Closing the education gap with Australia’s longest ocean swim

A fresh crop of athletes and tourism and sporting partners have backed Swimming the Gap 2023, as the event claims a significant Australian title.

Swimming the Gap is a fundraising swim which raises funds for AFL Cape York House Foundation to help close the Indigenous education gap experienced by young people in FNQ’s remote communities.

Now in its third year, the 27km swim from Green Island to Yorkeys Knob is Australia’s longest open water ocean swim, claiming the title from WA’s Pub to Port.

Athletes taking part in this year’s event include fifth-generation Cairns local Rodney Lyle, Queensland Health worker Lesa Flip and marathon swimming royalty, Australian Triple Crown, Julie Boxsell who recently completed the iconic 20 Bridges Manhattan Island marathon.

A former remote area nurse, Ms Boxsell said she was excited by the challenge and hoped to raise awareness of the cause.

“I have lived and worked in remote communities and know how difficult that transition would be for youth coming into Cairns for education and I know that AFL Cape York House is doing great work.”

Beloved local swimming teacher, Kaname Woodfield will also make her second attempt to finish the challenge after her 2022 swim was aborted two hours from shore when a strong current pulled her south making it too dangerous to complete due to fading light.

Open water swimming a growth industry

Held Saturday 23 September, this year’s event has attracted major partnerships from key sporting and tourism operators including Passions of Paradise, Tobruk Memorial Pool and Masters Swimming Queensland, with organisers predicating significant future growth.

Platinum event partner, Passions of Paradise CEO Scott Garden said a swim of this caliber further cements Far North Queensland as an elite sporting destination.

“The more focus we can get on Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef is great for the region,” said Mr Garden.

“I remember when the local Iron Man first started and people were skeptical about it and now it’s rated the best destination in the world to have a marathon so it’s a lovely part of Australia for these events.”

Event organiser, Masters Swimming North Queensland Vice President, Ted Bunt said plans were underway to grow the swim to include both relay and solo swimmers from next year.

“It’s a growth industry open water swimming, it is being taken up a lot more now than that there are marathon swims at the Olympics,” Mr Bunt said. “Open water events like this attract very elite athletes.”

Donations can be made at the event’s mycause page,

Contact: Nicole Gibson, AFL Cape York House Foundation Philanthropy Manager
Phone: 0408 063 746 Email: