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


  1. Most oceanswims have kept their entry at $30 (online entry main swim), same as last season. Their costs haven't changed and most swims would expect an increase in numbers this year, thanks to the sucessful efforts of all those promoting ocean swimming.
    The swims charging higher fees for a single swim online entry are Cole Classic $47, Bondi Bronte $40 and Sydney Harbour $40. If you're on a budget I'd suggest saving your money for some of the other swims on the calendar that offer better value. If the $30 entry is a barrier to some swimmers participating, I'd be happy to add a few dollars extra on my entry to support a subsidy for pensioners or families.

  2. $46 for Bondi-Bronte?? Tell them they're dreaming! As I'm boycoting the swim in facvour of the previous day's Curl Curl 2k I hadn't seen the entry fee but that's totally over the top. If that's the price of IMG's inolvement keep them away from me.

    I will probably do the Cole Classic simply because there is no alternative swim that weekend, but at Dawny last week I was talking to a number of swimmers who said that any swim pitting itself against the Cole would do pretty well from people who object to the crowds, long waits, corporate shenanigans and high price. I would very happily swim anywhere but the Cole if there was an alternative that weekend.

    I'm lucky, I can afford to pay the entry fees but if I do 20 swims a year that's $360 if each one is $30, not a small sum for some. Hike it up to $45 or so and it becomes prohibitive.

    Like Richard I'd be happy to pay a surcharge to subsidise pensioners (if I could be sure that's what it would do).

  3. This is one of the few participant sports that has broad appeal over all age groups (not always a good thing - I'm regularly beaten by people 20 years my junior and 30 years my senior!), but I certainly hope to continue ocean swimming for many years to come.

    Say there are 300 swimmers on an average swim, all paying a $1 surcharge, that's 10 pensioners free in a $30 race.

    PS: The Bondi to Bronte is $40 not $46.

  4. Pensioners should be a minium entry fee, say $20.00. Again this year I will not enter, Cole $161.00 and also this year B2B $120.00, Sydney Harbour $120.00 as a family swimming, it is getting to expensive. I disagree that there should be a surcharge as the bigger swims a small number of pensioners swimming would not break the bank.
    Mr Bronte Surf club are you a public surf life saving club or are you following the Cole Pirates?
    If any surf club can throw 4 buoys into the ocean on the day of the Pirates of Cole I will be there.
    Peter McCrae

  5. In defence of the Sydney Harbour Swim, they have charged $40 for a few years now. It reflects the fact that, as a privately-run swim, they have higher costs in obtaining permits, etc, and must deal with multiple government authorities all charging their fees, eg Opera House, Botanic Gardens, Waterways, and also must pay for their water safety, provided through a private organisation.

    We don't believe they should be categorised with Fairfax (Cole) and Bondi-Bronte (the only surf club swim that can afford to pay a private organiser to run their event, even using surf club water safety staff).

  6. Please, please, please, will one of the SLSC run a reasonably priced alternative to the Cole? I'll be there, so will quite a few of my mates..

  7. Shame on you Fairfax (Cole Classic). Big deal about the early bird before the 19th Dec and pay $47. Miss that date and the late entry fee is $57 - tell me, how is the 19th Dec late when the swim is only in Feb? I would hate to know what the 'on the day' registration fee will be?

    I will be boycotting the Cole this year and any other swims that cost more than $40 max ($35 is fair for early rego). If the Big Swim (Palm Beach to Whale beach) can host a swim for charge of $35 up until the day before the race, I'm sure you can too!

  8. The regional swims, some of which are within an easy day drive of Sydney, are an increasingly attractive option. The 1km option at Toowoon Bay cost me all of $15 and I got a silicone cap thrown in, not to mention a jolly good time. They are also not so oversubscribed aged that you risk life and limb just to get to the first booey. Other benefits are easy parking and a relaxed atmosphere.....the way things used to be before the corporates muscled in. Sigh...

  9. Steve, we need to talk.
    If there's an ocean swim on both Saturday and Sunday of a weekend, then you have to do both swims. There's no other rational decision.
    It doesn't get much better than swimming in December, early forecast wind & swell for this weekend looks ideal conditions.
    Do both.

    BTW I'm also looking out for an alternate swim on 7th February, I'm hassled with the crowds & parking and a bit of a boring swim course at Manly.


Please use the drop down menu, Comment as, to attach your name to your blog.