Friday, February 25, 2011

Swimming the heads - vainglorious or just glorious?

I just noticed that one G Greer (Germaine?) posted a message criticising OsC and his friends' trans-Heads swim, saying the chances of being eaten are greater over the depths of the channel and that a shark-induced fatality would set back the cause of ocean swimming.

He/she suggested this was a vainglorious and selfish stunt.

I'm not one to jump thoughtlessly to OsC's defence, particularly after being called a professional Pom by him (I'm an amateur Pom/Aussie), but I thought this a tad harsh, on the facts at least.

Given that the channel between the Heads is deep and that a lot of nasty snappy bitey things go in and out of the Heads, does this make it more likely that an attack will occur? I'm not so sure.

Admittedly, you don't see many swimmers between the heads but most shark sughtings, attacks, etc seem to happen in shallow waters. The only fatality in Sydney since the war was in the harbour in knee deep water. The attack on a diver last year was off Garden Island - in the close vicinity of two ocean swims this year.

And I seem to remember some guy having a small chunk taken out of him in the river at Parramatta about 10 years ago.
Certainly sharks breed at near the Spit, so they have to go past Balmoral to get there - scene of another ocean swim in March.

Let's face it, there are sharks out there. Your chances of being eaten are improved by going out at shark dinner time (dawn or dusk), looking like a seal in a wet suit (so they say, whoever they are) and swimming alone.

Does deeper water and a busy channel equate to greater risk for a group of people in budgies, swimming outside feeding time? I'm not so sure - and call me vainglorious but I'd love to do such a swim, if I had the stamina. And I'd gladly increase my shart attack risk a tad by weraing a wet suit if it kept the stingers away.




  1. "Vainglorious" is a little harsh.
    I'd suggest there's no time for vanity when you're out there with your head down, pushing your individual mental and physical boundaries.
    Plenty of support craft for the crossing, including 2 boats from Sydney Maritime Rescue.
    But not an elite swimmer in sight. Just a bunch of ordinary mug swimmers doing extraordinary things.

    Still, as a title of affection for the group, I guess "Vainglourious Basterds" could work.
    As in: "I wonder what that bunch of vainglourious basterds are planning to do next?"

  2. don't worry, g greer's been a bit off for a few years now

    liz hill

  3. If these fellas were splashing like shark whores across the heads at dusk, dressed as seals, in suits made of offal and a channel full of berley, then you'd have a point of calling them vainglorious.

    But base jumping this is not. If you're looking for a sport that brings you close to dying a bloody death, then statistically ocean swimming wouldn't even come close to sports like rugby or ice hockey.

    One or two shark attacks wouldn't change those odds. All it would do is simply make sharks a more high profile risk, like terrorism or crocodiles or lightning strikes, all which are leisure time options if you're of that mindset.

    Sure a shark attack could happen. And if it did, I'd be a bit more edgy, just as many of us were when there were three Sydney shark attacks in close succession in 2009. But I have on many occasions swam in training beyond the shark nets, along the coastlline to other beaches, and I've always done this with company (another swimmer and paddler) and have found it an excellent way to spend my time.

    I fully support anyone else who chooses to keep fit and challenge themselves in this slightly quirky way. And I'd rather share a beer and hear their story, than talk to someone who just wanted to point out the risks and ask 'What if...'

    Ryan Huckle

  4. Hi guys,

    I'd just like to point out that - if you read my blog with a modicum of care - it wasn't me calling them vainglorious, I was simply posing a question put by the apparently bit off g Greer. Myself, I like the idea.

    Yours defensively



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