Sunday, February 20, 2011

Different strokes at Malabar...

Just back from Malabar, which is a pretty cove, also known as Long Bay, in Sydney's south-eastern suburbs. Water was glorious, perfect even, apart from the fact that there were no waves at all. At all. It was a pool swimmers' swim. Flat, even, little current, clear, clean water, not even stingers -- ah, yes, one punter was stung by a bluey at the outer reaches of the 2.37km course. But that's not much, for the rest of us. Sorry for the punter, however.

It was stiflingly hot, too. Stiflingly. Race organiser Murray Rose promised us a southerly at 12 noon. And during the longer swim, as we stood in waist deep water, we felt a sou'-easter waft around our face, tantalisingly, teasingly. It was so stiflingly hot. Water temp c. 23C. Noice.

In water like that, there's not much point us sitting on turning booees out in the sea taking pitchers o' punters schlepping around the course. After we'd observed the starts, they all were gone, and there are only so many images of swimmers in flat water one can see before one screams. So we shot video again, and this time, for something a little different, we decided to focus on stroke technique. Not as a class, but as a demonstration of the vast array of strokes on display in an ocean swim. If there are 880 swimmers in a swim, as there were today, then there'll be 880 different strokes. Some of them weird, some of them wonderful (you work out which is which). Anyway, we'll post this video on our report page on later tonight (Sundee).

Hard to believe Malabar/Long Bay used to be one of Sydney's most polluted beaches, with the Malabar sewage treatment works pumping out the nasty stuff just around the point for so many years. The deep ocean outfalls changed all that, however. Now the nasty stuff is spread more widely, and comes in at Cronulla, albeit in far weaker strengths.

It's a long day. We left Casa Sparkle at 0700, and returned at 1600. It's a long day. But we took a bit of extra time afterwards to show our new friend, Aida, who's Mexican now living in Belgium, around the eastern suburbs. Aida -- first person we've met with an opera named after them -- is a friend of Shelley Clarke from the FINA world open water circuit. Aida picked up 1sts in her age group in both the 1km and the 2.37km today. That's Aida above. We had lunch in that cafe strip at Bronte. Aida ordered an "Aussie Burger", and couldn't believe the size of it. "How do I eat it?" she cried. No wonder we're going the way of the Americanos el Norte with obesity in Stra'a.


  1. Not much to add to os.c's comments except I very much enjoyed HG's amusing banter, especially when he was attesting to the distance - Murray Rose measured the course himself, the old fashioned way, with a tape measure. I like the way we're corralled in the park behind the bay before and after the swim. I finally met some of those names I've long noticed in my age group. The swim wasn't all that easy but that's prob a reflection of my abilities - there was an undertow on the way back after the last turning buoy - must ask a local how to avoid that next year. For a while I felt I was going nowhere and I know I was too close to the headland. To organisers: We appreciate how much effort goes on behind the scenes so that the event runs so smoothly. Thank you for a great day. J.

  2. More than one punter was stung. I got stung by something far out (I didn't see what it was) which has turned very ugly and is still stinging 9 hours later. I don't think it was a bluebottle as I've had those. Otherwise it was a perfect swim, congratulations to the organisers!

  3. Can't say I was looking forward to this swim, as I had a somewhat jaundiced view of Malabar due to my last experience there about three years ago, when it was raining, choppy, the sea was infested with trilobites, or amoeba or some strange sea creature and I received my first and second bluebottle stings - by the same bluie.

    (Tip for those who haven't yet been stung. When you find a blue tentacle wrapped round your right arm and you pull it off, put it BEHIND you, not in front of you like I did.)

    Mr Oceanswims was there that day and knows the real name of the strange creatures that abounded that day. He also helped me with my bluebottle sting. The conversation went as follows:

    Whinging Pom. "I got stung (sob)"
    OcS: "The best treatment for that is a hot shower"
    WP; "Is there a hot shower around here?"
    OcS: "No"
    WP: "Thanks a lot"

    Anyway that was 3 or so years ago. This year was a much better experience.

    My first impression on reaching Malabar was that it looked very different. Much more built up, much bigger beach, LOTS of people, pounding surf.

    As the OcS preamble had promised a surf free start this, not to mention the total transformation of the entire beach, confused me - at least until I realised I was at Maroubra.

    Into the car, on to Malabar, parked illegally on grass due to dearth of parking spots (and didn't get booked, hoorah) and it was so much nicer - small, friendly, flat.

    And what a lovely swim. No difficulty navigating, easy start, minimal chop, warm water, efficient friendly organisation, decent pressies (nice hat to cover my thinning - well, nonexistent really - hair plus very useful sunscreen) and entertaining and well informed commentary, plus some great oldies (music that is - Jan & Dean, Beach Boys, Grateful Dead).

    There weren't too many people, I didn't see any biff at the start or throughout the swim and no bluies thank goodness.

    All for a very reasonable $30. I must say I much prefer these small local swims to the big blockbusters and this was certainly the most pleasant swim I've done this year.

    Many thanks to the organisers and all involved.

  4. Oceanswimming is dangerous.
    After the swim walked into a post, old timers moment, St. Johns ambulance amd Nurse Sparkle to the rescue. Thankyou.
    I have now concluded oceanswimming is not the danger it is the Glisterner with his 10 meter Telephoto lens
    Peter Mccrae


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