Sunday, January 29, 2012

Weekend of big swims...

Yes, it was a weekend of big swims, indeed - on Sat'dee in Port Phillip Bay, The Bloody Big Swim, and today in Sydney, on the northern beaches, The Big Swim. And yesterday, on the western side of the heads, the Queenscliff Bluewater Challenge. Not so much a big swim but what looks like a lovely swim.

Which swim(s) did you do? And what did you think of them?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

National day for ocean swimming...

Lotsa swims all over the place on Stra'a Day. Much better way to mark the day than draping oneself in a flag and getting off your face. We arrived at Circular Quay railway station at 5:45am for the Sydney Harbour swim this morning, and already there were three youths, two boofheads and a young lady, blocking the stairway, topless -- the girl was clothed -- reeking of grog and wrapping the flag around their shoulders. Such a pity that the national day has to be hijacked and corrupted by this mob.

But we had a lovely swim in the harbour, the final of the four swims in the Great Stra'an Swim Series. Mind you, after all that rain, we came straight home, showered long and hard, gargled with Listerine, and we're about to flood our ears with Ear Clear, such was the state of the harbour.

Swims, too, in Newcastle Harbour, Hervey Bay, Lake Glenbawn, Mt Martha, Wollongong, Scarborough, Kingston Beach, Henley-Grange, Brighton and Williamstown. Burleigh Heads was cancelled. Or, the swim-run was, anyway.

Tell us about your Stra'a Day experiences... Don't restrict it to swimming, although it would be good if swimming was involved there somewhere.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rushing to Portsea and bumping at Mona Vale...

They loved the journey swim at Portsea again this year, and for the second week in a row there was a bump on along Sydney's northern beaches, this time from Warriewood to Mona Vale. But at Tathra, somewhere between the two on the NSW Far South Coast, we hear everything was just hunky dory.

Portsea used its journey course for the second year, after what is suspected to be the bay dredging of Port Phillip Bay robbed the town of its bay beach, eroded mysteriously to nothingness. But punters love the replacement course, this year extended to 1.5km, along the short of the Pt Nepean national park.

There was a bump on at Warriewood-Mona Vale, with many an inexperienced punter standing ashen on the beach as they watched the sets roll in. We reckon it was smaller than at Avalon the week before, but it was an ugly break, as it is so often at Warriewood. Uglier, certainly, than it was nasty. But that's not to discount the difficulty that many punters encountered as they attempted to get out either over the bank to the south, or through the slightly deeper water to the north.

The wind this year was from just south of east, the swell from the sou'-east, but the water was glorious - warm, clear, and no nasties. As you schlepped from south to north, every now and again you'd feel a following swell pick you up and thrust you forward amongst the bumps.

We heard only good reports from Tathra.

But tell us where you swam, what you experienced, and what you reckon about it all...

Monday, January 16, 2012

A little boy in a turbulent sea at Avalon...

We witnessed a distressing sight at Avalon -- a small boy, who missed his wave, trying to catch up but being knocked around by the shorebreak, and in tears because "I don't know the course".

How old should kids be before they're allowed to take part in ocean swims? There are no rules. What do you think?

See our event report on for more on this.

And tell us about Torquay on Sat'dee, Sorrento and West Beach on Sundee...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A tale of three swims...

It was the biggest of swims; it was the smallest of swims... etc. Sat'dee saw a start contrast between the world's biggest ocean swim in terms of numbers, the Pier to Pub at Lorne in Victoria, and one of the smallest, the new Fingal Mile at Fingal Bay, north of Newcastle in NSW. One of the oldest of swims; and the youngest of swims...

Then today, another classic, the Roughwater at North Bondi, which offered swimming through half-set jelly, given the swarm of non-stinging jelly blubbers in the sea off Bondi. A lovely day, though, with all the colour and pageantry that Bondi does so well.

But what did you think?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ocean beats the bay at Point Lonsdale

2 January 2012


Our annual short break on the coast has been timed around the Point Lonsdale swim for the past few years. We leave the big boys at home to mind the pets and the house and check ourselves into the historic Vue Grand hotel in nearby Queenscliff for a couple of days of ocean swimming, eating, walking and book buying.
Point Lonsdale always seems to put on perfect conditions for its swim. This was their 24th swim, and my 7th and it was hot and sunny with clear water and a very favourable tide.
It was 40 degrees in Melbourne on the day of the swim.
That’s one reason to be pleased not to be there. Another is that my local beach, Brighton bathing box beach, has been unswimmable lately. We had a massive thunder storm on Christmas night and it washed large amounts of the Yarra into the bay. The turbid silt has been making its way down the bay and has now reached Brighton, Hampton and Sandringham. The EPA has rated water quality as only “fair” and advised against swimming there. You’d have to be mad or desperate as the water is all churned up and silt coloured.
So I was pretty keen to swim in water where I could see my toes. Both Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale hit that mark.
It was so hot I decided to abandon my wetsuit. That wetsuit is like a security blanket to me. As a later-in-life ocean swimming adopter, I cling to my wetties promise of buoyancy and warmth like a drowning woman.
I planned to take the swim easy as my shoulder is still recovering from bursitis. It tends to ache a bit after squad, but doesn’t seem to mind ocean swims.
Husband Alan and I strolled down to the starting line in just our bathers feeling cool, calm and collected.
You know how it is when you enter the water and you can tell everything is going to be all right? The course is an easy follow – one big red buoy then large yellow ones all the way home in a gentle curve. The current was great. The water was clear and cool. This is why I ocean swim.
I loved every minute of it. No shoulder pain (though it is making me pay a little the day after).
When you pass the last buoy, helpfully numbered no 1, you swim through a line of junior lifesavers warning you of rocks, telling you not to stand up yet, and cheering you on. It’s good for the ego to come home through a line of clapping kids.
Time? Slower than last year by almost 90 seconds ... but it doesn’t matter. It was a swim I will stick in my memory bank of all time favourites.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Summer at last...

We had swims all over the place on the New Year's Day public holiday, and all of them adhered to a theme: it's summer at last. First time in three outings that we've had a glorious day at Black Head (see HRH Michael Fox dolphining out for the start of the 700m event, above, after which he said to us: "If you ever see us dolphining out at the start again, stop us. We got out the back and we had nothing left". Ah, the joys of ageing.)

Newport, too, had its best day in three years. Yamba was a stark turnaround from last year, when the weather heralded floods. Point Lonsdale was a cracker, Aquagirl says. And Dicky Beach, whilst overcast, was loved by all, it seems.

We were at Black Head, fast becoming one of our favourite days out, since it's a day tour from Sydney, a glorious, largely untouched beach on the Lower North Coast of NSW. And we come back, because of holiday traffic, through Gloucester and over the Col du Dungog and through Dungog, Clarence Town (calling in our our brother), and down the back roads back to Sydney.

We love it.

But tell us what you thought... And don't forget to fill in our ocean swimmer feedback form for the swim which you attended... Links on the home page.

Add your comments through the comments link below.