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For nearly 50 years, a local swimming club in the northern suburbs of Melbourne has been raising funds for Berry Street through their annual swimathon. After a break of three years due to COVID, the DVE Aquatic Swimathon is on again this April, and they’re hoping to make a bigger splash than ever before.

We spoke to Bob Oldfield, registrar of the DVE Aquatic Swimming Club, to find out about this wonderful community fundraising event. We're pretty sure this swimathon is the longest running community fundraiser for Berry Street! Thank you so much to all who have been involved over the years.

What inspired your organisation to support Berry Street?

Many club members are under the age of 20, so we wanted to raise funds for a local organisation that supported young children in difficult circumstances.

In the 1980s, the club started to raise funds for Sutherland Homes for Children, based in Diamond Creek, which provided accommodation and support for young children taken into care. The support continued after Sutherland Homes for Children amalgamated with Berry Street in 1994, and we’ve been proud to continue raising funds for vulnerable children.

My experience of Berry Street was when Sutherland Homes was taken into Berry Street, but many of our older members at the time had memories of Berry Street Babies Home.

What can participants expect when they come along?

During the swimathon, swimmers will aim to complete as many laps as possible of the WaterMarc Aquatic Centre pool over the 24 hour-period. The DVE Aquatic Swimathon is open to all ages and abilities; anyone can register to join in the fun! We have had babies in their parent’s arms and swimmers in their 80s participate.

The current women’s record is 2,000 laps achieved by Tara Draper in 2017, and the male record is 2,002 laps by Dylan Zipsin in 2019. There is an exclusive 25km club who achieve 1000 laps over the 24 hours.

The swimathon takes place from 7pm Friday 28 April to 7pm Saturday 29 April at the WaterMarc Aquatic Centre, 1 Flintoff St, Greensborough. This is a beautiful heated 25-metre indoor pool with plenty of space for friends and family to cheer you on. Swimmers will have their laps recorded each time they venture into the water. Refreshments will be available throughout the swimathon and a room will be available for participants who wish to sleep over at the pool.

What is the history of this swimathon?

DVE Aquatic Swimathon has been running annually since 1968 (except for the COVID years). It was initially held at the Greensborough outdoor pool until the pool was demolished in 2008 and replaced by the huge indoor WaterMarc pool. In 2012, Diamond Valley and Eltham clubs merged to form DVE Aquatic.

Today, the swimathon provides the opportunity for participants to swim as many laps as they can over a 24-hour period and raise funds for Berry Street and the club. The Club’s first recorded donation to Berry Street was $200 but after almost 50 years, the Club has donated more than $68,000!

Berry Street is a very worthy charity that focuses on supporting youngsters and families facing difficult circumstances.

Bob Oldfield

Join Team Berry Street

Are you a swimmer, runner, walker, cyclist, baker, artist or anything in between, and looking for your next challenge? You can help change the lives of some of Victoria’s most vulnerable children, young people and families by fundraising for Berry Street. You choose how you’d like to fundraise, and we'll be there to support you every step of the way.

Join Team Berry Street and help children, young people and families in our community to be safe, thriving and hopeful.