Phil Clayton’s long list of sporting achievements is testament to an enduring career spanning over 20+ years within Surf Life Saving. As the winner of numerous professional Uncle Toby’s & Kellogg’s Nutri Grain Ironman races, he became widely recognised for his cheeky grin, his fun & charismatic approach to racing and his freakish surf skills that allowed him to win from impossible situations.


Phil: “What’s your earliest memory of the Ocean?”

Swimming with my father at North Wollongong Beach every morning with all the old boys from our Surf club.

 Phil: “If you could give advice to yourself as a young Nipper standing on the beach, what words of wisdom would you share?”

Spend as many hours as possible in the water having fun catching waves Plus pack your bag the night before each carnival so you don’t rush the morning of the event. (I learnt that one too late)

Phil: “What advice would you give to parents of sporting kids in sport?”

Make sure the kids are doing it for fun. Ask them what they love about the sport. Most importantly offer advice, don’t tell them how to do it, sport is about making mistakes and learning from it.

 Phil: “Has your passion for the ocean rubbed off on your family?”

Both my kids love the ocean, body surfing, surfing, diving you name it, if its in the ocean they're in. My wife has just started open water swimming and constantly tells me how much she loves it and can’t believe she started so late. She also said it's her Volare wetsuit that makes swimming much easier. Ha Ha she actually asked if she could swim in it all year round.

Phil: “So many swimmers dread the surf and fear big waves. Have you always loved big surf days and how do you stay calm when you are on the limit of your capabilities?”

I have been lucky to always have a big set of lungs on me through my life in sport, knowing that I always loved to push the boundaries in the big surf. For me it was all about relaxing. Once you realise its only water and all you need to do is hold your breath, being pinned for 45sec to 1min wasn’t an issue. I loved Portsea in Victoria because you had to swim deep, stay there then repeat it 7 or 8 times just to get out the back, then you had to come in and do it again and again, I loved it.

Phil: “So many athletes struggle to transition from being an athlete, how have you found the journey from athlete to coach?”

Lots of my early coaches in the 80’s and 90’s were old school where it was all about going as hard as you could at every session for as long as you could. I enjoyed studying about the human body and how it was affected over prolonged training phases. I made sure that I included lots of recovery and fun into my sessions so the athlete had a reward for putting the hard work in. I found it more rewarding as a coach than I did as a professional athlete.

Phil: “If you could travel anywhere, what would be your top 3 swims destinations in the world and why?"

  1. Maldives – There are locations there that defy belief with beautiful islands, amazingly blue water and surf that is accessible for all skill levels. I will be holding a Phil Clayton and Co. Ocean Swim Escape there in soon.
  2. Ningaloo Reef – I want to take my family there to swim with the whale sharks.
  3. Dune Di Campana Beach Sardinia – There is an Ocean swim week there in some of the most amazing water I have ever seen.

 Phil: “What inspired you to start “Phil Clayton & Co”?

I have coached athletes for over 15 years and I have loved every minute of it however I love the look in people’s eyes who are just trying it for the first time. When someone doesn’t want to get in, then we conquer that fear and they realise how amazing the ocean is, that feeling is what drove me to create PC & Co. I love taking people on a journey in every session showing them what I have known since I was a little kid.

As one of Volare’s chief test pilots we regularly get to see Phil’s freakish skills, unrivalled passion for the ocean and his desire to share his knowledge to all athletes no matter their ability. When Phil says he has something special in the works we listen.

“There’s something universally captivating about the ocean. From the kaleidoscope of blue hues in the morning, to the golden glimmer on the waves at sunset; the ocean has a magnetic power that can restore our body and mind.”

“It’s no secret, the world as we know it has changed forever. But as humans we are built to respond. As we learn to live in these uncertain times, those who can harness the power of the ocean will be able to adapt, thrive and live a fuller life.”

“There has never been a better time than now, to fully immerse yourself in the soul-nourishing benefits of the ocean and enhance your skills to live a life full of confidence. No matter what your swimming ability.”

“There has never been a better time than now, to fully immerse yourself in the soul-nourishing benefits of the ocean and enhance your skills to live a life full of confidence. No matter what your swimming ability, we welcome everyone to participate in our 7 day swimming retreat in the exquisite Whitsunday waters. With a professional coach, lifeguard and water safety by your side at every session, we can ensure that you are in safe and capable hands.”


  • 5 unforgettable swim sessions guaranteed to stimulate & supercharge your senses
  • Full day at world-renowned Whitehaven Beach: ultimate swim session + walk to Hill Inlet + BBQ lunch
  • Phil Clayton will share his secret insights which have developed over 3 decades as an athlete + coach
  • Swimming techniques to utilise energy, increasing your speed & enhancing your stamina
  • The Hamilton Island annual Ocean Swim Event: 2km, 750m or 350m for juniors

Jump on board. Book you’re spot and be a part of their team goal of securing only 5 more registrations for their swim escape by this Sunday. Phil will be offering all registered swimmers on the Gold Coast a free Tuesday Morning swim session every week in the lead up to the Hamilton Island Swim Escape.

Racing Career

  • 2000 World Ironman Champion
  • Winner of 11 Uncle Toby’s Ironman Races
  • 2010 Queensland Surf Life Saving Coach of the Year
  • 2011 Australian Open Belt Championship
  • Professional Ironman 1992 - 2004

Coaching Career

  • Head Coach Kurrawa Surf Club 2006 – 2013
  • Australian Youth Surf Life Saving Coach – 2013
  • Surf Life Saving Australia Athlete Representative 2010 – 2015
  • Australian Olympic Committee for Open Water – Rio Olympics
  • Burleigh Heads Surf Club Head COACH 2018 – 2020