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Pier to Pub History

Key information for the GMHBA Lorne Pier to Pub Events

  • 2019 Dates:
  • GMHBA Lorne Mountain to Surf Friday 11th Jan 2019

    GMHBA Lorne Pier to Pub and GMHBA Lorne 5000, Saturday 12th Jan 2019

Race results - 2018 Race results - prior years

Each year 5,000 people dive into a sea of history and swim the 1.2 kilometre course of the Lorne Pier to Pub. Over the past 37 years the event has grown in size and statue and now claims centre stage of a two day, three event program that includes the Mountain to Surf Fun Run on the Friday morning and the Lorne 5000 swim on the Saturday morning.

Who would have imagined that this world famous event started as an informal challenge among Lorne Surf Life Saving Club members? Those who dared would dive from the pier, race the course through Louttit Bay and finish by body-surfing the waves onto the Lorne foreshore. The victors then celebrated at the Lorne Pub, overlooking the finish line.

The race adopted a more formal outlook in 1981, when around 100 people took to the water. It grew continuously and stepped up its prestige in 1998, with 3,071 swimmers diving into the Guinness Book of Records, as part of the world’s largest open water swim. Thanks to the unwavering efforts of organisers and volunteers, entries have since reached an amazing 5,000, and have been capped at 5,000 every year since.

The event has attracted the likes of elite athletes, such as Kieren Perkins, Mack Horton, Daniel Kowalski, Michael Klim, Rob Woodhouse, Stacey Gartrell, Nicole Stevenson, Daniel McLellan, Hamish Cameron, John Fox and the members of the Oarsome Foursome. Many celebrities, AFL footballers and politicians have also tried their luck.

Celebrated moments include a dead heat finish between 18 year old Ryan Moreland and 21 year old Nick Hinsley, who set a then record time of 11.02 minutes in 2001.

The event encapsulates mateship, friendly competition and fun. The course distance enables swimmers of all age groups to participate. Many families and friends have competitions and wagers among themselves, and school students often pose friendly challenges to their teachers.

The Lorne Surf Life Saving Club proudly hosts the race each year, with the support of the Rotary Club of Highton. Swimmers feel safe under the careful watch of many voluntary club members and professional lifeguards, who supervise on boards, surf skis and In-shore Rescue Boats (IRBs).

Swimmers are separated into groups of around 300 people of similar age and graded according to their expected swim time. Waves of swimmers enter the water from a ramp near the pier at five to 10 minute intervals from 12.30pm to 2.15pm. Times are recorded at the finish line on the Pier to Pub computer system and published in the Herald Sun Newspaper the next morning and on this website.

The prestige and esteem of completing 10 Pier to Pub swims and joining the Shark Bait Club is a goal chased by many. The club is named after the late Vic ‘Sharky’ Marshall, who was a life member of the Lorne Surf Life Saving Club. He earned his nickname when as a youngster he swam behind the shark nets in Queensland in the 1940s and 1950s. He spent winter as a professional lifeguard and beach inspector on the Gold Coast, and then summer riding to Lorne on his 80cc motor scooter to safeguard beach goers, initially as a lifeguard and then hiring out surf mats and spraying people with coconut oil. A true legend of Australian surf life saving, Sharky was a great character who is sorely missed by families at Lorne.

Swimmers accepted into the Shark Bait club receive a commemorative medallion. With the swim in its 38th year, there are now remarkably members of the 30 year Shark Bait Club.

Proceeds from the Pier to Pub go to the Lorne Surf Life Saving Club to help fund its voluntary lifesaving activities on the Lorne foreshore. The club also assists other local charities, such as the Lorne Hospital and organisations associated with the Rotary Club of Highton, with a portion of the proceeds.

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Created: 15/Jun/2008 - 09:15 AM Last updated: 16/Sep/2017 - 07:00 PM

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