2020 Busselton Jetty Swim | Australian of the Year Dr Craig Challen named ambassador of the jetty swim

2019 Australian of the Year Dr Craig Challen will be next year's Busselton Jetty Swim Ambassador. Image supplied.
2019 Australian of the Year Dr Craig Challen will be next year's Busselton Jetty Swim Ambassador. Image supplied.

In July 2018, respected cave diver and retired vet Dr Craig Challen was about to go on a caving holiday in the Nullarbor Plains, when he was called to help on a rescue mission in Thailand.

Dr Challen was part of the international team that successfully rescued 12 boys and their coach from a flooded cave in Chiang Rai, Thailand.

Dr Challen has dived some of Australia's deepest wrecks and set depth records in diving, he was chosen for the mission based on his technical expertise.

Working 10 to 12 hours a day in extremely dangerous conditions, Dr Challen repeatedly risked his life as the children were swum, one-by-one, through the dark and narrow flooded caves.

Despite admitting he initially thought the rescue would be too difficult to accomplish, he played a leading role in this successful and heroic mission.

Dr Challen was awarded the Star of Courage for his unwavering and selfless bravery following the successful rescue of the trapped soccer team.

Dr Challen's work was recognised by the National Australia Day Council and was announced as the joint-winner of the 2019 Australian of the Year award with fellow diver Richard Harris.

He as also named 2019 Western Australian of the Year.

Dr Challen continues to give back the communities of WA and is the SunSmart Busselton Jetty Swim 2020 ambassador.

Busselton Jetty Swim president Max Higgins said they we honoured and privileged to have Dr Challen supporting the event in 2020.

"Our 25th anniversary of the Busselton Jetty Swim is a celebration of the phenomenal team effort over the years from our current and past committee who have contributed enormously to the success of the event," he said.

Mr Higgins said they were grateful to the thousands of volunteers who worked behind the scenes over the event weekend and to the community groups which ensured people were safe in the water and on the foreshore.

"We are proud to have the support from Dr Challen to recognise the significance of our event and the effect it has on the swimming community throughout WA and Australia," he said.

"Having Dr Challen recognise the enormity of our event and to get behind the swim is a great thrill".

Dr Challen will be officiating over the event weekend giving the swimmers the support and words of encouragement at the official start of the main swim on Sunday February 9, 2020.

The SunSmart Busselton Jetty Swim weekend incorporates a range of free family friendly entertainment across the weekend of February 8 and 9, 2020.