Race to Prince's Bridge

Race to Prince's Bridge

Race to Prince's BridgeYarra Swim Co is a dedicated group of Melbournians who are reviving the Race to Prince's Bridge and leading the push for a cleaner, swimmable Yarra River

Reviving the Race to Prince's Bridge

Ever since it was abandoned in 1963, the Race to Prince's Bridge has left a sizeable hole in Victoria's world class open water swimming calender.

A brief revival in the late 1980s was short-lived. It was cancelled due to health concerns for participants, with the river's level of e-coli registering unacceptable amounts almost all year round. In recent years, attempts have been made to clean up the Yarra River and this has resulted in marked improvements in pollution levels.

We want to encourage Melburnians to re-connect with the river and take the plunge in support of the amazing work being done to bring it back to health.

The return of the Race to Prince's Bridge in the summer of 2016, 103 years since it began, will herald a new chapter for Melbourne's beloved river, and revive what was formerly one of the biggest open water swimming events in the world.


In 1913 saw 44 competitors dive into the Yarra River for the inaugural Race to Prince's Bridge. The 3 mile swim ran from the old Twickenham Ferry to the Prince's Bridge in the heart of Melbourne

'it's Summer Time Down Under' (1925)

The 1929 event set a world record for the second year running, with 623 competitors

More than 100,000 spectators lined the banks of the Yarra, cheering on a stream of bobbing heads as they collectively made their way towards the city

"More than 75kg of grease and cocoa-nut oil was applied to the competitors to keep out the cold..."
The Australasian, 10 Mar 1928

1930 "It is without a doubt the most popular aquatic event of the season...
The banks of the river for the whole three miles were lined with groups of interested spectators and over the last two miles, hundreds of motor-cars followed the race"

In 1946 a man by the name of R. Woods, who lost both his legs as an infant, came a remarkable 3rd place in an event that was abandoned by some due to poor conditions

1952 Ivan Stedman, renowned Australian Olympic swimmer and teammate of Frank Beaurepaire, followed up his 1946 course record with a win at the age of 56

1964 Melbourne hosted the iconic yarra race for half a century

By 1964, however, increasing concern over the polluted state of the river forced its cancellation

In 1987, Swimming Victoria revived the race, only to be cancelled shortly after

Since then, several initiatives have made gradual improvements to the health of the river
With strategic investment and community support, the Yarra can return to being a healthy and swimmable river - as has been the case for many urban rivers around the world

Let's make it as it once was

❊ Web Links ❊

Race to Prince's Bridge 


❊ COVID-19 Notice ❊

Many locations have gone into lockdown as the state takes action to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19).

Disclaimer: Check with the operator before making plans...

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