Two major Illawarra summer fun and fitness community and charity events were officially launched at Belmore Basin in Wollongong yesterday.
With 2013 shaping up to be a huge year for fitness, fun and community events, the 2013 Smile Team Australia Day Aquathon will be held on January 26 and the Illawarra Credit Union Splash and Dash Festival on February 23-24.
Among those present at the official launch were Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery, Australia Day Aquathon patron and former NSW Anglicare CEO, Peter Kell, and ITU world under 23 triathlon champion Aaron Royle who was the male winner of the past two aquathons.
"The exciting thing is that everyone can be engaged," Cr Bradbery said.
"Let's have a good time and enjoy ourselves."
He described the approaching summer as one of "fitness, fun and engagement".
In its 14th year, the aquathon is now Australia's largest swim/run event and will involve a swim in Wollongong Harbour followed by a run north along the Blue Mile.
In what has become a signature event and tourist attraction, there will be three event distances to cater for children to adults ranging in age from seven to 70 years.
Event director Rob Battocchio expects close to 2000 competitors.
"The heart and soul of the event for me is the everyday person and the kids," Battocchio said.
"But what a role model [is Royle]. What a person to look up to, for a beginner to be able to say, 'Hang on, I'm next to a world champion'."
The second Splash and Dash Festival will be a weekend of outdoor events featuring McKeon Swim School Basin and Ocean Swims, Summer Run5 which is a 5 kilometre charity fun run and walk, and the splash and dash swim/run events.
A new segment in 2013 will be the Corporate Team Up Challenge to encourage Illawarra businesses to enter staff in the Summer Run5 as part of a corporate team with the event raising awareness and much needed funds for Ovarian Cancer Australia.
Cr Bradbery showed unbridled enthusiasm for both events.
Battocchio said: "It's great to have the Lord Mayor and all our sponsors get together because I think the way these events are going to work well is that we're going to have people supporting it from all angles."
For more information on both events, mail email@example.com or visit the aquathon.com.au website.