The 2022 Shine Shield competition in Yass, Binalong, Harden and Jugiong has been cancelled due to the risk COVID-19 presents volunteers and organisers.

Harden Shine Shield committee member Georgie Campbell said it was disappointing after several events were also cancelled in 2020 and 2021.

In 2020 all Shine Shields were cancelled due to poor air quality after the 2019/2020 bush fires. The committee had hopes for 2021 but due to COVID-19 restrictions, they were only able to run smaller events in Yass and Harden.

While this year restrictions didn’t prevent the Shine Shield from going ahead Georgie said the committee thought the event was too risky.

“Unfortunately, we just had to make the decision that people’s health was just far more important.”

“It is a great community event,” she said. “It is a shame that the last few years, we just seem to have had a bit of a run of bad luck.”

Earlier this month the Boorowa Shine Shield went ahead but had significantly less attendance than previous years.

Belinda Pilgram, Shine Shield organiser at Binalong, said they only had about 30 swimmers compete in Boorowa.

“We’re still planning to go ahead again next year,” Belinda said. “It was for the safety of the community more than anything.”

Belinda said Shine Shield are also running low on volunteers due to coronavirus.

“At Binalong a lot of our volunteers are older people in the community and we didn’t want to put them at risk.”

But Belinda said the Shine Shield will hopefully come back stronger than ever next year.

“The Shine and Shield is not a swimming club event,” she said. “It’s a community event.”

“It’s for the five communities to socialise and have a bit of fun and there’s a swimming competition.”

Jugiong Shine Shield organiser Paula Butt is passionate about the event and said it’s a great event for families, which is what she loves about it.

“It was originally brought together as a family carnival because a lot of people didn’t go away on holidays,” Paula said.

Paula described the event as both competitive and not competitive.

“There are little kids that swim and it could take them five minutes to do a lap but it doesn’t matter and that’s what it’s all about,” she said.

“I’m hoping it will go ahead next year with a young swimming club coming along at Jugiong and they’re keen to take it into the future.”

By Brianna O’Rourke