Here is an excerpt from our latest newsletter to NSW ocean swimmers ...
We've told you earlier about our quest to encourage Fairfax Media Pty Ltd, the new proprietors of The Cole Classic, to tell swimmers that there are other swims on in NSW, and how they might find out about them. At the outset, the only reference the Cole website had to the rest of the sport of ocean swimming, which at last count offered c. 102 swims -- two new ones came to us just in the past couple of days -- was to cross-promote the Bondi-Bronte swim, which is run by a Fairfax contractor. Indeed, their report of Bondi-Bronte in The Sydney Morning Herald the following day actually said that the next ocean swim in Sydney was the Cole on February 1. We raised this with them at the time and, on the Tuesday, they published a clarification, after a grudging exchange of emails with the reporter who wrote the story, conceding that there were 17 swims in NSW between Bondi-Bronte and the Cole, eight of them in Sydney.
Fairfax Media came in for a bit of criticism at the outset, too, over steep rises in the Cole's entry fees and in the early cutoff for earlybird entries, originally December 19 later extended to January 9, still 23 days ahead of swim day.
As a result of our representations, Fairfax Media posted a link to oceanswims.com on their Cole Classic website and a reference to the fact that there are other swims in NSW and that you could find out about them through oceanswims.com. The link was hard to find, mind you -- 2nd question down in the FAQ section. When they posted the link, Fairfax Media's head organiser, Angus Dillon, asked us, now they had posted the link, what oceanswims.com (net worth negative, ie in debt) was prepared to give Fairfax Media (market capitalisation $2.506 billion at 1151 AEDT on Thursday, January 15, but dropping) in return. We already had a link to the Cole, and it remains in place.
Now, sadly and without warning, Fairfax has taken down their link to oceanswims.com. In place of it, they ask the question (in their FAQ section), "Are there other swims I can do as training?", and they answer, "Yes there are many other swims across the summer period. For further information on swims in your area contact your local surf life saving club."
This might be ok if the surf life saving club you ask a) is one of those who conduct an ocean swim thus they might know something about them (about half Sydney surf clubs run ocean swims), and b) the person who answers the phone when you call, or whom you run across in the club foyer when you enter, happens to know something about them, too.
Neither is a given. In short, Fairfax Media has removed any meaningful assistance they previously provided, minimal as it was, to new swimmers to find out more about the sport. In doing so, they undermine any claims they make that they aim to help the sport of ocean swimming overall. Now, Fairfax Media is just another commercial swim organiser running a swim, if not to make a profit, then not to lose any money. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but we don't take seriously Fairfax's claims of altruism towards the sport overall.
Why have they done this? We emailed Angus Dillon to find out. He hasn't responded.
Now, a couple of other aspects of the Cole's administrative arrangements that you probably should know about ...
1. If you enter the Cole Classic but fall ill or get injured before swim day, you can get a 50 per cent refund of your entry fee, which ranges from $35 up to $110 (if you enter both 2km and 1km swims by mail after January 9). But only if you provide a medical certificate, and only if you provide that medical certificate by close of business tomorrow, Friday, January 16. The message is: if you get sick or injured in the next 16 days, don't expect Fairfax Media to sympathise.
2. If you wish to switch your events between the 2km swim and the 1km swim, you can, but only on swim day and for a fee, which Fairfax Media doesn't specifiy.
We're looking forward to the Cole Classic on February 1. We expect they'll have a big roll up, particularly of new swimmers. Let's hope it all goes well for all concerned.
In the meantime, ocean swimmer Pete "Joliet Jake" Hoban plans on going for a swim at Manly on Australia Day, Monday, January 26, at 10am, in which he'll swim across to Fairy Bower point, then into Shelley Beach, then back around Manly Point to the surf club, in other words tracing the course of the Cole Classic. It's not a formal or an organised swim, but you're all welcome to join him. And maybe even drop $5 or $10 into the bucket for Manly LSC as a donation afterwards.