Founder's praise as Wollongong set to host 10th MS Mega Swim

THUMBS UP: Mega Swim founder, Australian Paralympic gold medallist in cycling Carol Cooke, praised the organisers of the Wollongong event. Picture: Supplied.
THUMBS UP: Mega Swim founder, Australian Paralympic gold medallist in cycling Carol Cooke, praised the organisers of the Wollongong event. Picture: Supplied.

Australian Paralympic cycling gold medallist Carol Cooke founded the annual 24-Hour MS Mega Swim in 2001.

Wollongong is among many other centres around Australia who have hosted the event and helped raise an astonishing $11 million to help people with multiple sclerosis.

Wollongong will host its 10th annual MS 24 hour relay Mega Swim event in March.

Earlier this week Cooke heaped praise on Wollongong and Figtree Lions Club for their continuing support for the event.

"It's been fantastic, I love Wollongong, it's such a beautiful city. I would dearly love to be there for the next one in March but will be at a cycling training camp in Rockhampton," she said.

Cooke, who was diagnosed with the disease in 1998, has been a major ambassador for those dealing with MS and despite her health issues she took up cycling, winning a gold medal at the 2012 London Paralympics and two gold medals at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympics.

In 2019, she was awarded Cycling Australia's Para Female Road Cyclist of the Year.

IN THE SWIM: Swimmers taking part in a previous MS 24 hour relay Mega Swim in Wollongong. This year's event is on March 14-15. Picture: Sylvia Liber

IN THE SWIM: Swimmers taking part in a previous MS 24 hour relay Mega Swim in Wollongong. This year's event is on March 14-15. Picture: Sylvia Liber

Interestingly Cooke was actually born in Canada and was part of the Canadian national swimming team hoping to be selected for the 1980 Moscow Olympics before her country boycotted the Games.

She then moved to Australia in 1994, was diagnosed with MS in 1998 and took up rowing in 2006, in which she narrowly missed out on being part of the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.

Cooke then switched to cycling where she has achieved incredible success. She also has completed four Sydney to the Gong bike rides.

"There are now 17 Mega Swim events held each year in NSW, the ACT, Victoria and Tasmania. They are all about having fun. You don't have to be the best swimmer; it's a team event; you can doggie paddle if you like," Cooke said.

Figtree Lions Club Mega Swim committee chairman Bill Wright said the event in Wollongong had raised more than $343,500 over the past nine years.

Funds raised are used to provide special Go for Gold scholarships to assist people living with MS with employment, arts, sport, travel and any other worthwhile purpose.

Mr Wright said this year's Mega Swim would be held at the University of Wollongong's UniActive pool centre from 12pm on Saturday, March 14 to 12pm on March 15.

Eight teams have already entered but there are still plenty of opportunities for further enrolments via the Mega Swim website at www.msmegaswim.org.au.

Call Bill Wright on 4228 6594 for more details.