Ocean swim entries up 10% on back of record Bondi to Bronte

It looks like we’re in for a bumper ocean swims season, if early-season entries are anything to go by.

We looked at the same events as we analysed at this time last year – when we hypothesised that all the media hype around sharks was having an impact on numbers – and while we’re not quite scaling the heights of the 2014 season, finishers are up 10%, meaning we’re definitely back on track.

The early season performance was led up by the new Bondi to Bronte organisers, World Series Swims, who managed to grow finishers to a record 2,069 – up 24% on 2015, and 10% on 2014. This was on the back of 2,307 entries (which begs the question… where were the missing 238 people?).

There was also strong growth from the Cook Community Classic in Cronulla (158, +9%/+41%), Toowoon Bay (297, +19%/-18%), Bondi Splash N Dash (357, +10%/+50%) and a stand-out result from Collaroy (329, +43%/-8%).

One swim that hasn’t been able to claw back the numbers from 2014 is the Coogee Island Classic. In 2014 they attracted 1,827 swimmers on a glorious pre-summer day, but in the following two years they’ve had to endure average conditions at best, and the results reflect that, falling to a heavy low of 953 this season.

Other swims to record drops for two consecutive years were Narrabeen (132, -31%/-24%) and Forresters Beach (94, -8%/-15%).

So, why are some swims performing well, and others not?

Weather and conditions definitely come into play, just ask Coogee about the bad, and Collaroy about the good.

I’m still a firm believer that our men in the grey suits play a role, and this year they were definitely being talked about, but not quite to the extent of last season.

One thing that stands out for me, is the performance of the professionally run events.

The Bondi to Bronte, run by World Series Swims, and the Bondi Splash N Dash, run by Andrew Reid, are shining examples of what you can achieve as an event organiser if you know how to promote an event.

Both these organisers used a strong mix of local marketing, social media (both organic and sponsored posts) and they spread their online advertising wide to ensure they could catch as many swimmers considering an ocean swim as possible.

They both also worked hard to find significant sponsors, provide freebies and prizes, and ensure there were a host of celebrities at the event – from the Bondi Rescue boys, to the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, himself.

It’s also no surprise that both these swims covered all the bases of “the “ideal’ ocean swim, as preferred by ocean swimmers” – which was the result of our 2016 annual ocean swims survey.

Ultimately, the B2B and the BS’nD were run with loads of energy, from teams 100% committed to delivering a professional event, and that shone through in the marketing of the event, the event day itself, and in the post-event celebrations and engaging social content.

The rewards were no fluke, so congrats to these events for getting it so right.

I understand there are challenges facing volunteer ocean swims organisers, who are mainly surf clubs (I’ve got first-hand knowledge of this), but there are some great lessons to be learnt from those events who are getting it right.

Here’s to an awesome ocean swims season, see you at the beach!

Are you an event organiser?

If you are, get in touch, I’d love to show you how OceanFit can help you promote your event – just like we helped promote the Bondi to Bronte to a record turnout this season.

Ocean swim event entries comparison – 2016 > 2015 > 2014

This table is an approximation of entries from 2014, 2015 and 2016, based on finishers. There may be some discrepancy between the actual event numbers, so it is used just as an indication.

Event2016 (vs.’15/vs.’14) 2015 (vs. ’14)2014
Coogee (Nov)953 (-11%/-47%)1071 (-41%)1827
Toowoon Bay297 (+19%/-18% )249 (-31%)363
Cronulla158 (+8.9%/+41%)145 (29%)112
Cockatoo Island279 (flat/-27%)279 (-27%)383
Collaroy329 (+43%/-8%)230 (-35%)359
Narrabean132 (-31%/-24%)194 (10%)175
Burleigh Heads324 (+9%/-2%)298 (-10%)331
Forresters Beach94 (-8%/-15%)102 (-8%)111
Bondi Splash n Dash357 (+10%/+50%)323 (36%)238
Bondi To Bronte2069 (+24%/+10%)1662 (-11%)1874
4992 (+10%/-14%)4553 (-21%)5773

Source: www.oceanswims.com and event timing companies.

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