Sunday, November 27, 2011

'round the island and over the coral...

Coogee is a glorious swim, made better when you get to see at close-up the bottom around Wedding Cake Island. In recent years, we haven't seen that much of that beautiful bottom -- all Devil's Marbles boulders on the beach side, and wavey, weedy reef on the ocean side -- because the booees have been set for safety and kept us wide. This time, however, through some quirk of booee laying, the first return reach, after rounding the outermost booee outside the island, had us almost crossing the corner of the island if you took a straight line booeee-to-booee. Watching from that outermost booee, where we did vox pops with our Olympus video camera, you could see the sets breaking on the island almost across the course. So swimming that leg wasn't just heading from booee to booee, but also keeping out of the way of the swell, heading a bit more to the south. The advantage, however, was that we got to see more reef close up. It is one of the most beautiful bottoms you will ever see. And we are so lucky to get to swim over it. Not many people get to do that...

Up in the Tweed River, by the way, we had reports of the water, which was brown, which meant you couldn't quite see the coral that Killer said was down there. They're developing the Killer brand, by the way, with the release this year of The Killer wine label, a pinot grigio was one we saw tweeted by our correspondent in locus, Roger Muspratt. Roger also was presented with a Golden Globe Award for his report on of this swim last year. The Golden Globe was... er, a golden light globe. Well, perhaps all the Golden Globes from Hollywood have been taken. That corresponds with the Lucky Door Prize at the Tweed River Swim, which is a door...

And at Redliffe, near Brisbane, there was the 3rd leg of the Great Australian Swim Series, this leg won this year by Trent Grimsey and Melissa Gorman. Not a bad effort for Grimsey who, on Saturday, won the 5km and was second in the 10km events in the WA Swimming Open Water Swim Series in... PERTH! Grimsey flew back overnight on the red-eye. Perhaps he won today because he was still warmed up from Perth...

In Melbourne, the season kicked off with the Edithvale-Aspendale Club to Club swim. Can anyone tell us what happened there...

But tell us what you thought... comments below, if you please...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Big weekend all over...

What a big weekend for swims all over the place... In NSW, Woy Woy Swimming Club had their first swim at Umina on Saturday, then two swims on Sundee, at Balmain -- the Dawny swim -- and at Cronulla, the Cook Classic.
We were at Hamilton Island for the Whitehaven Beach Swim. Luvverly day out, glorious weather all 'round, and some very noice water. We saw some triffic tweets from mug swimmers at Dawny, and there was a good report from Cronulla, too. And Whitehaven was just a noice day out. No trouble from the weather.
Tell us what you thought, and complete our swimmer feedback surveys on each of these swims (links on the home page)...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Back to the 'roy...

Lovely day at Collaroy, and what a revelation was "the bottom". Sure, there were some very noice bottoms that we passed, and which passed us, but particularly the one way down below. Looking out from the beach, Collaroy -- "the 'roy", as Judy Playfair refers to it, a beach where her family was instrumental in setting up the surf club 100 years ago -- looked a bland swim. A champagne glass course, keeping it simple.

The organising club, led by former explosive Tigers centre Denis Bendall, didn't want too many complications. But what a discovery once you're in the water! A bottom full of reef and weed and, consequently, sea life. Big rays, little rays, wobbies sitting on the bottom, and a pod of dolphins swimming through the peloton mid-race, Bendall reported afterwards, although no swimmer we consulted actually saw them. Pity.

It was a luvverly day out, and well worth the trip, and a top effort by Bendall and his cobbers for their first time swim.

Next year's is November 11.

What did you think of today's swim?

A chip of the old block ... err finger.

Folks… this is a tale of a little swimming interaction I had at a pool in Brissy. I’m telling this tale because I think it is food for thought for swim organisers, when designing a swim course of any kind, to spend some time thinking about collision.
So, back in May, I was up in Qld for work. As usual, I pack the swim gear to get a swim in where ever. I normally venture to the Centennial Pool at Spring Hill if I am up that way, but decided I’d give Fortitude Valley a go. When I arrived, lanes were set out by pace, and normally, I’d pop in the Fast Lane, but there were a bunch of people swimming with flippers, slowly. So I jumped in the “Medium” lane, only to learn how frustrating it is not to be in the fast lane. On this day, I had forgot to pack my defog spray for my goggles, so didn’t have the best clarity of vision, which I don’t have anyway. Having tailed some fella for a lap, I decided to overtake him, only to discover there were two of them, and a swimmer coming the other way. Like the urban rev-head, I had put the foot down. However, I didn’t see the swimmer coming my way until my index finger made contact with his massive scone during my extension stroke. In response, I quickly pulled my hand out the way, apologised, and carried on.

So off to work, and the conference, where I realise I can’t lift the coffee pot. By the end of the day, the joint was swollen but could be relieved by holding onto a cold ale. For some reason, probably a male thing, I did not see a doctor for 2 months. When I decided to go, so began the referrals. Doctor says – “you need an X-ray”; take self for X-ray; return to doctor – “you need to see an orthopaedic surgeon”, referred to surgeon; surgeon refers me to CT scan and ultrasound, return to surgeon with imaging; "you need to see a hand surgeon", hand surgeon says “inoperable”, refers me to sports physio, two visits to physio. Now, 9 appointments, 13 total hrs and $590 later, I have given up to let nature take its course.
In clocking this guy on the head, I had taken an 8mm chip off the joint in the middle of my finger that is now permanently wedged at right angles. In all honesty, it has not caused too much grief swimming, and the most painful episode was the physio putting his full weight on the finger to try straightening it up. Luckily for me, he is a keen cyclist. However, I am paranoid about hitting oncoming swimmers as I was told it takes a year to self-heal.

So my point of writing about this little episode is to highlight the potential for collision when swim courses are set out. Opportunities where people can swim into each other need to be avoided. I recall one swim with a T-shaped course where you had to do 180 degree turns into the oncoming traffic. The same can happen with those courses with very sharp angles, like the ones in “Y-shaped” courses, where currents can sweep you into the way of swimmers behind.
Has this ever happened to you? Let us know your thoughts?
John Bamberry

Monday, November 7, 2011

Noosa and Mur'bah - Bikes and bands

Here’s an unusual double - from the Noosa Triathlon on October 30 to the Killer Swim in Murwillumbah on November 27. Noosa is  huge with 7500 punters. That would be like the whole population of Murwillumbah turning up at the rowing club to have a dip in the Tweed River.
Here’s another bit of trivia. When you come over the hill at Noosa and down towards Hastings Street, the whole of Lions Park off to your left is a sea of bicycles (a plethora of pelotons) on the triathlon  weekend – about 7000 of them ranging from the latest carbon fibre wonders with (I am not making this up) aerodynamically shaped drink bottles. At the other end of the scale are some surprisingly banged up old things. We took $4000 or $5000 as a conservative average. Really conservative because these people will spend $3000 to $4000 on a set of wheels. But at $4000, there’s $28 million in bicycles in the park, or $35 million if you take a $5000 average.
Money is no object when you can buy time in a race. Maybe it should be like craft events in surf lifesaving. You bring your ski or board in to be weighed before the national championships, and if it’s too light, they add weights.
The 1500m swim leg is in Weyba Creek. Considering how close you are to the blue waters of Noosa’s Laguna Bay, this is pretty average. But you can see that it would be a nightmare getting the whole field across Hastings Street, especially when you have to close the roads for about six hours.
In Murwillumbah, well, it’s not like Noosa. Good, you say. I agree. It doesn’t have as many coffee shops but it also doesn’t have as many round-abouts either. There’s nothing like the Riverview Hotel in Mur'bah and nothing like the former resident band, James T and the Tomahawks. Their CD has become my music of choice for heading off to the various swim events. This is the only way you’ll hear them now because apparently there’s been a split. I’m hoping the Tomahawks will be a little like grandad’s axe – a new head and a couple of new handles but it’s still a bloody good axe.
It’s hard to explain the attraction of Murwillumbah – a little fund raiser for the Fingal Rovers surf club. Some swims you do if there’s nothing else on. But you have a core group that you keep the calendar clear. It’s great to be part of those monster events like Noosa because you can feel the energy. Murwillumbah is more like a swim with a few mates – who you still want to beat but it’s all good fun.
Roger Muspratt