Sunday, April 29, 2012

A swim of two days

South Curl Curl was a swim of two days: glorious, light autumn offshore breeze early holding up a sprightly swell, then changing rapidly to a brooding, blown out sou'-easterly that hit between the third and fourth waves leaving the beach. As we swam out, with the third wave, we still were diving under swells held up by the breeze. But by the time we reached the first turner, behind the break, it was blowing into our faces from down past South Head.

"That was a real ocean swim," said one punter, leaving the water at Freshwater.

"That was my favourite ocean swim of the year," said sometime os.c correspondent, Glenn Muir.

How was your swim?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Coogee-Bondi - A swim for Anzac Day

We marched on Anzac Day, but Coogee-Bondi had record numbers. Online entries alone were up around 42 per cent on last year's earlier record. And it was a lovely day for this kind of swim - flat sea, offshore breeze, clear air...

How did you enjoy this swim... Leave your comments below...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Murray Rose

Good to hear that the The Rainbow Club, who run the Malabar Magic swim in Sydney on the 3rd Sundee in February, will rename the event the Murray Rose Malabar Magic, after their patron and swim organiser who died last Sundee.

Murray was no longer a young bloke -- 73 -- but that doesn't make his loss any easier. We were one of that generation who grew up revering Murray Rose. His celebrity from the mid-50s was all-embracing, and it proved to be enduring because it was based on substance of character. He was no passing, sporting fad. He was every boy's role model, a man with dignity, bearing, a grace, a presence that inspired respect and admiration, and he remained himself throughout those years of adulation. When we were littlies in the '50s in Newcastle, we never dreamt that, one day, we'd meet Murray Rose, that we'd come to know him and to regard him as a friend. One of the glories of life, for us, was that that's what happened.

Murray was a very private fellow. He'd suffered for a year or so with a troublesome foot that had interfered with his swimming and his capacity to get about comfortably. When he received his diagnosis of leukaemia around the beginning of this year, he set about carefully making arrangements, but discreetly. He called us and asked us to remove reference to him leading this year's tour to the Dardanelles in August. He wouldn't tell us why, apart from saying he wasn't well. When we altered one section of the website but we'd neglected also to amend the downloadable information document, Murray called back and drew our attention to it. "I won't be going to the Dardanelles," Murray told us. "And I won't be at the Malabar Magic, either." That's what alarmed us. At that point, the Malabar Magic was only a couple of weeks away, yet he already knew that he couldn't be there.

We heard he also headed down, about that time, to North Bondi surf club, where he was a member, and cleared out his locker. He swam regularly from North Bondi, several times a week, point to point, with cobbers.

Which raises the other thing, at least, that we reckon should happen now: Murray loved North Bondi; he was an eastern suburbs lad and a North Bondi man. North Bondi has two swims, The Roughwater in January and the North Bondi Classic, in February. We'd love to see North Bondi SLSC rename its second swim to The Murray Rose Classic. And maybe as a further tribute to Murray, they should team up with The Rainbow Club and offer combo entries to the Murray Rose Classic on the second Sunday in February, and to the Murray Rose Malabar Magic, on the third Sunday in February, offering a special prize to someone who does both, The Murray Rose Memorial Award. It should go to an ocean swimmer of any age who exemplifies the character, the values that made Murray Rose such a special person.

We -- by "we", we mean "us more mature Australians" -- we won't need awards to remember Murray Rose, but it will help our kids and their kids to know of Murray and the contribution he made to us all, by his achievements and by his example. A lot of younger swimmers may not have heard of Murray, or may not appreciate the role he played in Stra'an swimming. We recall a story Murray told of a swim a few years back. Murray entered this swim online (not through, and the organisers, apparently not knowing him, figured he was a lady who'd entered his name the wrong way around. So they changed him from Murray Rose, in the Male Codgers division, to Rose Murray, a lady. Murray said later, "I won both the Male and Female divisions that day".

A wonderful, wonderful man of grace, style, culture and substance. Our thoughts are with Murray's wife, Jodi, and their son, Trevor.

The best piece we read about Murray in the meeja over the past few days -- there's been an awful lot of dashed-off guff -- was the Herald's obituary, run on Tuesday, April 17. But while it stood out from the other pieces we read, it still skated all too glibly over that vast bulk of Murray's life between his swimming career and his return to Australia in 1994. Apart from his swimming, Murray had a career in TV in the US and played roles in a couple of movies. He also was a senior marketing executive (we thought he'd been Marketing Director) of the LA Lakers, one of the two biggest sporting franchises in the world (the other being Manchester United). Maybe someone, one day, will write a definitive piece. For the Herald's obit... click here

We ran a story in our email newsletter when we knew Murray wasn't well, indeed was seriously unwell, but it wasn't for us to announce this to the world. We just reckon all Australians should know how wonderful a person Murray was. A bit out of left field, perhaps, but it's not surprising that Murray married a ballerina. He was, as they say, a fine style of a bloke.

(A version of this story appeared in our email newsletter of Thursday, April 19. We've had a few responses to it, so we figured we should post it as a blob, too, so that y'all can have your say, too. If you want to add your thoughts, click the Comments link, below.)

Monday, April 16, 2012

A busy weekend, indeed...

Here it is, Mondee night, and we're just back from Mollymook, which is why our reports will be up later than normal. Everything's behind by a day or so. We stayed down at Mollymook an extra night, and we're so glad we did. Mondee morn, we swam the golf course reef at Mollymook, in some of the season's best water, and some of the season's calmest conditions. It was soporific, gliding through the sea, watching the weed wafting back and forth below us in the swell, surging left, sucking right...

Then we had a cuppa at the Table of Knowledge - Mollymook's version of it, anyway, at the beach cafe overlooking the beach, basking in the gentle autumn, early morning sun, yarning with the locals. This is what we love about ocean swimming: it's the unstructured, informal swimming, the stuff that goes on every morning on every beach in a community, and the culcha afterwards over a cuppa.

How was your weekend? Where did you swim? How was it?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Luvverly autumn swimming...

We've had a luvverly couple of days over Easter. Pacific Palms on Easter Sundee, then Bondi on Easter Mondee (we apologise again to the folk at Nowra Culburra because we didn't, after all, get to their swim on Easter Sat'dee), and on both occasions we swam in the clearest water all season, and warm! Oh, but it was warm. Not just in comparison with the air, which was cool at Bondi early, later warming as the sun rose higher and the clouds cleared. It was some of the warmest water all season.

There was a little swell at both beaches to make the swims more interesting. Pacific Palms is a gentle beach as a rule, but it always has an abrupt dump which, as the swell rises, can become quite nasty. It's not a great beach for body surfing unless the tide is high.

There were just a couple of little blueys at both Pacific Palms and Bondi to add a zing to the swims, but they weren't great issues. Indeed, it was the first time in three years that we've been stung by blueys.

They were glorious swims.

A downer at Pacific Palms, however, was the tragedy after the swim, when the Pacific Palms surf club's Treasurer, Sandra Wilson (right), collapsed suddenly and died. Our thoughts are with Sandra's family and friends, and her club colleagues. They all are devastated by the loss.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Two towering escarpments...

 Two luvverly swims for us this weekend... Caves Beach on Sat'dee, Stanwell Park on Sundee. They're much alike in a way, in that both start beneath towering escarpments, then follow the cliff along a reef or reefs to beach finishes. Both spectacular swims, both in gentle, rolling swell.

Stanwell was notable for the wonderful sensation of surfing from Coalcliff to Stanwell Park, with the swell, the chop, the wind, and a very strong current all getting behind us and pushing us north. It was easily the most exciting and enjoyable swim of the season for us, running with that swell, feeling it pick us up and push us along. And every time we passed a booee, we really got a sense of how strong that push was: it was like we went past them in a car.

What did you think of your swims this weekend?