LORNE Pier to Pub officials are confident the famous ocean swim will go ahead next Saturday despite a constant fire threat surrounding the coastal town.
A near full-capacity of athletes have entered the January 9 event, which also entails a Mountain to Surf running event.
Lorne Pier to Pub and Mountain to Surf race director Mark Williamson said organisers were closely monitoring fire in the Otways, which could worsen with hot weather conditions predicted.
“Our message to all of our entrants is that we’re monitoring the situation, we’re taking advice from CFA and police,” Mr Williamson said.
“Right now the event will go ahead, but I think everybody is worried about what happens over the next couple of days.
“I think by the time we get to the day after New Year’s Day, we’ll have a pretty good idea.
“But so far everyone is still keen to attend.”
Mr Williamson said he hoped the annual sporting event, which attracted thousands of competitors and supporters, could boost the district following the Christmas Day fire disaster, which ravaged neighbouring coastal towns Wye River and Separation Creek.
“Lorne has been pretty badly affected by people staying away,” he said.
“The event has a very positive economic impact on the community so if we can help that we really want to.”
Mr Williamson said officials were rapt with entrant numbers for the swim and run in its 36th year in 2016.
“We’ve basically sold out,” he said.
“We have three events; the GMHBA Lorne Mountain to Surf, that sold out and we’re probably going to have somewhere in the order of 2000 runners.
“The Pier to Pub has essentially sold out; we’re sitting almost at our full field of 5000, which is awesome really.
“And we also have a 5k swim, which we created last year, and we’re growing that slowly.”
Reigning Pier to Pub champions Harriet Brown, women’s, and Sam Sheppard, men’s, are favourites to continue their dominance at the event next week.
Sheppard won his fifth title in the male open swim in 2015, while Brown claimed her second-straight title.
“They’re both swimming again,” Mr Williamson said.
“If you were a betting person you’d probably back them both in to go well again.”