimmers to participate in a race and represent their country.

The Foundation members and subsequent office bearers were Christopher Guesdon (IMSHOF) as President, Deputy President Dick Campion (IMSHOF), Secretary Sue Guesdon (IMSHOF), and John Koorey (AMSHOF) Executive Member.

In 1972, the 34 km Derwent River Big Swim was born and was the first of the events held by the ALDSF from 1973 to 2021. This swim was and remains the national blue-ribbon event. This started as a 34 km river swim from the New Norfolk Bridge to Tasman Bridge in Hobart. The varying weather patterns can be extreme. Southerly weather brings winds from Antarctica in the Southern Ocean via Storm Bay. The Derwent is a tidal river with the fresh water from the source and salt-water stretching upriver for 20 km from the Southern Ocean.

The ALDSF introduced the first Australian national marathon races and, in addition, initiated and put in place the Australian Triple Crown of Marathon Swimming.

The Australian Marathon Swimming Hall Of Fame was founded by ALDSF members in June 2020.

The Australian Open Water Championships over the marathon distance began in Tasmania in the 1980's. These races had Australia's best open water swimmers with competitors from all states of Australia and international swimmers from New Zealand.

The ALDSF's first Australian national team competed on the professional marathon swimming circuit. In Italy. the ILDSF World Championships 1975 and 1976, Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli, and the WPMSF in Canada at the 1975 Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean, the 1975 24 Heures La Tuque, and the 1976 lac Chibougamau Marathon.

The ALDSF in conjunction with the Australian Masters Games Organisation conducted the First Australian Masters Games Marathon Swim and the State Masters Games Championships Marathon swim.

Some recognisable names have swum in ALDSF events including Des Renford, Dick Campion, John Koorey, Jenny Anderson, Philip Rush, John van Wisse, Lynton Mortensen, and Chris Guesdon.

There have been open water swimming events of various types and distances on the Derwent River since 1803 when Hobart, the capital and most populous city of the Australian island state of Tasmania, was settled.


The ALDSF is run by volunteers who underwrote the sanctioned events both financially and with manpower. The organizers provided accommodation, boats, watercraft and personnel. The history on the Derwent swims is not restricted to one course and a few swimmers. There are numerous courses swum on this great river Derwent, across, up and down the river. There are three bridges used as starting and finishing lines.

From inception to 2020, the events run under this organisation were free of any charges. All the expertise the organising the vessels' accompanying the swimmers, the committee, the handlers, the pilots, and the kayakers, and the accommodation was provided by the event as volunteers. There have been no sponsors and no input from government.

Since 2020, the pilots charge a fee for the 34k Derwent Big Swim.


Founded in 1804 as a penal colony, Hobart is Australia’s second oldest capital city after Sydney. The city is located in the state’s southeast on the estuary of the Derwent River, making it the most southern of Australia’s capital cities and its harbour forms the second-deepest natural port in the world.

There have been open water swimming events of various types and distances on the Derwent River since 1803 when Hobart, the capital and most populous city of the Australian island state of Tasmania, was settled.

Since 1973 when the Australian Long-Distance Swimming Federation was formed, swimmers have competed in the races in the Derwent at marathon distance.

The ALDSF continues to sanction and ratify swims from New Norfolk to Hobart, the Derwent River Big Swim, one of the three events in the Australian Triple Crown of Marathon swimming.

External links