There was little choice but to cancel this year's Wharf to Waves, officials said.
It will be the first time in 18 years the iconic ocean swim has not gone ahead, but canning the 2020 event was a twofold decision.
The primary concern for officials was the safety of competitors, but a majority of the organisers are active in the fire-fighting and nursing communities and have been run off their feet since New Year's eve when bushfires first ravaged the Bega Valley.
"We really had no option, we had discussed it, but then the tourists were told to leave town," operations manager Kylie Dummer said of the cancellation.
"All of our committee were already fighting fires for themselves, and some are nurses who were working extra shifts."
Bike ride coordinator Richard Gallimore is an RFS member and said there was simply no time to prepare the tracks for the ride.
Local accommodation were also receiving a lot of cancelled bookings and needed to give their guests an answer.
Ms Dummer said officials were meeting on Monday to discuss the logistics of refunds, but said feedback from the cancellation had been understanding, while others offered their entry fees to aid in recovery efforts.
Regular competitor Steve Whan was among the first to suggest his entry fee could instead be donated to relief efforts in the fire-ravaged communities.
"I would be very happy for my entry fee to be kept as a donation to the community causes we normally support with the swim," Mr Whan shared on the swim's Facebook page.
Long-time event organiser Linda Dodd also supported the call by officials.
"I know what a hard decision that would have been for the committee - I applaud your decision and would've made the same one," Ms Dodd said.
Ms Dummer said all the comments had "been lovely" and officials hadn't been with any negative feedback.
"A lot of the people who would normally take part are from the coast and they've been dealing with similar bushfire conditions themselves."
With fire conditions easing, the committee will also discuss the options of hosting a community paddle or swim day on Sunday, as well as setting a date for 2021.
Like many beaches up and down the coast Tathra had been afflicted with blackened water as ash and soot swirled through the waves and washed up on shore.
However, the local swimming destination has cleared relatively quickly and lifeguards are back on duty with regular patrols.
Ms Dummer said the swift recovery of the popular tourist beach was astounding to see.
"It was beautiful down there the other day," she said. "I went to a National Parks beach just yesterday and the water and sand were really ash-stained."