The first known swim from the mainland to Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour was completed by Mary Bugg in 1863. Bugg, a devoted wife to her husband Frederick Ward, swam to Cockatoo Island and left tools for Ward to escape.
Ward had been sentenced to seven years on Cockatoo Island for stealing horses.
Working quietly and secretly, Ward and his fellow prisoner Fred Britten attempted an escape two nights later. Britten drowned, but Ward swam to shore where his wife was waiting for him with a fast horse. They made their getaway to northern New South Wales where they lived for another 7 years before Ward was shot by police.
From 1839 to 1869, Cockatoo Island operated as a gaol, hosting convicts with very rare escapes.
Now many others can try their hand at swimming to and from the prison island at the Dawny to Cockatoo Swim.
The Dawny To Cockatoo Swim offers a 2.4 km swim in Sydney Harbour from the Dawn Fraser Pool at Balmain around Cockatoo Island, and back. A shorter 1.1 km course is to Cockatoo Island and back.
For more information, visit Ocean Fit’s schedule here.
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