Tony dons those budgie smugglers

Tony Abbott crosses the finish line at Torquay Beach after completing the 1.6km swim.
Tony Abbott crosses the finish line at Torquay Beach after completing the 1.6km swim. Karleila Thomsen

PERFECT sunny weather greeted Tony Abbott and his fellow competitors, who plunged into the water on Saturday morning for the 14th annual Hervey Bay Surf Lifesaving Club Pier to Pub ocean swim.

The infamous pair of red budgie smugglers were ditched, but his choice of attire was very similar with the addition of "Hervey Bay" printed on the back to help promote the struggling region.

The Federal Opposition leader finished the 1.6km swim last in the men's 50-59 years category, clocking 33min 16sec.

Not that he cared.

"It's always great to finish," he said while trying to catch his breath after the race.

"It was a beautiful day and a gorgeous course.

"I sort of zigzagged to the pub.

"I thought at one stage I was going to New Zealand."

Before the race, Abbott was in a jovial mood as he posed for photos with locals and joked with his ocean water counterparts.

One competitor described him as a "brick", while another complimented him on his high level of fitness.

Local legend Ron Morgan had the honour of presenting Abbott with a green swimming cap to use for the race.

Earlier in the day, Morgan, along with Hervey Bay Triathlon Club vice-president Hayden Lyons and up-and-coming triathletes Christian Wilson and Matt Hauser, joined Abbott for a cycle up to Gatakers Bay.

"I found him to be a real pleasure to speak to," Morgan said.

"We talked about many topics, including the main issues in Hervey Bay at the moment, health matters and how to keep people fit and more active."

Abbott has already proven he is no slouch on the bike, having completed a number of charity rides and ironman events.

But in the water, he said, it was a different story.

"I'm not a great swimmer," Abbott said while gearing up for the gruelling endurance swim.

"If I can avoid finishing in the last 10, I'd be happy."

Love him or like him, you have to admire the man's 'have a go' spirit.

"These swims are a terrific way to start the day," he said.

"It's great I'm able to be involved in something with a lot of my fellow Australians, promoting the values of keeping fit, being healthy and swimming is a really way for people of all ages to keep active."

But will he be back next year?

"This has been a great promotion and I would love to do it again," he said.

Topics:  hervey bay surf lifesaving club ocean swim pier to pub tony abbott