TIMES and placings didn’t matter for Peter Dempsey, he was simply determined to complete the open water swim being held to support his son.
Choppy conditions at Albury Wodonga Yacht Club, Bonegilla, on Friday evening made the Dip for Dempsey tough on all 141 swimmers, but Mr Dempsey had no thought of pulling out.
“No way, I don’t care if I was still out there now I wasn’t going to stop until the end,” he said. “I thought if Nick can go through what he's going through surely I can swim 1500 metres.
“But you know you’re going slow when they’re packing up the course behind you. The A-grade water polo boys swam out and met me about 100m from the shore and helped me home.”
Dip for Dempsey’s final total is expected to exceed $10,000, which will go towards the rehabilitation of Border sportsman Nick Dempsey, seriously injured in a diving accident on his 21st birthday in January.
Nash Clark, one of the organisers, said the successful night also launched Nick’s Journey, an ongoing fundraising campaign.
“It was the first time the community could get together and demonstrate their consideration and support of the long road Nick has ahead of him,” Mr Clark said.
Caleb Noble led home the 1500m open event in 22 minutes 25 seconds, with Leah Dodd the first female and sixth overall in 26.50.
Sixteen swimmers contested the 400m under-14 event, which was won by Meg Waite in 8.13.
Nick and his mother Trudy joined the crowd via facetime from Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre, Kew.
Mrs Dempsey said her son continued to take “baby steps in the right direction”.
“Just working on trying to get a bit more strength in the arms so he can feed himself, just get a little bit self-sufficient, be able to drive his wheelchair along with his hand,” she said.
Nick expected to be at Royal Talbot until the end of June.
“That’s what I’ll work towards,” he said. “But I’ll stay here as long as I need to, to get as much rehabilitation done as I can. I’m taking it day by day with my recovery but the big picture is getting as much back as possible and trying to get home.”
The Dempsey family thanked everybody for their continued support.
“It’s just dumbfounding, you know, the number of people who just want to help, who can’t do enough,” Mrs Dempsey said.
“It’s just so heartwarming.”