SOURCE: CANBERRA TIMES
Organisers of an annual ocean swim at the same site of a fatal shark attack last year believe it will not deter swimmers from taking to the water next weekend.
The main event for the Tathra Wharf to Waves is a 1.2 kilometre swim from the historic wharf to the beach - the same swim 63-year-old Tathra resident Christine Armstrong was undertaking when she was killed by a shark last April.
Operations manager Linda Badewitz-Dodd said the only change for the 2015 event was the request for the Westpac Life Saver Helicopter to sweep the area prior to swimmers entering the water.
"The water is no more dangerous than it was last year ... we will take the same precautions that we do every year for the swim, in terms of having the ducks (inflatable rescue boats) in the water, having the police boat anchored off the wharf and a number of our surf club volunteers on skis and boards," she said.
"I understand people's natural reaction but all the normal measures will be put in place.
"Swimmer safety has always been our paramount concern."
Ms Badewitz-Dodd, who has been involved with co-ordinating the swim for 14 years said competing swimmers were "fairly pragmatic" in assessing the risks involved.
"They know what lives in the ocean and they're rational," she said.
In the months following the fatal shark attack at Tathra, Wharf to Waves organisers issued a survey asking previous swimmers to indicate if the attack had changed their minds as to whether or not they would compete again.
A small minority responded they would not compete but the overwhelming response was that the attack would not affect their decision to swim again.
Despite registration for the event being slightly down on last year, Ms Badewitz-Dodd said she expected about 400 people to compete on the day, numbers comparable with last year.
Surf Life Saving far south coast director Andrew Edmunds said it would be business as usual for the ocean swim, despite further shark sightings in the area.
Pambula Beach, 30 minutes south of Tathra, was closed due to a shark sighting last Sunday, January 4, and NSW Fisheries officers also spotted a shark at Kianga near Narooma.
Beaches at Broulee were closed on Wednesday, January 7, after a shark was seen attacking a juvenile whale.
"People are probably more conscious of things given what happened in April, but there is no difference, it's business as usual," he said.
Mr Edmunds said the shark attack at Tathra was "completely random and hopefully rare".
He said despite the tragedy, there has not been a decline in beach patronage and people were still enjoying their coastal holidays.