Monday, April 26, 2010

Lake swims in Sydney, swell rises for Bondee...

Coogee-Bondi conditions seemed Yrpean lake-like, judging by reports and pics we've received so far, but a lovely day was had by all, albeit cool. Except for some punters wondering whether it really was 5km. We'll wheel out our Goggle Earth later to see for ourselves.

Conditions at Bondee on swim am seem very different: looks like an onshore breeze breaking up the surface, swell's up (one website claimed 2-3m!), but surfcam on Coastalwatch, which predicted "1 ft", looked nowhere near that big. But the break looked long, and swim start is just prior to low tide, so it should be interesting with Bondee's banks.

But tell us what you thought...


  1. Coogee to Bondi, amazingly smooth, maybe just the hint of a roll pass Cloe up along the cliffs to the Cemetery. The flatest conditions I've ever experienced!!

    Last night chatting over a beer about the day with my 92 year old uncle after he had marched. One small piece of Anzac Day Etiquette, you don't applaud after the playing of The Last Post.

  2. I get 4.28km, but it was a great swim and even at that distance I cannot believe how fast the swim went ... there must have been a nice current there as well:

  3. My first thought after I parked and watched a 5-6 foot set march in was that the event would be cancelled... but up the northern only the occasional set was moving through the start area...

    Entered both swims, which after completing the 1km race, was possibly wishful thinking, however turned out to be a lucky move with the cancellation of the longer swim.

    Good staggering of the limited 1km swimmers considering conditions and abilities. Not sure if the guys/gals who swam out hugging the rocks gained anything as it seemed waves were breaking through section where as it was a bit more random in front of start line. Over 30's got a clean run out (me) but the group before get cleaned up well and truly.

    Bumped into a large fish, one brown thong and an apple all caught in the large rip just after the furthest buoy.

    A little disappointed they cancelled the longer swim, but I can see their point. Was getting bigger and choppier and would have been dangerous with tired swimmers finishing in large close out waves, with little change of avoiding them.

    I think i heard they will re-run next week?



  4. What a glorious swim!

    The first ocean swim I did was the Coogee Island challenge a few years ago and the challenge was exactly why I did it - to see if I could. Found that I absolutely loved it and was hooked. This swim was the same for me - wanted to see if I could manage the distance and found myself inspired by ocean swimming all over again.

    Obviously one of the charms of ocean swimming is dealing with the sea conditions but for this one I wasn't too disappointed by the incredibly flat sea as I'd had some concerns about making the distance under 2 hours.

    Speaking of which, I'm one of those with doubts about the distance - even in flat water, I find it hard to believe I could swim 5km in under 1:15 when it takes me 1:40 in a pool.

    Managed to get into a nice rhythm and hardly had to look at the buoys (which though not numerous were large enough to please even Paul, I would have thought) because I found myself in a group who were navigating better than I can ever manage, so I just watched the others and didn't notice the buoys until they were right next to me. Didn't see a couple of the last few so it was a shock to look up and see the bay at Bondi opening up before me - had thought there was much further to go.

    Despite the lack of sun the still water made for good visibility and there was plenty to see - some beautiful beds of weed with small fish, swarms of translucent white jellyfish, huge shoals of quite large fish coming into Bondi, and of course the cliffs on the left for most of the way.

    Long may this continue in its current format (not requiring a paddler per swimmer) - it's one of the best swims in the calendar. Can't wait for next year's - to see if I can manage it with waves!

  5. Interesting conditions today at Bondi - what a contrast from yesterday. Was pretty interesting going out the back of the break after the swim was called off, while the waves didn't seem to have much power, they certainly had height!

    Bondi-Coogee was awesome, Last Post was most welcome as a reminder of the sacrifices of others, putting our own efforts for the day into a rightfully humble context. Did anyone count the jellyfish? Reminded me and others of Avatar, was a splendid start to a memorable swim - thanks to the organisers for pursuing a splendid vision.

    For Bondi today, was a shame, but once I'd actually gone out there at about 11am you could see why they called it as such. The first half of the field would probably have made it.. which isn't really enough for the insurance people.

    The lifeguards were kept busy enough as it was with the 30-40 of us out there, full credit to them for bothering to look after the he-men who decided to see what it was like.

    I'll happily admit that I have no idea about the constraints on equipment hire / organisation required if a re-run of Bondi is to be held, but there's plenty of time in May so as to not conflict with other swims? Hope we get a chance to get out there, it'd be a shame to miss out on the last regular swim before winter.

  6. A shame about Bondi Blue Water (High?), but it was for the best.

    The buoy out near Ben Buckler was twice dragged from its mooring as an unruly surf smashed onto the rocks, and beyond the foaming breakers the white caps signalled a spew-inducing swell.

    The male winner of the 1 km swim, when asked to give advice to those doing the 2.4 km event, initially joked: "Don't do it."

    I'd already made up my mind.

  7. RE: cancelled Bondi swim today

    I don't know....... while I have sympathy for the organisers and rescue teams, I just can't help thinking that ocean swimming is becoming lame.

    Over the last five years races are being cancelled more often than not. As soon as there is any challenge - it is off.

    Today was choppey and no doubt some swimmmers would have struggled but jeepas - 5 years ago we would have swum in seas 10 times worse than that.....if you were not up to it, then you did not opt in.

    Now days unless it is calm as the local swimming pool - you might as well stay in bed.

    I can understand the constraints and the need to bring everyone back in one piece but I miss the old days when ocean swimming was a challenge and not just a swim.

  8. Biggest Blowup on Calmest Day. Spot Anderson disqualified. The video would be worth a quid.

    In the middle of the Coogee-Bondi swim the lead group had split. Spot went left where he could see the dog-leg buoy was. Luan Rowe told me she couldn't see the buoy...until it started moving. What! Moving?

    Back to Spot who had quietly slipped away from the leaders (some faster than himself) because he saw they were heading in the wrong direction & would have to turn back hard left to go round the buoy. Spot was working hard, knowing he was going to grab a handy lead, when he saw a crew at the buoy. They took it out 200 metres to where the lead pack was heading taking away Spot's whole advantage. He cracked up (& for those who know Spot can really crack) & let loose with words that could be heard a half mile away.

    He was so "filthy about it" he had to climb onto a rescue board to get his breath & swear some more. Which was when Race Director Mermaid Joanna came along, looked and ruled 'you're on a board, you're disqualified'. Well we'd all love to see the closeup video of this moment - Spot's face - Jo's face - not that - look I'm a friend of both these larger than life personalities but where are the TV cameras when you want them? They were at Bondi the next day to watch Abbot register for a called-off swim.

    I can commiserate with Spot because in the first Coogee-Bondi in 2001 my mate Dennis beat me by cutting that buoy, with others, but it seems the lesson from 2010 is when you start to complain STAY IN THE WATER.

  9. What a shame for everyone at Bondi. A bright sunny day for one of my rare trips south of the Harbour Bridge. Oh well...ring the wife to tell her to pick me up early. No mobile & no change so we'll get some at the friendly McDonalds at Bondi. "Got 4 fifty cents for the phone?" I enquire. My $2 is taken and a flurry of activity later a neat little carboard tray with 4 soft serve ice creams appears. My quizzical look is answered with "you want 4 fifty cent cone, no?"

    When they set the new date for the swim, I'm coming back with an interpreter - as I think there's another lingo being used for the city beaches...

  10. How did Terry Mcgee witness all this from a kilometre behind?

  11. I was actually 10 kilometres away with Shelley Clarke at my father's WWII mates reunion but after hearing of the classic blowup I did interview (& quote) Spot, Luan, Joanna and some 4 other swimmers who saw it from a distance. I'd loved to have been on the Spot with a camera - not one kilometre behind as Anon unkindly predicts (hiding his/her identity).

    I'd like to have asked the crew who moved the buoy why but didn't get a chance.

  12. Foiled again! After a non-start in the Tama to Cloey swim, I get to stand on the beach again this morning (I'm starting to think my age is a handicap in these things, not an asset).

    And having to listen to the commentators encouraging the crowd to cheer for the yellow-capped swimmers (those same yellow-cappers who were on the beach ready to start when the race was called off!) as they crashed through the finish, was the icing on the cake!

    Let's hope they might run it again next week, (though it will clash with the opening day of the 'bergs!).

  13. Hanging for the announcement of the Bondi triangle re-run.. next week? May? Anytime before June is good for me :)

  14. When I left my leafy suburb for the Bondi swim I was charged congestion tax to cross the Bridge. Where I come from we refer to the Southside as the Zoo because you have to pay to get in.

    And another thing, when I went to the Mollymook swim I discovered there was another bridge in Sydney! Called Tom's Ugly Bridge or something like that. I did not realise the 'Cronulla line' was about keeping the ugly people in the Shire.

  15. Standing at the top of the McKenzie Buoy not only did I hear the ruckus going on in the cove but I could see the happenings and I believe more than I few swimmers "missed" the inner marker near Tama. I propose that the swim course for all events be posted on a big bill board for participants to read in their own time and that the briefing is kept short and sweet w safety info only. Too many swimmers get more confused by the briefings and as we are a chatty lot it seems the message never fully gets thru. Food for thought.

  16. Terry well done yourself for solving the mystery. Nicolee and I walked while everyone else swam and we witnessed the could hear the colourful language for many miles so you'd have to be deaf to miss it...but we didnt know for sure what happened.

    Interestingly, as they moved the buoy we did comment that the '2nd' pack would be annoyed as they just lost their navigational advantage. So I can appreciate the emotion although it was a bit OTT. I was getting more stressed walking and listening to it than I would have been swimming and worrying about Mr Chompy!

    Thanks for the update Terry


  17. Is anyone else having trouble getting the number off their arm from Monday's cancelled 2.4 - it's almost like it isn't meant to come off?

  18. Have just got the news from Bondi about the 50% discount on next year's swim only for those who registered on the day last weekend. What would the club do if next year everyone decided to wait until the day of the swim to register? I think this is an unfair decision.

  19. Having just read the response from the Bondi Blue Water, I feel I've been had. If I read and understand the response correctly, those who entered late on the day will receive a 50% discount when they hold the swim next season!! I can appreciate the gesture of "goodwill" but this discriminatory stance against the people who are actually organised (those that pre-register) enabling such an organisation to prepare, make judgements on numbers and plan the day, just doesn't sit well with me. Why doesn't every swimmer get treated equally - I realise that entry funds are non-refundable; but why should this not also apply to people who only paid on the day. My swim journeys require overnight stays and 400km round trips. It was great to see my ocean swim friends at Bondi, but hey, what a disappointment with this "inequality" outcome.

  20. I agree with Bambi. I had entered both swims in advance and while I also understand that entry fees are not refundable, and do not expect them to be refunded, it is unfair to discriminate against those who entered beforehand. I know that those entered on the day paid extra, but, I wonder, if there were not enough pre-entries would there be a swim at all?

    I ask the Bondi Bluewater organisers to reconsider this. I also wish them better luck next year. How unfortunate to go from Sunday's lake-like conditions to such boisterous surf on Monday!

    Thank you

  21. Jane Gillings idea for the Tama swimmers not allowed to swim really really should be looked at by all the clubs. Instead of money off next year (which reduces next year's fund raising) why not send out tax receipts for the money as a donation which people can claim this year.

    It solves the problem of giving some immediate recognition to people who can't swim without losing fundraising and if the clubs make a plan together they can announce it straight away at any race that's called off. A QUICK solution to stop these arguments.

  22. While I'm annoyed the swim can't go ahead on another date (having paid my $30 and wanting something more for it than a sense of defused anticipation), can we deliver all comments given the following:

    - Late entries paid $40 (or 70 for both) and get $15 or $35 off next year's entries, so pay $15 or $25 at the discount rate, for $55 or $95 total. Earlier entries paid $30 or $50, and pay $30 or $50 next year, for $60 or $100 total. Seems the compensation scheme works pretty well, in that it comes pretty close to reimbursing the extra cost for swimmers who paid on the day.

    - Bondi Surf Club does have outgoings to pay, although I was surprised to see them packing up the BBQ at 11:45pm, just before prime feedin' time. Cost of bouys is no doubt substantial. I wonder if we paid $5-10 extra (for a good cause) they'd be able to (a) pocket the profits from the original event and (b) cover costs for a re-run?

  23. Please, we are talking about $30 aren't we? Not $3000

  24. The deductions are a good idea, indeed I was asking about this the other day. It sounds like clubs would need to be careful in their handling of the matter - the exact response to my query was:

    ".. To be deductible, the donation would have to be (1) truly optional and (2) a separate amount from the regular entry fee (which would have to be a reasonable amount, otherwise it looks very suspicious). Also, of course, the receipient would have to be a registered charity etc."

  25. Re tax deductions for "donations" of entry fees: I checked the relevant legislation (Income Tax Assessment Act 1997, Div 30) regarding tax deductions and could find neither the Bondi Surf Bathers' Life Saving Club nor Surf Life Saving Australia listed as an eligible organisation for which donations are tax deductible. Only organisations listed in the legislation can issue receipts for tax deductions. Nor could I find anything on the SLSA website about donations and receipts for tax deductions.

    Perhaps there is a tax lawyer/accountant out there who knows the legislation better than me who can confirm or deny this?

  26. I too have been unlucky enough to stand on the sand at Tama and then Bondi. Don't mind that fees are forfeited, especially when it supports surf clubs, CanToo, etc. That's the nature of the ocean swimming game.

    But I do think it's a poor call to give discount entries only to the one-the-day entries. Hopefully common sense will prevail. I'll reconsider entering next year if the current decision stands. I don't support the idea above that late entries should be reimbursed to cover the surcharge for entering late.

  27. RE Bondi refund

    I am one of those people who paid late. I now do this because of the number of times swims are cancelled. I figure I will be ahead if I pay the extra $10 each time I swim.

    There are two issues:
    1. Bondi should not take all our money on the day and then 10 minutes after doing so - cancel the race. I appreciate that conditions change but I am not convinced they changed last MOnday. The organisers just decided that they could not cope. I think perhaps they should have thought about this before taking everyone's money.

    2. Those who register early, do so on the basis that they pay less but have no guarantee of a swim. Those who pay more on the day, do so because they chose to pay more for the certainty of swimming. So I do think there is a difference when it comes to refunds.

    Having said that - I think perhaps Bondi should not refund anyone but be more decisive next year re their ability to cope with the conditions.

  28. yes, we are talking about $30 not $3000 but when it happens a few times in a row then it adds up. And while I am happy to support the clubs and don't expect a refund when it states clearly that none will be given, if I don't get to swim, due conditions which were pretty obvious from the start, I think that there should be some compensation for all non-racers, not just those who entered on the day, in fairness to those who plan ahead and help organisers put the race on by giving them the money up front.

  29. Perhaps, with the popularity of Ocean swimming gaining momentum, and numbers on the rise, if not high already, clubs will have to decide beforehand how many swimmers they will take and when that quota is reached that's it. No further greed and ideally a well run swim to be had by all. All that registered in time/online that is.

    I have witnessed quite a few swims this season where, rego , delayed starts and cancellations have been big issues. It causes slight agro in an otherwise extremely fun and friendly crowd.

    I have personally entered swims early that I have not swum and I see that as a donation to a worthy cause ie surf lifesaving clubs!!! ps cannot believe they are not registered charities??

  30. I entered in advance, and even though I didn't swim I'm more than happy to make that small contribution to my surf club (Bondi), and Can Too.

    The organisers did all they could to push the swim ahead - but it was eventually called off at the advice of the Waverley lifeguards, who (with the lifesavers) were pulling people out non-stop.

    Some commentators on this blob need to look forward, not back at the glory days when you could get pounded by a tornado, fight a sea serpent, and still make it back in time for tea.

    The fact is, ocean swims are growing, and are attracting more everyday pool-swimmers. As such, not all entrants are equipped to deal with big seas like Sunday's. But still they venture in.

    This leads to a high-risk scenario.

    Some competitors would be fine in these conditions. But thought needs to be given to those who wouldn't be fine. Who head in regardless of their ability to cope.

    Nobody wants to call a swim off, but Bondi on Sunday was dangerous due to the risk of a big sea and inexperienced swimmers. Even the elites were saying how dangerous it was, with one friend coming out having had a few hundred kgs of water crash directly onto her back.

    Small wonder so many couldn't even make it out past the break, into a sideways rip that pushed a can up onto the rocks.

    In an ideal world, it should be left up to the swimmer as to whether he or she decides to swim.

    But, as is being increasingly witnessed, there are too many have-a-go swimmers who need to have the decision made for them.

    Undoubtedly, ocean swimming is growing thanks to Mr. Ellercamp and his merry website. But isn't it also a fact that we'll witness an increase in cancellations as a result?


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