Daphne the giant blow-up duck had plans of her own on March 11, 2018. She was supposed to be a turn buoy for competitors in the 22nd annual Coogee Jetty to Jetty Swim at Coogee Beach in Perth, Australia. Early in the morning, Peter Marr, event organizer and chairman of Cockburn Masters Swimming Club, put her in the water to prepare, but “but she had other ideas,” he told the BBC. Strong winds pushed her out of his grasp, and within seconds she was off into the Indian Ocean.
The club immediately assembled a search party and published a Facebook post pleading for Daphne’s return, with a modest reward. Valued at about $700, the oversized bath toy was one of the main attractions of the competition. In the game bingo, the number 22 is referred to as “two little ducks.” So to honor the competition’s 22nd year, the club ran with the duck-theme, handing out small rubber duckies and putting Daphne at centerstage. Instead, “we had to blow up another turning buoy, a boring green cone—barely an adequate replacement,” Marr added. “The number of kids who expressed their disappointment added to the angst of losing the duck.”
Two days turned into four, then six, with no trace of Daphne. Reported placed her as far as 270 miles to the north, but then, on the seventh day, Toby Gibb, a local man fishing nearby, found her near Rottnest Island, just west of Perth. She was slightly deflated, but Gibb towed her ashore and kept her for safekeeping. He eventually uncovered the duck’s rightful owner, and is planning to return her to the swimming club this week. The reward? Marr said it will be “a bottle of vodka,” some club gear, and a free pass to next year’s competition.