In the now 49 years, The Macquarie Bank Big Swim has been conducted safely.

Water safety is carried out by surf lifesaving club members from Whale Beach SLSC and nearby clubs.

  • There are at least 5 inflatable rescue boats together with jet ski patrols – all with radio communications with each other.

  • Multiple drones surveillance directed by Surf Life Saving NSW personnel with radio contact with safety craft along the course.

  • Surf lifesavers on rescue boards and rescue skis accompany swimmers.

  • The Maritime Rescue Patrol from Broken Bay has a number of boats positioned along the course.

The Macquarie Bank Big Swim Event Controller reserves the right to insist on pulling a swimmer from the water if they appear unable to complete the course within an appropriate time.

Swimmers may encounter bluebottles on the course. Stings can be treated quickly.

As with swimmers who tire and seek help, swimmers requiring assistance should raise their hand and water safety personnel will come to their aid.

No sharks have been sighted in all the years of the swim.

swimmer safety

Risk Warning

There is an inherent risk in virtually all sports. It is up to the entrant to assess the risks that may be involved and their own capabilities.

Entrants accept personal responsibility in entering this event (Section 5M Civil Liability Act 2002).

Cooler Water

On several occasions over the past few seasons, Sydney beaches have been affected by cool currents that have brought colder water than we are used to onto our beaches at the time of year at which The Macquarie Bank Big Swim is held.

In the event of cooler water, Whale Beach SLSC offers this advice from our Honorary Medical Officers…

Reducing the Risk of Hypothermia on The Macquarie Bank Big Swim

  • If the water temperature on the day is less than 19 degrees Celsius, wetsuits or rash vests will be allowed. Swimmers who wear wetsuits will have their times recorded, but they will not be eligible for prizes in age groups or open categories.

  • If you would expect to take more than 60 minutes or are prone to becoming cold, a rash vest or wetsuit is very strongly advised. You may wish to bring a second cap (particularly a thick silicone cap) to wear under the race cap.

  • If concerned during the swim put your hand up; the IRB’s will be carrying space blankets.

  • At Whale Beach there will medical attention at the Club. In trouble, check whether they need assistance.

  • We’re all fine ocean Swimmers. We’re in this together.


  • Don’t breaststroke around buoys.

  • Don’t stop suddenly without checking for possible obstructions you may be causing to other swimmers.

  • Be tolerant: clashes and contacts are inevitable.

  • Just because someone hits you in their stroke, it doesn’t mean they did it deliberately. With 2,000 swimmers in the water together, some contact is bound to happen.

  • Don’t take it personally and don’t retaliate gratuitously.

  • Be tolerant of obstructions caused by other swimmers, too. Some swimmers will be slower than you. They can’t help it. Don’t get cranky just because someone is in your way.

  • By the same token, don’t knowingly cause obstructions. Don’t get into a row of breaststrokers, causing a broad barrier that faster swimmers coming from behind can’t get around. They will have to go through you.

  • If you see another swimmer who seems as though they may be in trouble, check whether they need assistance.

  • We’re all fine ocean Swimmers. We’re in this together.


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