Cole Classic hooks 77-year-old Sue Wiles for the 13th time

Sue Wiles has seen it all when it comes to the Sydney Morning Herald Cole Classic. At 77 years of age, Sue will be entering the ocean swim for the 13th time.

"Swimming has been life changing": Sue Wiles from Wentworth Falls is looking to add her 12th plate at this year's Cole Classic Ocean Swim. Photo: Wolter Peeters, The Sun Herald

"Swimming has been life changing": Sue Wiles from Wentworth Falls is looking to add her 12th plate at this year's Cole Classic Ocean Swim. Photo: Wolter Peeters, The Sun Herald

“I do other ocean swims as well because I think they're wonderful but the Cole Classic is something special,” Wiles said. “I guess because it was my very first one, it's at Manly and it's just such an iconic event.”

Wiles got into swimming 13 years ago, at the age of 64, and she says it has changed her life for the better.

“When I worked I was doing a desk job and I didn't really do that much exercise. I was putting on weight and I was just feeling really lousy about myself,” she said.

“So I started regular swimming because of a bad neck and then, of course, because I love swimming, it felt like a second lease of life for me.

“I feel really good about myself and I'm happy and I'm contented. I've found that I'm more active and life is more enjoyable and my doctors are happy with me. I'm just feeling so much better because of exercising – it really has transformed how I operate, how I feel about myself. No question.”

Not only is Wiles feeling healthier, she has also discovered a community among fellow swimmers who help motivate her to keep it up.

“If it was just me swimming I would only do it for five minutes. When I started 13 years ago I went with a couple of friends and we went to the local pool and they stopped swimming and then I discovered some other people. It's because of the people I go ocean swimming with and the people I train with during the week that keeps me going. It's a little community that you form.”

While Wiles doesn't swim for the medals, she is looking forward to adding to her Cole Classic plate collection at this year's event. “I've won 11 plates so I'm after an even number this time, but that's all part of it. It's all good fun,” she said.

This year marks the 35th annual Sydney Morning Herald Sun Run and Cole Classic. The Sun Run – a 7km or a 10km run from Dee Why Beach to Manly Beach – will take place on February 3. The Cole Classic – a 1km, 2km or 5km ocean swim – will take place on February 4. Visit: sunruncoleclassic.com.au

This article first appeared in the Sun-Herald.