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: Des Renford in 10 hours 54 minutes, first person to complete the swim on 25 January 1975
2nd: Dick Campion in 9 hours 19 minutes on 26 January 1976
3rd: Jenny Anderson in 9 hours 44 minutes on 26 January 1976
4th: 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 on 27 January 1973
5th: Daniel Curtis in 15 hours 57 minutes, first international swimmer on 31 January 2015
6th: Emma Radford in 7 hours 46 minutes on 1 January 2020
7th: Lynton Mortenson in 11 hours 10 minutes on 7 March 2020
8th: Ross Youngman in 9 hours 11 minutes on 13 December 2020
9th: Richard Jones in 10 hours 8 minutes on 7 January 2021
10th: Brenda Norman in 7 hours 4 minutes (new record for fastest woman) on 9 January 2021
11th: Sharon Young in 9 hours 53 minutes on 24 January 2021
12th: Anna Strachan in 7 hours 31 minutes on 30 January 2021
13th: Stuart Donnachie in 7 hours 54 minutes on 12 February 2021
14th: Val Kalmikovs in 7 hours 58 minutes on 13 February 2021
15th: Eric Bateman in 10 hours 27 minutes on 28 February 2021
16th: John van Wisse in 6 hours 49 minutes (new overall fastest swim) on 8 March 2021
17th: Doug Hughson in 9 hours 29 minutes on 12 March 2021
18th: Luke Richards in 9 hours 37 minutes on 20 March 2021
19th: James Clothier in 8 hours 47 minutes on 9 December 2021
20th: Anna Strachan in 7 hours 10 minutes on 30 December 2021
21st: Joy Symons in 7 hours 42 minutes on 31 December 2021
22nd: Jayde Richardson in 8 hours 2 minutes on 1 January 2022
23rd: Zen Durbidge in 8 hours 39 minutes on 1 January 2022
24th: Jonathan Wall in 10 hours 38 minutes (achieves Triple Crown) on 12 January 2022
25th: Carolyn Anderson in 9 hours 52 minutes on 13 January 2022
26th: Brenda Norman in 7 hours 47 minutes on 13 January 2022
27th: Joep Buijs in 8 hours 25 minutes on 14 January 2022
28th: Marcus Payne in 8 hours 55 minutes on 15 January 2022
29th: Sally Catt in 11 hours 10 minutes on 18 January 2022
30th: 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) on 19 January 2022
31st: Peter Stewart, 66 from Victoria, Australia in 9 hours 27 minutes on 2 February 2022
32nd: Brittany Parker, 39 from Brisbane, Australia in 8 hours 47 minutes on 12 February 2022
33rd: 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 on 12 February 2022
34th: Felicity Harrison, 33 from Brisbane, Australia in 8 hours 18 minutes 46 seconds on 12 February 2022
35th: Peter Tucker, 66 from Hobart, Australia in 12 hours 18 minutes 45 seconds, the oldest swimmer to complete the Derwent River Big Swim on 13 February 2022
36th: Richard Langridge, 50 from Sydney, Australia in 9 hours 2 minutes 50 seconds on 16 February 2022
37th: 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 on 26 February 2022
38th: Jayde Richardson, 29 from Hobart, Australia in 7 hours 5 minutes, the fastest Tasmanian swimmer to complete the Derwent River Big Swim on 26 February 2022
39th: Claire Keane, 62 from Brisbane, Australia in 10 hours 6 minutes 30 seconds, the oldest female swimmer to complete the Derwent River Big Swim on 27 February 2022
40th: Michael Powell, 60 from Brisbane, Australia in 10 hours 33 minutes 26 seconds on 28 February 2022
41st: Mark Robson in 10 hours 31 minutes 17 seconds on 15 March 2022
42nd: Rod Watkins in 9 hours 41 minutes 32 seconds on 16 March 2022
43rd: Mark Sowerby in 8 hours 55 minutes 1 second on 17 March 2022
44th: Eva Buzo in 8 hours 1 minute 21 seconds on 24 March 2022
45th: Eva Buzo in 8 hours 32 minutes 21 seconds on 25 March 2022
46th: Andrew Donaldson from Scotland in 5 hours 35 minutes 21 seconds on 26 March 2022
47th: Helen Conway in 8 hours 28 minutes 10 seconds on 26 March 2022
48th: Fiona Cullinane in 6 hours 26 minutes 38 seconds on 26 March 2022
49th: Victor Pineiro from Argentina in 8 hours 10 minutes 33 seconds on 27 March 2022
50th: Tara Grout in 8 hours 5 minutes 6 seconds on 29 March 2022
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
- 35 Go For 34 – in the Derwent River Big Swim
- Tracking In Tasmania, Down The Derwent
- Australian Long Distance Swimming Federation to be Inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame
- 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