Swimming in the Pier to Perignon event is a season highlight for many reasons.
It's a great swim - 4.5 km from Sorrento front beach along the coast til you hit Portsea front beach.
It's hard to get into - only 700 spots which filled up within a day of entries opening.
It is an extremely beautiful part of the world. Gorgeous coast, clear water.
This year has been a bad season for ocean swimming down south because of terrible weather - lots of rain resulting in awful water conditions.
And an added bonus for me this year was meeting my on line swimming and tweeting colleagues AquaGirl and Dolphin Jo.
We caught up on the start line and it was lovely to have some new swimming buddies to bond with.
For a change this summer, the weather forecast was promising, high 20s and light breezes.
So my swimming buddy and I got down the night before, had our pre race pasta and wine at a friendly Italian bistro in Sorrento and got an early night.
Registration opens at 9.30. We were there at 9.15 as excited as kids on a school excursion (no, more excited, I went on some pretty boring school excursions).
Conditions were really picture perfect. Calm, sunny and benign.
Thanks to our buddy, Age journalist Russell Skelton, who had written about a competitor swimming over a shark, my sb was in a state of mild anxiety, but the organisers assured her it was a dolphin, not a shark, that the swimmer saw in a year gone by (well they would say that wouldn't they).
P to P does things a bit differently. We all wear pink caps and we all go off together. Well sort of together. Lots of competitors (you know who you are) ignored the organisers pleas to get back towards the shore and started walking out before the start signal. So it was a water start as we all followed them to get that extra what, 10 seconds? advantage of not starting on the beach.
It is quite an occasion. Bands, fly overs, in previous years even a cannon. This year, I presume because we had the Premier (who started the race with a mate over 20 years ago) swimming, we also had a water rescue boat. As you might remember, we lost Prime Minister Harold Holt in water not far from there (but way more dangerous) several years ago. We don't want it to happen again, which is unlikely as Big Ted is a really good swimmer. He finished in a handy 45 minutes. Meanwhile the rescue boat brought up the rear.
Swimming for 4.5 km really allows you to get your act together. Plenty of time to get into a good rhythm, think of sharks, dismiss thoughts of sharks, wonder how far you've got to go, wonder why you can't see any lifesavers, wonder if you are going the right way, wonder if you should be swimming closer to the shore or further out to take advantage of the current.
This is my fourth crack at this swim and I was reasonably confident that I knew what I was doing. I decided to stay out wide and go with the flow. I felt well trained, ready and raring to go.
My goal with this swim is to beat an hour - the first two years I didn't and last year I did it in 56 minutes. Last year was also special because I swam it with my brother who came out from the UK to do this as a 50th birthday treat. He beat me, as usual, but it was great to have that sibling rivalry alive and well after so many years.
There are probably as many opinions on how to do the event as there are competitors - go wide, hug the coast, swim through the boats, swim around them.
I decided to go out and take my chances, and keep my eyes on the pack in front.
This year, I did have some swimming neighbours who were within sight for the whole course. Last year it felt like I did the whole race on my own.
It really is a simple course. Get in at Sorrento, turn left at first buoy, follow the coast, turn left at next buoy - which is at Portsea - pass third and final buoy close to shore and you're there.
It gets a bit choppy around Point King, and you want to watch out for boats and the Sorrento ferry, but there really are no hazards with this one.
No jelly fish this year. And I didn't see any lifesavers either. I guess they were there, but not within my sight until I turned for home at Portsea front beach.
A few minutes of strong stroking gets you to the finish line - tide not impossible this year.
Corssed the finish line at clocked in at 52.22. Very happy. A PB and way faster than I could ever swim in the pool. Got to love that strong current.
It was a very long walk to get water - the whole length of the front beach and then up into the reserve where there was a long line of thirsty and hungry competitors. But how can you complain when they give you bottles of water, muffins, free sausage sandwiches, a cap, and t shirt for bragging rights.
That's the last swim of the season I have scheduled and it was a great season ender, unless I'm tempted by a few more while the weather permits.
Finished off with world's best vanilla slice in Sorrento. And decided to sleep in and miss squad tomorrow. But I will be back on Tuesday. Promise, coach!