Dad keeps the faith with record dive

Legend has it that whoever retrieves the holy cross during the blessing of the waters will have good luck for one year - and after winning that honour eight times, Port Kembla's George Ellenis is certainly one lucky man.

Hundreds of spectators lined the shores of Wollongong Harbour yesterday as the father of three dived into the water for the annual throwing of the cross - part of a blessing ceremony by Wollongong's Holy Cross Greek Orthodox.

Church of the Holy Cross priest Andrew Joannou declared Mr Ellenis's eighth retrieval "a record for Wollongong".

Cheering from the sidelines, Mr Ellenis's wife, Dimi, was moved to tears as her husband reached the holy cross first, an honour she said was was due to "a combination of luck and strong faith".

Testament to tradition, the family had enjoyed plenty of health, happiness and luck over the years.

"We are lucky - we've found each other and have got a beautiful, healthy family," Mrs Ellenis said.

She said the annual ceremony had become more important as their children - Stephanie, 8, Evelyn 7, and Athan, 6 - grew older.

Also on the sidelines was Cordeaux Heights mother Anna Kinnas, who gathered with her family to watch her 26-year-old son Antony dive for the cross.

She said the ceremony was an important annual tradition for her and other parishioners.

"We are here because we enjoy it and it's an important part of our religion," Ms Kinnas said.

"It's all about symbolising the baptism of Jesus Christ by St John the Baptist and I hope that, by coming here together, my family can keep following in this tradition."

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