Sunday, March 14, 2010

Day on the harbour, Bonbeach at season's end...

The morning after, the night before... After the pelting rain in Sydney on Sat'dee night, multinational geologist John Bamberry was driving from Singleton, in the Hunter Valley, to Sydney for the harbour swim, but the rain was so heavy passing through Newcastle that he considered turning back. What a lucky boy! Had he turned back, John would have missed one of the most magnificent days on the harbour,  warm, yet not oppressive, refreshing water c. 22-23 deg C, the gentlest of currents, and a  spirited run into Farm Cove on the back leg with a nor-easter-driven swell behind us. What a wonderful day!

How was Bonbeach? We'll hear later from Aquagirl on that one. Shark Island? Novice staff correspondent Chris "Numbers" Flanagan is reporting that one for us. Port Elliott in SA...

Tell us about your swims this weekend...


  1. Wot? No sharks? You're pulling my leg!

    The punters gathered at The House today were blissfully unaware of the hype surrounding last year's event, which was monitored closely by the media (hopeful that a bull shark would rear its ugly chain-saw lined mug and mow down the peloton).

    As it turned out, it was a perfect shark- and media-shark-free day.

    I think this swim is a true 'classic'. Where else do you get the chance to check out an iconic (another overused word) landmark while taking a dip the most beautiful harbour in the world?

    And congrats to Mrs Sparkle. That ankle's a lethal weapon.

  2. Full credit to the organisers at Shark Island this morning, after a number of bluebottle casualties in the 1km a hurried conference was called at 10am until it was decided that the conditions were safe enough to run the main event.

    This is a good example for other clubs - when in doubt, make sure people know the risks, and from then on put it up to them to work out if they feel comfortable with the circumstances.

    And were those circumstances worthwhile, swimming to an invisible island, through the washing-machine current round the point and between purple jellyfish, bluebottles and over a multitude of reefs. Harking back to Friday night's excursion to the cinema, I almost expected a foot-warming pig to turn up paddling alongside me.

    In case anyone hasn't found them, results are up at

  3. Cronulla takes the prize for most efficient - results on their website by 4:30 SUnday - may have been up even earlier!
    Good swim but a few nasties in the water.
    Overall - well organised swim. All good and thanks to the Sharkie SLSC.

  4. Sydney Harbour Swim Classic is magic. Professionally organised, well worth the long drive, and great to see the weekend die-hards, particularly when they have made it all the way from Wyoming.

    This swim is a must for all swimmers of all abilities. A great atmosphere, and an awesome venue; I think all buoys should be shaped like the Opera House. You can't miss it. Great to see Mrs Sparkle back in action, and taking out her her field.

    Well done to all the volunteers and the organising committee. An excellent event, attracting great (and worthy cause) sponsorship.

    John Bamberry

  5. Thankyou so much for organizing such a great event, I really enjoyed it.

    I have just started doing the ocean swims (my third) and trying to improve so keen to keep track of my results

    Race number 289, Gen Cat M4549

    I am a little confused with my time in this event, 4 mins slower than I swam the Shelly to manly last week and that was tougher conditions

    Also don't quite understand the relationship between the 1 k and 2 k
    ie 1 k winning time 13:58 and 2 k 19:28, (2 x 13:58 = approx 28 mins ) are the 2 k swimmers that much faster ??

    many thanks appreciate your comments helps me understand and plan progress and set goals
    Best regards

  6. Dear Mr Gates,
    I have tracked my swims over the past 5 years and can inform you that you should not dwell on trying to work out your times by the planned distance of ocean (even harbour) swims. The planned or advertised distance is rarely accurate - I have seen some swims surveyed by theodolite, but normally, buoys are set out, maybe with the aid of GPS, but generally, near enough seems to be good enough.

    Currents, tides, waves, rips, traffic jams, navigation, etc etc, all affect the swim, and generally affect all swimmer's times. You will find, after tracking these events over repeat seasons, that sometimes, the courses are set out longer or shorter than planned, and that nature will play its hand.

    My advice to you as a gauge, is look at where you come in as percentage of the whole field, or where you come relative to your age group. You can always gauge your times in a swimming pool. When you have done a few ocean swims, and become consistent in your times, you will note that you are coming out of the water amongst a bunch of familiar faces. Say G'day, and you can then also gauge yourself relative to where these people come out of the water in other swims. Over the years, I have met a bunch of ocean swimming tragics, that I see all summer weekends. Just be prepared for the addiction that is ocean swimming.

  7. Anthony, that's the beauty of ocean swims, a Sydney Harbour 2km isn't necessarily the same as a Manly 2km. The organisers try and set the course to the advertised distance but some come out a bit short or long. I reckon today's 1km was about right and the 2km a little short. And then of course every race has its own conditions - sometimes you battle against the currents and the chop, sometimes you're picked up and carried the whole way without much effort.

    The best way to keep track of your times is by comparing to other people. You get a feel for what it normally takes the winners to complete the swim, and then can compare that with your own result. I'm happy with double the winner's time normally. :)

    A good swim. The only good non-surf-club-organised swim on the calendar in my opinion. A shame they moved it and it clashed with the Shark Island swim.

    Talking of sharks, I didn't notice it this morning, but reading the comments about last year's swim reminded me how quiet it was this morning - no constant overhead din from the news helicopters hoping for footage of a grey suited visitor!

    I've done this swim every year since 2005.... is it my taste buds, or is the harbour tasting cleaner and cleaner each year?


  8. Hi Anthony,
    Yeah do what he says (Bambi).
    Don't take it too seriously though, you may end up becoming a swimming tragic like him.
    I'd also suggest joining an adult swim class or squad at a nearby pool.
    As your pool time improve, so will your performance in open water.

  9. Hello Thrill Seekers,
    Bonbeach was amazing today...perfect in every way. Just wanted to say CONGRATULATIONS to my good friend CON on completing his 250th open water swim today. What an amazing milestone. Now that's a whole lot of kilometres! Keep up the inspirational effort Con.....I wanna be just like you when I grow up!

  10. Re working out the distance of the swims - My technique: I go to the best times and calibrate it out from there. For example, the best time in the 2k harbour swim was 19:28, which is what Grant Hackett would do. Consider that vs. my time and how I felt about it.
    I did the Harbour swims and think the 1km was 1 or 2 hundred metres too long, and the 2km a few hundred metres short.
    Thanks to the organisers, it was a great day and a fantastic backdrop.

  11. Cronulla - Revenge of the Purple People-Eaters

    On Saturday morning I inadvertently pranked a fellow-swimmer at Coogee by telling her that the swarm of Purple Jellyfish lurking just beyond the breakers was quite harmless. She was not happy yesterday after then swimming through the swarm and being stung many times by those same purple jellyfish. It was an honest mistake, albeit a little ill-informed.
    Today was payback day.
    With the same Easterly wind blowing in at Cronulla and tell-tale purple blobs washed up along the shoreline, I knew it would not be an easy swim.
    King Neptune served up hundreds of stinging purple jellyfish at Cronulla today. Not as thick as at Coogee yesterday, but difficult to swim through nevertheless. Then into the mix he added thousands of the harmless white jellyblubbers, so swimmers could not be sure if they were grabbing a harmless jellyblubber or a stinger with every stroke.
    I did the 1k "warm-up" swim first. I swam into a few stingers on the way out, a couple of them brushed my legs with their tentacles, some little stings, but no trouble at all.
    I had a plan to avoid the stingers in the main 2.3k swim. I knew where they would be, and by swimming with my head forward in the clear water, I could spot them and meander past before they got me. As I approached the first turning buoy in deep water about 400m out, I was congratulating myself on my successful strategy. I never saw the creature that hit me in the back, but it must have been a whopper. It felt like I had been tasered in the kidneys. Like a slow racehorse that had been jiggered by an unscrupulous trainer, I accelerated in the water to get away from the swarm.
    Actually the sting wore off quite quickly, so by the time I finished the race it had gone. On the way back in I had made friends with the little purple jellyfish and quite enjoyed watching them swimming underwater. The sea bottom around Shark Island was lovely with plenty of fish to be seen in the clear water. I really enjoyed these swims today

  12. Something is deffo up with the times/length of the sydney harbour swim last sunday.
    I did the 1km in 22minutes, and my sister (rival) did the 2km in 26......I dont think so!! Either the 1km was too long, or the 2km was too short!

  13. I know this is going to be contentious, but I was just looking at the photos from Shark Island (it's a slow day at work) and noticed in the "old farts" wave three women on the start line standing in front of some "boof head" looking blokes. As a "boof head" I have a bit of a problem when there are complaints from women swimmers about the contact being made during the swim (they don't seem to recognise that they may have moved into the path of the faster swimmer overtaking them!).

    Now, the three lovely ladies in the photo have probably never complained about the biffo and it's nothing personal against them (I don't know them), but given that the women in the over 50's category were much slower than the men, why would they position themselves there? I hoped they moved back when the race started or I hope they understood that they were standing in front of people who are faster than them and are likely to swim/run over the top of them. Just trying to put a bit of balance into the argument.

    I have chosen to remain anonymous because, although I am a "boof-head", any of those 3 ladies could probably sort me out on land.

  14. Dear anonymous boofhead
    I know a couple of those ladies in the front of the old farts line up and they are very fast swimmers. They could probably beat you upside and backwards with one arm tied behind their backs.

    I take your point about slower swimmers moving in front of faster swimmers, and it frustrates me as much as it does you, but just because someone is female does not necessarily mean that she is a slow swimmer, although some of us (me included) are slower than some of you big boofy blokes. Mind you, I manage to beat the odd bloke along the way.

    Looking forward to staying out of your way and everyone else's!

  15. Awe Rosie, don't you do that to the boys. No need to stay out of our way. We look forward to a whole lotta Rosie going on; upside, backwards and tied up. And I like my women fast, a cracklin' Rosie makes me smile, however the times show that not one broke 41mins, which puts about 14 of the boofheads ahead of them.

    But Rosie, you're alright, I did notice that they beat most of the guys over 50 so I can see how it can be hard for them to work out how to best position themselves at the start. The subtext here is really hotting up...looks like it's me and you again tonight, Rosie?

    Anonymous Boofhead

  16. Good point fellow "boofhead".

    There is nothing wrong with being honest.

    In all sports women are a little slower. I don't imagine it changes by age category. I had the same thing happen recently. I just requested that they line up behind me and they were happy to comply. I think some people just get overexcited before the race.


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