SPLASHDOWN: A big field of competitors is expected to hit the water in the Byron Bay Ocean Swim Classic. The race this year will be held on May 1.
SPLASHDOWN: A big field of competitors is expected to hit the water in the Byron Bay Ocean Swim Classic. The race this year will be held on May 1. Christian Morrow

Byron Bay ocean race wide open with swimmers in Olympic year

ABOUT 250 competitors have already registered for the annual Byron Bay Ocean Swim Classic next month.

The race is wide open this year and the first in the Great Australian Swim Series.

It is now in its 29th year with the main swim 2.2km from Wategos to Main Beach.

"It's an Olympic year so that's taken a lot of the big names out," event organiser Syl Reid said.

"A few of the young ones from swim schools on the Gold Coast will have a good crack at it.

"We've had a lot of entries from Victoria and its a long weekend in Queensland this year as well so that helps."

Past Olympians Grant Hackett, Ky Hurst and Melissa Gorman have all won the event.

It has grown to the point where it now includes the Ky Hurst mini swim with up to 2000 competitors in total entering each year.

Hackett won the event many years ago while Gorman made the event her own at one point and has won it more times than any other female.

Surf conditions have played a part in recent years with the 2011 and 2015 swim cancelled due to unfavourable conditions.

Cost of entry has been reduced this year based on the call having to be made at the last minute.

"You have to make a call and take into account everyone down to the weakest swimmer," Reid said.

"Safety is the number one thing and I don't think anyone can begrudge us having to make that call.

"We've been able to raise $720,000 for local charities and selected organisations since we started."

Entries close April 29 and can be done online or in person at the Byron Bay Surf Life Saving Club between 3pm and 5pm that day.

The race will be held May 1 with check in at Main Beach from 7am.



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