Beyond The Tip – Tales of the Icebergers of Brighton

Published February 2019, 230 pages, ISBN 978-0-6450315-2-2

Rather than attempt to compile a history of the Icebergers, I felt it would be far more interesting to find out a lot about the swimming history of our current swimmers. The 152 profiles appearing in my book include 118 Brighton Icebergers based at the Royal Brighton Yacht Club and a further 34 who are based at The Baths. I am an RBYC Iceberger and am thrilled with the fantastic response from our swimmers. I was also very pleased to gather over 30 profiles from swimmers at The Baths – it’s been a great pleasure to meet so many of you.

Swimmers who have done a minimum of 2 winters of swimming were invited to contribute – I was not overly concerned about how far or for how long people actually swim, so long as they do swim regularly in winter. There is clearly a big variation, with some staying out there for lengthy periods and others for not so long (1-2 even admit to being ‘tea baggers’)!

This book concentrates on current not former Brighton Icebergers, with very few exceptions. I asked a few basic questions such as where our winter swimmers were born, where they learned to swim, how did they come to do winter swimming and were there any particularly interesting/memorable cold-water swims they have done. These questions were intended as a guide and as the project evolved over the last two years, people have expanded beyond the basic framework. A lot of very interesting information has been sent to me. My favourite profiles have been forwarded by those who really took some time to think about their swimming story and wrote about it in the first person.

Of course, not everybody is comfortable to write about themselves. For this large cohort of swimmers (more than a third of the total), I conducted interviews, either face to face or over the telephone. I then prepared the wording myself based on our discussion, before sending a draft profile to the swimmer concerned for final editing.

Layout of this book

I had a few spare pages and have mainly filled these pages with photos of places where you can do very cool/cold water swimming, photos of Icebergers’ major events and other activities relating to our swimmers. These pages have a distinctive light blue tint and may/may not relate to the adjoining page. Have a close look and you will see some interesting material included.

You will also see that I have added some extra photos to some of the profiles, where space permitted and if I had something suitable to include. There are a total of 228 photos in the book.

Some interesting statistics

152 swimmer profiles are featured, including 4 In-Memoriam

Of this number, 33 swimmers (22%) were born overseas, 11 were born interstate and 12 were born in regional Victoria. As expected, a very high total of 96 swimmers were born/raised in the Melbourne metropolitan region, many in the Bayside area between St Kilda – Mordialloc.

Of the 33 overseas-born Icebergers the breakdown is as follows: England (10), New Zealand (4), South Africa (3), Rhodesia (2), Singapore (2), Poland (2), Germany (2), Romania (2), USA (2), Greece (1), Malta (1), Scotland (1), Canada (1).  


For the benefit of those reading this book who are not familiar with our Iceberger lingo, the explanations below will help you.

Hikeberger, Hellberger, Oarberger – these are Icebergers who enjoy hiking, riding motorbikes and rowing. For some of us, it’s not just all about the swimming! We even travel interstate and overseas on certain excursions, just as many Icebergers go on overseas swimming tours.   

Tea Bagger – a swimmer who stays in the water for only a very short time during winter.

Figgies – very fast swimmers who usually swim long distances and like to race one another along the Channel and back to the beach.

Our affinity with swimming the English Channel

Many Icebergers aspire to swim the English Channel and a grand total of 18 solo English Channel swimmers are profiled in this book. This is 7% of all Aussies to have ever swum the channel and is a really impressive figure. A number of others profiled in the book have done a relay crossing of La Manche. You are all inspirational individuals and I congratulate you.

It isn’t surprising that we have so many (and such a high strike rate of) successful English Channel swimmers. Water temperatures in the bay between May-September are less than 16 C (and in mid-winter drop to between 8-10 C) which is what you need to properly acclimatise. Swimmers from all over Australia come to Brighton each year to do English Channel qualifying swims as the water is too warm elsewhere. For those interested in a bit of English Channel trivia please refer to the submissions from Don Riddington (page 137) and Peter Bardoel (page 189).

Swimmer profiles

This book is all about the profiles of our amazing swimmers. We Icebergers enjoy doing something that the vast majority of people think is crazy – swim in really cold water. All of us know better of course. Many of us are convinced we derive health benefits from swimming in cold water and that mentally we feel stimulated. We’ve developed strong, enduring friendships over many years from swimming with like-minded people. It is wonderful that we are members of such a great yacht club who have been so welcoming to our swimmers. The RBYC facilities include a sauna, steam room and spacious change rooms, all of which are first class and make us the envy of all other cold-water swimming groups.

I encourage you to read all the profiles. Everyone has a story to tell and you will find some funny as well as informative stories. We are all very disciplined individuals. Many swimmers are extremely regular with their swimming and turn up most days of the week throughout the year. Some enjoy racing and push themselves hard. Some have done amazing swims and in some remarkable locations both locally and internationally! A few swimmers have impressive pedigrees in sports other than swimming including water polo, surfing, surf lifesaving,  kayaking, rowing, sailing, speed skating, running, triathlon, spear fishing, cricket, footy and rugby. A handful of swimmers have provided some really interesting accounts of swimming in other countries. Have a close look to find out more.

I am quite excited to be the person to create a lasting record about our iconic Brighton Icebergers. Please sit back and enjoy this book which will give you a real insight into what our hardy swimmers are all about.