Byron Bay Ocean Swim extends its reach worldwide

THE Beach Hotel Byron Bay Ocean Swim Classic has gone global, with the race on Sunday attracting its first Japanese competitor.

Eiko Shimizu, from Tokyo, will fly into Byron Bay on Saturday to compete in the 19th annual 2.2km swim organised by the Byron Bay Winter Whales.

The event, which has raised more than $100,000 for local charities since 2001, has attracted more than 1200 swimmers this year.

It's one of the largest fields assembled for the race.

The race is shaping up as a hard-fought affair, with several quality swimmers in the field.

The 2006 open men's winner Josh Santacaterina will be back to defend his title, as will second placegetter Cameron Smith.

The 2005 men's winner Brendan Capell, who missed the race last year due to injury, will swim in the event on Sunday as will two-time winner and defending women's champion Melissa Gorman.

Last year's runner-up Kate Brookes-Peterson and third placegetter Megan Nay will be back, aiming to snatch Gorman's crown.

This year the open division will be replaced with an elite super fish division, and there will be a number of age categories starting from 15 years.

The race will start at 9.45am and finish at Main Beach.

The Beach Hotel Dash For Cash will be on again with cash prizes for senior and junior entrants.

Registration and issue of timing ankletes, swim caps and T-shirts will be at the Byron Bay Surf Club from 7am on the day of the swim.

Registrations will close at 9am. Buses will leave for Wategos Beach at 9.15am.

There will be no entries on the day, but late entries will be taken from 1pm to 5pm on Saturday at the surf club.

Online entries will be accepted until midnight tomorrow at or you can pick up an entry form from the Beach Hotel bottle shop or the Byron Bay swimming pool. All money raised will be donated to local charities.

Inquiries to Syl Reid on 0421 155 600.

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