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Barely a few months into her role as Chief Executive in 2022, Kerry admits joining the Marilyn Jetty Swim as a first-time Swim Marilyn was a very exciting but nerve-wracking experience… until she hit the water!

Kerry went on to love the experience so much so that she helped the Marilyn community celebrate 10 fabulous years by coming back for her second year in a row in 2023. Hear from Kerry herself on what her day as both a first-time and returning Marilyn was like:

“When I first joined the Marilyn Jetty Swim in 2022, I had only been at Cancer Council SA for a few months and, to be honest, I had no idea what it would truly be like to take part. All I knew was that I wanted to be in on the action, not watching from the sidelines and before I knew it, swim day was here.

I remember I started getting ready as Marilyn Monroe at around 7.00 am and it was really something. I spent the morning googling what side of my face to put Marilyn’s iconic beauty spot and making sure I had the right shade of red lipstick—which I didn’t! Then I had to decide what to wear over the swimsuit and what shoes to wear.

Once the hairnet was on and I’d positioned my wig to cover it, I really started to get excited—and before I knew it, it was time to hit the road and head to Brighton to meet the other 300 Marilyn look-alikes.

My husband had the pleasure of driving me dressed head to toe as the 50’s blonde bombshell herself down to Brighton. I must admit it did feel a bit out of place and somewhat self-conscious about going out in a white swimsuit until we got into the heart of Brighton. Once we made it there, people were pointing and waving to me in the car, getting some enjoyment out of seeing something a little different. It was nice and I feel it really made people’s day seeing me all dressed up.

Between 8.30 am and 9.00 am we all congregated at founding Marilyn’ Sarah Tinney’s house, a few streets over from the Esplanade. Once you’re there you realise there is a lot going on, but everything just runs so smooth like a well-oiled machine. Everyone’s applying sunscreen, talking—there’s a real buzz in the air. There are people helping out, directing you on where to go to receive your participant bag and swim tag. There are even people there helping you to pump up your swim ring with pumps in case you’d forgotten to do it earlier.

I would have to say it was at that point in the day that the excitement and anticipation really started to set in. I just remember being happy to be there and be part of it. You could really see and feel that many of us where there for our own special reasons. Everyone was just talking to each other, talking about their reason for joining the swim. There were no barriers. Everyone was happy to talk, even if you’d never met.

It wasn’t long, maybe around 10.00 am, that we all started the walk down Jetty Road, passing people having a quiet breakfast at one of the cafés along Brighton’s main road, interrupted by this sea of Marilyn’s in white swimsuits and Australian flag rings. It was quite the spectacle! It certainly had a real community feel in that moment—everyone all together walking to our purpose for our own reasons.

Marilyn Jetty swim participants holding large banner reading 'Brighton Prefers Blondes'

All the vulnerability and nervousness I was feeling getting ready and on my way to Brighton disappeared when I was surrounded by the other Marilyn’s. All my inhibitions went and were replaced with anticipation, excitement and happiness at being there and part of it.

The walk itself only took about 20 minutes. We all made it to the Brighton Jetty Classic stage in front of the surf club where we heard from Founding Marilyn Sarah and Cancer Council SA’s own Emma McKee as they said a few words about the day and the why, which was just so motivating. That was a time when I looked around and saw this whole community of people who were all there alongside me, with the exact same purpose. It was a really important moment and opportunity for us to all reflect on the real reason we were taking part. On our why.

By about 10.30 am it was time to take off any extra layers, reapply sunscreen and start the walk to the water’s edge where we waited for the all-clear to start. When we got down to the beach you could tell even the spectators were excited—it was just in the air. You could also tell that some of the people watching felt like they were missing out because they weren’t going in.

When it was time to swim, there were two ways to use the swim ring—you could have it around your waist or you could sit in it and paddle along. That’s the one I chose. I was one of the only ones to do it, but it worked great and made the swim so relaxing—at one point I was even towing one of my friends along and we were just laughing the whole way.

The swim itself didn’t take long—maybe about 15 to 20 minutes—and it really was so much fun being out there. I managed to find my teammates as we made it to shore and finished together which was such a lovely moment. Walking out of the water everyone was talking and laughing with each other about how fun it was, and I felt a little sad that it was over.

It was great to get back to our partners on the shore who saw the whole thing from land and on the jetty, where they waved and looked down at the sea of Marilyn’s. Once we made it to them, all the men said they would be signing up for 2023 because it just looked like ‘so much fun’. And they did! This year, I ended up with my own team of almost 15 made up of about 50/50 males and females which was great. I think that’s a real testament to what the Marilyn Jetty Swim is like—it’s infectious and something you want to be part of. And that’s why I signed up again because there really is nothing quite like the Marilyn Jetty Swim.

It’s an amazing community event that has lots of wonderful people making it such a huge success. This year’s milestone 10-year event was one I will certainly never forget. We had a record 516 Marilyn’s take part in the swim on Sunday 5 February, who so far have raised $242,000 to support South Australians impacted by cancer. I can’t even begin to describe the energy of the day – this year’s event certainly was bold, brave and fabulous and I’m so grateful to be part of this iconic and frivolous community of Marilyn’s.”

We can’t thank Kerry and all of our Marilyn community enough for choosing to make a splash with the Marilyn Jetty Swim over the past 10 years and for helping them become the Million Dollar Marilyn’s!

Find out more about the Marilyn Jetty Swim and register your interest for the 2024 swim.

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