Early-morning swim tradition lives on

Shivering Shags members Tyler Burrows, Atholl Flint, Max Trott, Dick Russell and Paul Gabbedy.
Shivering Shags members Tyler Burrows, Atholl Flint, Max Trott, Dick Russell and Paul Gabbedy.

They are called the Shivering Shags and were started by a group of rugby league and AFL players who were taking an icy dip on Sunday mornings as part of their post-match recovery.

The Shags, who meet at Melville Water Polo Club, are now one of four winter swimming clubs based in Perth, boasting members aged from 18 to over 80.

Races are held each week and are handicapped to ensure all swimmers finish about the same time.

The guys ” and it is all guys ” finish off with a hot spa, a bowl of soup and barbecue breakfast, while they take part in some old-fashioned male bonding.

Every month a member is named ‘Shag of the Month’ and the club names an annual ‘Mongrel’, who not only wears a collar at all meets but also has to have themselves registered as a dog at their local council and wear the tag on the collar.

Secretary Tyler Burrows said while he was often told he was mad for getting up so early on a Sunday morning, the mix of ages between the members provided a rare chance for men to socialise with guys they normally would not spend time with.