You Can Too learn to ocean swim in Campbelltown

by Emma Brown 12 Sep 2019

Craig Dwyer is in the centre with his sons Brad on the left and Mitch on the right after Craig completed the 2019 Macquarie ‘Big Swim’ from Palm Beach to Whale Beach.

The Can Too Foundation are pleased to announce a new learn to ocean swim program starting in Campbelltown.

The pod (training group) is founded in memory of Can Tooer Natalie Dwyer.

The pod of swimmers will be trained by professional Coaches and supported by caring Team Captains, Mentors and water safety crew to in 12 weeks complete a goal ocean swim and raise funds for Australian cancer research and prevention.

Craig Dwyer and his wife Natalie started a Can Too learn to ocean swim program in November 2013 with the goal to complete their first ocean swim together – the iconic 2014 Macquarie ‘Big Swim’ from Palm Beach to Whale Beach. Just five weeks later Natalie was diagnosed with a rare and incurable form of cancer.

Craig says that he can still remember where he was when he received the shocking news.

“I rushed from work to meet her with the GP and within 24 hours we were in front of the gastrointestinal surgeon,” said Craig.

“Natalie unfortunately had to withdraw from the program after five weeks, but before that she was swimming multiple laps in the pool and in the ocean out past the breaks.”

This was a major achievement as Natalie’s goal was to overcome her fear of ocean swimming and, before Can Too, she struggled swimming more than 50 metres.

“Can Too Mentor Jodi Vallak and Team Captain Ian Bond were incredible, and Natalie loved both of them for helping her achieve these goals.”

From left: Mentor, Jodi Vallak, Can Tooer, Natalie Dwyer and Team Captain, Ian Bond at the 2014 ‘Big Swim’ from Palm Beach to Whale Beach where Natalie cheered Craig on for completing his first ocean swim

Natalie was on the beach cheering Craig whilst he completed the 2014 Macquarie ‘Big Swim’. 

“She was waiting on the beach only six weeks after major surgery. Despite the brave face and beautiful smile Natalie was unwell. She was back in hospital days later to get her pain under control and start aggressive chemo,” continued Craig.

“Natalie was given six to 12 months after her diagnosis. Our reasons for taking part in Can Too then changed considerably. I will always be grateful to my extended Can Too family for their support.

“I never realised how significant Can Too would be, how important it was to have an outlet, away from our life which was all about cancer and searching for treatments. Can Too helped me to not just stay physically fit but mentally strong. We lived by a mantra we adopted with our Can Too program – ‘just keep swimming’".

Natalie ended up being gifted nearly five years due to the brilliance of people working to find a cure and making the lives of cancer patients better, such as Professor David Thomas at The Garvan Institute of Medical Research, who was funded by Can Too. Natalie took part in Prof Thomas’ genetic sequencing program and immunotherapy drug trial.

“It resonates with me how the money Can Too raises goes to causes close to her heart. Today they are still looking for answers to Natalie’s type of cancer – Leiomyosarcoma. Without research there isn’t much hope.”

Sadly, Natalie lost her long battle with cancer on 27 August 2018.

“It was Natalie’s wish for me to continue with Can Too. She knew how important it was for me to raise awareness and support of cancer research, and for my own health and wellbeing.”

Craig completed last year’s Macquarie Big Swim, six months to the day after his wife passed, on what would have been their 28th wedding anniversary.

“It was a tough day but good to have my boys there supporting me.”

Craig said that he’s not sure what he would have done particularly last year without the swim program and ‘my amazing Can Too family’.

“I love every one of them for how they've helped me, probably without even realising, a smile or hello before training, an encouraging cheer, a chat as we walked down the beach or a laugh as we caught our breath between pool sets. And the amazing messages of support from my pod and many others in the Can Too family.

“So far with my sons we've proudly raised over $21,000 for Can Too and we will continue to raise funds in Natalie’s honour.”

As was Natalie’s wish Craig is thrilled to continue to be part of Can Too and bring a learn to ocean swim pod to his local community of Campbelltown.


To learn how to ocean swim or advance your skills and help beat cancer dive in today – registrations are open:

  • Program starts 6 November
  • 2 sessions a week – 1 x pool, 1 x ocean swim
  • Beginners 1km or Intermediate 2+km ocean swim options
  • The fundraising commitment of $1195 will go towards funding Australian cancer research and prevention

The goal events are:

  • 26 Jan | Macquarie Big Swim 2.7km ocean swim
  • 1 Feb | Noosa Summer Swim 1km ocean swim
  • 9 Feb | North Bondi Classic 2km ocean swim

 Training times and locations:  

Wednesdays Saturdays
6.00pm — 7.30pm 8.30am — 9.45am

Gordon Fetterplace Aquatic Centre 

Elouera Beach
21 The Pkwy, Bradbury NSW 2560 80 Mitchell Rd, Cronulla