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?

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  1. North Steyne.... where the water was warmer than the sand on the beach. great swim, well organised and a great BBQ.

  2. North Steyne 2.8km was great! We had the excitement of a challenging surf to get through and then beyond that it was smooth sailing. Warm water and clear! The event was very well organised and, in my opinion, for this season the best lay out of cans so far. Going from white cans, to pink then to orange and then red was great - I really enjoyed this swim and will be back! Thank you to the surf club and the volunteers out in the water - good work!!

  3. North Steyne - since you ask, Paul: sometimes it all comes together perfectly and you know there's nowhere else you'd rather be and nothing else you'd rather be doing. This was one of those days. But you don’t have to take my word for it. You may not know that Shakespeare was a keen ocean swimmer and by a series of uncanny events involving a time machine and a sausage, bacon and egg sandwich, I have to hand his notes on this swim. His handwriting wasn’t the best, and there are gaps, but I’ll try to fill these in as best I can.

    The Bard comments that the elements conspired in the swim's favour - sea warm and swell bracing, and the sun – well, this is what Shakespeare has to say – he felt that the sun

    "doth permit the base contagious clouds
    To smother up his beauty from the world,
    That when he please again to be himself,
    Being wanted, he may be more wondered at
    By breaking through the foul and ugly mists".

    Foul and ugly mists may be a tad hyperbolic I grant you but to be fair to the old boy, it started cold and cloudy and then there was sudden, glorious sun just in time for the start. Well, just in time for the 40-49 codgers who for some reason went last. Shakespeare describes us thus: “we few, we happy few, we band of brothers”. Happy to know that for once there won’t be older swimmers overtaking us, that is. The old boy himself was in the over 60s male division so set off ahead of my wave – must have set a fair time for a bloke just past his 445th birthday, because I don’t recall overtaking him. Not that I’m all that quick, but most of us can expect to slow down sometime after our tercentenary – it’s unavoidable. Even John Kelso will slow up sometime in the next couple of hundred years, you wait and see.

    You won’t be surprised to hear that Shakespeare had a bit to say about the state of the sea, He remarks “I have seen the hungry ocean gain/Advantage on the kingdom of the shore”. I suspect, that like me, he had the experience of being hammered by a wave just when he thought he’d cleared the break. But it’s not a proper ocean swim without some surf, and getting knocked about a bit can be part of the fun. Or, as the Bard puts it:

    “Timon hath made his everlasting mansion
    Upon the beached verge of the salt flood,
    Who once a day with his embossed froth
    The turbulent surge shall cover”
    (Timon being a noted ocean swimmer of yore, as all careful readers of will recall).

    Well, away we went and surprisingly, it turns out that conical buoys can work just fine, if they are pink and there are lots of them. I’m sorry to say I find myself in disagreement with Shakespeare on this – he comments “’A could never abide carnation; twas a colour [I] never liked”. No remarks from him on the shape, however. And I personally found the upright but widely spaced cans on the return trip much harder to follow.

    Well, on to Fairy Bower we went. Shakespeare is a bit of an expert on fairies, of course. He got quite excited about this bit “’tis almost fairy time” he writes. Sadly, the manuscript is waterlogged at this point and apart from some stuff about coral and sea-nymphs (obviously he spotted some sort of marine life) I can’t report a lot of detail about his thoughts on this part of the swim.
    And so to the homeward run There’s something satisfying about a longer swim, isn’t there – although it’s hard to escape the feeling that old Will S thought his best ocean swimming days past, and that at his age, maybe he should have settled for the 1k swim. Well, that’s how I interpret this:

    “…I have ventur’d
    Like little wanton boys that swim on bladders,
    This many summers in a sea of glory;
    But far beyond my depth.”

    He may even have considered calling for help from the water safety boys, judging by this: “like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
    So do our minutes hasten to their end”… although the reference to the pebbled shore doesn’t seem to fit North Steyne, so maybe we have here a fragment from a report on an English ocean swim of the 17th century. In those days water safety was frankly, rather sketchy at best and drownings were not uncommon. Oddly enough, insurance premiums seem not to have been an issue in those days.

    But we know he must have made it home (results not up as I type so I can’t tell you his time) and his closing remarks capture, I think, that endorphin rush that comes at the end of a great ocean swim, well swum. Shakespeare is telling us to run hard to the finish line (“foot it featly”), and that the harder we swim, the greater the rewards – well, I can’t say it better than he, so here he is:

    “Come unto these yellow sands,
    And then take hands;
    Curtsied when you have and kiss’d,
    The wild waves whist,
    Foot it featly here and there,
    And, sweet sprites, the burden bear”.

  4. I tried to Blob earlier on the Tama to Cloey swim but I didn’t seem to work if anyone is reading this from the Tamarrama club thanks for the discount great! You have long memory form last year, still have my pink thongs and love them!
    Now to the reason for the Blob, North Steyne swim did anyone see a decent sized shark on the last white turning buoy before the finish near the bottom? I asked a few people but no one saw it. It had a black tip on the fin. Great swim good conditions course mark well but had trouble finding the white buoys on the way back. Thanks again for a great year. Love your work to all involved in the swims!!

    yours Jordan Stockdale

  5. Byron, what can I say, they definitely turned it on again! Where on earth did that beautiful sunshine come from for the duration of the swims and presentation?? And the water, was just so clear!

    Loved it again this year as I have in previous years and I will back again next year! Organisers should be so proud of their efforts. Thanks!

  6. North Steyne was a wonderful swim, nice clear seas even after the huge downpour (I live on a steep hill, and it was for all purposes a waterfall on Saturday night).

    Yes, the conical purple buoys worked a treat, but the conditions were very flat and the sun came out to help.

    Great T-shirts too thanks guys!

  7. Marvellous work on the Billy Rattlestick angle Edwin,

    You've deadset gotta win the beer for that.

    I didn't see the shark either Jordan, you n Bill must have scared it off. From your description it may have been a Common Blacktip Shark.

    Have a look at page 20 of:

    Great race, great day. A good end to the "regular season". Thanks to all the good folk at North Steyne for re-running it.

    See youz at the "Cold Classic" next month.


  8. Although my heart was with the mob in Byron Bay, the racing today at North Steyne was just a beautiful way to spend the first Sunday in May. In my view, however, the event was marred by the dangers presented to all swimmers by several inconsiderate surfers for the entire duration of the swim.

    Surf contests were underway on both sides of the North Steyne Surf Club, yet no hard and fast boundaries seemed to exist for these contests and as a result surfers were dropping into waves in the surfbreak area directly in front of the North Steyne Surf Lifesaving Club. This area was quite obviously marked by buoys as the entry and exit run for the swim races. However, as we negotiated our way into and out of the at times quite large breaking waves, many surfers ignored our presence and dropped right onto waves, into the paths of swimmers and at times directly on top of them.

    This went on throughout the day as wave after wave started and finished, but the icing on the cake was when they did it during the dash for cash!! The surf club seemed either powerless or unwilling to do anything about it. I fear the former but I am dreading that the latter is the case.

    Can somebody please tell me how this is allowed to happen? In essence, what good was it, really, that the North Steyne SLSC had to obtain a "licence" or "permit" to hold this surf race? Was this supposed to be regarded as acceptable risk in the sport I have chosen to love? What good is it to oceanswimmers who have obtained the skills of entering and exiting in heavy surf when we have to face the ludicrous risk being imposed upon upon by some selfish surfers who carry on like this?

    Finn Chopt

  9. What's not to love about bloody Byron Bay! If I didn't have to breathe left and right I would have grinned like an idiot throughout this glorious swim. My daughter saw stingrays and schools of fish on her journey. I saw the blue sky, the sandy bottom, the stream of swimmers ahead (and some behind, thank God) in a rhythmic surge towards to surf club, buoyed by the north-flowing current.
    What a buzz.

  10. Edwin - Tho must ave swallow'd too much salte water; but you get my vote for the Ocean Swims Blog of the Year! How did Will Shakespeare bypass the fastskin rules in those round hose, cannions and complementing codpiece.

  11. It was the first time I've ever done the Byron swim, and it will definitely not be the last. It was the perfect combo of uber-organised yet ultra-chillaxed, befitting the yuppy-meets-hippy vibe of Byron. Getting onto the buses to get round to Wategoes could have been a nightmare but was no drama at all.

    The water was indeed warm, and incredibly clear -I missed the turtle off Clarkes' Beach, though did spy a small sting ray.

    The guys and girls in the water from the SLSC did a top job - it's the only swim I've done this season where I did not go even slightly off-course on a frolic of my own.

    Even the terrible traffic getting in and out of the town b4 and after the swim couldn't shake the great vibe. And the locals took the invasion of 2000 swimmers + support crews in their stride.

    Hats off to Byron!

  12. Byron Bay was a buzz! The sun split the ominous clouds while we swam in idyllic conditions, gently pushed by the north flowing current. My daughter saw stingrays and schools of fish. I saw the blue sky, ocean floor and a stream of swimmers ploughing towards the surf club.
    This could be heaven.

  13. Davo I think you’re on the money with the black tip shark looks a lot like what I saw. Apparently someone mentioned something as well on the PA after they finished the race.

    I will see you at the Cold Classic (Speedos only no wetties)


  14. No worries Jordan,

    I'm pretty well insulated as it is, particularly around the middle. Lookin forward to burning off 10 calories a minute in the cold water alone; that's if it really getsts that cold anyway.


  15. there was a shark ?!! ... glad I didn't see it ! ... although I did see my first baby ray near the first white buoy ;-D

    Thanks to all the organisers for another great swim ! ... I finished at the back of the pack so more training required but still a great day ... shame Ricky Hatton lost though ...

  16. well done byron bay slsc! what a contrast to the excellent but difficult avoca beach swim the week before. avoca was great but the chop and hypothermia were a challenge. byron was like jumping into a warm bath in comparison! huge number of people, but so many waves that it never felt crowded. can't wait for the triathlon - it will be funny to see all the idiots in wetsuits in 23 degree water. congratulations to byron slsc for such fantastic organisation. will be back again every year i reckon!


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