ONCE a year keen swimmers are legally allowed to swim across the harbour from Stockton to Newcastle.
The harbour master gives Stockton Surf Life Saving Club the all-clear to let the swimmers cross without fear of being hit by a passing coal ship.
About 400 swimmers are expected to meet on the shoreline of Newcastle this long weekend in the club's annual splash-and-dash race across the harbour.
Stockton Surf Life Saving Club is busy preparing for the club's major fund-raiser for the year, the Australia Day Harbour Swim, which attracts amateur swimmers both locally and interstate.
Stockton Surf Life Saving Club president Callan Nickerson said swimmers from across NSW and as far north as Queensland annually made the trek to Newcastle on January 26 to race in the Australia Day Harbour Swim.
"We are expecting a big turnout with Australia Day on a Saturday this year," he said.
"Every year the swimmers get quicker and quicker, so it should be a good race."
Swimmers can choose the 700-metre swim that starts from Stockton ferry wharf at 8am, or the 1400m event from Newcastle ferry wharf at 8.30am.
Entrants that enter the longer race will swim a triangular course around a buoy near Stockton wharf.
The winners and runners-up of both the men's and women's events will receive an accommodation package for the Crowne Plaza Newcastle.
Enter at the Stockton Surf Life Saving Club website or at oceanswims.com. Cost is $40 online or $45 on the race day.