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?
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