Big Swim Derwent River Marathon
The Big Swim Derwent River Marathon or The Big Swim (Tasmania) or Derwent River Big Swim or The Big Swim - Derwent River Marathon is a 34 km marathon swim that starts from the New Norfolk Bridge and finishes at the Tasman Bridge in Hobart along the River Derwent in Tasmania, Australia. The water temperature ranges from 13-15°C (55-59°F) and the river is subject to strong winds against the swimmer and escort craft that blow from Antarctica. No full body fast suits are allowed; only swim briefs and no wetsuits. The event is under the authority of the Australian Marathon Swimming Federation and one of the World's Top 100 River Swims, managed by Doug Hughson.
The Big Swim Derwent River and other Derwent River Swims and Courses
- 34 km Big Swim Derwent River from New Norfolk Bridge to Tasman Bridge, Hobart.
- Other swims on the Derwent River
- It was inducted in the Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honour Organisation in its Class of 2021.
History There have been swimming events of various types and distances on the Derwent River since 1803 when Hobart was settled. These have been conducted by many swim clubs and individual organisations, namely regatta associations.
In Tasmania, the long-distance swims, the swimming marathons, were pioneered by Chris Guesdon in 1961
The Australian Long-Distance Swimming Federation was formed in 1973 in Hobart to facilitate recognition of the new sport as this was not forthcoming from the pool orientated national body. The foundation members and subsequent office bearers were Chris Guesdon President, Deputy President Dick Campion, Secretary Sue Guesdon, John Koorey Executive Member
The body changed its name in 1980 to the Australian Marathon Swimming Federation. John Koorey later became the President and the Australian Championships moved to Sydney, New South Wales. The Australian Marathon Swimming Federation ran the national open water swimming titles until FINA and therefore Australian Swimming Inc. took over open water in 1986.
The first Australian Swimming Inc, Open Water Swimming Committee was set up in 1988. Guesdon then became the Secretary of Australian Swimming’s National Open Water Swimming Committee and Koorey and Campion moved across as committee members of that national body. From this beginning the movement of open water swimming was grabbing a foothold across the country. Health, fitness and elite competition programmes in open water and rather than swimming pools, were flourishing and here to stay.
In 2018 there were as many individuals swimming in hundreds of separate events in Australia in open water competitions as there were members in pool swimming clubs. These numbers didn’t include those plunging into the open water on their own as an activity for health and fitness reasons. In subsequent years many other nations and individual hallmark events followed the Australian lead and national and world bodies were formed
The Big Swim Derwent River Marathon
New Norfolk to Hobart – New Norfolk Bridge to Tasman Bridge 34km.
The Big Swim Derwent River in Hobart is considered one of the most difficult marathons to complete. The varying weather patterns can be extreme. Southerly weather brings winds from the great Southern Ocean via Storm Bay. The Derwent is a tidal river with the fresh water from the source and salt water stretching upriver for 20kms. Pioneer marathon swimmer Chris Guesdonas the first to challenge the course on Australia Day 1973 The late, legendary Des Renford from Maroubra SLSC was the first to complete the distance on 25th January 1975. His time was 10h 54m. Dick Campion set the fastest time in 1976. His time: 9h 19m.
Des Renford, Dick Campion and Chris Guesdon are all Honourees inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame. 1975 International Long-Distance Swimming Federation World Championship silver medallist at the 1975 Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli was Jennifer Anderson; she was Australia’s first FINA World Championship medalist in open water who set the women’s fastest time in the Derwent River Big Swim in 1976 in 9 hours 44 minutes.
Fastest time man or woman The long swims on the River Derwent, New Norfolk have mostly been held on dates around or on Australia Day January 26th In 2019 the Derwent River Big Swim was named as one leg in the Marathon Swimmers Federation World’s Toughest 13 Swims. In 2020 The Derwent River Big Swim was named in the Australian Triple Crown of Marathon Swimming along with the NSW Palm Beach to Shelley Beach swim and the WA Channel 7 Port to Pub Rottnest Hotel swim
Derwent River Big Swim All-time Results
1st: 25 January 1975, Des Renford in 10 hours 54 minutes, first person to complete the swim
2nd: 26 January 1976, Dick Campion in 9 hours 19 minutes
3rd: 26 January 1976, Jenny Anderson in 9 hours 44 minutes
4th: 27 January 1973, Relay team Park Beach SLSC in 7 hours 43 minutes with Geoff Marsh, Mike Watkins, Stephen Godfrey, Don Marsh, Gary Everingham and Don Hallett rotating on 1-hour legs
5th: 31 January 2015, Daniel Curtis in 15 hours 57 minutes, first international swimmer
6th: 1 January 2020, Emma Radford in 7 hours 46 minutes
7th: 7 March 2020, Lynton Mortenson in 11 hours 10 minutes
8th: 13 December 2020, Ross Youngman in 9 hours 11 minutes
9th: 7 January 2021, Richard Jones in 10 hours 8 minutes
10th: 9 January 2021, Brenda Norman in 7 hours 4 minutes (new record for fastest woman)
11th: 24 January 2021, Sharon Young in 9 hours 53 minutes
12th: 30 January 2021, Anna Strachan in 7 hours 31 minutes
13th: 12 February 2021, Stuart Donnachie in 7 hours 54 minutes
14th: 13 February 2021, Val Kalmikovs in 7 hours 58 minutes
15th: 28 February 2021, Eric Bateman in 10 hours 27 minutes
16th: 8 March 2021, John van Wisse in 6 hours 49 minutes (new overall fastest swim)
17th: 12 March 2021, Doug Hughson in 9 hours 29 minutes
18th: 20 March 2021, Luke Richards in 9 hours 37 minutes
19th: 9 December 2021, James Clothier in 8 hours 47 minutes
20th: 30 December 2021, Anna Strachan in 7 hours 10 minutes
21st: 31 December 2021, Joy Symons in 7 hours 42 minutes
22nd: 1 January 2022, Jayde Richardson in 8 hours 2 minutes
23rd: 1 January 2022, Zen Durbidge in 8 hours 39 minutes
24th: 12 January 2022, Jonathan Wall in 10 hours 38 minutes (achieves Triple Crown)
25th: 13 January 2022: Carolyn Anderson in 9 hours 52 minutes
26th: 13 January 2022: Brenda Norman in 7 hours 47 minutes
27th: 14 January 2022: Joep Buijs in 8 hours 25 minutes
28th: 15 January 2022: Marcus Payne in 8 hours 55 minutes
29th: 18 January 2022: Sally Catt in 11 hours 10 minutes
30th: 19 January 2022: Brenda Norman in 9 hours 26 minutes (pioneered the reverse course from Tasman Bridge to New Norfolk Bridge and the first person to complete the Derwent River Big Swim three times)
31st: 2 February 2022: Peter Stewart, 66 from Victoria, Australia in 9 hours 27 minutes
32nd: 12 February 2022: Brittany Parker, 39 from Brisbane, Australia in 8 hours 47 minutes
33rd: 12 February 2022: Anna Strachan, 47 from Brisbane, Australia in 18 hours 59 minutes, a new record for double reverse swim Tasman Bridge to New Norfolk Bridge and return, a 64 km marathon swim
34th: 12 February 2022: Felicity Harrison, 33 from Brisbane, Australia in 8 hours 18 minutes 46 seconds
35th 13 February 2022: Peter Tucker, 66 from Hobart, Australia in 12 hours 18 minutes 45 seconds, the oldest swimmer to complete the Derwent River Big Swim
36th: 16 February 2022: Richard Langridge, 50 from Sydney, Australia in 9 hours 2 minutes 50 seconds
37th: 26 February 2022: Duncan Hall, 67 from Hobart, Australia with Katie Marx, 36 from Hobart, Australia, in 9 hour 8 minute 1 second duo relay, a first in the Derwent River Big Swim
38th: 26 February 2022: Jayde Richardson, 29 from Hobart, Australia in 7 hours 5 minutes, the fastest Tasmanian swimmer to complete the Derwent River Big Swim
39th: 27 February 2022: Claire Keane, 62 from Brisbane, Australia in 10 hours 6 minutes 30 seconds, the oldest female swimmer to complete the Derwent River Big Swim
40th: 28 February 2022: Michael Powell, 60 from Brisbane, Australia in 10 hours 33 minutes 26 seconds
41st: 15 March 2022: Mark Robson in 10 hours 31 minutes 17 seconds
42nd: 16 March 2022: Rod Watkins in 9 hours 41 minutes 32 seconds
43rd: 17 March 2022: Mark Sowerby in 8 hours 55 minutes 1 second
44th: 24 March 2022: Eva Buzo in 8 hours 1 minute 21 seconds
45th: 25 March 2022: Eva Buzo in 8 hours 32 minutes 21 seconds
46th: 26 March 2022: Andrew Donaldson from Scotland in 5 hours 35 minutes 21 seconds
47th: 26 March 2022: Helen Conway in 8 hours 28 minutes 10 seconds
48th: 26 March 2022: Fiona Cullinane in 6 hours 26 minutes 38 seconds
49th: 27 March 2022: Victor Pineiro from Argentina in 8 hours 10 minutes 33 seconds
50th: 29 March 2022: Tara Grout in 8 hours 5 minutes 6 seconds
Other Derwent River Swims and Courses
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.
The history on the Derwent swims is therefore not restricted to one course and a few swimmers. There are many swimmers and courses. Since the beginning in 1973 when the Australian Long-Distance Swimming Federation was formed, 46 swimmers have competed in the various races in the Derwent at marathon distance.
The body was run by volunteers who in fact underwrote the sanctioned events both financially and with manpower. The organisers provided accommodation, boats, watercraft & personnel.
A number of swims have commenced and continue in the Derwent River, but most are not of marathon distance. There are other swims across the river of about 2-5 km. One of which is the Trans Derwent Royal Hobart Regatta Race 1.5k which is the second oldest continuously run race in Australia. Other distances across the river reach 5k. The 15k event from Kingston Beach to Constitution Dock Hobart. Other swims have commenced in Hobart and finished in Kingston and/or in the opposite direction. One of our swims the Kingston to Hobart 15km was the Australian Championship race.
Top Australian and New Zealand competitors included, record holder for the fastest triple crossing of the English Channel, Philip Rush NZ. Australia’s John Koorey: 1st Australian man and 2nd Aus. swimmer to cross the English Channel. Another winner was Graham Bruce, English Channel conqueror & member of the 1983-84 & 1996 Australian Open Water Teams The first to complete the swim on that course was in the opposite direction from Hobart to Kingston. 15km distance was swum by Chris Guesdon in 1981. That then became the race course for most of the swims between those towns.
Triple Crown of Australia
- Channel: 25 km Port to Pub Ultra Marathon from Fremantle to Rottnest in Western Australia
- River: 34 km The Big Swim - Derwent River Marathon in Tasmania
- Ocean: 27 km Palm Beach to Shelley Beach Marathon Swim in New South Wales
- New Leadership at the Australian Long Distance Swimming Federation
- Derwent River Big Swim
- Felicity Harrison Achieved the Australian Triple Crown of Marathon Swimming
- Jonathan Wall Achieved Australian Triple Crown of Marathon Swimming
- Brenda Norman Swims In Reverse To Make History
- Inclusion Leads To Increased Interest In Tasmania
- Celebrating Ceinwen
- Andrew Page, Ceinwen Roberts, Derwent River Big Swim, Narelle Simpson Inducted in Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame
- Swimming From Palm Beach To Shelley Beach
- Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Famers Achieve Australian Triple Crown
- Luke Richards Completes The Australian Triple Crown
- Ross Youngman Completes The Australian Triple Crown
- Quintet Of Australian Triple Crowners Led By The Sea Bull
- All-time Historical Big Swims Down Derwent River
- 3 For 3: Richard Jones Completes the Australian Triple Crown
- 3 For 3: Emma Radford Completes the Australian Triple Crown
- 3 For 3: Brenda Norman Completes the Australian Triple Crown
- Doug Hughson Joins History By Completing Derwent River Big Swim
- Brenda Norman, Emma Radford Are 1-2 Down The Derwent River
- Ross Youngman Lives Up To His Name, Sets Derwent River Big Swim Record
- Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honors Susanne Guesdon
- Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honors Jennifer Anderson
- Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honors Lynton Mortensen
- Lynton Mortensen Completes Australian Triple Crown
- Australia Launches Its Own Triple Crown
- Port to Pub Ultra Marathon
- The Big Swim - Derwent River Marathon
- Palm Beach to Shelley Beach Marathon
- Open Water Swimming
- World Open Water Swimming Association
- Way Back When In Tasmania
- Derwent River Big Swim
- World Open Water Swimming Association
- Daily News of Open Water Swimming
- Marathon Swimming