Bidyadanga swims the distance in first virtual Lake Argyle Swim

7 April 2022

two swimmers in the Bidyadanga poolOn Saturday 2nd April, swimmers from Bidyadanga, the largest remote Aboriginal community in Western Australia, participated in the First National Lake Argyle Swim from over 1,000 kilometres away at the Bidyadanga Community Pool. 

The idea of conducting the iconic Lake Argyle Swim virtually came from Royal Life Saving WA Remote Pool Manager, Bernie Egan, who approached organisers of the Lake Argyle Swim, which is being held on 7th May. “Due to the distance from Bidyadanga to Lake Argyle it’s difficult for us to send a team, so I asked if we could run a virtual swim to give swimmers a goal to aim for,” said Bernie.

'Bidgy kids' taking part in the virtual Lake Argyle swimService providers, including WA Police, teachers, and pool managers, as well as children from the community – the ‘Bidgy kids’ – took part in the event to swim a combined total of 40 kilometres! The relay event included an adults 20km team and 10km team, and a kids 10km team. What started as an idea to promote physical activity and give a purpose to the community to get into the pool, quickly turned into an opportunity to raise money to purchase new sustainable inflatables that can be used in the pool for various programs and activities. 

Around 20 of the Bidgy kids prepared for the event through the Swim for Fruit program, swimming competitive laps to earn an afternoon tea of healthy snacks. “The Bidgy kids have been training for the event as part of our Swim for Fruit Lap Challenge, so they will be swim fit and ready,” said Bernie. 

Dr Rico Elena and the twinsThe swim was not met without its challenges leading up to the day, with several of the scheduled swimmers contracting COVID-19 prior to the competition. Swimmers from the teams rallied and stepped up on the day of the event, swimming extra laps to make up for those who were unable to attend the relay. What was meant to be a kids’ team of 20 became a team of 14 swimmers, the oldest aged 14 and the youngest being two-year-old twins, Jordan and Fiona, who swam four laps each using pool noodles.

The day was a success for the Bidyadanga community, with many swimmers stepping up to support their teams in achieving the goal of 1600 laps. “When distance makes it difficult to attend events, sometimes it's easier to bring the event to you, so that is what I was trying to achieve, and I think we can say we did achieve it,” said Bernie. 

The extraordinary efforts of the kids within the community were rewarded with a Swim and Survive bag and a certificate with how many laps they contributed to their team's tally. Glenn Taylor from the Lake Argyle Swim Committee commended the involvement of both the adults and kids. “Fantastic. All credit to you (Bernie) and your ability to motivate,” said Glenn. 

Bidyadanga is still working towards reaching their goal of $8500 to purchase nine sustainable inflatables for use at the pool. To help them reach their goal, donations can be made at the link below. 

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