Sunday, March 22, 2009

Stanwell Park - new record for Big Swim of the South ...

There were record entries for the Stanwell Park Ocean Challenge - the Big Swim of the South. A record by almost 50 per cent. We knew this swim would take off eventually. It was an epic this time around -- glorious, gentle seas, but into a stiffening breeze and, it seemed, a stiff current. Schlepping along the Illawarra Escarpment, it seemed the cliffs would never end. Shortly before the finishers reached the beach, there was a 2 metre ray cruising through the break around the finishing area, too. Big schools of whiting, and the aeriel surveillance aircraft patrolling up and down the beach whilst the swim progressed.

How did you find this swim?


  1. Excellent! What a great morning and many thanks to the organisers and volunteers! Thanks also to the surveillance aircraft! I felt at all times safe. As a back of the packer I felt the current and for a very long time one particular flash house on the hillside stayed in my sight for a very long time. The only problem I had was after the last yellow can, I found it hard to spot the orange can. I knew I had to keep swimming straight on so I did until the orange can became visable. Great to see more people at the event - more funds for the club and more people getting into a great activity. Thanks to all involved! Oh, and thanks to the shuttle bus service!!

  2. Awesome. That was my fifth ocean swim this summer and by far the most exciting. They are all good but the cliffs and escarpment add a lot to the experience. Well organised too.

  3. A magnificent time yesterday on this my first ocean swim. I swam with short flippers, never having swum more than a 1k in pools before. I was glad to have done that as a little insurance against the unknown, but next time I think I'll do it raw footed! Dissapointed I didn't get a printed swim cap as promised in the website...but nonetheless this was a primal and exhil;arating experience. Michael Scarborough

  4. A great swim - well worth the drive down from Sydney for anyone thinking about it next year.
    The organisers did it well - everything was taken care of, with a low-key/easy going vibe. So many good things to say...
    > Beautiful beach & nice clear water
    > Easy transfer across to the start at Coalcliff on the buses
    > Plenty of water safety
    > Big buoys (still a bit hard to spot looking into the glare/sun)
    > Fantastic to have the results up so quickly - even before everyone had finished
    > A great challenge to boot! Even though the swim was only listed as 2.3km, the winner of this swim took longer than Palm to Whale which was supposed to be 2.7km.
    > Always enjoy the fresh fruit and water at the finish, especially after a tough swim
    It was nice to know I was on course when a guy with a camera on a boogie-board appeared right in front of me - I was thinking I was slogging it out in the middle of nowhere. Hope he got a shot of me.
    A big thanks to everyone involved. I'm only sorry we had to head back straight away before the presentations and free beer.


  5. Hi,
    Very pleasant swim - friendly organisers, not too big, not too small, lovely drive and scenery.

    Was it a lot longer than 2.3k or was there a strong current - I was more than ten minutes slower than expected but still easily beat my personal goal of being well under twice the winner's time?

    Water was a good temperature, if a little murkier than I'd expected.

    Only problem was seeing the booeys and the drag from the last yellow booey to the turning orange booey seemed interminable from the sea (took me ages to see it, just followed the people in front on faith) while it looked very close from on shore once I'd finished.

    The Hahn was pretty good as well. Overall a very worthwhile day out.

  6. Oh, to answer oceanswim's question "how did you find this swim"?

    I drove down the Eastern Distributor, through Birghton, onto the Pacific Highway and off at Lawrence Hargreaves Drive, U turn after driving through Stanwell Park, down Station street, parked, walked along a sandy pathy and there it was.

  7. First time on this swim, and really enjoyed it. There was a strong current slowing things down, and it was pretty difficult to see the cans (I think they may have been a little to close to the rocks).

    Fantastic day out, with a free beer, unbelievable!

    After the race, did anyone else drive to the road bridge, wind their windows down and pretend they were in a car advertisement? Just me then...

    Thanks again organisers - fantastically well done!

  8. Great swim, good day out.
    The standing start at water's edge on the pebbly beach at Coalcliff was fun and relaxed - 2 waves - pink caps first and then "all other colours".
    The current was a surprise and made the swim a good staying test. It would have added about 30% to the effort required to swim the 2.3k, by my precise reckoning.

  9. Was a great day!Well organised with the shuttle buses.I finished 5 minutes slower than expected but it seems the north easterly wind and currents slowed us all down!Ill be back next year for sure!

  10. Free beer!!!???? Was that advertised? Probably best I didn't realise. Altogether a lovely swim despite the giant huntsman that crawled up my leg on the beach at the start. Also, I was made aware of the strength of the current we swam against when I went for a surf after the swim. I had to keep paddling north to stop from being deposited on the rocks. That's why that final buoy seemed so far away.

  11. Great swim but how far was it really, or alternatively how fast was the current. I'm a tail ender but that last buoy took a long time to reach. Many thanks to the surfboard paddlers who paddled backwards to keep us slow swimmers company on that last leg.

  12. With the final turning buoy at Stanwell Park out a little north of mid-beach, perhaps to offset the current and give swimmers a chance of beaching within sight of the finish line, the race distance may have been closer to 2.5k (insurance value 2.49).
    Maybe add on a little for those zig-zag swimmers with untinted goggles who lost sight of giant orange final turning marker in the reflected autumn sun.

  13. great swim, one of the best for scenery, this was my second time. 59 or not, i found it tougher than any other of my 17 swims so far, including
    the Big swim.

    i was amazed how long i took, and while i know that we all can have our good and bad days and swims, i decided to have a look on Google maps at
    the actual course distance.

    so, while the club is saying 2.3 km, it is more like 3kms beach to beach + swim out & swim in, making it more like 3.2 kms.

    that may then explain why i did Manly 2k's 2 weeks ago in 35 min, Shark island 2.3k's last week in 52 min and this week i took 1.5 hours...

    the only reason i am raising it is that it is important for all parties to know what they are up against, particularly those of us who are new
    to ocean swimming.

    so, if it's 2 k's, fine, if its 3+k's, i have the right to be correctly informed.

    we all consider our risk before swimming, but we need to know the true facts in order to make that evaluation.

    clubs need to be upfront and accurate about the details of their swims.


    George Kennedy

  14. I would love to reply to the editors' brutal comment under the photo of myself with a beautiful lady however being a true gentleman I cannot disclose any of the lady's secrets. Speaking of beautiful ladies I can assure Jane that the free beer was advertised on the website before the event. And, no, I'll stop there.

  15. thanks to all who swam this year.yes it was run into a moderate northerly current.this has occured before, in fact three of our eight outings have been effected by this current. With this northerly current comes predominatley clear water as was evidenced Sunday especially at the Stanwell Park end of the swim. Our swim like all swims is subject to different conditions from year to year, but hey, thats ocean swimming.

    To answer a few questions, our course was measured by GPS a few years back at 2.3km. We realise the bouys are a bit hard to see looking into the sun. My advice is to keep Bald Hill in front of you, your head down, and keep stroking. Remember good navigation is a skill all ocean swimmers should exercise.

    As for the free beer(advertised) as long as Hahn keep giving it to us we will keep giving it to those who earn it, the swimmers. Our committee, all seasoned ocean swimmers challenge all in the Hahn series to do the same (we will be keeping a close eye on this one).

    A big thankyou to Mr Ocean Swims himself. Paul has been a great supporter of not only our swim but ocean swimming in general and is largely responsible for where ocean swimming is today.

  16. Good reply from Andrew. It's ocean swimming! I get a bit fed up with people wanting to turn oceanswimming into a highly controlled environment. If you want exact distances, clear marking, no one drafting you or bumping into you, then go to a pool. And if the sun gets in your eyes, go to an indoor pool. I love not knowing exactly what the event might bring up and also like learning little secrets about events through the experience (e.g., finding sight lines, where the rips are, how the currents run).


  17. Enjoyed the swim, will be back again next year. I just have trouble spotting the next buoy and not knowing if I am on course. Liked the under 40 's going first, it wasn't such a mosh pit at the start.

  18. I loved this swim. A great swim recommended to me by lots of Cronulla swimmers who did it last year. I love everything about ocean swimming especially that as a determined but not gifted swimmer I can find myself in amazing places doing challenging swims in a safe and fun way. So my one gripe with the Stanwell Park swim is that in the 2.3kms ( in contention) from one beach to the next there are just three bouys. I finally saw the third one, which let me see that I was way out to sea, and then almost failed to see the last turning bouy until it nearly hit me in the head! Maybe I need glasses, but I found it a little distressing as I wondered why the escarpment was sooo long, why I was the only swimmer in the ocean ( was I miraculously first - or more probably last) why I was getting cold, and where the hell was that final bouy? It became a mind control game out there - and yes, that is the fun and challenge of it all, but next year, please, please, can us mug swimmers have just one more bouy to show the way - a big one please!

  19. Great sport! I give thanks to all those who make this happen.

    With greatest respect and acknowledgement to Elizabeth Odell I offer this poem to thems that dip their ear!

    'Flat outstretched upon a heaving sea I swim; I dip my ear into its depths and I hear, far off and deep, the measured sound of heart that beats within the waves. And with it pounds in harmony the swift, familiar heart in me. They pulse as one, together rise, together fall. I cannot tell my sound from the sea, for I am part of rhythmic, universal ocean.'

    Cheers, Milo

  20. Great swim - challenging but a very worthwhile experience. Hope to see more people down at Stanwell Park next year - its not a long way from Sydney along the freeway, has gorgeous views from the top of the escarpment and is a very well organised event. Big thankyou to all the volounteers, police boat crew and lifeguards for ensuring the safety of the swimmers.

  21. I agree with you John, thats the beauty of ocean swimming having to adapt to the elements.


  22. does anyone know the photographer that was taking photos of the day? his website?


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