Sunday, March 21, 2010

South West Rocks, Balmoral...

Sensational day at South West Rocks, when the 1st and 2nd placegetters were penalised 3 mins 30 secs each for "missing" a couple of guide booees along the course. Both did the course by respecting the key booees, but a vociferous protest from 3rd brought the penalties after they swam outside guide booees laid in between. Rough? Tell us what you think...

Balmoral had 1,000 we're told, although at the time of writing we're still waiting on the results.  Just proves what we've been saying: the growth in the sport is at the 1km end. Shows there's a demand, need for shorter swims.

Tell us what you think...


  1. Balmoral Swim organisers were overwhelmed by the number of late entries and had to send a swarm of buzzy worker bees (I'd say the average age of the volunteers is 60) up the hill in search of extra entry forms.

    The swim started 15 minutes late, but that wasn't an issue.

    I sort of enjoyed the 'thrash' (over in a blink and no time to ogle the marine life) though I did get kicked in the jaw - it was teeth clashing. That wasn't an issue, though it could've been!

    After the swim, I heard others complaining about the congestion. I think the 1000 estimate is on the mark and shows a definite demand for the 1 km event. It was Sardinesville on the beach.

    Still, this didn't detract from the relaxed, community feel - Rob Hurst's 84-year-old dad did the swim and members of the Queenscliff surf club wore black armbands to honour the memory of Saxon Bird.

    A minute's silence before the swim gave us all pause for thought.

  2. I think the SWR incident was a little rough on 1st and 2nd. The briefing wasn't exactly clear on everything and I understand that the young bloke who won was following a surf club paddler? We need to hear from the people up front though. I'm sure there were plenty of people who cut cans and I saw a lot overshoot the last can so it wasn't just those two who had problems.

    And first prize was only a plate?? So, unless I really thought I was in with a chance (and I was low on crockery) I probably wouldn't have bothered protesting. It'd be interesting to hear how close 3rd was when the incident occurred. But it'd be a brave person to say he thought he could have taken 2nd place off Boland. Maybe we need a swim-off.

    Overall, I thought the swim was just OK, the course was a bit weird. Why not a straight line from the gaol to the rocks? And that card system at the start could probably go. But, the volunteers all worked hard, the surf-club put on a good lunch and presentation, and were very welcoming. I had a good long weekend. Thanks SWR surf club.


    John Haw

  3. penalty at SWR...the briefing was a bit muddled, to say the least! personally i didn't even see any guide booees, and the key booees seemed a veeeery long way apart. Sam.

  4. Ahhh yes SWR. I can never remember if you keep the middle buoy on your left or right.It must be that you keep it on your left otherwise you could maybe run along the beach nearly the whole way. Anyway I'll bet Don B and Waylan M should have been @ 3 minutes ahead of the I correct???

  5. I was not at South West Rocks but, surely if a swimmer misses a bouy he should be recorded as Did Not Finish. That is what happens in all other sports!!!!

  6. Dear Anonymous. I didn't swim at SWR this year either but I have done it many other years. I think you'd need to know the course before making that comment. It is a long 3km course parallel to the beach. The missed booees have not been there on previous years and were much smaller than the three big main booees that they always have. Many other swims have guide booees in between the compulsory ones and I can understand how this happened. They should have made it clear at the briefing. I feel sorry for the first and second place getters and feel the penalty was over the top - they would have gained no advantage at all.

  7. Well part of the problem with SWR were the instructions. The swim was a beach start this year, not a water start and it was a mass start not wave starts. So first timers were talking to old timers beforehand about the course and then there was a bit of confusion about this at the briefing and people seeking clarification and not focussing on the course. The instructions for the course went something like.....Keep the first orange buoy you see out there on your left and all others on your left. No, no, I mean all others on your right. Except the last orange buoy, keep that on your left. There are reef buoys out there you might see, but ignore them, they're just warnings for the reef. If you go to close to them someone will tell you to swim away.

    The last buoy wasn't orange it was red, I don't know how to tell the difference between a reef buoy and a race buoy, and in reality if you wanted to you could have turned round the first buoy, run up the beach, swim around the last buoy and back in.

    The 14y.o. Kempsey kid that really won said it was his first ocean swim, so he was really up against it, but I hope he isn't put off by the experience. I too was unsure of the course and just relied on following others.

  8. Pity about the controversy at the South West Rocks swim. A three minute thirty second penalty seems a tad punitive in the circumstances.

    I think the organisers were trying to do the right thing by adding some guiding buoys (they have not been used in previous years). Unfortunately the end result was some confusion.

    That said I know a lot of people work very hard at the SWR club to provide a top quality ocean swimming experience and this year as in past years the club put on good event with great after-swim facilities.

    No doubt the organisers will address the issues from this year.

    It is an ocean swimming experience deserving of much larger numbers than it currently attracts.

    Chris Flanagan

  9. see quote below
    "buoy, and in reality if you wanted to you could have turned round the first buoy, run up the beach, swim around the last buoy and back in."

    This was my point. So the course hasn't really changed that could still run most of the way.
    Oh and I was correct...Waylan won and old Don came second......

  10. Missing buoys? Never have that problem... there are always plenty of people leading the way for me.

  11. Thanks for the support. I think that surf skis leading the swim on the course create confusion and could lead to other opportunities for protests.

    Also if a buoy is in play it should be identifiable ie a steward or marker.

    ps Keep it simple for old Don

    pps when is the swim off?

    Don Boland

  12. Doesn't this mean that "Old Don" should win the handicap section ?

  13. Agreed about Balmoral being packed, it was a strange contrast (still good) after Shark Island last week. Results are up at

  14. A great day spoilt by a very misleading and thoughtless briefing by someone who clearly had not thought it through and then who changed the incomplete instructions just for good measure. Can someome please convey to the luckless person doing the briefing that you don't have to yell into a megaphone just talk in to it.

    I lot of people missed the "Bouys" so be it, I understand that first past the post was well in front but then the rules are there for a reason.

    Please get rid of the small and confusing bouys.

    Can I suggest the ocean swimming should be giving out participant medals as running often is a great momento. I will be back next year.

  15. Balmoral was a nice swim although the large numbers of first timers seemed to lead to a number of breaststroke related incidences - Personally I copped a kick in the arm, a near miss to the face and numerous hits on the legs. I also got caught up behind a couple whilst rounding two of the buoys.

    Is there any way that for a charity swim like that signs can be put up or a mention at the race briefing asking anyone that is doing breaststroke to try get out to the edge of the pack?

    It will ultimately make it a better and easier swim for all involved.

  16. Congratulations to SWR on their swims for the past few years. They have a great location, a great town, really good food and a team spirit each year. I wanted to come up again this year and hope to next year.
    SWR have some different features like the handicap. This makes it an innovative swim. Something other swims could look at. They run it well for a smaller club. Remember that often clubs put on swims whilst many of their members are away at the national titles etc. This places a greater weight on resources and whilst we often take the micky out of swim mix ups like bouys etc in the end I'd say all swimmers appreciate the opportunity clubs like SWR give us for a challenge and fun whilst keeping fit.
    Place as many confusing bouys as you want. It only advantages the oldies who are a bit wiser and ask for clearer directions. Hard to protest if beaten by a 14 yr old who swims 17.07mins for 1500m. Possibly 3rd place saw Don B standing at the end and thought miracles couldn't happen. Some know better.

    David O'Brien

  17. SWR was an awesome experience, great town, good food, good accom, fantastic race and the $10 spread afterwards was a nice surprise.

    You could have given 5 minute penalties,I would still be eating their wake !

    I will be back!

    Anthony Midolo

  18. I agree with Alan Coull's comments - better to get rid of the guiding buoys and make it simple.

    The organisers should also consider redeploying the " in the water start " from previous years complete with the special starting apparatus which was jointly developed by NASA and RR ( thats Ron Royle not Rolls Royce ). It adds to the unique character of this event.

    Cant wait to get back there for next seasons swim.

    Chris Flanagan

  19. So many spirited responses about these the end "Swimming is the Winner", bringing all of these differing viewpoints together :)
    ~ Nicole

  20. The SWR swim for our family started out as a complete shambles... We turned up early for the "swimmers breakfast" much publicised on their website, only to find that nobody had told the surfclub that this was happening and therefore was not on.
    My cousin and my dad were going to enter the 700m swim from horsehoe bay around to the surfclub, only to find this swim had been cancelled (without notice.) As this was going to be there first ocean swim in some time they were not confident on entering the 2.5km swim, and were quite peeved as we had made a large effort to be there.
    Luckily my brother unselfishly pulled out of the main swim to fill the space required in the team relay event, so we all could participate.
    If you want to draw people to races as these which are held in "remote" areas, you need to have your website correct clear and updated, as people are travelling quite a distance to put money into your towns pockets.
    We enjoyed the actual swim, and since we were the only team we won the relay event! And then I won the lucky door prize as we left!!
    We had a great day, but it was certainly more to good luck than good management.

  21. I was given third after the two young lads were given a handicap for missing the cans, maybe they should have been Dq'ed?? As you do for not going around the course. Not meaning to be harsh but that is the usual rules. I was with 1st and 2nd (not including the two front runners) and we were fighting it out for 3/4 of the way, the two young lads were no where to be seen, so from my point of view they were way out in front, a good effort but pity they missed the can. Good for me!
    Yeah a straight line from the goal to the surf club would be ideal or more cans. Then it would be a goal swim. The thing that egged me was the front paddler on the ski was wearing a fluro orange shirt! The same colour as the turning cans. Also why don't these swims have different colourd caps for age groups? The water start and handicap also worked well in previous years. Pity the Surf Nationals were on the same weekend.
    Great swim put on by the club and a great event for South West Rocks. The plates were a nice touch for place getters. I am sure the two young fellas will be back and hungrier than this year!
    Jamie (3rd overall).

  22. ah yes SWR. To start I am Waylans dad so will try not to seem too biased.Donny also taught my daughter to ride about 20 years ago and hes a fair bloke
    For the record it was Waylans first ocean swim, but he did win the Glenbawn classic in his first ever distance swim earlier this year.His time for the 1500 is 17.17.00 but that 17.07 is a heartbeat away. I was in the water as well and it was my first ocean swim too,and this is what I saw...I was at about 120th after the first can and following feet to what I thought was the second can when I saw another smaller can to my left while breathing (no bilateral for me)and stopped to have a look .yes it was a small can but the field ahead have all gone to the right of it so it must be a relay marker or something so follow the rest and we,ll be right.This means that at least 100 people missed that can and by some miracle 3 people (or so) went round it. I was told that the kayak is supposed to paddle the course ( is this correct?) but must not have on this occasion.
    My two cents is that the start needs to be changed from this years(ive been a spectator in previous years and the water starts seem to get them away smoother, and, more and larger cans. (forster last weekend had plenty of large cans close together and it was very easy to navigate the course even for me)The end result.? Waylan is over it and speaking to Don at Forster so is he. Cant wait for next year though
    ps Waylan was third at forster(have to teach him to run on sand)
    neil 63rd overall at SWR ( but apparently should have been dqed along with almost everyone after third apparently)
    I will now go and stand in the naughty corner with the rest of the children.


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