Sunday, February 26, 2012

Potpourri of swims...

We had a lovely day at Long Reef, but then we usually do. From all accounts, punters had lovely days, too, at Tama-Cloey, Lake Macquarie, Half Moon Bay, and we know the Tweetybirds had a lovely time swimming to Rottnest Island.

Only discordant note was, yet again, the mean-spirited Warringah Council, who offer no support to their surf clubs by waiving parking fees during ocean swims. Worse, whilst we were swimming, the council rangers hit the carpark booking people. And this whilst one of their parking ticket dispensers wasn't working properly, making it harder to buy tickets at $5 per hour. We'll have more to say about the unpleasant Warringah Council in our report, which we'll post tomorrow.

Sorry it introduced a sour note to what is one of the friendliest, warmest (in terms of hospitality) ocean swims of the season at Long Reef. Otherwise, what a beautiful course over the reef out towards Long Reef headland and back.

Tell us about your swims...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Magic at Malabar, bubbly in the Bay

This is becoming exhausting... It's that part of the season after all The Big Ones, but there are so many swims on, quite largish ones, that it's exhausting keeping up with them. That may be due partly to the party we had after Malabar today, celebrating the birthday's of our staff photo drunk, Glistening Dave, and Rotto-bound transformer, RealDeal_Cat. Dave turned 60 yesterday and today was his first outing in the sub-Codger age group. It wasn't a milestone birthday for Cat, but this was her last swim in Sydney before heading to Perf for Rottnest next weekend, where she's swimming as part of the Tweetybirds quad team, four laydee swimmers who know each other largely only through Twitter. That's Cat above, on the left, with sibling Tweetybird Liz Hill (@SwimBikeKnit).

Heard good reports from the Pier to Perignon, which is one of the glorious swims on the calendar. So sad we couldn't be there ourselves. And Malabar, while a little mucky in close, was such clear water from 150m off the beach, although some punters reported some lice, and one even tweeted that he'd been stung by a bluey. Musta been the only bluey in the bay.

We'll have our report up tomorrow. In the meantime, our swimmer feedback surveys are open for both those swims... Pier to Perignon... Malabar... We shot some video and plan to post an essay on different strokes, also tomorrow. Provided that blob we discovered on the outside of the lens wasn't there all day.

Anyway, what did you think?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Drag racing an 82-year-old

We did a terrible thing at North Bondi - we drag-raced an 82-year-old. It wasn't just any 82-year-old, mind you. It was John Kelso, whom we reckon is perhaps the world's best ocean swimmer. To be swimming as fast and as regular as Kelso does at his age truly is phenomenal.

Anyway, when we turned the close in booee off the Icebergs at Bondi, we stopped, took some pitchers, mooched around, shot some video, then set off back up to the finish at North Bondi. Shortly after we began swimming, we saw out of the corner of our eye, a yellow-cap hoving into view to our left and behind. No idea whom it was, but we noticed this yellow-cap was gaining on us quite easily. They also seemed to be sitting pretty close behind us, and the thought flitted across our minds that perhaps they were trying to draft on us; to heel-waft. The impertinence, we thought. No-one's ever tried to heel-waft us, with good reason. We remember at Byron Bay a few years back when our idiosyncratic cobber, Killer, boasted around the pub post-swim that someone had drafted on him. He was so proud...

Anyway, they weren't trying to draft on us, and they weren't really swimming behind us. They were minding their own business. We had no idea whom it was, but we could tell they were a bit older, slight of build, and, as they drew closer, we realised they were goggless. And we realised suddenly whom it was: John Kelso. Kelso swims pretty well every week, is one of the faster swimmers on the Sydney circuit in terms of deciles, and rarely wears goggles. We were just ambling along ourselves, at our normal cruising pace, but we thought, this was a great opportunity to watch him closely to try to discern his secret. What is it about Kelso's swimming that makes him, at 82, so fast.

Anyway, we picked up the pace a bit, and we ended up drag-racing Kelso all the way back to the final turning booee off North Bondi, where we stopped again to take pitchers. Along the way, sometimes Kelso was in front, sometimes we were in front. He wasn't racing us; and we weren't really racing him; but we were sticking with him to watch, and to learn. And it was more a case of us keeping up with him rather than swapping the lead, and when we pulled ahead momentarily, it was because we ran into a wall of breaststrokers whom we had to split to get around, or because Kelso ran into one of those North Bondi water safety laddies who sit with their rescue boards across the course, which means the peloton must split widely to get around them.

So what did we learn? Not a lot. We watched his stroke all the way along that 1km reach, particularly the underwater stuff, and there didn't seem anything particularly perfect about it. We thought he could have kept his elbows a bit higher, and his grab could be a bit more effective, and his pull through was nothing to write home about... For a bloke who carries no weight at all, he floated quite well, although his legs were down a bit. But what did strike us was that Kelso seemed relaxed. At 82 and with a wiry frame, it's hard to look relaxed, let alone be relaxed. As you get older, the body tightens. The best swimming, of course, is the slowest, most relaxed swimming. Try it yourself in a a pool. Go flat out and time yourself. Then do the same distance as slow and as relaxed as you can, and you'll probably find there's not that much difference between your times.

Kelso seemed relaxed, and maybe that's his secret. He's 24 years older than us, but he's far more relaxed.

But tell us about your swims this weekend... North Bondi, Geelong, Phillip Island, wherever...

Sunday, February 5, 2012

And a weekend of season classics...

After the weekend of big swims, it was the weekend of season classics and jetty and pier classics... The Cole Classic, which likes to bill itself as "Australia's largest ocean swim", the Brighton Jetty Classic, Sou Stra'a's biggest swim, the Dromana Pier Swim in Victoria, and the Busselton Jetty Swim, which we're told pulled 1,400 mugs in the sou-west of Wesson Stra'a. We'll have reports on three of the four, at least.

Interesting and curious figures from the Cole @ Manly: numbers at this year's Cole Classic were way down on last year: 3,818 over three events, from 4,232 over two events in 2011. Numbers confirm the vacuity of Fairfax Meeja's claim that the Cole is "Australia's largest ocean swim". Lorne's Pier to Pub always -- since Fairfax has been making the claim -- has been the largest, and over one event, not multiple events. One would think a meeja group as sanctimonious and as moralising as Fairfax would be concerned about accuracy.

Whilst we were at Manly, where the Cole organisers shifted the starts and finishes of both swims around the Shelly Beach, this was what Tamarama looked like, on Sydney's south side (thanks to Ralph McLeay for the pic)...

Lots of controversy over the Cole in Sydney, as usual, and particularly, but which swims did you do and what did you think of them?