Saturday, February 19, 2011

To swim or not to swim in dirty water



All week the signs have been bad for today's Cerberus swim at Half Moon Bay. The EPA said water quality was poor, the weather forecast worse. And then it rained heavily overnight. Let's face it, the water in Port Phillip Bay is filthy.

I ummed and ahhed about whether to line up, particularly as it's the big season highlight next weekend - the 4.5 km Sorrento to Portsea swim. Fine athlete that I am trying to be, I cannot afford to get sick this close to the big event.

On the other hand, I needed a challenging lead up swim, and I had personal demons to overcome at Half Moon Bay. Last year's swim was my worst ever and I had almost vowed not to come back. Last year was also a wild windy day, and they changed the course so it didn't go around the sunken Cerberus, for fear of us all smashing into it. The start was way down the beach and I was late to get there - unheard of for Ms Organisation. But worse. jellyfish. My personal worst thing. Couldn't swim without running into them lurking a foot below the surface right where I wanted to stroke. I had to do a shallow very slow Aussie crawl and emerged a very grumpy competitor.

This year can't be as bad I kept telling myself. All week, my swimming buddy and I went back and forth, would we, wouldn't we.

Finally we signed up on line, though conditions kept deteriorating with the water quality. And today dawned hot and humid. What's going on? We don't do humid in Melbourne.

And I had a long trip to the start. I only live 15 minutes away, but my annual work conference was overnight at Healesville - that's a weekend away for me! I rang my sb anxiously on the way home because it looked like I would be late again. Fortunately we 'veterans" go off well after most others and I got there in plenty of time.

But again conditions were against us. Wild wind, strong northerly, wild waves, water impossible to see through. Course organizers had to modify the course- no swimming around the boat. And the Finish line fell over as well as a few marquees.

At least it was warm.

So us veterans all lined up together men and women. There were only 12 women in my group - only the mad keen would try it today.

And it was wild. Huge unpredictable waves. This is a bay beach acting like a surf beach. But once you surrendered to the feeling, it was fun. Waves smashed you coming and going and we all veered right towards South Melbourne. But there were plenty of lifesavers on Boards to point us In the right direction.

Out we battled, going up , over and through the waves. Within the first few yards I had swallowed my first mouthful. So I'm waiting to see what effect swimming in poor rated water has on the body.

But we crashed and bashed on, rounded the buoys and then got some lovely wave assistance on the short leg home.

Very satisfying to hit that finish line. But could I put in a request to the swimming gods for some decent conditions next year. It would be good to get around that boat.


  1. I went down they yesterday to watch and I was surprised to see the event was on. Considering that the BRW Tri can'd the swim @ Elwood and the conditions were very poor.

    Well done!

  2. Congratulations to Kerry ...kudos to her for fighting it out. That would have been a major blow for the BRW triathlon competitors to have the swim cancelled.


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