by Yvonne Gardiner
WHEN swimming laps confined to a pool lost its sparkle, Steve Cornelius turned his attention to the deep, wide waters of the ocean.
He founded the Gold Coast Open Water Swimming Club five years ago and, as president and coach, he organises an annual 10km ocean swim.
This year, the 10km swim will be held on Sunday, April 29, from Burleigh Heads to Surfers Paradise.
"Every Saturday we do a training swim at Kurrawa at 8am," Steve said.
"We cater for all standards, but it's not a learn-to-swim program.
"Five hundred metres is the minimum you have to swim.
"You're in the water up to three hours for a 10km swim."
The ultimate test of a member's ability is to get out through the waves.
"We do a safety briefing before we start," Steve said.
"We're the only 10km ocean swim on the Gold Coast.
"We swim into stingers; you can wear a rashie or take anti-histamines for protection.
"We allow people to wear flippers. Almost all of us wear goggles."
In forming the club, Steve wanted a structured approach to his swim group, with insurance and risk management in place.
The semi- retired, volunteer swim coach is a member of Kurrawa Surf Club, Broadbeach.
A former Australian representative, he was a freestyle and medley champion of the 1980s.
"I was in the very first team of the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra," he said.
The Gold Coast Open Water Swimming Club operates from October to May each year.
"It's like doing a different sport (to pool swimming) really," Steve said.
"The conditions change all the time. It becomes a new adventure every weekend.
"It's a good way to meet people. Everyone's supportive of each other."
The club has attracted about 70 swimmers aged between 20 and 60 years.
Details are available from Steve on 0414 680 437.
He's on the lookout for more sponsors as well as swimmers.