Sunday, April 3, 2011

Lovely autumn swim at Stanwell Park...

Lovely day, typical of the autumn ocean swimming season, at Stanwell Park. Water clean and reasonably clear, equable temperature, bright, sunny day with a clear blue sky, and a gentle offshore breeze to smoothe out the water and keep those pesky blueys out to sea.

Gee, it was noice. But tell us what you thought... What was your swim like...


  1. It was a beautiful swim, once you got out through the surf at Coalcliff and back in through the dragging breakers at Stanwell Park. (think about it)

    A suggestion that won't go down well with the diehards: more buoys. Lots of swimmers were turning hard left when they came to the end of the cliff at Stanwell Park. They hadn't seen the last buoy up north.

    Congrats on the 10th anniversary.

  2. Dear Oceanswims,

    I wish to report being stalked by a hairy, well padded, balding (well, bald really) swimmer in orange budgies armed with a camera.

    This person repeatedly harrassed me during the swim at Stanwell Park, popping up ahead of me at least four times, making suggestive comments such as "Hi Steve" and taking inappropriate pictures of my laboured swimming style.

    It wasn't so much the harrassment itself that bothered me, but the noncholant way the aforementioned swimmer bobbed in the ocean making it all look so easy - and then somehow reappeard in front of me after I thought I'd left him behind. Such careless overtaking and showing up my lack of speed is intolerable.

    Other than that, the middle part of the swim was really rather nice. Warm, clear water, not too much of a swell and on the few occasions I followed the pre race instructions on this site and breathed to the left (something I'm not normally capable of) the view was indeed magnificent - the mouthfuls of water caused by the unaccustomed left hand breating somewhat less so.

    The entry and exit, however were rather less enjoyable. Luckily I make up a little for my lack of swimming ability, my advanced age and my general fear of water and waves by a native cunning. Using this, (here's a tip for you less experienced swimmers) I asked a local lifesaver about the beach breaks and she told me to use the rip on the left to get out. There's nothing like local knowledge. Also, going off in the last wave and watching which side of the earlier waves struggle most is a great help. And it was obvious that swimmers on the right were doing it much tougher.

    So by going left I managed to avoid the worst of the break, but it was nevertheless a challenge to get put there and I was gasping by the time I did.

    Like Shayne said I found it hard to locate the last buoy and initially struck out for the beach - which is rather foolish as I did exactly the same thing last time I did this swim. Must learn from my mistakes.

    And by the time I did get round it I was rather stuffed, and the white water churning and pulling me back as I came in was really quite scarey. Luckily I eventually managed to battle my way in but I had visions of being rescued 20 metres from the finish, which would have been rather embarrassing.

    That's three swims out of the last four where the waves have been a challenge. Tamarama was worst getting out past the break, North Steyne was a challenge but not too bad and Stanwell Park was by far the hardest coming back in.

    Thank goodness it's the placid harbour at Balmoral next week and then the sheltered South Steyne the week after.

    But waves and terror aside, a great swim.

  3. Beautiful swim, worth the trip down from Sydney - which of course was made easier with the friendly clock change.

    Agree with Shayne on the buoys... Even from the beach it was clear enough weren't out there, and once in the water with the swell they were near on impossible to spot until about 50m away, and it was a lot by chance that they were that close by!

    Was lovely to see so many hanging arouind after the swim for the presentations, hanging out on the grass having a chat, a beer and a sausage sizzle.

    Thanks to ther organisers for a lovely morning

  4. In my first ocean swimming season last year I thought this was the best swim going and now I'm sure. Spectacular scenery, impressive organisation and unbelievably friendly race organisers!

  5. yeah shayne the buoy issue is tricky. i like either no buoys or lots of them. obviously you need buoys to swim the right course. how can you swim the right course if you can't see the buoys? a few things help - breathing bilaterally, getting advice re: landmarks prior to start, looking for buoys when you're on the crest of the swell, LISTENING TO THE RACE BRIEFING, experience....i have alot of trouble on longish courses with only a handful of buoys. have done quite a few new (for me) swims this year. have learnt alot from all of them. hope that can use that knowledge next season and it will be a "summer of george" (well, liz, not george) for me. but then, my favourite definition of "experience" is that it is the process of realising that you are making the same mistake all over again....

    now, the swim at stanwell park was great. reminded me alot of palm-whale beach. a "journey" - rolling, mysterious, lonely at times but yet quite magnificent. ran into some familar faces along the way - a person bobbing up and down not far from the start - i stopped to help and then realised that he was taking photos and quite ok (murray cox). got dumped twice on the way in and landed about 200m north of the finish line with that great greek god david of perama (i will be back for more pork belly baklava, don't you worry about that). we really couldn't work out how we'd been deposited so far north of the buoy. the ocean was angry that day my friends.

    how is it that i have not yet met an ocean swimmer whom i haven't liked? what a great bunch of people

    was unable to leave for sometime after as there were just too many gorgeous people to talk to.

    love that the post-swim fruit has changed with the seasons - we had apples and pears (white stone fruit days are long gone). how can the season be nearly over? thank goodness our "off-season" is relatively short. also lucky that the water is calmer in winter and there are enough enthusiasts around to have informal swims and, best of all, post-swim chats.

    stanwell park slsc you are a very friendly and v organised bunch - have never heard offers to take friends and family on shuttle buses to view the start before. that was lovely. you might have a chat to the byron bay crew....

    over and out

  6. More fun than a bucket full of geckos ...

    OK, So who left the leaf-tailed geckos in a handbasin at Coalcliff surf club ?

    I left glasses stashed at Stanwell Park, and was perhaps not paying full attention to my surroundings. It turns out I was happily washing my goggles in a basin full of geckos, until a passerby stopped for a double-take.

    A trick of nature. Got me big-time.

    I should have expected a surprise from nature, given the locations of the Stanwell Park and Coalcliff surf clubs tucked away in beautiful coastal bushland.

    Footnote: Yes, the geckos were safely caught and released from their slippery ceramic trap.

  7. richard are you sure you weren't having an acid flashback?

  8. A glorious day. And a great event. Many thanks to all involved.

    As to the buoys: Yes, I listened carefully to the race briefing but couldn't find out how many marker buoys there were before the turning buoy. Watching for the beach and following the faster people worked well enough, but it's always nicer when it's easier to find the way - and to be able to count them off. Any increase in height and visibility always welcome. I hope one day to swim towards something like these "megabuoys"

  9. Ah yes megabuoys would be great, but half the fun of ocean swimming is navigating me thinks. Having said that I royally stuffed up and turned at the second last buoy and was half way to the finish before realising no one was in front of me. Have to look on the bright side that I swam further than anyone else and therefore got more than my moneys worth. What a fantastic day, fabulous organisers and the perfect venue to have a picnic and beer at the end. Life doesn't get much better.

  10. Megabuoys – what the! Half the fun of ocean swimming is the unexpected. No swim is the same as the last, it all depends on the weather and the ocean. Some swims are glorious because the conditions are perfect and you come out of the water grinning like a Cheshire cat. Other swims are amazing because the conditions are tricky and the feeling is I am glad I made it and grinning like a Cheshire cat.
    If I wanted a safe, easy, homogeneous swim with buoys all the way I would go and do 2.4km in the pool.
    I swam Stanwell Park and was clueless as to where the buoys were. For a few hundred metres I was swimming neck and neck with a lady in a multicoloured costume on my left. We had swimmers 20m to our east and 50m to our west. The sun was in our eyes, my goggles were getting tired and I am a little short sighted. It was obvious by the way we were swimming that she thought we should be further east and I thought we should be further west. Everyone seemed in such disarray. This minor tussle went on for some time and the thought crossed my mind that she may know more than I. It got to the point where I actually shouted “Do you know where we are going”. I got no response, obviously she was not up for chat at that time. Eventually after looking around some I saw this line of frothing white water charging towards the sun about 20m to my east. The speed appeared super human, I ducked off to join the freight train. The colour of the hats gave away it was a more experienced wave from 3 or 6 minutes behind. They looked like the Don Boland Express but who knows, they did not stop to chat either. From then on I followed in their wake and all the buoys were clear.
    The break was to the right so sorry to the girl in the multicoloured costume. You were right I was wrong.
    But the point is we are lucky to have ocean swimming. Things never stay the same and I don’t think they can get any better. The event is staged by volunteers, I am sure there are legal liability issues, and some events are in danger of becoming commercialised that they loose that feel.
    Well done Helensburgh-Stanwell Park Surf Life Saving Club for putting on a great event. May I continue to swim in your twentieth anniversary.

  11. Liz, you could be right
    I thought they was real
    But I do sometimes see strange sights at these ocean swims,
    both real and imagined
    I think the mind can play tricks when you are out of your comfort zone
    Every swim is an adventure for me

  12. First Year Ocean Swimmer at 54April 28, 2011 at 1:38 PM

    I saw a young guy that I know, entering the water in the first wave, who happens to be blind. I know him through St. George Athletics Club where we have run tethered together, I being his eyes & trying to guide him safely around the course.

    He entered the water with his swimming companion, but obviously in swimming they cannot be tethered together, his companion guides him verbally around the course.

    This young man is a true hero. Can anyone here possibly imagine taking on the waves that day, coming in worse than going out, totally immersed in blackness, with only a friend's voice to guide you. I lost my goggles in the first wave back in, got smashed another 4 or 5 times, I was terrified & could see the waves coming.....


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