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...