Back in 2002 long time Essendon Rowing Club member Frank Camiller proposed and sponsored the first Saltwater Challenge as a 4.5 km time trial for quad sculls on the picturesque Maribyrnong River. He envisaged that the event could grow to favourably compare with the famous Head of the Yarra sweep oar race for eights.
The first SWC was run in 2002 with 21 entries and every year since then the event has increased in popularity and has been conducted with increased professionalism. Recent SWC events have attracted elite State representative crews, former Olympians and a steady increase in the number of competitors.
The event has hosted 3 brackets of racing since 2012 and in 2019 hit a record number of 200 entries with 794 competitors.
The Saltwater Challenge is hosted by Essendon Rowing Club.