WHAT'S ON

Swimmers to plunge in for Wollongong's 10th annual MS Mega Swim

IN THE SWIM: Swimmers taking part in a previous MS 24 hour relay Mega Swim in Wollongong. This year's event is on March 13-14. 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 13-14. Picture: Sylvia Liber

Last year the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to what would have been the 10th annual 24 hour MS Australia Mega Swim in Wollongong.

But swimmers are preparing to again take the plunge for the 10th Mega Swim run by Figtree Lions Club for MS Australia.

As in previous years, the event will be held at the University of Wollongong's UniActive pool over the weekend of March 13-14.

Pamela Booth isn't slated to participate in the event. The Balgownie resident also wasn't planning on swimming in the cancelled 2020 event.

But Mrs Booth is hoping this year's event goes ahead to ensure money raised can help other people such as herself, who have MS.

SUPPORTER: The COVID-pandemic stopped Pamela Booth from using her $3000 Go for Gold scholarship to travel to Japan. The annual 24 hour Wollongong MS Mega Swim is slated to be held on March 13-14. Picture: Anna Warr

SUPPORTER: The COVID-pandemic stopped Pamela Booth from using her $3000 Go for Gold scholarship to travel to Japan. The annual 24 hour Wollongong MS Mega Swim is slated to be held on March 13-14. Picture: Anna Warr

She received a Go for Gold scholarship worth $3000 after the 2019 Mega Swim.

The plan was to use the money to travel with her husband when they retired and their family responsibilities were over.

When MS made not only overseas but also local trips impossible, Mrs Booth and her husband decided to bring the world to them by hosting international students.

This rewarding experience began to foster their travel dreams once again and motivated Mrs Booth to work hard with an exercise physiologist to build the confidence, strength and balance she would need to travel to Japan.

But Mrs Booth and husband Bernie were devastated when they had to cancel their plans on March 22 last year to travel to Japan because of the COVID pandemic.

They are still more than $1200 out of pocket after seeking a refund and having to pay administrative and insurance fees.

Mrs Booth said she worked hard for several years to build up her muscle strength for the trip but recently had a relapse which set her back on this path.

"We have used some of the remaining funds to buy a tow bar and trailer for my bike so we can get out in the open air," she said.

Picture by Anna Warr

Picture by Anna Warr

"I don't know when we will be able to travel again - fingers crossed for 2022."

Meantime, six teams of swimmers have already entered for the Wollongong MS Mega Swim.

Figtree Lions Club Mega Swim committee chairman Bill Wright said the last Mega Swim held in March 2019 had a record 16 teams and 263 swimmers.

The event raised more than $43,000 for special Go for Gold scholarships for people suffering from multiple sclerosis.

Mr Wright said organisers were hoping that after the absence of the event last year, this year's Mega Swim would be bigger and better than ever.

Visit www.msmegachallenge.org.au to register for the event.

We depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.

This story Swimmers to plunge in for Wollongong's 10th annual MS Mega Swim first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.