Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Bleedback - Gerringong

Shaun Clyne writes on the Capt. Christie Classic at Gerringong last Sunday, Jan 4 ...

A great swim in testing conditions.

One disappointing aspect that I witnessed was organisers turning away 8-10 swimmers seeking to register at 9.05am on the basis that registrations closed at 9am and there were "no exceptions". A very strange position to adopt given that this not only denied the Gerringong Surf Club circa $250 in revenue, but particularly as the manual registration process involved nothing more than writing a swimmer's name on a piece of A4 paper next to which their time would eventually be recorded.

Several of these swimmers had travelled from Sydney for the swim and ultimately decided to swim it 'unofficially' anyway - with the added insult that the rigid approach to the close of registrations at 9am was not matched with an equally rigid approach to a 10am start time for the swim.

As a 'country swim' seeking to attract swimmers from Sydney, it would be better if the organisers could adopt a more flexible approach to registrations (such as the use of online registrations) so as to encourage participation rather than an approach which is entirely inconsistent with the culcha of ocean swimming.

Shaun Clyne


  1. 1.8k .. felt more like 3k

    My arms were aching and my legs were cramping as I rounded the final bouy, still another 500m to swim to shore.

    A great swim in tough conditions, fighting the swell and chop all the way, plus a little shorebreak dump at the end.
    Looking around fruitlessly at the finish for the bananas and oranges to take away the taste of a gallon of salt water swallowed.

    Richard Murray

  2. Early cutoff 9.00am

    Yeah funny one that...

    My warm up for an oceanswim usually consists of running from the car park to the registration tent and on to the start line as the first waves are being released.

    I arrived "early" at Gerringong to have a look around a new beach. Imagine my surprise when I strolled into the surf club to register at 8.59am to be told I had "just made it".

    Fair enough I guess, the organisers decided it was important that all swimmers attended the pre-race briefing at Werri Beach before the hike to Boat Harbour.

    The briefing, by the way, was entertaining and excellent, covering all contingencies. It even included a Questions and Answers session at the end.

    Richard Murray

  3. Great swim at Gerringong on the weekend but ...where was the water at the end? The swim certainly was deserving of a drink at the end, in saying this , that is my only complaint!!

    Cheers, Melissa Blundell

  4. Have to disagree with Shaun's comment. I didn't do the Gerringong swim this year, but in the past have found it to be very well organised. I don't think it is a "strange" practice to set a deadline and then adhere to it. It sounds like good event management to me. This is an event with a pre-race briefing, involves travel to another beach for a start and other events following the swim.

    I do think it is disrespectful to the 150 or so other swimmers and volunteers to turn up late and expect them to wait. We all have a responsibility to work with the organisers and the conditions they set for the event.

    I have seen in previous feedback sections a number of swimmers complaining about the amount of waiting that goes on in oceanswim events, so I can understand and appreciate organisers taking steps to minimise this.

    And I hate standing there waiting for a swim to start and hearing "won't be long now, just registering some late entrants". Particularly if it was a Sydney swim I'd travelled up from Wollongong for.

    Sure, it would be better for the swimmer if we could turn up approximately on time and have the club be "flexible" to our desires and special circumstances. But I can see that there are plenty of other factors to consider in these event and we just have to show some respect to the organisers and meet their requests. If we don't make it on time, then just cop it on the chin and get ourselves better organised next time.


    John Haw

  5. I am sorry for those of you who were turned away, but sometimes it's not always about the money, sure being a VERY small club we could use the money but we feel lives are more important.

    We have been running the Captain Christie Ocean Classic for about 27 years and during this time have had an excellent safety record. However given the nature of the course there maybe a need to make changes on the day due to surf, wind & water temperautre conditions prevailing e.g. sometimes swimming in the reverse direction and sometimes changing beach. It is worth noting that conditiond this year were very favourable compared to previos years. By having the cut off time in advance of the start time we have not had to cancel this event.
    Also the cut off time needs to be in advance of the start time so organisers can arrange water safety, rescue craft based on the final number of entrants as required by the approval to hold the event, pre-swim briefing and travel time to start.
    The people who swam the event without registering need to appreciate that you are jeoparising not only your own safety but the safety of others. Officials rely on balancing number of swimmers registered against those who cross the finish line. Procedures are in place that in the event of an imbalance to call the police, ambulance & air services. We had an incident 3 years ago where a swimmer failed to register at the finish line and thus having us call in these services. This not only caused anxiety to all concerned but incurs costs to the community.

    We are always looking at ways to improve the event and the use of online registrations is being investigated. While this may speed up the registration process the cut off time will still remain for those reasons given above.

    Thank you to all competitors who enjoyed the event and hope to see you next year.
    Pam Dunwoodie


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