Originally formed in the late 1980's, the original Magnetic Island to Townsville Swim Association became known as the Townsville Open Water Swimming Association (TOWSA) in 2008 when cages were removed from the iconic swim.
In 2007 TOWSA decided to make the Magnetic Island to Townsville Swim cage less, enabling more than the previous maximum of 11 solo swimmers to compete. As a result, the number of race entrants increased from 11 in 2007 to 56 in 2008 and continues to grow with more than 120 swimmers participating as solo entrants and in teams of two or four. The decision to swim without cages was taken to encourage greater participation and remove the obstacles created by finding boats and towing cages. With the restriction on numbers lifted, many swimmers, both young and old, have jumped at the chance to do the swim. The 2023 the Magnetic Island to Townsville Swim is proudly sponsored by Salt 66.
In 2017 TOWSA created an annual Race Series focused on building participation in open water swimming and encouraging healthy lifestyles, friendships and a fun atmosphere through the love of open water swimming.
The 2023 swim series is proudly sponsored by Shadeview. The series includes the Pool to Pool , the unique Club to Club, the Strand Swim Qualifier and finishes with always popular Ship to Shore. The series is proving to be popular among the locals and out of town swimmers , attracting athletes from swimming clubs, Masters swimming, Triathlon groups, Surf Life Saving Clubs as well as recreational swimmers. Age participation ranges from 10-99 years of age.
TOWSA is run by President, John Barrett, an avid open water swimmer himself, with the support of a small but dedicated committee.