Brent Peters, 29, has come a long way in the last two years.
Brent lives with a disability, but made it his goal to complete the Wharf to Waves after moving to Tura Beach from Cooma two years ago.
“I’ve enjoyed living down here and so I’ve been training with my friend Zoe Stewart for about 11 months,” Brent said.
Two years ago, he could barely do a lap in the pool and had anxiety about salt water and the waves. However, On Sunday he conquered his hesitation to swim the 600-metre distance.
“I really wasn’t keen for the salt water, but look at the difference now mate, I’ve grown so much and I’ve worked at it,” he said.
He has worked with Peter and Michele Bootes through the Special Nippers (Same Wave) program to build his confidence and abilities in the water.
“I did really well, I didn’t have any help or grab hold of anything, I just thought ‘bring it on’ and swam.”
He has swim sessions about three times a week with Ms Stewart, who is a Tathra lifesaver, over nearly a year to prepare.
“She is such a good mentor and has always been helping me with everything,” Brent says. “It was so fun, I can’t believe how well I did.”
Ms Stewart swam with Brent for the whole distance, encouraging him right into the beach where she and Brent finished to a thunderous applause from the crowd of hundreds.
“It was so fun and good to have the home crowd there and I’m happy I got to do it with Zoe, she’s a good friend to me,” Brent said fondly.
His parents eagerly waited at the finish line, with Brent and Ms Stewart crossing together before getting wrapped up in an emotional group hug.
Proud dad Allan said it was a wonderful moment.
“It really was overwhelming to see how well he has done and everyone there cheering him on,” he said.
Mum Michelle said she was waiting with bated breath on shore, but was watching the swim unfold through binoculars.
“We had concerns about the distance,” Michelle said. “But we could see Zoe at his side for every single stroke, she’s given so much to him in so many ways – her friendship and encouragement.
“We knew he could and would do it, but we could never have imagined the response [from the crowd].
“It’s been wonderful to see the way the community has embraced him, it was very emotional.”
Zoe has been by Brent’s side, encouraging his efforts from his first lap of Pambula pool 12 months ago to the 600-metre ocean swim at the weekend.
She posted the special moment to her Facebook page after the Tathra event.
“This special soul achieved his dream this morning. When I started with him a year ago, his goal was to swim 25m without stopping and today we swam the Tathra Wharf to Waves 600m swim!! Words cannot describe how proud I am.”
Unfortunately the swimming duo will split as Ms Stewart takes on a job in Melbourne next week.
However, Brent said she has helped spark a love of the water and he’s keen to continue.
“I want to reach a higher goal next year,” he said.