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...


  1. Entry was challenging for our group M40-49s and a couple of others, at Avalon on Sunday. It took a good 5 minutes to get through the biggest set of the lot and took the wind out of me for the rest of the swim! Still a great day however. I was told that a few turned around and didn't finish? If that's true, why did the results show all that started finished? Thanks for the excellent site and humour! Simon from Newport

  2. We've asked for numbers on DNFs, Simon. Will let everyone know when we find out. I gather there were quite a few.

    1. Thanks mate, Reading my post again, I should clarify - my query was out of pure interest rather than a criticism. I imagine that the various registration/timing technologies often don't talk. I'm new to this great sport, and loving every event in our crakker of a city. Thanks again and Cheers. Great blog and pics.

    2. The timers tell us there were 53 DNFs (Did Not Finish) at Avalon.

  3. Great article by osc yet again. I too watched that little kid get smashed and wondered about his parents.
    Thank you to Avalon for running the swim. And thank you to those responsible people that either did not start or pull out when they realised their limitations. It's people like that who make it possible for less responsible people like me to swim.
    Mr August

  4. How old was the little boy? Where was his family? I'm trying not to point my witchy finger but the conditions were scary enough for many of the grown-up participants at Avalon so a small child with limited experience would probably be terrified. There needs to be more context.

    I think swims like Mollymook have a minimum age of 12 (correct me if I'm wrong - it might be a bit older) for the longer swims, which is fair enough.

    I was in the last wave of swimmers yesterday and looked on as "at least"* a dozen yellow-capped swimmers (M40-49) were hauled into the rubber duck or onto buoyancy thingies and returned to the beach by those amazing surf life savers. Our group was held up until all the rescues were done.

    It was hard yakka getting out, and coming back in I had a blonde moment. A surf lifesaver screamed at me: "Hey lady, turn around." I did. For a nanosecond the lip of a mammoth wave hovered above me. I managed a couple of expletives, took a deep breath and dived in to be churned around like calamari in a cement mixer.

    I owe my life to that man. God knows what would have happened if he hadn't called out to me.

    I never thought I'd say this, but I sort of enjoyed the swim. There must be something seriously wrong with me...

    *I was discussing the number with another swimmer and when I said, "a dozen" she said, "at least".

    1. Mollymooks 2km swim has a minimum age of 13 and there is a 500m swim for 10,11,12 and novice swimmers

  5. Just heard from the times, there were 53 DNFs (Did Not Finish) at Avalon. That's around 10 per cent of the field.

  6. I must say that I really enjoyed the Avalon swim. Yes, we all got pounded by the surf (some worse than others apparently), but these are the swims that you remember. The flat, smooth swims tend to blend in to one another in my mind, but I vividly remember the bigger, challenging swims. Congratulations to Avalon SLSC for firstly, going ahead with the swim and secondly, for the efforts of their members on the day (especially the water safety members). Bring on the next one!

  7. Did the Torquay "Danger 1,000" on the w/e with over 900 other swimmers. Chose a wettie as it was a bit of a cool wind blowing, my warm up was body surfing in on the waves thinking am I going to be able to do this at the finish (fortunately the waves weren't up to it as neither was I) I seem to have trouble with anti clockwise courses as I breathe on the right and tend to swim to my right and out the back the guy in a Rubber duckie told me to head left thankfully, could have sworn I was close to the bouys the last time I sighted a few strokes previously.
    Apart from that a great swim especially to the guy who started out from his wheel chair.
    In response to your "young swimmer" a lot the Vic clubs have shorter swim for the nippers close to shore but these are more the bay swims with out the bigger waves. The question has to be asked where were the parents or were they lining up for their own swim?

  8. A great swim at Avalon on Sunday.The conditions were a bit tricky but for me that makes the swim more fun and challenging. I was glad too see the organisers didn't take the soft option and cancel the swim which I though they may do when I arrived there in the morning as it was a bit gnarly. Good too to see Bronny do her annual pilgrimage to Avalon.Shame she couldn't get her boss to do the swim.
    I do feel though that there does need to be a minimum age introduced to the swims. Around 12 years of age would be about right I think. It's dangerous to be having children as young as 10 or 8 in the swims. It's a danger to them and others in the swim as well because if you see a child in distress and stop to help them you are putting yourself in danger too.

  9. Great report, with thoughtful insight not just idle chatter.

    Wholeheartedly agree with the age limit and I think that even 12 might be a little young for some of these swims. I know that as a young thing of 12 I was more than able to do the distance but if you told me to go out in that surf and race I would have had a tough time as I would have been under 5" and much less than 50kgs and I imagine I wouldn't have been the only one. Can anyone say tossed around like a cork?

    Parents need to consider the size of their children as well as their SURF ability and maturity. I know some kids are fearless but a lot aren't and the most experienced of adults can begin to panic if pulled under unsuspectingly.

    All that aside, Avalon was a great swim as usual. Great to see the Babewatch team (can't say boys any more) and great to see Bron back there as usual. Big cheers to Avalon SLSC for a great swim and a great barbie too! Also - its always good when you don't have to wait all day for the preso!

  10. AAAHHH Paul as my father often tells me you don’t have to have a long neck to be a goose! I started the swim as a goose and continued it on throughout. I tried to catch two waves that were dumpers and got absolutely smashed twice losing my goggles in the process. In my defense to the behavior I have often stood on the line and over heard some of the conversations from other swimmers about that strange man standing right in the middle of the start of the course. If fact I overheard at Manly before the start two English chappies saying “look at that Muppet standing right in the middle”. Being an ex football play and not a swimmer I am always tempted to tackle you! I always think better of it at the last second but you may get run over one day. In regards to the Little fella at the start, this was quite disturbing, a number of us watched this unfold and after your assistance then the water safety bringing him up to the start he was like a cat on a hot tin roof. He said he was worried about his time and that he missed his start. He was clearly distressed and showed a mix of emotions. He wanted to swim but was obviously frustrated by the conditions and his size. As mentioned he was small and as a parent myself I found it alarming he was attempting the swim in hindsight especially after the dumping I got. That said he lined up in the wave before me again and attacked the surf once more, you can see him doing so in picture 02 A young persons' wave heads north. And I believe he finished well as shown in the Abby Digital photos T0482.jpg , T0483.jpg index 9. The question is with the clear distress and what seemed to be pressure to swim for the little man how much did he enjoy it? And how long will he last in the sport if he has more experiences like this? My hats off to him, he never gave up and he completed the swim which I think is an amazing feat in its self considering his age and size. I have no doubt that he was capable but was this in his best interest on the day with the conditions, as he was clearly distressed at the start. I for one would let my kids out !

    Best Regards,
    Jordan Stockdale

  11. My apologies for the error in the last sentence it should be I defiantly wouldn’t let my kids out!

  12. Regarding children in the swim, I think that 12 years is an appropriate age, but I would possibly think about making it compulsory to have current SLSC Nipper membership for children. Crack swimmers do not necessarily have surf skills, but nippers very often do. My cubs managed a very rough ocean swim at age 8, but they were nippers from 5 years and used to rough surf. Some of thoise very wiry little boys are often older and more experienced than they look: obviously, this little guy really wanted to do it under his own steam.

    I had a lovely and enjoyable swim. Curiously, I did the exact same time as last year, down to the second. The exact same category place, overall went from 222 to 221, and was exactly three people behind Charm. Spooky. Nothing if not consistent....


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