Friday, December 4, 2009

The Hustle and Bustle of Oceanwims

There's been a fair bit of comment of late on the subject of , how should we say; over enthusiastic swimming tactics such as scratching, grabbing, kicking and just plain swimming over the top of one another, particularly around the buoys.

One point of view is that oceanswims are like some sort of marine love-in, and should be an aquatic stroll in the park. Of course there are those who are diametrically opposed to this and for the most part have far less to say on the matter; possibly because they are the accused kickers and scratchers. But they may well be the silent majority.

Whilst I respect the right of quiet enjoyment of an oceanswim for those who so desire, 'tis not really an opinion that I subscribe to. I make no secret of the fact that I enjoy a bit of slap and tickle at the start and around the cans, but despite being a self declared slow but strong swimmer, I have an uncommon fear and loathin for breast strokers at any close proximity. I've always reckoned that if you want to breast stroke or don't like the rough and tumble, then you can always start at the back or your group and swim wide of the peloton round the cans.

Sure there are the elites; cyborgs, supermodels and circus freaks who tear off on there own at a cracking pace and can kick and scratch each other to their hearts' content. But there are many fellow oceanswimmers, who like me mostly race against the clock, constantly trying to improve upon there last performance in each event, using their brains as much as their brawn to efficiently navigate an otherwise tricky course, seasonally adjusting times to account for the conditions of the day or the variations in course layout, and occasionally having a bit of a match race with their contemporaries. Then of course there is the Hahn SuperDry Series where swimmers of slightly higher calibre can win something extrinsic as well as intrinsic for their efforts.

As long as such an esprit de corps exists in ocean swimming we are bound to have varying levels of competitive vigour and proficiency that transgress the categories of age and gender, and as such will always have traffic problems as swimmers pass one another. Perhaps swimmers should be categorised going on past performance with all novices at the back, as some races already do? But then all you need is one burglar to be a ring in for the first time and you have a cat amongst the pigeons again. There was plenty of that action goin on and the associated whinging thereafter at the inaugural (by posponement) Tama to Cloey race last season. And if you over categorise the swims, the large ones will take all day to be done; as is already the case down at Lorne where you have to take a cut lunch with you while you wait to start.

So perhaps Mr Os.c, you can knock up one of those votin thingies on the subject of kickin n scratchin etc.

Should over entusiastic swimmers just chill a bit?
Should the slower swimmers just toughen up or swim wide?
Should swims be categorised by pace and not age and gender?
Should swims be categorised more or less?
Should breast stokers have their feet amputated? Ok, I spoze that's goin a bit far coz their boney stumps would hurt even more when they kick ya.

Maybe you can improve upon this guvna?

And maybe youz, Oceanswimmers the lot of yuz, can have yer two blob's worth on the subject too?

David Love.


  1. I encountered a few gropers at Bronte between the final turning buoy and the finish. Those youngsters in the 40-44 wave are much too competitive. I think it had more to do with the wave numbers and course design, a sharp right turn near the finish.
    A breastroke kick to the body of the swimmer behind is a reflex action that should only be used as a last resort, to save yourself if that swimmer starts to climb over the top and push you underwater.
    Otherwise all is fair if you are not obstructing or impedeing the progess of another swimmer.

  2. I don't mind the argy bargy of the turning cans, in fact I quite enjoy the melee. Breaststrokers do annoy me though because it can be avoided. It's down to a few things I think, ignorance, anxiety and lack of experience. Most of them probably don't know they are being a pain. The organisers could easily say something in the briefing i.e. don't do it but if you have to do it , go wide

  3. Never understood why some people stop at the cans ? Probably the same people who stop at the top of escalators, entrances and dont know how to cross a pedestrian crossing..mmmmm


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