Stressed Australian bankers shun the pub for the pool

Fri Nov 21, 2008 1:24pm EST
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By Cecile Lefort

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Australian bankers stressed at facing the worst economic crisis in over 80 years are finding a new way to cope rather than drowning their sorrows in the pub -- throwing themselves into biathlons and competitive sports.

As dealmaking dries up amid the economic crisis, stress levels are rising and bankers are finding themselves with more time to leave the office and in need of a dose of adrenaline to replace the buzz of multi-million dollar plays.

Although Australia's economy is faring better than most developed countries, Sydney, one of the most important financial centers in Asia Pacific, has seen a few thousand jobs cut in the past two months, mostly in financial firms.

As the crisis gets worse, bankers are also worried about their annual bonuses.

Matt Anderson, the organizer of a weekly biathlon in Sydney, said there has been a rush of interest in the event that involves a four km run and 300 meter swim at a pool overlooking the city's stunning harbor. Attendance is up 25 percent from a year ago.

Anderson said people were trying to find a balanced life at a time when fears of a global recession were on everyone's mind.

"Doing these activities can get rid of all the stress during this economic uncertainty," Anderson, who runs a sporting event company, told Reuters.

The event, that dates back 15 years and is held every Thursday night during summer, gathers a few hundred professionals, among them lawyers, bankers and accountants.   Continued...

<p>A group of men relaxes after participating in a weekly, after-work biathlon at The Domain adjacent to Sydney's central business district November 20, 2008. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne</p>