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...


  1. I don't think I was the only one to swim to Nth Bondi only to discover the course was changed. The IRB drove straight past the three of us and didn't say a word. As far as I'm concerned the times and placings mean nothing. Very disappointing.

  2. Conditions were great, location fantastic, but overall I just felt ripped off with this swim. $75 for the Coogee to Bondi is definitely expensive, but what did I get for my money? A cheap swim cap, a cup of water and an orange.

    Regarding the swim, 450 starters in one wave is ridiculous, especially when the 1st turn is only 200 metres off the beach. Not enough bouys, not enough water safety and a change of course mid race resulted in an uproar at the finish line.

    The presentation featured lots of sponsor donated random draws, but no category prizes and not even a prize for 2nd and 3rd outright.

    For a swim that I was really looking forward to, it ended up being a huge disappointment!

  3. It was a serious error by Mermaid to send swimmers anywhere near North Bondi. I have wasted another Anzac day... No more...

    (This comment has been edited for legal reasons: os.c.)

  4. The main issue was the course marking once at Bondi the front runners saw the last turn buoy was was off south Bondi near the fininsh but the buoy broke loose and drifted north. I led the third bunch and being dilligent and following the briefing instructions and diagram i followed the drifting buoy. Turning at north Bondi point. Following swimmers just turned in or went round the towed back buoy. All times are irrelivant and meaningless. Warrior

  5. I too swam to North Bondi. I arrived at the far bouy, looked up, only to find four swimmers anywhere near me. I stopped, the four of us discussed the situation. We were all confused, but decided to swim in (slowly) together. We were gutted.

    All four of us were experienced swimmers and very dissapointed. Really bad event, but I made some new friends and am now having a laugh about it.

    Will not enter again, makes the Cole look like a slick production.


    1. I was in same boat craig… I also think it unfair winner won with a wetsuit on… the runner up asked miss mermaid why… she said"about journey not winning or times"… WELL if that the case company mermaid why were we given timing chips…. the whole swim was a total joke and you should NEVER EVER be allowed to host another won.. my wife and I were terrified with limited water safety and know idea where we were going..

  6. Another punter hugely disappointed of the course markings especially @ Nth Bondi. The results are meaningless. I swum right up Nth Bondi where at the pre race briefing we were told there was a turning buoy BUT it wasn't there. After finishing, still in the top 15%, I saw swimmers already finished that usually are well behind me (did they swim right up to Nth Bondi?), yet others normally well in front finishing after me ( I guess they had swum further up Nth Bondi than I did) Water safety were clueless when questioned where we were to swim, just lucky conditions were benign or it could of been a tragedy waiting to happen. After the swim we watched as the buoys off Bondi were moved closer & closer to shore. This race was NOT an even playing field. It was an event just to swim that far past iconic beaches. For next year better marked course, better water safety AND everyone swim the same course would make this a better swim. Also send those bloody wetsuit wearers off in their own wave!

  7. Not enough markers, not enough crew, not enough fruit, not enough prizes, just enough distance and all for $75.

  8. Needed :- more buoys, more paddlers, 4-5 waves. luckily
    we had generous conditions but this could so easily have
    turned ugly. this is not a trivial distance
    -- the organisers need to lift their game --- having said that
    thanks to everyone that did help - i'm just concerned about the
    safety of this race.

  9. It must be hard work to organise a swim for not much thanks so it feels bad to be so critical but this was a pretty badly run event. It's expensive for a swim but there were fewer bouys and less water safety than on most 1k swims. This was particularly noticeable because the course that was marked didn't seem to match the description given at the compulsory race briefing. There was very little refreshment at the end. The gear was dropped a long way from the finish line, which is pretty hard to take when the conditions were are cold as they were today with the wind.

    It was also a strangely rough start. Normally there's a bit of contact but today was really rough and sometimes it seemed deliberate. Not sure why.

    Nice course, lovely to get a view on my breathing side. Overall though, a bit disappointing.

  10. Words could not describe my fury. This was a good day spoilt by a poor race director. Good weather, good conditions, ill positioned buoys. Apparently it was spectators on the beach who noticed the buoy at Bondi moving. Thank god for a couple of extra eyes. Otherwise, the back of the pack would have ended up in Fiji. This is a good swim in bad hands.


  11. Geez. Controversial. I really enjoyed the swim, but I guess, for me, it's not so much about the competition in the back half of the field. I do still like to see how I go compared to my buddies. For me, Coogee to Bondi is the only longer swim where you don't need a paddler/support crew, you don't need to be an elite and it's a great journey swim where I wouldn't swim the course except in an organised event.

    I was surprised about only having one wave, but I didn't think the argy bargy was as bad as other swims with smaller waves. I also had problems with the map at the briefing - I also swam for North Bondi, and had a lot of trouble finding the 2nd boat which we were supposed to turn around off Clovelly. After heading directly towards Shark Point, I couldn't see what we were supposed to round and followed the crowd out to sea towards a large vessel. We obviously were off course enough and all were shepherded back towards Shark Point.

    Once heading towards Bronte it was easier to find the buoy. However, the second buoy was supposed to be off the headland between Bronte and Tama, but was actually closer to the Mackenzies headland. Fortunately it was easy enough to spot, as was the next buoy off Mackenzies.

    I agree the swim can be improved. Why not have a paddler after each buoy pointing the direction to the next one? Then maybe a guide paddler on the way (as required). I like the early start time, but this also means you're swimming into the glare looking for the next buoy - all the more reason to improve guidance.

    Anyway, a big thanks to all the lifeguards/volunteers out there on the water - it was tough conditions for them - really windy, and a cold breeze at that. And thanks to the other people involved & organisers for putting the swim on - hopefully it can be further improved for next year.

    Also, nice moment of reflection with the Last Post played after the briefing. Great way to start ANZAC day.

    1. Check this link (from Sevadevi) for the briefing map. I'd love to see where the buoys actually were.

  12. i love the swim, the conditions were great but like many other comments, it was too expensive for what we got, considering the rough water swim is only $15 more and its double in length and a lot more effort goes involved into it

  13. Charm Frend - coach_charmApril 25, 2012 at 11:02 PM

    I was a spectator today and I did enjoy seeing so many do the swim. It was almost the old school of oceanswimming of years gone by at the finish. It was especially great to see Chuck Hahn there and doing the 5km. Well done to all that swam and especially to first timers at that distance.

  14. Very disapointed. $34,000 was contributed to this event from entries and for that we shoudl have recieved more. I was in the second group and it was very clear the paddlers should have been giving direction rather than following the lead bunch. You wont be seeing me next year as I feel very ripped off.

  15. Too many wetsuit wearers. Nothing was done to separate wetsuit wearers at registration which was disappointing. Over 5km a westuit is an enormous advantage and it makes a mockery of the timing to record wetsuit wearers among the mere mortals in sluggoes! I also don't want to feel that I am at a Triathlon when I stand on the start line. I am happy for people to wear wetsuits if required, but they must be in a separate wave or have their times recorded separately from the rest of the punters.

    Re the course, I like many others chased the moving bouy to North Bondi and had to swim back against the current while others swam straight in. While disappointing, the fact is that things can go wrong in ocean swimming and I accept that for what it is. What could be improved however is more bouys and no use of boats (other than the first marker) as turning markers. I swam out to sea towards a boat with a group of a dozen or so to be told late in the piece that we were heading to the wrong boat. Hard to distinguish one boat from another with the sun in your face. With 450 swimmers and a 5km course, a lot more water assistance and bouys are required, particularly at a time of day when the sun is not as high in the sky as many of us are used to at circa 10.30am.

  16. does anyone know who benefits from the proceeds of this swim? I was told it is a private enterprise and does not benefit any surf club? I know they gave $2 per entry to the WWF or someone.

    1. My comment about the distribution of proceeds for this event was withdrawn from an earlier blog entry due to legal reasons. Quite simply, the funds are largely pocketed by the race director. I think this explanation will be approved by the forum moderator.

      Let's not forget that last year's event was a token 2 lap circuit of Coogee Bay due to bad weather.

      That's consecutive years of seriously short changing entrants.

  17. I would love to hear from the organiser about what actually happened at Bondi. I have no facts, just what I have heard from other furious swimmers. Can we get an explanation? The map referred to in the post above shows the final turning buoy to be a 180 degree turn close to the northern headland before heading back between the gates.

    1. I was on the beach and someone pointed out to me that the buoy was drifting - this was as soon as the lead swimmer (who had 3 paddlers by the way) turned around it. It took them some time to get the buoy moved and it had drifted a long way. Then they moved it to a place closer than it was to start with? I dont know when they noticed it but they seemed very disorganised on the beach.

  18. I am normally pretty relaxed about swims even when the administration is somewhat wanting and have never felt motivated to voice my concerns ... however,
    The Coogee-Bondi was a disaster and an exploitation of the swimmers that were attracted to a unique event...
    The litany of evidence from;
    - poor registration and briefing,
    - ... having a single wave of circa 400+ swimmers (surely there is enough history to show that waves should not be more that 200 - 250 in size!)
    - inadequate support and safety in the water resulting in difficult navigation (windy chop, low sun and various headlands) and the 'runaway buoy' situation all attest to the inadequacy of support and the lack of guidance available which contributes considerable to the safety of the swimmers.
    We may well sign away our rights - however, poorly organised safety and support is organisation negligence and disrespect,
    - the pitiful refreshments - water a few biscuits and oranges that the organisers did not even care to cut for the competitors.
    For a premium price event - the organisers have apparently skimped at every corner, exposed swimmers to greater risk and demonstrated that they are not fit to run such events.
    (Edited for legal reasons: os.c)

    1. Well said Tom…don't know you but well thought out criticism .. such a shame that this day turned out so Dreadful for many..myself included !!!

  19. I loved the swim, it was a tough challenge and clearly the things that were not good have caused considerable angst. I was more angry last year when we were kept standing in the cold not knowing when we would be swimming, in the end I didn’t swim in the alternate event for 2011, whereas this year I just got lost.
    As I swam around Mackenzies I expected to be continuing up to North Bondi but suddenly found myself on my own and no buoy to the north, I kept heading north until a life guard on a jet ski pointed me straight into the beach.
    Maybe it is time to establish some standards for organisers to follow. In saying this I am cautious that we don’t end up with petty rules that may ruin the freedom of ocean swimming. How about three different colour buoys: one colour indicating left turn, another indicating right turn and another indicating straight ahead. Then space the buoys at 500 meter intervals. One wave for the start is not enough for a swim like this that limits the entry numbers (I thought it was capped at 400 but that changed). How about we nominate an expected finish time and get grouped into waves accordingly – fastest go first.
    Whether an organiser takes any notice of feedback is up to them but organisers do need to remember that participants are customers and if you want a successful event you need the customers to keep coming back and be satisfied with the product that is being delivered.

  20. I did not swim the Coogee to Bondi swim this year mainly because of the costs and past experiences with the swim. (Swim too short and lack of water safety). It looks like lesson have not been learnt.
    It is a shame because it should be a great event.
    Having done several long distant swims over the years. I suggest the easiest way to do a long swim is go to Mana Island Fiji: warm, clear water no need to orgainse paddlers, boats etc.
    Mr August

  21. the best thing i saw at one of the events to aid navigation was to have balloons on top of the buoys. Simple and effective -- would have been useful yesterday. Doesn't take much.....

    1. Yep i agree... they had this at newport on jan 2. Very effective for navigation.

  22. Ultimately I enjoyed this swim (my first 5k) and I'm happy to have done it, but the water safety left a lot to be desired.

    Given the number of entrants and the length of the race, there were not nearly enough paddlers and the messages that were being given during the race were very mixed. I calculated that I ended up swimming close to 6km after following directions I was given en route. As a back of the pack swimmer this meant that a lot of the time I was swimming alone, and at various points could not see any water safety at all.

    Luckily the conditions were in our favor. As someone else said, if they had turned nasty this swim could have been disasterous.

    Organizers: next year please give a better briefing including more course maps, or handouts. Have a lot more paddlers, and make sure they know where the swimmers should be swimming and that it reflects the course as outlined at the beginning.

  23. Well I was completely put off by the debacle of last year and refused to pay $ 75 again for a race that even with better weather was still a debacle . The swim needs to be taken off Mermaid and given to someone to manage who has the ability to do so , she has no clue.

  24. I couldn't agree more to many of the comments. The swim has the potential to be one of the greats on the Sydney calender and one of the most challenging. Please organisers, think about more starting waves, buoys and support craft especially after increasing the numbers from max 300 to 450. And again the results should be null and void after changing the course mid race.

  25. Sad to see these problems.
    This is a race that really should be on the calendar. I missed this year, but it's a fantastic course.
    I hope very much that you will try to get the organiser to respond on here to these concerns, and that things can be put in hand to make sure that it becomes what it should be - a real highlight of the Sydney swimming year.
    One thing's clear. The demand is there.

  26. I completely agree with all the posts here, and am glad to see I'm not the only one who feels this way.

    I do not understand why we had to pay $75 to do this race. This is significantly more than any of the other ocean races and we received nothing for it. There should be age group category prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd. I can't believe 2nd and 3rd overall did not even receive anything for their efforts. For some people, it is not about who wins, but for others it is a race, and it is nice to be rewarded for the hard effort put in.

    No powerade, just water, no fruit except oranges - which were not even sliced up! For lack of other options I'm guessing the money went to the blow up whale.

    I agree there were too many people starting together and converging at the boat. It would be better to start in waves. Also, would prefer the traditional "ready, set, go", rather than the trumpet mexican wave start, where you only realised the race had started because the person to your left was running towards the water.

    That said, the worst thing was not knowing where to go from the first boat onwards. If this is run next year, please put more buoys - a lot more buoys. I would be very interested to know the actual distance swam by myself and all others because I am sure it is greater than 5 km and didn't help by the constant need to change direction when finally realising where the bouys where, and whatever happened after swimming for what felt like forever towards north bondi, until being told by a guy on a jet ski, who was carrying a buoy to just turn in. I felt great swimming most of the time, but once I entered Bondi and couldn't see anyone or anything I just wanted it to be over. Very frustrating. Unless these views were considered and these problems investigated, I would not do this swim again.

    On a more positive note, I think it was great they played the Last Post and we respected Anzac Day. Thanks to the water safety who helped out on the day.

    1. Indeed, that trumpet Mexican wave start was awful. I didn't even had my goggles on but ran to the water when everybody next to me were gone.
      Some of you were luckier than me & the man behind me because we were not told by anybody to stop chasing the 'runaway buoy' at Nth Bondi and to turn in to Sth Bondi beach instead. No wonder why we were the last man & woman out of the water to the finish line!!! We saw a pack of swimmers from Mackenzie's heading directly south to Bondi beach but we thought they were cheating. We saw a couple of paddlers along but they didn't point us in the right direction nor say anything about the change of course.

      For $75 I've got: a non silicone cap + 1 cup of water (no orange, no biscuit). But the time I finished, there were only 2 small cups of water and I badly needed to get the salty taste off my mouth but if I drank both cups of water I'd leave none for the swimmer behind me (1). Boxes of fruit & biscuits were emptied.
      I wasn't going to complain until I started to read this blog site. Last year I turned up at Coogee & hang around in the rain shivering & sneezing for almost two hours to be told that there was no 5km swim but an alternate course was being prepared. It was 9:15am & the buoys were not even in place. Mermaid Academy could had made an earlier announcement instead of keeping people waiting. And after this year's badly organised (again), 'no way José' for next year's swim with Mermaid Academy.

  27. Totally agree with the above posts, a great swim with terrible organisation.

    A new organisation team such as a surf lifesaving club or a group who know how to run an openwater event, would make this swim fantastic and worth $75.

  28. I totally agree with everyone. This was my first ocean swim season and I saw a lot of those problems not just in the coogee to Bondi. The organizers should take it more seriously especially regarding water safety and marks. Open water swim is a sport that is growing in Australia and I would like to see it more professionalized and organized.

  29. hey mate,

    hate to tell you, surf clubs are some times even often no better at organisating events. it all comes down to the organiser. i am surprised it was not organised well. sure the entry fee covers insurance but not sure. i like events like this and often find it is mandatory to have a paddler for ever swimmer was that the case this year?

    i did not swim and am only going off second and third hand information so i think if there is problems you should speak to the horse it self..

    cheers and safe swimming

  30. No PA for the starter on the beach, why not swim point-to-point...a visible sight for us swimmers to aim for, I heard the lifegaurds were any case there were not enough, first buoy off the shore was ridiculous with 450 swimmers aiming for one boat and having to do a sharp left-hand turn on top of each other. I gave up water polo a few years back??

    Can't beat a free bacon and egg roll, give us Dawny to Cockatoo any day!!!

    1. Agree re point-to-point, would take a lot of confusion out of things. I realise this may cause problems re getting the 5k, but if the swimmers had to swim around WC Island first, then go point-to-point, the 5k would be easily achieved.
      Largely endorse all points already made. I flew down from Far North Coast for this, and was disappointed at not even getting a T-shirt for my $75, nor any electrolyte drinks. I also swam nearly to Nth Bondi, and rounded the buoy off Bronte beach, and noticed a lot of swimmers were not, so I agree times and places are pretty much pointless. And don't get me started on the number of wetties!

  31. Well done to Maddy Palfrey who played a stirring rendition of 'the Last Post' pre race. Maddy then went on to be the first overall female across the line. 3 cheers for Maddy.

    It all went downhill from there. Too many in one wave, buoy placement did not match race briefing, wetsuit wearing times not distinguished from cossies, inadequate water safety, drifting buoys not even noticed by organizers, inadequate refreshments, ........................all in perfect ocean swimming conditions

  32. The worse race ive ever ripped off!! No water safety, sucks directions, organization was 0 !!!never will enter this race again !!! $100 for tap water & orange?
    Mermaid should thanks God for none getting lost or injured!!! Absolute disaster!!

  33. A few comments:

    1. There is no excuse for poor post-race refreshments, particularly with an entry fee as high as this one. How difficult is it to buy (or get sponsors) 500 bottles of water. Also buy 50 watermelons and have someone cut them up. This aspect was just amateurish ion the extreme.

    2. Re the course, how about 10 buoys 500m apart. Easy to count and after you turn or pass one buoy you should be able to swim for a few minutes before sighting the next one and minimising the prospect of swimming too far off course before having a chance to correct.

    3. Hand this swim to a professional to run!!!!!!!!

    1. By the time I finished there were no oranges. Only a couple of cups with plain water. I thought to myself, that teaches me a lesson for being the last woman out of water.

  34. Agree with all of the above.
    Really hope the event is picked up by an organisation that can do it well as it is a cracking course and potentially the best on the calender. Would love to see some more longer swims added. The buoy every 500m and coloured to the turning direction I think are great ideas.
    Will definitely do it again in the hope that the above get's sorted.

  35. As I swam around Mackenzie's I expected to be continuing up to North Bondi but suddenly found myself on my own and chasing the moving buoy to North Bondi (Ben Buckler's Point) and had to swim back against the current while others swam straight in!!! No paddler or life guard on a jet ski came to point me straight into Bondi beach. (I've read blogs from other swimmers that there was no buoy to the north and they kept heading north until a life guard on a jet ski pointed them straight into the beach.)

  36. Overall:
    -poor registration and briefing, having a single wave of 450 swimmers (surely there is enough history to show that waves should not be more that 200 in size!) and a 5km course, a lot more water assistance and bouys were required, particularly at a time of day when the sun is not as high in the sky as many of us are used to at circa 10.30am.
    - inadequate support and safety in the water resulting in difficult navigation (windy chop, low sun and various headlands) and the 'runaway buoy' situation all attest to the inadequacy of support and the lack of guidance available which contributes considerable to the safety of the swimmers.
    -not enough refreshments - water, a few biscuits and oranges that the organisers did not even care to cut for the competitors. But the time I finished, there were only 2 small cups of water left and I badly needed to get the salty taste off my mouth but was concerned if I drank all 3 cups of water I'd leave none for the swimmer behind me (1). Boxes of fruit & biscuits were emptied.

  37. When at south Bronte, I suddenly found all by myself. I looked around and there was too much glare and couldn't see the yellow buoys at Tama. The two paddlers on boards were too busy chatting and didn't notice that I was in distress. I had to swim back to them and sarcastically apologised for interrupting their conversation because I needed direction to the so called yellow buoy which I still couldn't see.
    Since I can agree with all the negatives have been pointed out by previous blogs, all there is left to say is thanks to the announcer at briefing that we posed for a minute of silence and that a woman played the 'Last Post' and we respected Anzac Day. Thanks to the water safety who helped out on the day.

  38. My thoughts have been raised by many - Just reiterating for principle.
    Great experience. First timer. Awesome swim.

    - Poor organisation overall
    - Not enough buoys.
    - Water safely in the hands of a handful of kids.
    - Fighting start.
    - Course hastily scribbled out (
    - Swimmers scattered over 100m to my left and 100m to my right until Bronte
    - Water and unpeeled oranges at finish.. not a huge deal, but remarkably less than all other (much cheaper) events.

    Great day.
    Definitely slack organisation.
    I'll do it next year. get it straight though. please.

  39. I have read all the comments and would like to add the view of one of the average swimmers.
    This is an awesome swim.
    Yes there were problems on the day with the buoys. But we are doing a journey oceanswim and we have a responsibility to navigate on the course. I was caught out at Bondi and swum further, but I have out that down to experience.
    Yes it was hard to see the buoys with the chop and the sun. But it was the same for everyone.Wonder how Ky Hurst would go with his style?
    As this is a journey swim I think there should be less buoys. After all the course is get in at Coogee, turn left and swim north to Bondi. We could have a turning buoy off Coogee, and another off Bondi in front of the pavillion in the middle of the bay.
    A swimmer would have a choice of hugging the cliffs to swim in calmer water (depending on wind direction and swell. Or leave the lee of the cliffs and cut across from Clovelly to MacKenzie's Point and deal with more chop and a shorter distance.
    Each swimmer would have to make a choice and the impact of that decision would not be known until near the end.
    Sure we could have had more food at the end, but we have been spoilt by other swims with sponsors.
    I also think the prizes were fantastic. It is good to have more random prizes for those of us who have no chance of ever finishing in the top three of our age group. If you only swim for the prizes you should look at your motivation. I swim to challenge myself and enjoy the locations.
    I will do this swim again and I hope it continues. A great way to finish off my season.

  40. I have just read Angela van Boxtel's report on the swim. Firstly, thank you for taking the time to record your thoughts in such detail. However, your commentary is far too defensive and seems to suggest that swim organisers are immune from any form of criticism, constructive or otherwise.

    Angela states that, in the context of wetsuit wearers, "A swim is not all about a number at the end on a piece of paper. For many of us TODAY was a great opportunity to stretch ourselves and be able to participate in a longer swim, which normally you can't without a boat or paddle support." These are not mutually exclusive concepts! A swim needs to cater to both those who wish to compete, and those who are just there for the journey. Separating wetsuit wearers in terms of time recording shouldn't offend anyone, particularly when the website prominently stated that this would be the case.

    This swim could be improved substantially, and defensive commentary that ignores basic truths will not assist the organisers in providing a better swim in 2013:

    * more drinking water at the finish - how hard is this and how unfair to those "just there for the journey" that they can't get a drink to replenish lost fluids after nearly 2 hours in the water????

    * oranges not cut up - pure and simple bad organisation

    * not enough water safety - just lucky conditions were mild.

    * wetsuits - are expensive and make the entry costs higher into the sport. Fine if people want to wear them but they need to be treated in a separate category as has become the tradition in ocean swimming!

    1. yes… I completely agree with your thoughts and have shared my thoughts on ocean swims.. 'If it was about the Journey' Then why were we chipped by Multisports…(many thanks to Belinda who was placed in difficult position)…. For us to learn from this DEBACLE … which is now becoming a race director who is a repeat offender from last yrs… we need to honest… Jo is a gorgeous beautiful women and she has my 100/ support but important that this never happens again and we LEARN…

    2. I think many of us, are not so focused on the time but do like to know what time it eventually took to how long it takes to do a certain distance. For me that is the meaning of my time chip. Also the website of the swim Coogee to Bondi swim, clearly states ONLY a prize for first male and female swimmers! No age categorie prizes etc. FROM this I understood (and had supposed others understood the same) that this swim is more about the journey and not so much about the timing order. I thought also the prizes were very funky & trendy! Great to see lovely prizes for ad random swimmers which most of us are! Maybe for next year, have an elite wave for all the really focused swimmers can go in that and then have the rest of us, just enjoy our journey. I personally do love a swim without the age categories, as after a while it gets a bit boring to see the same fab people out there all the time. This swim has a dfferent feel and I really hope Jo will build onto that, without loosing all you cool guys, girls fast swimmers!

  41. I think that for the amount of money it is to enter the swim and for how far the swim is, the prizes should be a little better. I know most other big swims offer more prizes than for just first female and first male, and I would think that there should be cash prizes. Surely there was enough money made to afford it.

  42. To follow up on the race report as well... well written piece and it's good to get different perspectives on races from across the field. But agree with above that it's a very defensive piece. I'm happy to put my name to this commentary, Angela are you happy to disclose any connection/friendship you may have to Mermaid through her training squads so we understand if there may be a conflict of interest?

    On the swim, I think most of the comments have already been covered but again it just came away as feeling cheap and dis-organised
    - cut up the fruit
    - some gatorade or endura with the water
    - max of 200 per wave
    - if it's separate times for wetty, follow through on it
    - don't move the first bouy after people have lined up on the beach
    - more water safety

    The conditions did not help and having probably swim a bit longer than most... (times and distance not perfect as GPS does drop out but the track is useful)
    ...I'm not that upset, it's just part of doing an ocean swim, isnt it?

    Having seen all the work that goes into organising a swim through the Tama-Cloey swim, it is an extremely challenging and arduous task and they were all volunteers doing it to raise funds for surf clubs but it's not hard to do it better.

    I think the ocean swimming community appreciates the organisers putting on a challenging swim such as this and there is goodwill from that but you need to address the concerns people have raised here directly if you want people to support the swim next year. I'm 50-50 at the moment...

  43. Hi Iain, Love to clarify as I do not train at all :-) I don't have any connections with Jo, Did not even know who she was until on the day I saw a person with a tee saying race director. She does not know about my existence either! I just know as an arts events organiser myself what it takes to organise an event. What I wanted to point out is to have an honest and open discussion with constructive criticism and not to judge people's intents. My only interaction with Jo was this; at the end of the race as my name was not on the finish sheet, she immediately dropped anything she was doing, got on her mobile to the person who did the results. She got back with a straight and clear answer, was very friendly, to the point and helpful.
    Also in regards to water safety, which I did not mention in my report (don't forget my report is my individual experience, as I'm still relatively new I look different at things then the more experienced swimmers.) Though during the 5km swim, there was not a point I did not feel safe in the water. I found the helpers in the water, very switched on and easy to connect with, to say so I've been in many swims where there was triple the amount of water safety but half of them were chatting on their boards, or staring into space or ignoring you. So quantity is not always quality. Also this was the first swim where i've seen jetskis and having them going up and down the course all the time, really felt good. Also as I was in the back of the pack, water safety is also more directed towards us then the faster swimmers. So my only real problem with the swim was with the course but I also found it challenging in a way to have to navigate more by yourself, as someone also pointed out in one of the blobs above. Hope that is more clear ;-)

    1. Hi Angela, I agree that an open and constructive discussion is the best way to make races improve, I know that the race organisers I've seen on Tama-Cloey were fastidious in their planning on all aspects and looked thru many previous Oceanswims reports to make sure the experience was as good it it could be given the resources that they had available to them. I think the lack of empathy to the broad and diverse ocean swimming community in your report was what irked most of the people to reply to your report.

      Having been in a number of ocean swims over the past decade or more and been involved in water safety on swims sitting on a board or in the water for 2,3 or 4 hours or more I can assure you that all of the volunteers from surf clubs take water safety very seriously and are in no way ignoring swimmers if they think there is the slightest chance of them being in danger.

      All the best on future swims, even if you aren't training for them :)

  44. the swim that keeps giving ...

  45. I wish this forum just remembered for a moment that The Race Director is a human being, with a love for the ocean, trying her best to put on an event for like minded passionate people in the water. Do you really think it was not her best intention to get it all right? I did not do this swim, but have done many ocean swims, and just cannot believe the foul nature of some of these comments in such a small community. Of course it would seem silly not to agree with some of the details such as 'cutting up oranges' - and of course have much empathy for those that ended up having to swim extra. You can all point the finger, but rather than re state what was clearly a problem, how about someone comes up with what grand plan you would have had in the event that there was a run away buoy? Let's not forget Jo has feelings too. This blog is not supposed to ATTACK her, rather a constructive debate about the good and bad things about the swim and suggestions on HOW to improve. It's very easy to tell someone they have a problem, sit back and see what they do next. If your so passionate about seming why not help to make it better yourself!! Plus the person suggesting she makes alot of money. I want to swear at you. This swim is across two councils, ever thought about insurances? Or maybe howuch money one inflatable bout cost? I can't go on. I was at Bondi surf club swims recently it was $80 to do two races (1 & 2km). Thats a total of 3km to swim in bondi bay and there was ONLY Water. Did that organizer get abused for their lack of food?

  46. Hi Angela,

    Oceanswimmers are motivated by many and varied things. Some are there to win, either outright or place in the age category. Others are there for the journey, especially on the swims which go somewhere like the Coogee to Bondi. Others are there to push themselves harder than before, and measure this through comparing their ranking to others who typically finish either side of them, or (as I do) look at the score given on NSW Ocean Swim Series website. A whole lot are there for the social aspect of the swims as evidenced by the swimmers who hang around long after the buoys have been washed, deflated and stored away. Most do it for multiple reasons. The point is all of us are different and have many and varied motivations to do the swim. I'm sure the winner enjoyed the journey as much as the last swimmer on Wednesday.

    I believe the people complaining about mixing wetsuit times with FINA rule-abiding swimmers' times, and changing the course during the race so that some swam longer and others shorter, all have a genuine beef which cannot be dismissed offhandedly that it is all about the journey.

    For me personally I really enjoyed the swim until I hit Bondi. It was ticking all the boxes for me and had I filled in the swimmer survey at Marks Park headland it would have all the ticks on the righthand side of the page (except the start, but I got over that). I was feeling great in the water, the journey was everything I wanted it to be, I was bang on my target time, and I knew the results would be released quickly due to the timing chip technology, to save me hitting refresh on Oceanswims constantly over the following two or three days. But then the missing buoy debacle occurred.

    Some people have commented that part of ocean swimming is navigation, and it is. But what is not a part of ocean swimming is putting up a different course map at the swimmer briefing to what the reality on the beach was. All those swimmers who continued north to find the buoy where we were to do a "hairpin" turn to come back south to the gates are not suffering from poor navigation. They are following what the race briefing told them. Often in open water swimming you are swimming blind but you know that eventually the marker will become visible if you continue in the direction on the course map. This is the frustration of many of the comments on this blog. A solution as some have commented is to have no buoys and then the problem goes away (but probably introduces a raft of safety issues).



    PS The first comment on this blog and the one asking for comment from the organiser are mine posted under Anonymous. I posted under this as I had no other option in the "Comment as:" box, because I do not have Google, LiveJournal, Wordpress etc etc. I've tried a workaround this time with Name/URL. Your attack on the Anonymous posters in your blog was probably unwarranted.

    1. Hi Bill, in regards to the anonymous, anyway can sign their blog with their name under it. Some have actually done this in anonymous postings. I do understand not every one figures out that part as not everyone is that much in social media. But anyone could have left their name at the end of their you do 'cheers Bill' :-)

    2. oh yes Bill I forgot -my report is about 'my' personal experiences as a relativly new swimmer. I try to choose an angle for my story and write from that. The more different people write stories for Paul's Ocean Swim website..the more different angles we have. Also maybe Paul can point that out at his blog that people who don't have all the stuff as you mention above still can sign off with their name. No offense to you :-) Happy to see you had a great swim!

  47. Bondi Ocean swimmerApril 29, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    Sheesh I am glad I did not do this one, watching from the South Bondi point it looked a debacle. Criticisms justified.

    Shame - because it should be the ultimate swim on the calendar, it's Anzac day, 5 kms along beautiful iconic beaches all the way... awesome!

    Surely, it's possible to organise a swim for that many over the distance with the appropriate support?

    Next year, let's do it the social networking way - free, with volunteers from each of the beaches escorting us past their watch. Anyone can join in from any beach along the way & we all play two-up at a grateful venue in Bondi. Doesn't sound too hard to organise.

  48. I'm currently reading through everyone's comments on your blog and I will write to you and all interested a response addressing comments and feedback shortly.

    I'm still in the process of breaking down the event and investigating any situations which may have occurred on the water and land during the swim.

    I do take all feedback (particularly constructive ones) seriously and will make every effort to address these in my upcoming response or for the future.

    I ask for people's patience in writing my response, whilst I review all aspects of the event, resolve any shortcomings and rectify any issues of the day if I can.

    Many thanks
    Joanna Kyriazakos
    Race Organiser
    Coogee to Bondi Ocean Swim

  49. I think Glenn Muir and I had the same swim on Wednesday. I had the exact same experience. Great race report.

  50. really enjoyed reading angela and glen's reports. well done to them on finishing their swims too!

    i didn't have a very good day - had to get pulled out at bronte as i was just too cold to keep swimming for another 2.5ish k's. problem was that i swam so far off course once i got out of coogee that one of the water safety blokes on an IRB towed me back to the course (at right angles to the direction in which i'd been swimming) - and the wind chill from this totally did me in (i already had numb hands).

    so i guess my issue, as a REAL back-of-the-packer, was that i was very much alone from very early on, couldn't see anyone to follow and wasn't sure how close i should be swimming to the cliffs around clovelly cemetary. i really would have appreciated some buoys/people on paddleboards for a bit of guidance there. i swam at forster last year - also an "epic" - and although i was alone for most of the swim, i never got confused or frustrated with the course as there were so many paddlers/buoys/rubber duckies to guide the way.

    i find many of the comments on this thread quite unfair - for example "last year's debacle" - i was there last year too and i cannot see how the race director can be blamed for weather conditions. yes there was a delay but that happens at any swim where the course needs to be changed at the last minute.

    "oranges not cut up" - oh for goodness sake

    in regards to water safety, when i was bobbing around at bronte, and realised that i wouldn't be able to keep going, i thought the water safety people were too far away to see me. nevertheless i put my arm up and an IRB came over to me immediately (young eyes see better i guess). i was really impressed. they were professional and kind. also i very much appreciate the help i got at bronte surf club, including a lift back to bondi to get my stuff.

    and the wetsuit debate - really is it a big deal? yes, times should be separated but other than that how does it affect anyone else? smart choice if you're prone to hypothermia.

    so for me there were huge problems with the markings of this course, and i would really have to be convinced of improvement to sign up again. i would also be smart (knowing that i do tend to get cold easily) and wear a wetsuit if the wind was as cold again as it was last wednesday.

    liz hill

    1. In relation to last year.... It was a debalce albeit myself and seven others still did the swim sans water safety. On second thought, it was an outstanding swim with no issues as we never took part in silly swim around Coogee.

      Jason Scott (just in case Angela has anymore to say about a anonymous posts.

    2. Hi Liz, about the wetsuit debate, I have a skin condition (urticaria)that flares randomly when my body is exposed to sudden temperature changes. As a prevention I wore a 5mm wetsuit to keep me warm BUT it (wetty) caused my body to overheat at the 2.5km mark near Bronte and as a result I developed 'urticaria' both of my eyelids & under eye bags were swollen big time and caused me to see very little (as if the glare wasn't enough). I swam to one of the paddlers and asked for guidance to locate the yellow buoys but no sympathy there but I managed to complete the swim. I was the last woman out of the water wearing a wetty. To people judging/discriminating wetsuit wearers, stop the 'looks'. Elizabeth Lloyd

    3. exactly liz!!! i see all the looks, i've been on the receiving end of looks, and i find it very juvenille. i don't think anyone can presume to know anyone else's story. good on you for finishing the swim - you're a tough person.

    4. Reply to Liz Hill, thanks :-) I appreciate your comment. Elizabeth (Liz) Lloyd

  51. Hi,

    Like Iain, I have seen how much time and effort is required to organise an Ocean Swim. It is extremely onerous for one person to take on this amount of work, let alone all the legal responsibility of race director. For those who don't know race director is solely responsible for the race and the safety of all participants. If something goes wrong the race director is liable and could be up for serious charges and compensation claims, irrespective of insuarnce.

    As far as the swim goes, the start was very tough and needed to be staggered to avoid all the punching and kicking; that really takes away from the enjoyment. I was annoyed that the buoys were not as expected and I seemed to be one of the many that swam several hundred metres more than necessary looking for a buoy at Ben Buckler when it had been dragged around behind me.

    Warm soup and a hot roll would have been good and perhaps something the Icebergs could offer and be included in the $75.

    Cheers Bill Shires

  52. well i thought it was a great swim! warm water, relatively calm, and a great atmosphere amongst the other swimmers during the race. I found the swimmers in the shorter races to be much less polite and considerate. maybe because we were all a bit lost, everyone tended to care more about their fellow swimmers!
    we just needed more bouys. i will do it again next year

  53. Are these the kernels of the previous 68 comments?
    Have the race course and briefing amplified on the lawn and at the beach start.
    Send the swimmers off in selected waves of 100 to avoid congestion at the Coogee buoy.
    The competitive swimmers would like more prizes and exclude wetsuit wearers from the podium.
    Make sure the buoys are firmly anchored.
    More nutrition at the end of the swim.
    We're paying $75 so we want to feel we're getting our money's worth.
    The Last Post and a minute's silence are a fitting remembrance for a desperate occasion on a distant coast nearly 100 years ago.
    For myself I'd like just 3 buoys: a Coogee buoy, one off Tama, and a mid-beach Bondi buoy, this hug-the-coast route is 4.5k. And more paddlers.
    I heard that the first of these swims had individual paddler support, which resulted in more inexperienced paddlers needing rescuing that swimmers. Last year the conditions were unsafe for a public swim and the organisers did the best they could. Learning from this year will make 2013 a great swim for all entrants.
    I just received a story about the Alcatraz Swimming Society; 7 people who between them have swum to and from Alcatraz 4000 times, sometimes in sub-100 conditions water 53f(11.6c), air 47f(8.3c). "We always feel like a million bucks after our Alcatraz outings, but we dread the total body shock that comes with jumping in sans wetsuit. This aversion manifests itself in our pre-swim ritual: sniveling."
    Anzac Day was a beautiful autumn morning, thankfully we're not in San Francisco, and we're no longer swimming through the sewage of the pre-1989 Bondi/Malabar/Manly Treatment Plants – that would be cause for sniveling, and worse.
    Murray Cox

    1. Hi Murray, my hydro GPS says that I swam 5.11km sans north Bondi to view my course. Elizabeth Lloyd. Copy & paste link to your browser.

  54. I didn't do this swim, however, after reading the blog comments and reading the reports from Angela and Glenn, it got me motivated to write down my own thoughts.

    1. It was disappointing to read what appear to be personal attacks on the organiser and even towards Angela and her report. Yes, we are all entitled to our opinions, and from the sounds of things there is a lot to be learnt from the organisation of this swim, however, there is no need to get nasty about it. I was very impressed with the way Angela responded to some of the comments on the blog and no doubt the organiser will take on the constructive comments to improve the swim.
    2. I always enjoy reading the reports from Angela and Glenn. They are well written and insightful. Although I don’t know either of them, I swim in the same age group, and my experiences are often similar to theirs. They are also rank and file swimmers like me. We don’t often see reports from the ‘elite’ swimmers, and perhaps if we did, their stories would not interest and enthral many of us nearly so much. Very fitting at the end of the season to say THANKS to these and the other report and photo contributors.
    3. Wetsuits. Here we go again. To the 2 Elizabeths, well said (and such a shame that Liz Hill was unable to finish because of the cold). People can’t assume to know other people’s stories. I for one really feel the cold. I got cold in this year’s Tama2Cloey swim and the cold patch off Shark Point didn’t help! The week before at Malabar I was fine. A cooler day and perhaps cooler water temps and I was cold at the following week’s swim. At the end of Tama2Cloey I spoke with a man who said that he got cold as well. Move forwards to the April Wedding Cake swim – this time I was prepared – my sleeveless wettie vest (1mm titanium lined) was all I needed for a pleasant swim, and my fellow cold swimmer from Tama had suited up in a full wettie for warmth. You’ll probably find many wettie wearers wear a wetsuit primarily for warmth and not for buoyancy and speed advantage, and would be more than happy to be put in a separate category. I prefer to swim without the wettie, but I know my limits when it comes to the cold. By the way I really felt for Angela and her wettie experience. I put off getting one for a long time because they were such a hassle. What I have got is a fantastic 1 mm titanium lined wetsuit (from Wing Wetsuits – giving these guys and gals a plug as they are great with all things wetsuit and will custom make suits as well). Easy to get on and off (no plastic bags or socks), very comfortable and most importantly, warm. I use it with a long sleeve wettie top all through the Sydney winter and used it to swim in San Francisco Bay (from Alcatraz and another time when water temps were about 12 degrees). Now if only they could invent a buoyancy free one I’d be happy.
    4. Murray Cox – another person who I don’t know, but do know through his ocean swimming stories. Well said in your blog. Addresses the issues, makes suggestions and keeps the personal attacks out of it. Very much the gentleman.
    5. Finally, maybe this event could use starting waves similar to Tama2Cloey. People could estimate their finish times in 15 minute blocks (eg, 1hour, 1:15, 1:30 etc), and be started in smaller waves accordingly. This would allow the speedsters to have their own race up front and hopefully leave the back of the packers with company, so no one swims alone.

    Susan Tutt.

    1. G'day Susan Tutt, I'm one of the Elizabeths (Lloyd). I've hired my 5mm thick sleeveless wettie ($25 from Wing Wetsuits).
      It's weird for me to get Urticaria because I swim all yr around at Malabar bay without a wettie and don't get urticaria then. Maybe I should had hired a 3mm thich wettie. Cheers!

  55. Susan

    Thanks for your note and comments. In terms of the criticism on this blog, I suspect that the reason for it being a little more heated than usual relates to the lack of transparency as to where the proceeds of the swim are going. Where the proceeds go to a surf lifesaving club, I have tended to notice a greater degree of tolerance re things going wrong etc. If the proceeds are going to undisclosed recipients, then swimmers are less tolerant re lack of organisation, refreshments at teh end of the swim etc.

    I hope that Jo clarifies in her response how proceeds of the swim were applied, and in particular in relation to any residual funds.

  56. We really need closure on this for many many people…. when will Jo respond… she has said over a week ago she would.. PLEASEeeee Jo… for some of us we are over 60 and were left for shark bait out the back of Bronte… am still having anxiety about it… Please respond and ell us why this happened to me..

  57. Any update on when the Event Director will grace us with a response?

  58. We were watching the race from icebergs and couldn't believe it when one of the buoys started drifting from the middle of Bondi off the North Bondi point. One of the swimmers had made it into the final markers and was then sent back out to round the runaway buoy (now so far from the turn into Bondi nobody had seen it). He'd swum about 800 m back after the buoy when it was picked up by the rubber ducky and towed back to where he started - really felt for this guy!

    I am from Bondi surf club and one of my friends was from North Bondi - we were both expecting to be asked to help with water safety in the days leading up to the event, but weren't. There are willing paddlers all along the coast - please ask us - watching this race was hard enough - massive congratulations to all who swam in it!

  59. I have read the posts on the Oceanswims blog regarding the Coogee to Bondi Swim on Anzac Day. Thanks to everyone for their feedback, especially those who took the time to post constructive comments that are helpful in improving swimmers’ experience for future swims.

    In response to concerns raised regarding watersafety and swimmers’ experience during the swim, I have conducted a comprehensive review of the entire event.

    In particular, I consulted with the professional lifeguards who were in charge of conducting watersafety and supervising the swim course during the swim, who provided the following feedback:
    • The safety of swimmers was not compromised at any time during the swim and no swimmer was in any grave or serious danger;
    • The amount and caliber of the watersafety team was adequate and in accordance with Council permits and insurance requirements;
    • Every swimmer was accounted for, including those who were taken off the course early and did not officially finish;
    • There were minimal requests for assistance along the water and those swimmers were attended to by our watersafety team members in a prompt and professional manner;
    • There was no significant injury of note to any swimmer except for a few hypothermic conditions, which were adequately managed and did not need hospitalisation.

    On the whole, the swim event concluded in a safe environment and most people had an enjoyable albeit challenging swim experience. However, some swimmers felt disappointed by the variance of timing in comparison with other swimmers. This was mainly due to 2 issues:

    1. The northern most buoy drifted off course because the 30 knot plus winds increased earlier than was forecast. This buoy was relocated 2 times to avoid swimmers drifting too far out to sea and to ensure a safe and controllable aquatic environment for all swimmers involved, but unfortunately this resulted in varying the swim times amongst a small number of swimmers;
    2. At times swimmers drifted off course. This was mainly due to glare making visibility of the buoys difficult and/or increasing winds blowing unaware or inexperienced swimmers off course. Nevertheless, all swimmers returned safely to shore.

    Each year of running this swim brings invaluable experience and highlights ways to improve the entire event. Thank you for your constructive feedback regarding the race start, wetsuit categories, prize giving and even suggestions of post race nutrition, which I have taken on board. My team and I will also consider how we can improve the course layout, utilization of markers and assisting swimmers along the swim course, as well as pre and post swim organisation.

    A big thanks to everyone for their support in participating in this swim. While we can never predict weather and swell conditions I hope to continue to provide swimmers with a memorable journey in our ocean and hope to see you all again next year.

  60. Joanna, after a long swim, swimmers expected decent refreshments to replenish lost fluids. Sure, some of us were prepared for the unexpected but those sports drinks & fruits were in our backpacks stored in your truck not at the beach when we needed them. For $75 pp you provided plain water and oranges not even cut up for the convenience of exhausted swimmers. Also there were 2 cups of water on table for the last 2 swimmers and no oranges left for them. Elizabeth Lloyd

  61. Joanna, where did the profits from the race go?


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