For the first time in its history, the Pier to Pub’s best female swimmers will have the spotlight with the introduction of a new women’s only Superfish wave.
While traditionally the strongest men and women have raced together in the Superfish wave, when the annual event returns in person on Saturday, the group will be split into two.
The change will mean the women will no longer have to fight for space in the water with the men and will have clean air when they cross the finish line.
Lorne Surf Lifesaving Club captain Jess Sinnock said it was an exciting change that hopefully would empower more women to take part into the future.
“The surf club is super excited because usually it is combined men and women, but we are moving forward with how we look at everything,” she said.
“We are trying to empower up-and-coming females in the club and also the aquatic industry.
“So in 2022 we will see individual men’s and women’s superfish races, and the women’s will be at 2.15pm, which means the women will get all the spotlight on them, and the men’s will be at 2.30pm.
“We do what we can see and by having the opportunity to see strong women doing this by themselves it will definitely encourage other swimmers to do it and be less put off.”
Rising swim star Sophie Thomas is returning to the Pier to Pub for the third time, with two previous top three finishes, and said she was looking forward to the new format.
“It is really exciting,” she said.
I am someone who is on the smaller stature side so I do often cop a belting from the men, and I remember the first time I did it I nearly cried after being belted the whole time, so it does take that element out of it.
“It makes it exciting being just female based and it puts the focus on the girls rather than it just being on the first Superfish crossing the line.”
Six-time women’s champion Naantali Marshall said it was a great initiative that would put more focus on the women as they crossed the line.
“Back when I was competitive, I would have loved it because I never got to cross the finish line first, I was always among the boys,” she said.
“There were people cheering but it is not the same as when you are the first across the line.
“So I think this is a great initiative and it is important for the girls to get the same attention as the guys.”
Nearly 5000 swimmers are expected to take to the beach for the Pier to Pub on Saturday.
The event has also added a new Heroes category for swimmers over 80 for the first time this year.
Action will kick off with the junior boys, between 12 and 17, from 10.30am, with the last race, the men’s Superfish, kicking off at 2.30pm.
The race will follow the highly anticipated Mountain to Surf run, which takes place on Friday.