SWIM THRU A FAMILY AFFAIR
EXACTLY 100 years after their beloved great-uncle Ned won the Swim Thru Perth, cousins Jeannie Johnson (69) and Frank Maloney (61) will tackle the iconic Swan River race this Sunday.
Johnson said commemorating their great-uncle’s 1915 achievement was even more fitting because funds raised would be donated to the WA Disabled Sports Association.
“Ned had polio as a child and never walked from two years old,” she said.
“The story goes that he went down the Barrack Street jetty, handed over his crutches and into the water he went.
“He had no power in his legs, just very, very strong in the upper body and an amazing swimmer.”
Hosted by Claremont Masters Swimming Club, the Swim Thru Perth is Australia’s longest-running openwater swim, with competitors swimming the singles 4km, 1.6km or 1.6km team events.
Maloney said he was very proud to do what his great-uncle did a century after his win.
“I’ll also be bringing along his winning trophy for competitors to admire on the day,” he said.
“My mum had it for years on her mantelpiece and a few years back she said, ‘Look, you’ve always loved the trophy, I think you’d better take it’.”
Although the cousins compete, volunteer and officiate in masters swimming, Johnson said she had stepped up her training for the event.
“I’m the laziest person in our swimming club, so I have actually been swimming twice a week,” she said. “We’re doing this for a bit of fun and for old Uncle Ned.”
For old Uncle Ned: Cousins Jeannie Johnson and Frank Maloney with the Perth Swim Thru trophy their great-uncle won in 1915.