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Swimmers keen for open water events
The West Australian Fisheries officers with an under-sized tiger shark off Perth. Picture Ian Munro/The West Australian

The State's shark saga has prompted open-water swimmers to splash out in record numbers in ocean races along the metropolitan coastline, according to Swimming WA chief executive James Young.

With Swimming WA due to announce a new major race next month starting at Leighton beach, where a 4m shark was sighted yesterday, Mr Young said the body's Open Water Series was proving swimmers were more keen than ever to dive into Perth waters in bigger numbers.

He believes the popularity of the annual Rottnest Channel Swim shows an appetite for such events and hopes to expand on a new 6.6km point-to-point race from Leighton to Swanbourne, with point-to-point races from Fremantle to Hillarys being considered.

"Everyone wants to swim in the ocean, so they look for the best organised, safest way to do that," he said at yesterday's Swim the Swan challenge, which attracted more than 450 swimmers.

"This is a way they can do it safely and in a controlled manner and there have been more than 500 swimmers at some events this year.

"You go back 10 years and you were getting about 10 per event, so it has gone absolutely berserk.

"We've grown by 50 per cent the previous season and around 40 per cent again this year."

Mr Young said the increasing popularity of Swimming WA's open-water events had boosted registered competitor numbers from 6500 to 8500 this year during the eight-race series.

Yesterday's event, the seventh of the series, attracted strong interest at the Barrack Street Jetty.