PETER Dawson readily admits to joking when he says members of the Flinders Icebergers are “the real icebergers, because we swim in the ocean”. He’s admiring and complimentary of everyone who swims all year.
A year-round swimmer, or iceberger, for 30 years, Dawson started at Mentone and says the Flinders group grew as people sought companionship during the COVID pandemic.
There are now 65 members of the “unofficial” Flinders group, with as many of them as possible taking the plunge at 7.30am daily near the pier.
Individual swim distances vary from 600 metres to two kilometres and the only major rule is “no splashing”.
“Everyone looks out for each other, and we sing happy birthday and give t-shirts,” Dawson said. “Everyone is welcome and we’re a very eclectic group.”
Dawson said water temperatures varied from a low of 10 degrees in winter – although it had only dropped to 12 this “warm” year – to 21 degrees in summer.
Storms in 2021 saw the icebergs retrieve more than 1000 squid jigs tangled in seaweed washed onto the beach.
The fishers’ losses have been used to make a sign over the shed provided to the icebergers by Mornington Peninsula Shire as well as keyrings which were sold to raise money for the Save Flinders Pier campaign.
Dawson said anyone was invited to take the plunge “at the pier at 7.30am sharp”.