NEWS that this might be the last Cohuna Bridge to Bridge event didn't deter swimmers, runners or paddlers from giving it their all at the 25th annual event on Sunday.
Long-serving organiser, Geoff Dale said recently that the event might not continue next year due to a lack of volunteers.
Almost 400 competitors came from across the region and from wider Victoria to compete along - or in - the Gunbower Creek.
Melbourne resident Michal Skrodzki won the major Bridge to Bridge event - the 8-kilometre swim from Dalton's Bridge to the town bridge, with a time of 1 hour 33 minutes, but hot on his heels was former Kerang resident and past winner, Kahlia Marsh, who touched the bridge just two minutes later.
With a background as a competitive swimmer, Ms Marsh has swum the event six times now, starting when she was 14 years old.
"It's such a great swim... you see people who are doing their 15th year, and there was a young girl and it's her first year doing the 8 kilometres, and she's doing it in a pair of training bathers. That was me 10 years ago so seeing stuff like that, it's a great swim to be a part of," she said.
Mr Skrodzki came from Melbourne for the event after first having competed in 2007 and 2008.
Having recently reignited his passion for swimming, Mr Skrodzki said the event was the perfect opportunity to test himself.
"I thought I'd set this for myself as a bit of a challenge this season because I remember it from 10 years ago and it's just a fantastic swim. I loved coming up here, so I thought I'd give it another go," he said.
Both competitors expressed their hope that the event would continue in the future.
"I've heard some talk that they need some new people to take on the organisation of it, so I just encourage the Cohuna people to keep this going because I think this is a fantastic event. I'd love to come back here for future years," said Mr Skrodzki.
Ms Marsh felt similarly.
"It would be really disappointing because you just look around the crowd today and the number of participants here - it would be upsetting if this was [the last one] and I'm hoping a lot of people can get on board," she said.
"I've heard rumours that there are a few people interested in keeping it going. I'd love to come back and do it next year," she said.
The 6.5-kilometre run was dominated by James Kervin, who was first overall and first in the youth category.
A Leitchville/Gunbower footballer and student at Cohuna Secondary College, Mr Kervin is a regular runner and although he didn't expect to win, thought he would place highly.
"It was pretty good the whole way. It wasn't a really fast run but it was nice," he said.
Mr Kervin was closely followed by second place winner and winner of the adult male category, Thomas Toma, who has run the event a few times before as a junior.
A Cohuna Kangas player, Mr Toma said he wasn't a runner but thought he'd join in as the course went straight past his house.
"They go past my place so I thought I'd join in rather than just sitting out the front and watching," he said.
"It's good for everyone to get involved, it gets the community out and about with a bit of fitness," he said.
Mr Toma said it was a great event to get involved in and it would be a loss to the community if it didn't continue.
"Hopefully it's not [the last year]. It's good for the community and the hospitals," he said.
The winner of the adult women's category was Leah Lacy, a regular runner who said she has run the Bridge to Bridge "pretty much every year if I haven't been pregnant."
Ms Lacy has placed highly in the past but this is the first time she has come first in her category, which she said she achieved by focusing on the competition.
"I always try and keep up with the person in front," she said.
Ms Lacy said that if the event didn't continue, the community would miss out as much as the Royal Children's Hospital and Cohuna District Hospital, which both receive valuable funds from the event.
"It's for the hospitals - it's a shame it's probably going to finish this year," she said.
"It's been good for the community."
To honour the 25th year, a relay swim team which included some of the original competitors also competed.
The team included Barry Patterson, Ron Stanton, Peter Barker, Wendy Lunghusen and Mark Dale.
Dr Barker said ti was a fun way to celebrate 25 years.
"It was really good fun and we had a really nice swim," he said.
He has swum 23 of the 25 years.
"I'm always the slowest swimmer but it's really nice just to be in it for the fun," he said.
If the event gets wound down, Dr Barker said "we'll probably swim anyway."
Other events included the 1.5-kilometre swim, the 25-kilometre bike ride, 50-kilometre bike ride, the round-the-fountain swim, 8.5-kilometre and 15-kilometre canoe races.
The full event results will be posted at http://www.bridgetobridge.org.au/