Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bar Beach bumpy...

Baths2Bar Swim, Cooks Hill, Sunday, Dec 20, '09

Glistening Dave says: "Sure is crowded up there, if this is what it's like on a cloudy overcast day, what's it like on a hot sunny day? And the built environment, sure blends well with the landscape."

It was a grey and bumpy day... no two strokes were the same, lungsful of ocean at every second stroke, swirling currents, booees you couldn't see, water clear, clean, bit of weed, but it became opaque when we blundered into a rip. Around the last booee -- the only booee of any size, but in a pale yellow, it faded into the background of the white-capped, tossing sea -- we came in through a rip. Most booees, one saw only incidentally.

Person against the sea. 

In through the rip, the more experienced reported: "I was watching the bottom sliding under me the wrong way!" Goodness knows what the Back of the Packers must have thought, a good many of whom had to be pulled out or otherwise assisted from the water.
But that's Bar Beach. It's always problematical, wide open to the sou' and sou'-east, usually difficult in some way, often in many ways. Tide was up, and there were frequent larger sets coming through, but they were breaking into plenty of water. Only problem was the current, the currents.
Always interesting to do a new swim. Special treat at the end: the Cooks Hill surf clubbers had rigged up a diesel generated heater, connected the mains water through it, and we all had hot showers right there on the beach. Lovely touch.

Pics by Mrs Sparkle and os.c, photograrphs by Glistening Dave

Monday, December 14, 2009

Why do some swimmers cark it?

Gidday to our ocean swimming friends from the other side of the ditch (or "dutch" to use the correct Kiwi pronunciation)
I did the Russell to Paihia swim in the Bay of Islands and met Paul and a few other folk there. Just before the swim began we were talking about why some people pass away during swims. This is a serious topic of conversation and, as a High School Science Teacher, I have a hypothesis as to why some of the fatalities occur on the finish line. My hypothesis goes as follows:
Swimming is quite tough and it is pretty fair to assume that the heart rates go quite high. When the finish line comes in sight, some swimmers are tempted to give it a bit of "grunt" for the last little bit. This puts stress on an already hardworking heart. Then, at the end, the swimmer changes her or his body posture from horizontal to vertical as they leave the water and this puts the head about a half a metre above the heart instead of at the same height. The implication of this is that the blood pressure to the head drops (hence the dizziness we feel when we exit the water) and the heart has to work harder (when it might already be a maximum). I think this might be a causal factor in some of the deaths at the finish line. I have no ability to test this hypothesis but I thought I'd advance it for further discussion and perusal, possibly by medical researchers who could investigate further.
If a bit of email "chatter" can contribute to a possible reduction in the number of deaths then it is worth bouncing these ideas around for a bit.
Cheers and thanks
Tony ("Haggis") Henderson
a non-wetsuit swimmer from NZ

We met Haggis at the start of the Bay of Islands swim in Russell on Saturday. Talk about personality filling a void! But we also know that his contribution is inspired by the knowledge that the NZ ocean swim series has lost four swimmers in the last four years: one each year. This can happen, of course, and we are lucky that we haven't had similar issues in Stray'a. But that's what's behind it: os.c

Big day at Billy, history in Bay of Islands...

It was a big day at Bilgola, we hear, although we weren't there ourselves. We're told there were around 750 mugs there -- a big increase on last year. Well deserved, too, although as our antagonist, Glistening Dave, pointed out to us, "Billy is in danger of losing its status as a boutique swim."

We did hear disturbing reports, from two sources., of argy bargy in the laydees elites The reports put it that one elite laydee hit another over the head and ripped off her goggles. Not the kind of behaviour we expect of elite laydees, and very disappointing to hear . We reckon these races should be contests of swimming ability, not of wrestling or extra-curricular aggression. If you want to behave like that, we say, stay at home.

Anyway, tell us all about it... Click "Comments" below to leave your contribution.

We were in New Zealand at the Bay of Islands swim, the first of its kind from Russell, formerly known, in early colonial days, as "the hell hole of the Pacific", now as "Romantic Russell". Sounds like a marketer's tag line. But it certainly is a beautiful place. The swim ran across the bay to Paihia, which abuts Waitangi, where NZ nationhood was born in 1840. Such a beautiful place. And much more peaceful there now than when the oppressive Britishi imperialist colonialists were suppressing the Maori tribes.

We'll have more complete reports on both swims, but tell us what you thought in the meantime...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Whitehaven a buzz...

The Byron Bay / White Haven Swim Party 2009 touring group will be returning for next year's event, with extras, we all had so much fun. The Island staff and event coordinators were very helpful to all competitors. This is what the Island does, manage events and very successfully.

Brunswick Heads' The Sportsmistress achieves a lifelong dream - being hugged by Peter "el Diablo" McCormick. Who's the other cove, on whose torso The Sportsmistress has scribbled hastily her phone, email and other contact details, as husband, Mr Lionel, is about to be put away for a few days for a knee replacement? Hey, it was Movember.

After a short ferry ride to White Haven, we alighted onto the beach to prepare for the swim and listen to the race briefing. Both the 750m and 2k started at the same time, with the 750m swimmers walking down the beach to line up with the far turning buoy, and commence their swim by rounding it and then swimming parallel to the beach to the last buoy and finish. For the 2k competitors it did not pay to be timid when rounding the first buoy, which was about 50m off shore, especially when there are seasoned triathletes amongst us. The field soon spread out. Overall male winner was Ky Hurst - 23:11 and female Kylee Muldoon 25:26.
The presentation dinner was enjoyed by all competitors, with generous prizes for the Overall and Age Group Winners.

Byron Bay touring team at Whitehaven Beach. They reckon they'll be back.

Byron Bay, Balmoral and North Sydney Masters were well represented and I am sure will be bring bigger contingents next year.
In the women's 50+, Byron Bay made a clean sweep with 1st, 2nd and 3rd, and last, 2nd last and 4th last, well represented at both ends. We all had fun.
Congratulations the Peter MacCormick, Balmoral, winner 50+. See you next year at White Haven.
Hamiltion Island Triathlon started very early on Sunday morning. Another exceptionally well run event. The Byron Bay Swim Party group were out in force, vocally supporting elite and age group competitors. We are sure Courtney Atkinson, Belinda and Justin Granger, Miles Stewart and Paul from Townsville (hi Paul) all appreciated our support.
To Glenn Bourke, CEO, Hamilton Island Enterprises Ltd........... We'll be back.
Alexandra Evans
(with the Byron Bay/White Haven Swim Party 2009)

A very pleased Neil McDonald, from the Hamilton Island organisers, tells us: "The swim went fantastic. We ended up having to turn people away because the boat was full. We had 140 competitors and around 70 or so spectators who specifically went to watch their partners.
I have never seen so many BIG WIDE SMILES after an ocean swim. The venue certainly helped but the event did look first class.
Well, that is my opinion and many comments were similar, so I hope it true."

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Swell day, mozaic of currents from Bondi to Bronte...

Almost perfect day to swim from Bondi to Bronte... a bit of swell at the start, easy but lively water, a brisk current running off Mackenzies Point, whisking us into Bronte, a very high tide to provide a cushion under those swells at the finish, the Bronte Express running apace, making the negotiation between the currents and the reef a mind game -- we've never seen so little sand at Bronte: there was reef all the way across the beach from the official reef at the southern end. And the famous Bronte shorebreak crashing onto the sand.
All of which made the funnel into the beach from out the back a narrow one, indeed. Stimulating from start to finish.

Around Mackenzies Point, a bloke mug chases a laydee.

Bronte is one of the most dangerous beaches in Sydney, particularly so when you're coming in from behind a break that you haven't seen. Even on days of small swell, this is beach is a maze of currents and shifting sandbanks. When the swell gets up, as it did on swim day -- cushioned by a 1.9 metre tide - it can be a nightmare. It often looked benign as the peloton threaded through the currents and amongst the reefs to shore. But every now and again, a set came through. And, if you were out there amongst it, you got a better feel for how big they were and how much power they carried. There could have been a disaster at Bronte, but the Bronte water safety people were very attentive and professional at watching the mob, picking the ones who needed help, and shepherding the crowd onto the beach. They did a very good job.

A lovely, lovely day. But a crowded imbroglio on the promenade at the finish. There's little enough space up there on the best of days without all those commercial interests thrusting themselves into your face.
Excellent gear management, again. They do a good job, here, too of collecting your gear at Bondi, loading them into a truck and the Waverley Council happy bus, and unloading them in Bronte Park in neat lines, allowing the arrivistes to mooch along, between the lines, across and aback the park, picking out which bags you'd like, preferably your own.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

North Curly - Swim meets grim

The 3 Points Challenge at North Curl Curl is one of those rare events when two sports of different culchas meet -- ocean swimmers and triathletes, or, more correctly, aquathletes, since there are just swim and run legs. They are different culchas, one epitomised by paunchy bellies, budgies and swim caps, the other by bright, colourful uniforms with sponsors signage plastered all over their nether regions, and grim faces. One thing we will say for aquathlon is the running rips the weight off you much quicker than swimming, and the grim, taut smiles on the aquathletes faces testify to this: gaunt, boney, whippets, they are. Unlike all us middle-aged mugs who wallow in the sea until we're washed back in by the surf.

Will we or won't we? The show of hands went up when os.c spotted two blueys in the break near the starting line at North Curly, prompting this spontaneous act of democracy.

Another thing we can say, however, is that ocean swimmers, as a race, human race, swim better than aquathletes/triathletes, many of whom appear lost without their wetties. But they run better than us, those of us who do run, who ain't many of us. The other source of smugness we take is that it costs much less to get into ocean swimming than it does into aquathlon/triathlon: they have to spend thousands to equip themselves, so they must take themselves very, very seriously, indeed. And, in the end, when their knees give in, their shoulders give up, their hips are into the second replacements, they will come to ocean swimming, which is much kinder on the ageing body than the constant jarring and muscle tightening of the road sports.

Killer's Wingman, Paul Mitchell, came down from Murwillumbah for the V8 Rockapes at Homebush Bay, er, the 3 Points Challenge at North Curly. Just goes to show: anyone can do this sport. Wingman and Killer have a personal trainer known as "The Cockatoo", for his hairstyle. (If this is not the Wingman, we apologise. Looks like him, though.)

It was a lovely day at North Curly. We were alarmed when we spotted two blueys mooching about in the break right on the shore by the starting line, but there was nothing out the back or around behind the headland, apart from clean, bumpy water.
Not hard to see why this event zooms up in numbers each year: the aquathlon part of it is unusual, with the run interspersed with three short swims, and now the ocean swim takes us north around the headland towards DY: not just another circuit on a familiar beach.

Where do they get all these characters? And this is just the Prepubescent Boofheads Wave in the 3 Points Challenge. The real Boofheads - Killer's wave - was still to come, not to mention the Fragrant Wave.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Hustle and Bustle of Oceanwims

There's been a fair bit of comment of late on the subject of , how should we say; over enthusiastic swimming tactics such as scratching, grabbing, kicking and just plain swimming over the top of one another, particularly around the buoys.

One point of view is that oceanswims are like some sort of marine love-in, and should be an aquatic stroll in the park. Of course there are those who are diametrically opposed to this and for the most part have far less to say on the matter; possibly because they are the accused kickers and scratchers. But they may well be the silent majority.

Whilst I respect the right of quiet enjoyment of an oceanswim for those who so desire, 'tis not really an opinion that I subscribe to. I make no secret of the fact that I enjoy a bit of slap and tickle at the start and around the cans, but despite being a self declared slow but strong swimmer, I have an uncommon fear and loathin for breast strokers at any close proximity. I've always reckoned that if you want to breast stroke or don't like the rough and tumble, then you can always start at the back or your group and swim wide of the peloton round the cans.

Sure there are the elites; cyborgs, supermodels and circus freaks who tear off on there own at a cracking pace and can kick and scratch each other to their hearts' content. But there are many fellow oceanswimmers, who like me mostly race against the clock, constantly trying to improve upon there last performance in each event, using their brains as much as their brawn to efficiently navigate an otherwise tricky course, seasonally adjusting times to account for the conditions of the day or the variations in course layout, and occasionally having a bit of a match race with their contemporaries. Then of course there is the Hahn SuperDry Series where swimmers of slightly higher calibre can win something extrinsic as well as intrinsic for their efforts.

As long as such an esprit de corps exists in ocean swimming we are bound to have varying levels of competitive vigour and proficiency that transgress the categories of age and gender, and as such will always have traffic problems as swimmers pass one another. Perhaps swimmers should be categorised going on past performance with all novices at the back, as some races already do? But then all you need is one burglar to be a ring in for the first time and you have a cat amongst the pigeons again. There was plenty of that action goin on and the associated whinging thereafter at the inaugural (by posponement) Tama to Cloey race last season. And if you over categorise the swims, the large ones will take all day to be done; as is already the case down at Lorne where you have to take a cut lunch with you while you wait to start.

So perhaps Mr Os.c, you can knock up one of those votin thingies on the subject of kickin n scratchin etc.

Should over entusiastic swimmers just chill a bit?
Should the slower swimmers just toughen up or swim wide?
Should swims be categorised by pace and not age and gender?
Should swims be categorised more or less?
Should breast stokers have their feet amputated? Ok, I spoze that's goin a bit far coz their boney stumps would hurt even more when they kick ya.

Maybe you can improve upon this guvna?

And maybe youz, Oceanswimmers the lot of yuz, can have yer two blob's worth on the subject too?

David Love.

Monday, November 30, 2009

10 great ocean swimming icons...

WA-based Brett McCarthy posted this list during the off-season, with a view to prompting debate. There were 9 responses at the time, but we reckon it's probably a debate better run now, as the season really gets moving. We figure, too, that the debate at the time may have confused "icon" swims with "favourite" swims. Easily done.
Check the original debate below (you'll need to go into the stored blogs area at the bottom).
Coogee yesterday got us thinking about it, but, and we really think you have to include Wedding Cake Island amongst any list of icons. It really stands out...
So, read Brett's blob and tell us what you think (click the Comments link below).

Everyone would have a different view on this and much of that would depend on what part of the country you live in and how many swims you’ve done. My list has been compiled from swims I’ve done (5 of the 10) and from what I’ve read about the other swims. I suppose it takes into account a whole lot of factors including the course (very important), how many people do the swim each year, how long it has been going for and its historical significance.
1. Rottnest Channel Swim
2. The Big Swim - Palm to Whale Beach
3. Cole Classic, Manly
4. Pier to Pub, Lorne
5. Bondi to Bronte
6. Dawny Cockatoo Island Classic
7. Busselton Jetty Swim, WA
8. Swim Thru Perth, Barrack St Jetty to Matilda Bay
9. Byron Bay
10. Magnetic Island Townsville

Brett McCarthy

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Coogee shows what it can do...

We have fond memories of Coogee. At a surf carnival there in 1974, we saw the duty boat at the end of the day catch the wave of the day, with a crew all drunk, and a boat sweep steering them down the biggest wave of the day with one hand on the sweep oar, the other holding a can of beer. The boat did a magnificent bottom turn in front of the wave, which then rolled it over. When it came up again, the crew was gone, but the sweep was still there, one arm over the quarter bar, the other still holding the can of beer.
The sweep's name was Sticks. He was the most unathletic-looking boatie: pallid complection, withered arms and legs, no definition, and a pit belly. But he was a very good sweep. And he got the biggest cheer of the day. Ah, boaties!

And we used to call the steps of the Oceanic Hotel Lourdes, because miracles happened there. After eastern suburbs surf carnivals, we'd head for the Oceanic, now replaced by the Crowne Plaza, and we'd re-row all the races we'd rowed that day. But, this time, we'd win them! So we called the steps, Lourdes.
Ah, boaties!
At the end of a simply perfect day today, Clovelly swimmer Graham Brewer said to us, "At last, Coogee shows what it has to offer..." It was just the perfect day. Gentle breeze at the outset, turning direction during the 1km swim to come from the nor'-west, so we're into it coming back from the island. But the swells, what swells there were, still picked us up, threw us forward into the breeze, and we kept coming. There was a little current out the back, not much, and not much compared with what Coogee can turn on out the back of the island.
And what about those jelly blubbers behind the island! Like swimming through half-set jelly. Surreal. It was a Dali swim. But they gave you something to grab.
A vignette from Mrs Sparkle, who spent the day seated on the steps above the presentation area, and who witnessed a woman in her 30s walk by the prize table and casually take one of the prize Coogee towels. Then, a few seconds later, three blokes did the same thing, but this time they were caught. All put the towels back, although one of them had wiped his face with it in the meantime. But the woman got away. Some people are grubs, and smart arses.
Our only complaint, and we make it every year: we hate conical booeys. When you're a swimmer, you need to see the fat part of the booeys. But with conical booeys, the fat part is at the bottom, and from the water, you just can't see it. The rest of the booeys, all the way up to the fine sharpened tips, are useless completely. At least they're better than the Bondi-Bronte booeys, which not only are conical, but also coloured either white or mauve. Go figure.
And the booeys were set a long way out from the island. We know the Coogee people have an eye for safety, and they otherwise run a very good swim. But it would be nice to get closer to the island.
But what a luvverly day. And we got home, tired but...

PS: Late Sunday, early Monday, we received an email from Sabine Braun, a German photographer, sojourning in Sydney. Check out Sabine's photo gallery from Coogee... (click here)

PPS BTW, don't be fooled: the next oceans swim in Sydney is not Bondi-Bronte, it's North Curl Curl on Saturday which, if conditions permit, offers a beautiful journey along the cliff towards Dee Why and back again. Water in which you'd never otherwise get to swim in the warmer months. It is a truly beautiful swim. Get down to North Curly. See for entry and info.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Amazing PB at Dawny

Wow, what an amazing swim. Who would have believed a fat old Pom could put in a month of solid training and zoom up the field from his usual finish in the bottom 20% to come 54th out of 270 and 5th in the old fart section.

And as Dawny was the first in the Hahn series what a chance to get a head start on the field.

If only it wasn't for my obviously faulty Timex.

My official time of 37.20, give or take, was a fabulous PB, especially compared to last year's 1.00.44 - almost twice as fast.

Even the obviously inaccurate time on my wrist watch, 50.30, was a huge improvement, but if the organisers want to give me 37.20 who am I to contradict them?


OK Paul, when putting together the Hahn league tables I guess you'd better use my Timex generated time rather than the wonderfully flattering official one. Just remember this when my wristwatch shows a time that's a lot slower than the official one.


Steve Hall

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gems of ocean swimming priced out of the sport

When I did my first ocean swim (at Shellharbour), I had done the required 2kms in a swimming pool - but that's a very different kettle of fish from swimming in the ocean. When we got to the starting line, I seriously considered pulling out.
The gun went off and I watched the pack disappear out of the harbour and turn left to make their way up the coast. When I got to the edge of the sea-wall , I panicked at the row of buoys that stretched way up to next the beach. Another swimmer appeared next to me, a woman who introduced herself as Sybil. She chatted about the fish below, suggested I take my time, and talked about why she liked to do these swims (she has done every one she possibly can). We swam and chatted for the next 30 minutes and made our way eventually to the finish line.
Yesterday I took my sister-in-law (from the U.S) to Manly for a swim. There was heaps of seaweed, so I went to the change rooms to remove the kilo of kelp in my cossie. 'Ace Cleaning' were hosing out the change rooms and while I was waiting I started to chat to another woman.
I realised as I talked to her that she was Sybil, the woman who had guided me on my first ocean swim at Shellharbour three or four years ago. I asked when her next swim was, but she said she can probably not afford (as a pensioner) to enter these races anymore (Bondi-Bronte entry cost is $46).
Maybe there can be a special rate for pensioners - or a lifelong membership after a certain number of races have been entered. Can this be considered?
Kathie Mason

Sybil Walsh, Miss Finland, is one of our gems. Such a shame that some organisers are pushing entry costs up to quite unreasonable levels. Fairfax has priced the Cole way out of the price range of some swimmers, and Bondi-Bronte has followed suit. One unreasonable price does not allow others to lift their entry fees to unreasonable levels in pursuit, as if to hide behind the first.

Some swims have lower entry rates for older swimmers. Maybe others should look at doing the same: os.c

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sweltering on the beach, boardwalk...

It was sweltering on the beach at Toowoon Bay on Saturdee, and on the boardwalk at the Dawny pool in Balmain on Sunday. Flat conditions in the sea, clear water, at Toowoon Bay, and calm in the harbour off Balmain.
Tell us what you thought about the Toowoon Bay Ocean Swim and Dawny's Cockatoo Challenge...
Dawny was Race 1 in the Hahn Super Dry Fine Ocean Swimmers Series 2009/10, now supported, too, by Olympus Imaging and by View Swim Gear.
Click the comments link below to make your contribution...

 Pics here by Sevadevi.

Tired old bugger.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Missing the sights in Hong Kong...

Hong Kong – Ah! - Not somewhere many an ocean swimmer would put on their list as a place to venture – until now!
With the recent aftermath of two typhoons and coming from a so called clean & green country (NZ) I was not expecting too much in the way of water quality.

On the morning of October 10th – 4 solo, 1 duo and 41 teams headed from Stanley Beach towards Round Island before our long swim to the finish of Deepwater Bay some 15kms away. Air temp 30 C, water temp 27 C; it was like swimming in a large warm bath.

Our first turning marker some 2.1/2km from the start was a rather large shipping buoy (certainly no cheating here) whereupon we found two vibrant trumpet players, Kai & Michal. These guys were also station at different island spots along the course.

We hit a few swells heading for Round Island; apart from that it was pretty smooth swimming. Being a solo and left side breather I missed much of the amazing scenery, and was relying on my outrigger support crew Lister to take lots of photos as well as keeping me out of trouble, supplying drinks and updating me on what was happening around me.

The reception at Deepwater Bay was greatly received by all, especially by this solo swimmer, and despite the poor water visibility the one and only thing I ran into was a JELLYFISH.

The day finished with a meal and gathering at a local outrigger club. I had no idea that there were so many NZers, Aussies, Brits and Americans enjoying the good life of Asia.

This Ocean swim was organised by DougWoodring who runs “Project Kaisei”, his mission - to clean up the Plastic Vortex that’s ruining our Pacific Ocean. Check out his website and see how we can all help, I still have many an ocean I wish to cross.

Heather Osborne - kiwi ocean swimmer

Monday, November 16, 2009

Penrith Berry Rickards 5k Endurance Swim

This is a great open water swim.
A race against the clock for the youngsters, and a test of endurance for the oldies.
A perfect day out West yesterday morning, not a breath of wind on the mirrored lake surface. The water was a little weedy as you would expect in fresh water, otherwise clean and not too warm.
Congratulations to all who completed their first 5k endurance swim or 10k swim-through.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Canberra Lake Burley Griffin - A Personal Challenge

Spot the Newbie

Scrivener Dam after Sunrise

On Sunday 8th November 2009, I swam the length of Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra in the Sri Chinmoy National Capital Swim. A distance of 9k.
It was the first time I attempted to swim this distance.
I finished 7th in my category, solo swimmers under 50 no wetsuit, and 11th overall (out of 11 solo no wetsuit finishers!)
All solo finishers were presented with trophies, so it was also my first trophy for an open water swim.
Thanks to excellent help from my paddler Peter, some great coaching and endurance training from Coach Chad, and priceless advice on long-distance swimming from Helen, there was never a time when I doubted that I would complete the race.
My time 3:45:37 was 10 minutes under the target time I had set myself for the race.
It was a lovely swim and conditions on the day were perfect.
This is a great annual event, and was very well run by the Sri Chinmoy Race Team.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Orgy of punting crowds out genuine sports

The orgy of coverage of Tuesday's Melbourne Cup in today's media is nauseating, not least the incident immediately after the race when a PR flack gratuitously assaulted the winning trainer to get a sponsor's cap on his head. Even worse, this fawning media coverage virtually took over the sporting sections of the nation's newspapers.

When will the media accept that racing -- gallopers, pacers, and dogs -- is not sport. It's a profession, a trade and a business for trainers and hoops and for a very limited circle of professional punters. It should not take up space in the sporting section. Punters who like to describe themselves as "sportsmen", as is the tradition, are fooling themselves. Have a look at your typical punter: pudgy, ruddy, unfit, gasping and chronically desperate.

Racing and punting are spectator pastimes. Much like the opera or music, or the stock market. Indeed, I can see no difference between punting on the nags and the dishlickers and punting on stocks. Both are dodgy, motivated by greed, and subject to the goodwill and bad faith of the pecunious and powerful. Both rely on the quality of information to the market, and both are found wanting regularly when dodgy operators are exposed.

Indeed, that's where turf coverage should be placed: in the Finance section, where it should be subject to listings, quotations and analysis and regulation like any other form of market punting. There is no difference between them.

Racing should not crowd out genuine sports in the nation's media.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Taste of the Yasawas...

We'll have more on Mana Fiji and on the Yasawas Swim Cruise very soon, but in the meantime, here are some morsels from our favourite staff photodrunk, Glistening Dave...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Rum chowder at World Masters bay, but Forries a treat...

Bad news reached us from Chowder Bay, whilst on our way to Forresters Beach for the first ocean swim of the NSW season: the World Masters 3km Open Water had been called off, apparently because the water was too cold. That must have been news to the organisers, who must have been the only people with an interest in the event who didn't know that the water temp in Sydney Harbour at that time of year usually is a little Melbourne-like. We felt sorry for all you lot who paid your $220 mainly to do the open water swim. We know some who did no other event, just entered in the OW swim. Poor bugger me, Tacoma Jim. We gather others were put out like that, too.

But we couldn't be fussed with that. We'd made our call long ago, after the World Masters OW near Melbourne in 2002 that was run in a muddy bath at Hazelwood Pondage. It's a power station cooling pond. Mrs Sparkle became very sick from it. But that's also the problem, perhaps, with running open water swims according to FINA rules, for we were told, as well, that the ruling followed FINA rules. That is the beauty of ocean swimming, of course: that we aren't bound by silly rules like that that take no account of the mood of the peloton or give mugs themselves the opportunity to voice their view of make a choice of their own. Most punters, we'd wager, would have swum anyway, as many did informally. At least give the officials on the ground the latitude to make their own decisions.

Meanwhile, we had a lovely day at Forresters Beach. Conditions were a little blustery, with a swell running and sets making it interesting over the reefs at the right, left and in the middle of the course. The water was clear, though, and filled with those translucent jelly blubbers that make you feel as if you're swimming through blancmange. They don't sting, however. They just make the swim surreal. Water temp was 18-19C, probably closer to 19. Altogether, it really was a lovely and an interesting swim.

There was a big crowd there, too. Probably three times the size of last year. When we arrived, 45 minutes before swim start, the car park was almost full. There was a queue for entries, which we've never seen there before.

The boys (see them above). Indeed, the boys with the buoys. One observation that might be made is that the Forries guys need to get themselves some decent marker booeys for this swim. It heads around the reef, and it's easy to get lost in several breaks and bomboras on the way. We saw only two booeys on the way around, one of them after we'd passed it. Of course, we went back and rounded it properly.Only one was easy to see, and you can see why...
We had five of our booeys in a car boot in the car park. They would have been welcome to them had they asked.

The great thing about this swim is that it's informal, relaxed and friendly. It's easy to be like that with a small swim, of course. And that, too, is another reason why it is so nice.
Forresters is run at this time each year, so keep your eye out for next year's date, and get yourselves up there, or down there, or from wherever. It well be worth it, if not for the sake of this swim, but for the sake of your own piece of mind... as Eric Burdon would have said.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cole Classic earlybird... A joke?

You reported with great diplomacy but $47 for an early bird entry to a swim is a joke.
 For me after last year and the mayhem at the Cole, I can think of better ways to spend the money and the time so I will probably bypass it this year.

Keep up the good work.

 Bob Bowden

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The 10 greatest ocean swimming icons...

Everyone would have a different view on this and much of that would depend on what part of the country you live in and how many swims you’ve done. My list has been compiled from swims I’ve done (5 of the 10) and from what I’ve read about the other swims. I suppose it takes into account a whole lot of factors including the course (very important), how many people do the swim each year, how long it has been going for and its historical significance.

1. Rottnest Channel Swim
2. The Big Swim - Palm to Whale Beach
3. Cole Classic, Manly
4. Pier to Pub, Lorne
5. Bondi to Bronte
6. Dawny Cockatoo Island Classic
7. Busselton Jetty Swim, WA
8. Swim Thru Perth, Barrack St Jetty to Matilda Bay
9. Byron Bay
10. Magnetic Island Townsville

Brett McCarthy

Friday, October 2, 2009

Fat, Forty and faster! It could be you.

WARNING: Unless you are on the whale ship Nisshin Maru at present, some images may be offensive.

Stuck with that same old PB?  
Tried everything to beat it?
Even swimming endless laps with the oh-so-charismatic John Capon?  

Well, my friends, help is at hand. It's ancient, it's salty and it's just a long flight away.

You see, on a recent trip to Israel for a film shoot (insert ad-wanker joke here) I had a day off to go down to the Dead Sea. It's about a 2 hour drive from Tel Aviv and well worth it. Actually visiting Israel in general is well worth it as it is an amazing place, especially if you like girls carrying sub-machine guns. 

Like most of you I guess , going for a 'float' in the Dead Sea was something I really wanted to try while over there.  So I packed my Icebergs budgies ( which are handy in Israel as you really CAN tell what religion you are if you have them on)  and off I went.

Now here's the good part. You really do float WAY on top of the water. It's freaky. Naturally, being so salty there are plenty of signs saying don't put your head underwater etc etc  So when the lifeguard (what, do people float to death?) came over I expected the worse. But no, he was an Aussie and had noticed the Bergs' swimmers. We got talking and he asked me if I wanted to do a timed fifty? Hell, yes.

I got a dive off the rocks and swam to the 50 metre buoy in 27.2 seconds. At least 3 seconds faster than my best. 

No wetsuit, no fast-suit, no drugs, just a PB at 40 y.o in plain old water.

For the technicians out there, I can tell you it was exhausting. You can't get your kick down into the water at all and you waste a lot of energy trying to. Your arms arms, though , can slice through and really pull you along quick, and way above the water. 

So, there you have it. If you are in fading years you can still set a P.B no matter how old you are.
Good Luck.

P.S - By the time you read this Cyril will have booked a ticket.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

You lookin' at me, IMG?

It's a shame really, because I rather enjoyed the Bondi to Bronte swim, but I've decided to boycott all swims that contract IMG in preference to for their on-line entries.

You've put your (rather considerable) guts into promoting ocean swims and it's a true passion for you. You're at as many swims as you can physically get to, you write lengthy (some would say rambling but I'd never say that) reports, take great pictures and you are a genuine and long-term enthusiastic advocate for the sport of ocean swimming.

I wouldn't have become as involved in the sport as I am without your website and your enthusiasm and I'm sure that's true for many other swimmers. In fact I truly believe that your website has at least doubled the number of participants in the sport in Sydney, probably elsewhere as well.

Competition is supposed to be good but I don't want some johnny come lately corporate entity "dominating" the sport of ocean swimming and squeezing out genuine people like you who've given so much to the sport.

And I call on all other lovers of ocean swimming to follow my example. Swim organisers, chooce whoever you want to use to promote tyour events - but don't expect me and other fans to turn up if you screw with the web site and the person that made it all happen in the first place.

People power (or swimmer power) rules, ok!

Steve Hall

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sydney 2009 World Masters Games

The start list for the Sydney World Masters Games Open Water Swim 17/10/2009 is available to registered entrants.
Entries have already closed 31st July.
3k open water swim around Chowder Bay, 2 laps and an in-water start & finish.
Looks like a tight rectangular course, 4 x 90-degree turns on each of the 2 laps.
For those swimmers who were not put off by the higher entry fee, or the cooler water or the prospect of swimming off Clifton Gardens, it should be a big event.
Total 660 starters split over 6 waves, so expect some jostling for position at the start and around the buoys.
Link to the Event Swimming & Open Water Swimming Guide ..
The ruling on wetsuits seems to be fair "Wetsuits may be worn ... however the competitor will NOT be eligible for a medal."
No mention of FINA open water swimming rules regarding obstruction & interference with other swimmers, I guess common sense will prevail on the day.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Just swam Alcatraz... on study tour of US health care reform...

... for the first time ... perfect conditions: hardly any breeze, glassy surface, no chop, except from the occasional passing fishing boat, water c. 17C, little current, since he tide was just on the turn. More coming...

Here's os.c (left), just in the process of escaping from Alcatraz...

There is a fellow swimmer, not sure whom, ditto escaping... there 's much pressure for the group to swim together, so the incoming tankers and bulk carriers don't have to swerve too much to get into the port...

And here we are (below) with our cobber, Gary Emich, organiser of the Alcatraz Challenge Aquathlon, taking us, with his wife, Peg, who took the pic, on a tour of some of the San Francisco area's more spectacular but inaccessible (to pedestrians) topological highlights...

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fathers Day Swim at Burleigh Heads ...

The Burleigh Heads organisers sent us this report from yesterday's swim...

Ironman legend Dean Mercer (that's Deano, at right, leading the field home... Looks like there was a bit of a wave on at Burleigh...) has shown he has still got what it takes to mix it with the best, not only in Surf Life Saving but also ocean swimming, after winning both the one and two kilometer events in the inaugural Burleigh Ocean Swim today.

Dean Mercer, who has recently relocated from Mooloolaba to Northcliffe, trailed up and coming Ocean swimming star Codie Grimsey for most of the two kilometer race, but Mecer’s years of surf swimming experience paid off, he caught a late wave to beat home the 25 year old from Brisbane.

“Conditions were fantastic out there, it was great to have an event like this to train for ahead of the Coolangatta Gold. It was also great my three young boys could be here to watch me, especially being Father’s Day, what a way to spend the day,” Mercer said.

“I was really lucky to get that little wave at the end, I’m really pleased I’m still up there with these younger guys. I still have a bit of work to do now though ahead of next month’s Gold.” Grimsey finished second while Dev Lahey also from Northcliffe came in third.

“I really thought I had him, to race against a legend like Mercer was fantastic, but he got a sneaky wave and all I could do was watch him cross the line. I definitely need more surf training,” Grimsey, who is a member of the Australian Telstra Dolphins development squad, said.

Mercer also backed up with a win in the one kilometer race, beating home 19 year old clubmate Dev Lahey, and Codie Grimsey who was again unlucky finishing in third.

The men’s Dash for Cash saw a five way race for the $500, while Mercer was amongst the mix, it was 16 year old Lennox Heads rising surf star Hayden Thomas who emerged from the water first, dashing across the line to snatch the cash.

“I wasn’t going to do this race because I was pretty buggered from doing the two kilometer race earlier, but stoked now I’ve got $500 bucks in my pocket, might be able to get Dad something now,” Thomas joked.

Nerang swimmer Kate Brookes-Peterson, 25, took a clean sweep of the women’s races, winning all three elite events, the one and two kilometer swim as well as the dash for cash.

“I am heading over to Dubai in about six weeks for several World Cup open water swimming races, so the $1,500 I won today will come in really handy,” Kate said.

“I was really nervous when I saw Hayley Bateup at the start of the two kilometer race, but I have been training very hard and finishing 8th in the World Championships in Rome recently has given me a lot of confidence.”

Miami Pro Ma swimmer Laura Baker,15, finished in second in all three women’s elite events, while Katlin Zillman finished third in the two kilometer, and Kurrawa’s Samantha Burley, 14, finished third in the one kilometer, while local girl Miranda Davies came third in the Dash for Cash.

“We had over 400 entrants, from ages12 to 60, it was a great success, and we just hope everyone will come back next year. It will definitely become a regular event on our calendar,” Michael Boyce, President Burleigh Heads Mowbray Park SLSC, added.

We're hoping the organisers also will send us full results. Tell us what you thought of the Burleigh swims... Did you take a pic or two at the swim? Click the comments button below and tell us about it, or show us, and don't forget to tell us who you are...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Gold Coast Weekend ...

I'm heading to the Gold Coast this weekend to get me some of that hot QLD weather and warm water.
Have entered the Burleigh Ocean Swim Sunday 6th Sept.

I'm looking to do a couple of early morning training swims Saturday & Monday - ocean or pool.

I'll be hanging out in front of the Burleigh Heads SLSC early (from 7am) Saturday morning and probably the Burleigh Heads SLSC Sports Bar Saturday nite. Showing my colours - any Sydney ocean swim Tshirt.

I'll be staying somewhere in the vicinity and have transport.

If anyone is interested in joining me for a swim, please email me or pick me out on the day.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

World (pool) Swim Champs ... Joke or Farce?

Into Day 2 of the World (pool) Swimming Championships, and world records are dropping like nine-pins. Even some of the world "record" breakers say the hi-tech suits they're using are responsible, and that they should be banned.

We wonder: what's the point of watching, of paying attention? What's the value of a world record that's artificially supported? How do they compare with the existing records now being broken?

Tell us what you think (hit the comments button below), and vote in our poll (see left) ...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Winter games ...

As winter slowly passes on and I dream of another great season of ocean swims, I woke up in the middle of the night thinking of an idea, as one does. Punters can contribute to a blog to finish the following sentence:-

You know you’ve done plenty of ocean swims when ……. Eg ... You know you’ve done plenty of ocean swims when Siberians take out a salt mining lease on your ears.

Over to you ...

John Bamberry

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Is this a joke, or what?

I am not alone in branding the decision by FINA, swimming's world governing body, to allow all fastskin suits as a joke. What I also cannot accept is their reasoning: essentially, that it's simply too hard to prove that a handful of suits may or may not have particular properties that assist the swimmer through the water.

FINA says all suits will be allowed provided they are available to all. They should have said, available to all who can afford them or have access to them under sponsor constraints. Richer countries and swimmers do; poorer countries and swimmers don't.

The far simpler, fairer response from FINA would have been to ban them all, every last one of them, requiring all swimmers to use just your conventional sluggoes (for blokes) and armless, legless versions for ladies. We have a useful definition in ocean swimming that FINA is welcome to adopt. Then, at least, we would get a contest amongst athletes, not their sponsors and their suits.

World swimming is a joke, a hopeless joke. And that's such a pity, because its athletes, by and large, are wonderful.

And when a sport pays greater heed to sponsors and their money, than to creating the environment for fair and even competition, then it is no longer a sport.

It's good that we in ocean swimming are not constrained by such hare-brained decision-making. No-one is the boss of us.

Vale, pool swimming as a credible sport.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Mona Vale Cold Water Classic ... The Solstice Swim ...

Lovely day at Mona Vale in the 1st inaugural Cold Water Classic. As expected, the water wasn't that cold, but there was a nice wave on to spice things up, forcing the organisers to reverse the course, starting in Bongin Bongin Bay and heading around the rock shelf to Mona Vale beach proper. Water was around 20 deg C, and the sun came out. And when the sun came it, wasn't it such a balmy, warm day! 278 entries before the day and around 270 swam, as we understand it.

But tell us what you thought ... Click the Comments link below to leave your comments, and please remember to leave your name on your blob ...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Big River Man ...

In recent newsletters, we've mentioned the story of Martin Strel, who swam over 5,000km down the Amazon in 2007. We swam with Martin last weekend, and we're preparing a report on him to be posted soon on We also have received an email from Bob Cope, who also saw the movie, Big River Man, at the Sydney Film Festival ...

I'm a long time ocean swimmer of 66 years, eg did the Alcatraz two years ago.

We also viewed 'Big River Man' at the Sydney film festival. I'm not sure you should more or less endorse it, at least without cautions. The film production was very ordinary and we felt the people involved were deeply flawed, including the star. I'm no wowser, but I found it disturbing to see him knocking back grog in the middle of a swim. Undoubtedly, however, you could not but be impressed with his determination.

Overall, I could not recommend the movie to anyone except as a curiosity.

Thanks for your continued emails and information.

In swimming

Bob Cope
Fair cop. What do you think? Click the Comment button below to leave your comment, and please remember to include your name.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

South Head, Noosa ... lovely days in late season ...

The season is winding down and the fat lady is warming up her tonsils ... two swims on Sunday, South Head (Bondi to Watsons Bay) in Sydney, and Noosa in Queensland ...

It was a lovely day where we were, but how did it go where you were?

Tell us about South Head or Noosa ... click the comments button below to leave your message ...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Byron Bay ... The Ultimate Swim ... North Steyne ...

Wow! What a swim was Byron Bay! The Gods were kind to us ... record numbers in the swim, weather ominous, then clearing to a glorious, sunny day, water 25 deg C ... And was it the clearest water in which you've swum?

North Steyne ... we weren't there ourselves so we can't tell ... But what did you think?

Tell us ... click the Comments link below to add your comments ...

Please, leave your name so we know who is saying what. We can't award the James Squire Award to an anonymous poster.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Autumn swims at last ...

Welcome, welcome to a new swim ... South Curly to Freshwater finally got done, after failing last season due to big seas, and after a prelude this season that included big seas. A course that has to be done, but which some said couldn't be done. This could be another new classic. Perhaps that is what this season, now approaching closure, could be about: the discovery of new classics.

Meanwhile, over on the south side, Coogee-Bondi had its second outing under new management, and Avoca finally got done on the Central Coast ...

Tell us what you thought ... And please leave your name on your blob ... we like to know who's talking to us, and we can't award the James Squire Blob Award if we don't know whom you are ...

Press the Comments link below to leave your comment and to read what others are saying ...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hawaii -- Plea for pals ...

My name is Les O'Keefe, i am a member of aussi masters and i have competed in a few ocean swims.

I was wondering whether you are aware of any people who plan on attending the Hawaii rough water swim in September. I would be interested in going and would rather go with a group or stay with other Aussies.

Could you please pass this email onto anyone you know who may be attending this meet.

Thanks, if anyone wants to call me i can be contacted on 0418712555 or email.

Les P'Keefe

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Now, THAT was an ocean swim ...

Just back in town after four hour drive from Mollymook ... and THAT was an ocean swim! Rising seas, chop, wind in your face, no two strokes the same ... rain squalls rolling through, obscuring beach, headlands, landmarks ... and dumped at the end on a shallow bank! It was a terrific swim, so much fun, and full credit, as the footy players would say, to the boys at Mollymook for going ahead in very difficult conditions ...

DY called off ...

Shellharbour, Saturday ... what a wonderful little swim, short, sharp, fast, with a breeze and swell behind us rolling over rocky and weedy bottom back into the beach ...

We love these regional swims ... They make us feel as if they're really pleased to have us there ...

But what did you think?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Paddlers, escort boats for Coogee-Bondi, South Head ...

A number of swimmers have contacted looking for help in finding escort paddlers for Coogee-Bondi on April 26, and escort boats for the South Head Roughwater on May 17. We will post their messages here, and if you can help, please respond.

If you post a request, please remember to include your email and/or phone contacts.

South Head organiser John Fallon has a number of options to help with escort boats for that swim. Watch the South Head listing on the NSW calendar for more info ...

TamaCloey, Pacific Palms ... we discover a new classic ...

Wow! what a ripper of swim from Tama to Clovelly. We thought beforehand that this swim could be a ripper, but it was more than that. TamaCloey may build to be one of the best swims on the ocean swimming calendar! Enigmatic course, spooky day, onshore breeze, following swell but backwash off the rocks ... cliffs most of the way ... once you're out, you're committed ... and what a glorious bottom from the point into Cloey ... this bottom was maybe more rocky and reefy that Wedding Cake Island ... what did you think of the starting wave arrangement? ... What did you think of the swim overall? ... Cloey has to have the best clubhouse on the coast, sitting right on the sea ...

And Pacific Palms ... what a lovely day out, yet again. A hidden gem of the north coast, one that we'd never have found but for ocean swimming ... that's what we love about this caper: there are so many places we go, so many experiences for which the swim is merely the catalyst ... What do we like about ocean swimming? Travel and meeting people!

Tell us what you think ... Click the comments button below ...

Monday, April 6, 2009

What do you do when the swims are washed out?

The two main swims around Sydney over the weekend -- North Steyne and Avoca -- were called off due to the seas, but Nowra went ahead with an amended course. We're told there was lots of weed but it was a nice swim with 37 punters.

North Steyne are mulling an alternative date; Avoca have rescheduled to April 26, making that Sunday a very busy day, with South Curl Curl-Freshwater and Coogee-Bondi also scheduled for that day.

Hervey Bay happened in Queensland, above the rain and storm line, with a record 170 starters. They had a lovely day, by all accounts.

But what did you get up to on a washed out Sunday, which turned out to be a very nice day in Sydney? We had a social engagement at North Curl Curl, so os.c and Glistening Dave went for a frolick in the North Curly rockpool. We did laps whilst Dave took pitchers of the seas crashing onto the rocks and into the pool. Watch for some pics very soon. Then we celebrated Tacoma Jim's birthday, and his mum's birthday -- Jim's mum, G-L-O-R-I-A ... GLOOOOORIA! -- has been visiting from, well, Tacoma, and heads back there later this week. Her birthday is Monday, April 6.

Tell us your story? Did you swim somewhere? What was it like? ...