Sunday, December 2, 2012

Another grey, bumpy day at Bondi-Bronte

We didn't do Bondi-Bronte today, so we can't tell you about it. We did... rather, we attended North Curl Curl on Sat'dee, although we didn't do it, either. North Curly has become a bit of a favourite for several reasons, but the overwhelming one in 2012 was that, not being in a position to swim, we could prop ourselves up at a pitcher window at the front of the surf club at North Curly and supervise proceedings, laid out before us. It's a lovely spot there, at which supportive punters were able to ferry us cuppas, bacon and egg rolls, watermelon, even a beer, had we wanted one, which we didn't. We'll mount a separate report on North Curly later on Mondee.

In the meantime, Bondi-Bronte...

A couple of generous punters sent us pitchers, and thank you for that. We couldn't do this without support like that. And some sent us whinges about the fairness of allowing wetties in 19-20 deg water. We've said our bit on this event's wettie policy, which we reckon is silly, but at least it was clear and displayed prominently on the event's website well before entries closed, so everyone who entered should have done so in full knowledge of what that policy was.

It certainly looked like a bumpy, grey day, which we've come to associate with the Bondi-Bronte swim. Any less-than-glorious weather means you're probably heading into a sou'-easter around Mackenzies Point, which they were today, apparently. Was it really cold? Our cobber, Murray Cox, who took the pic at top, told us: "Really a near perfect ocean swim, warm and windy, a challenging chop and swell most of the way, a calm entry to Bronte..."

Plenty of you lot did Bondi-Bronte, so please tell us all about it... What did you like, what did you dislike. Click the comment button below...

Glenn Muir called us via Skype a couple of weeks back from Cyprus, where he'd been enjoying long, solo swims along the coast. Earlier, Glenn had been doing the same in Crete. Lucky lad. He arrived back in Stra'a yesterday, and headed straight down to Bondi, from where the water safety chaps at Bronte found him bobbing around in the break off Bronte. He'd have made it anyway, lads... Well, he did make it, but this pic makes it look as if they had to pull him out, which we're sure they didn't.


  1. Good weekend of swims this weekend with North Curl Curl then Bondi. The three points challenge is a remarkable success story - with almost 900 participants over both events it shows the benefits of thinking outside the box, not to mention being super-friendly, down-to-earth and always professional throughout too. NCCSLSC give yourselves a pat on the back - this event is one of the highlights on the calendar

    Other swims should take note too; providing a run-swim event - on a saturday too - is immensely popular and very good for your bottom line. And thank goodness that unlike last year there wasn't a single wettie in sight in the swim - an equal playing field at last.

    Unlike sunday. Now I can understand the fairer sex having to wear something for warmth (them being skinnier than us, in general), but seeing hundreds of otherwise fully-mature males clad up in their 600$ floaties just gets my goat.

    I always wonder how many of these poor souls - who appear to suffer unnaturally severe chills at the slightest sign of cold - would experience similar douleur if their wetsuit didn't happen to provide a 15-20% speed advantage?

    I'm never going to win any of the prizes, but it annoys me not being able to compare my times against people I know should be somewhere around me - it really takes a lot away from the sport, in becoming more like the poisonous have/have-not aura that surrounds triathlons.

    So I'd like to suggest making any combination of woolen jumpers, hessian sacks, aluminium foil and old newspapers legal for use in swims, and then we'd really see who needed the heating effects provided by any of these slightly less glamourous options, and who was just foxing in order to buy an advantage that they couldn't be bothered simply training a bit harder for.

    Yours - as usual, in tetchy anonymity.

    1. I though this ocean swimming sport was about accomplishing something for myself, not trying to compare myself against others. When I'm off in the ocean on my own, there's no race, there's no person to compete against......
      Who bloody cares about a wetsuit being worn by another, the slightest difference of what I ate the morning of could make a 15-20% difference in my results.

      Anyway, I'm glad you did jump in and have a go, same to everyone else who is willing to do an ocean swim at this time of year.

  2. Bondi-Bronte was indeed a great challenge with the conditions - but despite the howling wind and waves the most dangerous part of the swim was rounding the buoys.

    When is it going to become standard practice in the briefing to remind punters that breastroking on the turns (especially on the inside line) is simply not on?

    If you have to doggy-paddle, let your feet drag, or if you're not able to do so then swim a couple of metres wide.

    This should really be reinforced at the start of every race, so that newcomers (and forgetful old-timers) don't fall back into the trap of trying to kick me right on the schnoz.

  3. This really is a wonderful event. It's what the TV programming types might call a tent-pole event. Its success lifts the whole calendar. It has been the challenge that has introduced so many people to the sport, and every time it's a great all round experience.
    Huge kudos to the people who thought it up and plaudits to those who run it now. May it grow and grow.

    This years traps for young players:
    - the elites kept waiting on their marks for several minutes, apparently for Channel Nine. When the whistle came it was without warning. Given the few seconds separating those swimmers at the end, many positions may have been decided at the start. Perhaps recording and broadcasting it a couple of minutes later might have been adequate.
    - the pink ribbon
    The pink buoys were great, but several people noted that if you sighted on the pink ribbon on the headland, you ended up well to the shore side of the buoys.

  4. WOW.. so you entered the swim that had a well advertised wetsuit policy. then feel the need to winge and moan after the event. If you have a such a problem with wetsuits which clearly you do, don't enter, but where is the fun in that, you'd have no excuse come monday for getting beaten

    Ps, google wiggle $140.00 and you can level the playing field

    1. Advertised or not, the policy is a joke. People should be free to wear wetsuits but they should always be in a separate category - end of confusion. I knew several top swimmers who only wore westuits as they knew they had to to remain competitive given the substantial advantage they provide. They warmed up in their sluggoes and resented having to put the wetsuit on but knew that they couldn't compete when so many other swimmers were wearing them.

    2. Oh, as someone's mother probably said, 'do get over it';
      If you're worried for yourself - being able to compare yourself, there's plenty of people. Choose another one. If you've got a special rivalry with someone, agree to it together. If it's a secret private rivalry, get over it, wait till next time, do some research and find someone else to benchmark, add your estimated 10-20% speed advantage and do some math.
      If you're writing on behalf of the resentful top swimmers, don't worry. Most of them are grown-ups and can manage things for themselves.
      hugs and kisses.

    3. I'm not sure if it only me, but aren't you missing the one major point you don't have to enter if you don't like how the organisers run the swim. Perhaps if you voted with your feet and refuse to enter next year, you could show the event organises how pained you are by all these "poisonous haves" that are ruining the sport for you.

    4. Absolutely, because I didn't see many of the winners wearing wetsuits on the day. Jarrod Port didn't seem to care as he ran out of the water in togs. Walked away with $1,000 after the main event win and dash for cash.

    5. $1000 eh? At least he'll now be able to afford a wetsuit for next year's swim.

      (jokes aside, good on him for swimming it without assistance)

    6. Will , you have every right to wear a wetsuit in your category as this means added enjoyment and comfort to you. However there were many people who wore wetsuits and they know who they are not for the benefit of comfort but for the benefit of that added advantage of speed . In my age group I came 5th and number 1-3 all wore wetsuits with number 1 beating me by approximately 2 1/2 minutes . So if you're not competitive its easy to say who cares !!!!! It just would've been nice to know the real results seeing I was compared to wetsuit wearers and it is about 10 minute advantage over an hour ...

    7. Funny, all my mother said was 'what's wrong with the little sissies, it's bloody 19 degrees!' ..?

  5. I googled SMH and levelled the playing field for only $2.80 - and still had spectrum and news review left over to read on Sunday afternoon.

  6. Funny with all this talk of wetsuits. I've the opposite problem to most - I tend to heat up significantly during swimming events, so have had to purchase a portable fan that I use to direct cold water over myself & hence cool down during the race.

    Unfortunately they're already sold out on the below link, but other suffers of aquatic overheating syndrome (AOS) may be glad to know that their playing field can also be made more level with devices such as the below:

  7. All the above being said, the organization at Bondi-Bronte this year deserves a mention for some of the improvements that they've made since last year.

    As others have pointed out, the wetsuit and cancellation policy was at least clear; bag drop & collection was also much better with bags in nice rows rather than a huge pile; drinks were now provided at the finish; and given the conditions, the extra sighting of the approach into bronte was sensible, etc.

    It's good to see a swim take on board a significant amount of the feedback from punters last year and make it a better experience for all as a result.

  8. I agree - wetsuit policy aside - this was the best organized version I have swum in. The briefing on the beach to the wave next to depart was particularly a stand-out - best I've ever had and everyone could hear it. Also appreciated clear communication on the event page, not just the wetsuit policy, but also the break-down and start times of all waves. Well done to the organizers, now we'll just hope in a change to the wetsuit policy next year.

  9. A challenging swim but not as difficult as last year's. Well organised and the bag drop worked well.

    Thank you for adding three more cans to the course to take the number to 10. It makes a huge difference, especially in choppy conditions.

    My thoughts on the wetsuits: If ya wanna wear a wettie, you shouldn't get a prize. Wettie clad punters have the advantage.

    Also, the flippers should start last. Not with the mob. Those things are dangerous.

  10. Was I hallucinating at the finish or did I hear someone on the PA talking about a new 900m clothing bereft race to be staged at Cobblers beach ? I guess goggles are allowed and thats it.

    1. Lost but in thoughtDecember 4, 2012 at 7:32 PM

  11. I don't know if it's occurred to anonymous or the esteemed editor of this blog, but some people wear wetsuits so as to be able to swim, because without them, they can't.

    I'm perfectly fit, train hard and love swimming. I just can't swim 2km - in any temperature in Sydney - without a wetsuit. I've tried - and had to be hauled in. And I don't think I'm alone in this.

    The irritating attitude that wetsuit wearers are cheating or seeking to gain an unfair advantage is narrow minded, exclusionary, dangerous and will damage the sport. Who are you to decide what temperature people can tolerate?

    I'm aware that wetsuits help (although certainly not the 20% touted above) and I don't mind not picking up prizes. Like most people, I'm not about to finish in the top 10 anyway, but I do resent being asked to swim in the flippers and floaties division. By all means put a scarlet 'W' next to my time, but let me swim in my age group.

    I had a great time on Sunday - as did most people I spoke to. Shame I had to open this blog on Monday.

    1. I've been wearing wetsuits on and off for the last couple of years (usually at the start of the season) and I would prefer not to wear one but usually when I don't I end up wearing a foil blanket instead.

      I like to be able to enjoy my ocean swims but I get very cranky when I get cold (I've since learnt this is the first sign of hypothemia)so I think it's just better for myself (and everyone else)if I wear a wetsuit!

  12. Gotta agree with E.Largo above... The hot-pink buoys were a great improvement - easy to spot and well spaced 'n placed, especially in the choppy conditions. Yes - The headland banner was slightly out of line, but still a decent-enough guide. It's almost not necessary with the extra buoys.

    This was my 9th Bondi-Bronte & I reckon it was the best organised yet. Enjoyed the creamy Chobani yogurt - presume they were a sponsor - a good one to have on board. I certainly wouldn't be against another free pair of Crocs sometime :) My fluoro green ones from a few years ago have enjoyed some good use.

    Don't know why, considering the increased exposure of oceanswimming, but the number of finishers (1319) was down on previous years, even compared with last year (1542) where the conditions were much worse, and particularly compared against the record of 1984 finishers in Dec-09. It's a pity for such a great swim, but the upside is less of a crush around the buoys.

    Anyone comparing their times from previous years... I think the course was longer than almost all previous years because the winner's time was slower.


  13. Another year of challenging conditions in the B2B but the organisation ran smoothly and it was much easier to navigate with the extra hot pink buoys, even in the swell.

    I registered in the wetties, flippers & family category and I do find it a bit odd that we are with the 50+ age group especially as some of those 50+ blokes can be very aggressive and it's such a big group too.

    But most of all I have to say a special thank you to the two surf lifesavers who plucked me out of the break after I had cramp in my calves and then delivered me to the finish line so I could hop across. Thank you very much!

    Ps. If anyone found a (new) pair of Erox goggles in the surf I'd be very happy to be reunited with them!

  14. My 16th ocean swim and I have never felt so appreciated, welcome and cared for in any other swim, triathlon or run. The event volunteers, the life savers, the sponsors and the website people - every experience I had was personal. I was one of those annoying people who wanted to change category to the Wetties on the Friday (after looking at the conditions on the BOM), I had a response within 15 minutes, including clear instructions for the day and a lovely message of good luck and appreciation for participating. The lifesavers whom let me hold on to their board off Tamarama when I was feeling sick and cramping and also offering me water (!) and then the words of encouragement to get me to Bronte. Which leads me to being given a WARM TOWEL from a dryer along with some warm cordial and a muesli bar! They did not miss a trick. To all the people whom made my day incredible THANK YOU. I am a 60+ codger whom can see the serious effort and attention to detail it took to produce such a special experience for me. I can only wish that next year you are rewarded with lovely conditions so you all do not have to work as hard - the lifesavers must have had a tough day out there. A new benchmark has been set - I am looking forward to swimming again in 2013.

  15. Bring on the Big Swim who at least have a clear and decent policy on westuits!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Swimmers must wear only conventional swimming costumes made from lycra and/or nylon and/or polyester. Costumes must contain no neoprene or any other "high–tech" material or substance or any material with any flotation support. Male swimmers must wear only briefs with no arms, legs or any part of the costume covering their body above the waist. Female swimmers must wear either one or two piece costumes with no arms or legs.
    The objective of this rule is to provide a level playing field for swimmers, in which swimmers do not feel the need to use expensive "high–tech" costumes in order to be competitive, and to confirm that wetsuits are not permitted in competition. It does not preclude "rashies" worn for protection from the sun and/or stingers, provided they are not made from neoprene or any other "high–tech" material or substance or any material with any flotation support.

  16. The wettie debate runs off the rails sometimes. People become confused, mixing one issue with something else entirely. The wettie issue should not be whether swimmers should be able to wear wetties. Some punters feel the cold and need them. One swimmer in the comments above even admits that he can't swim 2km without a wettie. So apart from questioning the wisdom of someone who can't swim a distance without one even taking part in an event, we reckon punters should be able to wear them should then wish. BUT, the wettie debate should be about whether wetties should be allowed in open company. In Victoria, where the water is slightly cooler than in NSW, they are de rigeur and are, in effect open company. But in most other places, swimmers customarily swim newd. Adding wetties to open company under a hair-brained scheme such as Bondi-Bronte's just makes the swim unfair. So, by all means, let people wear them, but recognise that most punters in NSW wear them for speed and flotation advantage, not for warmth or comfort, so make them also swim in their own divisions, not in open company.

    To the people who say wetties don't provide an advantage, that's simply not true. We've had coaches tell us that the advantage can be up to 20 per cent in speed. This varies according to factors such as the swimmer's natural flotation in the first place.

    We don't seek to crucify wettie wearers, but on this matter, delineation is justified.

    1. 'don't seek to crucify...'
      Well, that's good news, since this blob and site has run a longish campaign against them. And, honestly, the carping has risked becoming rather tedious.
      More importantly, you've missed Will's important point:
      "I'm aware that wetsuits help (although certainly not the 20% touted above) and I don't mind not picking up prizes. Like most people, I'm not about to finish in the top 10 anyway, but I do resent being asked to swim in the flippers and floaties division. By all means put a scarlet 'W' next to my time, but let me swim in my age group."

      That'd be a simple fix, and easy to administer.

    2. Couldn't agree with Lesser spotted more... this blog and all the whinging about the issue is rather old.
      We all get that there are two sides to the issue and we've seen the negative campaign this site and it's many supporters have run against the issue and swim. I, like many other "new" ocean swimmers, am completely turned off by the "god-like" ranting and negativity and would like to meet and engage with ocean swimmers who are inclusive and supportive of "newbies" enjoying the beloved sport of ocean swimming.
      We all can't be as tough as you trail blazers who have started and grown this sport. I know I am not the only one to think are you stuck in the "good ole dayz" - there is a new breed you have attracted and we just want to participate.

  17. Old English backstrokerDecember 6, 2012 at 5:59 PM

    All highly predictable given the rules for this race in relation to prizes/wetsuits. Things will be a lot simpler at Bilgola

  18. The wetsuit debate continues and I've got to admit it only seems to bother me when I swim well, I didn't swim well on Sunday so I'm not fussed about what anyone else was wearing.
    I'm a bit puzzled by the flippers and snorkels I saw out there, just need to add a weight belt and they could have gone diving for abalone and crays - now that would be a great post swim feed.
    While Bondi to Bronte generates enthusiastic discussion it also deserves to generate some praise:
    Course layout: Is this the best marked swim on the calendar, plenty of buoys and the pink ribbon is great from a long way out, don’t focus on it for too long though or you will miss the finish.
    Hot showers: Hats off to Bronte Surf Club for making them available and plaudits for providing the 20 cent pieces to operate them.

  19. I presented myself to Bronte Beach thinking this was the registration point for the B2B swim--even though this was my error the team members at Bronte ensured that I was bused to Bondi Beach with plenty of time to spare for registration for the event. Thank you to B2B swim organisers for being so understanding and helpful.

    As to wet suit policy I do not care, all I am concerned with is that I completed the distance and I a very proud of myself for achieving this. If for some this means wearing a wet suit well that is fine, as long as they felt a sense of achievement.

    Eventually as one gets older the numbers of competitors will fall in your relevant age category which means one stands a better chance of a place. It will not matter if your competitors wore a wet suit because you will have the prize of a place.

    I only swim in the ocean when I have an escort. I found the escort provided by the B2B team second to none, friendly yet giving me information on surf safety professionaly.

    Hot shower was just the icing on the cake--If only Bondi would do this.

  20. The wetsuit 'debate' is an easy one to fix and every race could do it with a press of the button. Swimmers still swim side by side in their age group categories, regardless of whether they wear a suit or not, but results are split into wetsuit and non-wetsuit sub-categories. This means the prize pool will be stretched twice as far but if we're all in this because we love the sport, receiving a smaller gift won't bother the podium winners in any category. Everyone will be duly recognised and the post race dissection should lower somewhat. Isn't this all just about people feeling free to race safely, in what ever capacity they see fit? Many a time I have suffered and not worn a suit, and in retrospect it's ridiculous and just plain unsafe. This way, it doesn't matter what choice you make on the day, you make the one that's right for you and your efforts will still be recognised.

  21. It's a real shame that this thread has become all about wetsuits because it was a fine swim and very well organised. It was really well marked with plenty of buouys, the water safety guys and gals were everywhere and did a brilliant job, it's always been a great journey around the point to Bronte and this day was no exception.

    For what it's worth, I reckon if you need a wetsuit to cope with the conditions, fine - but as it is an advantage over other swimmers it should be treated as such.

    Personally I find wetsuits totally uncomfortable and can't understand why anyone would wear one if they didn't have to.


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