STRONG SHOWING: Students from TAS (The Armidale School) will   again be part of a large contingent at next weekend's Coffs Coast Ocean Swim.
STRONG SHOWING: Students from TAS (The Armidale School) will again be part of a large contingent at next weekend's Coffs Coast Ocean Swim. Nashyspix

Huge TAS team for Coffs Coast Ocean Swims

A RECORD team of competitors from The Armidale School is preparing to brave the waters for the iconic Beachside Radiology Coffs Coast Ocean Swims.

There'll be 70 students and six staff rising well before dawn next Sunday to travel to Coffs and take part in the swim.

The Ocean Swims have risen in popularity since two boys and a teacher from TAS first took part in 2003.

The TAS group is again expected to be the largest team to register for the April 8 event and among the group there's a mix of nerves and excitement.

"I've swum 2km in a pool before and also did a 700m ocean swim at Yamba in January but I'm still a bit nervous about such a long distance in the open water alongside so many adults,” 12-year-old Louis Ross, one of the team's youngest members, said.

Heading back for her fourth event is the school's swimming captain, Lucy Fenwicke, who last year was the third female and 12th to finish overall, in a time of 34minutes 10 seconds.

Lucy, who this year is aiming to finish in the top 10, is normally in the water following a black line at high altitude a couple of hundred kilometres inland and will contest two breaststroke events at the Australian age championships in Sydney in late April.

"This (the Coffs swim) is my favourite swimming event of the year and I much prefer it to the pool,” Lucy said.

"And if I'm the first girl out, well that would be a bonus. I really like the distance and it's much more interesting and fun, from the start running in, having to navigate your way and negotiate the waves. It's just great.”

Vying alongside her for the Pacific Plate for the first TAS swimmer out of the water is likely to be Australian age championships teammate Jesse Streeting in Year 11.

Some will undertake the swim because it is part of the school's Triple Crown award (for those who achieve the swim, the 14km City to Surf and the 111km Hawkesbury Canoe Classic during their time at the school), others will do it as part of triathlon training.

The swim is also a requisite component of the school's surf lifesaving program, in which Year 11 students can achieve their Surf Bronze Medallions in conjunction with Sawtell Surf Life Saving Cub.

Swimming MIC Jim Pennington said the event was gaining in appeal every year.

"While the stronger swimmers will be chasing personal best times, the reward of overcoming a fear of the unknown will be just as gratifying for those who are ... doing it for the first time,” he said.



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