Saturday, January 26, 2013

Frenetic weekend celebrating Stra'a

It is indeed the start of a frenetic weekend of ocean swimming celebrations of Stra'a. Sydney, Newcastle, Mt Martha, Williamstown, Kingston Beach, WScarborough, Wollongong and Henley-Grange. So many swims, so little time...

Tell us how you went. What was good about your swim; what was not so good. In Sydney Harbour, for example, they looked like having a major problem with results when bunches of swimmers, confused, went the wrong way near the end and cut their course short, whilst other swimmers did the entire course. One swimmer reported her wave had been led in the wrong direction by the water safety, and she'd remonstrated with them, but to no avail.

You must have your own stories. Hit the comment button and tell us all...


  1. Yes interesting the comment from the announcer at Sydney Harbour 'apologies for the delay, but we're trying to work out who actually swam the full course'.

    This is the complications of having a detour I guess - you really wonder whether the size of that bay is appropriate for trying to stage a 2+ km swim?

    Good fun anyway, nice to swim under the opera house, and amazing the MC managed to blab for 3 hours straight repeating the same 3 jokes over and over - I guess this was more of a triathlon feel than a true ocean swim.

    Then to the big swim today. It's a weird swim that, lots and lots of people, and lots of coastline too. Kudos to them putting on the LBS so it's not all about distance - I know a number of people who really benefited from being able to compete today without having to swim 2km.

    Weird having only one buoy off the headland then one at the end - with the break off the whale beach headland you really think they should have more guidance to stop people being tempted to cut the head - the lifesavers were being kept fairly busy there trying to get people out of the breakers.

    Nice to finally get out through the sets and get the little bit of northerly boost down the coast, but for some reason this is always just a token swim that you have to tick off, and never one that's special like the smaller northern beaches events.

  2. This was I think the third year I've done this swim which was fortunate as at least I had a bit of an idea what the course layout was. There was no diagram of the course (that I could see anyway) so we had to rely on the guy with the megaphone to talk us through the course but even he wasn't sure how many buoys we were supposed to go around.

    The first part of the course was easy and there were board paddlers happily showing us the way but when we got to the dogleg they seem to have all disappeared. I got to the first buoy on my left and stopped and looked around to see if I was supposed to go on and there was no one in any direction (not even another swimmer) so I called out to water safety at the previous buoy but they didn't hear me so I turned back around and saw a guy in an IRB pointing to the next buoy so I swam on. When I got to that buoy I stopped and looked around again and there was no one (I think there was another swimmer way out in front but I couldn't see them) or anyone behind me (I was in the first group out). I looked around and I was sure the other buoy was the first one I went around so I headed for the Opera House. After a few strokes I stopped and looked up to see if anyone was pointing me in another direction but nothing so I swam on. When I got to the finish I had a quick chat to the two guys holding the panel and then slapped it to finish. I then swam under the panel and got out and sat and waited until other swimmers came in. When two friends came in we discussed the swim and one realised he'd missed a buoy but was just following other swimmers in front and the other person had been directed by a paddler around an extra buoy. Later I then discovered my time hadn't recorded.

    While it's fun swimming in the harbour on Australia Day it is a bit frustrating as the organisers should have got it right by now and I am curious that if my time didn't register how did they know I finished (or did they just not know I had started)?

  3. Kudos to the organisers of the Big Swim for putting on the Little Big Swim. Hope it is on again next year!

  4. Big Swim was great once again. Could have done with less people starting in the 40-49 blokes though, was too crowded in the break, more than one pink-capped boofhead was picked up and dumped on my back as I was getting under waves on the way out. Tried to avoid them but was basically a sea of bodies getting washed about.

    Got smashed on the way back in too, lost goggles, contact lenses, the lot. But that was own fault, stupidly tried to catch a dumper. Would have been remarkably similar to glistening dave's photo except about 1 second later.

    Water was nice and clear, liked the distance, liked the waves, liked the swell and the wind behind. Very happy they ran it again this year.

  5. Thanks to all at the Big Swim.
    Well done to all the first timers and the Cantoo swimmers, there is reason why it’s called the Big Swim.

    It was an interesting comparison between the commercially run swim on Saturday and the Big Swim run by Mr Stewart and his army of sky blue volunteers.

    The Big Swim gets my vote.
    A course map.
    Superior entry
    Clearer instructions.
    Lots of fruit and water.
    Safer starting waves.
    No endless unless chatter on the microphone.
    No loud background music.
    Well organised transport.
    Better prizes.

    And best of all your money went straight back to the surf club, not to private individuals.

    I guess the same comparisons will be made next weekend. Caves v Cole.

    On a sad note I was disappointed to hear the story of a top middle age-group swimmer physically and verbally abusing a 16 yr girl during the race and calling her a cheat afterwards.

  6. Yes as one commentator says above good on the organisers running both events yesterday despite the seemingly difficult conditions.

    I know I'm always the first to moan on here and other outlets about swims getting cancelled - so thanks to the two slscs for keeping us informed throughout before making what was a sensible decision on the day

  7. I loved my first attempt at the Little Big Swim. Would have loved to do the big one, but back problems meant I had to be sensible instead. I revelled in the challenging conditions and had my best result ever, which of course I realise was due to the fact that all the serious swimmers were in the BS. Still I feel proud, I loved the atmosphere, the organisation was terrific, the water was warm, the water safety guys and girls were brilliant. Definitely plan to do the BS next year.

  8. Swims galore on Australia Day this year, being local, I chose the Newcastle Harbour swim. The Across the Harbour swim has a one way swim from Stockton to Queens Wharf, Newcastle and a double crossing starting & finishing at Queens Wharf.

    It is always good to see a few of the local swimmers come out of the woodwork. The conditions were good, with clean...ish water and reasonably smooth conditions. The 700m one-way crossing was held up for 10 minutes to allow a massive coal ship to enter the harbour. (I have always enjoyed this swim, but I do sometimes get the feeling that we are, at best, a hindrance to the operation of the port). One by-product of this ship passing was the huge trailing current that managed to pull everyone off course.

    I went into the 1400m "double crossing" prepared for the same sort of sweep after another ship passed, but was caught out again as the currents appeared to be flowing in different directions on each side of the harbour.

    The swim itself is always interesting, from the leap off the wharf into the water, the frantic deep water start, the deep water finish under a timing mat, the ladder climb up the wharf and the final hose off for all competitors. There is lots of water available at the finish and a couple of oranges, but I do miss the Harris Farm sponsored events overflowing with watermelon, bananas & grapes.

    Some of the other swim organisers could learn a lot from the way that this presentation is conducted, with MC Mike Rabbitt managing to announce 1st, 2nd & 3rd in multiple age groups for both swims (with photos) and wrapped it up in about 20 minutes.

    If the organisers, Stockton SLSC, make any profit from the swim, can I please suggest that they invest in one buoy for the middle of the crossing. This it would greatly assist with navigating these sometimes tricky currents.

  9. Another really enjoyable swim at The Big Swim this year. The organisers do a sensational job of transporting swimmers, spectators and gear to/from parking, ferries & from beach to beach. There was a good crew that travelled on the ferry from the Central Coast, which is a great way to start & finish the day.

    I got through the break at Palm Beach without too much drama and headed to the first buoy. I was surprised to see a pack of 20-30 green caps (50-59 males) who chose to miss the first bouy and head straight out to the 2nd bouy, utilising the rip at the southern end of the beach. Does seem to be a lack of course enforcement at swims lately!

    I chose a course close to the rocks and was constantly kept on track by the helpful water safety team. Not sure if this course was the best option with the field spread over such a large area.

    My entry to Whale Beach was ...ummm....eventful. A quick journey "over the falls", a few extra tumbles for good measure and a headbutt into the sandbank. My only thought was that at least I was getting closer to the shore.

    Trays and trays of peaches & nectarines at the finish was greatly appreciated. Not sure what a lethal dose of peaches is, but I must have come close.

    Thank you to the Big Swim organisers & sponsors. I will be back next year for more.

  10. Physically abuse - you mean like assault? Wow big accusation there - if you are going to make accusations like that I really think you should identify yourself!
    Unlike "Anonymous" I will identify myself as Spot Anderson who was involved in an incident with a swimmer that blatantly cut the last swim buoy on Sunday's swim. I was leading a pack of 6 swimmers not going flat out as this was a training day for me. I was back breathing & watching which lines the swimmers behind were going to take to the beach.
    I was shocked when the swimmer at the back of the pack cut the buoy. I stopped & waved, she then looked up & stopped approximately 5 meters before potentially running into me which clearly showed she knew where she was going (I didn't know it was a female competitor until she stopped). I quite rightly pointed out that she should go around the buoy. She knew she's been busted & turned straight back around. At such a distance, there obviously was no physical contact & I'm deeply offended that you accuse me of this.
    I then caught back up to the swimmers in front & caught a wave to the beach to finish 30 seconds ahead.
    The mentioned swimmer crossed the line & I used words to the effect "you can't cut swim cans, it's cheating". I apologize if my words were more colorful than this which I offered to do on Sunday but it seems you amongst others, want to go on with it.
    This was an opportunity for a young ocean swimmer who made a mistake to learn a great lesson from a seasoned competitor.
    An hour later I was confronted by a man who I assume was the father of the swimmer calling me a bully which I find incredibly ironic & disappointing as this was exactly what he was now doing himself!
    For the record I have stopped in many races over the years pointing out to many swimmers male, female, large & small that cutting swim cans is unacceptable especially when competing for placing as this young lady was. Interestingly two of the swimmers that saw her cut the buoy congratulated me for stopping & redirecting her.
    You have made some public incorrect accusations which I am really disappointed about. Then again, maybe we should believe 16 year old buoy cutters rather than the most honest, upfront bloke in ocean swimming! As per Sunday, my offer to sort this out face to face & move on remains!

  11. Thoroughly enjoyed my first Big Swim. It's always a pleasure to swim somewhere instead of doing laps of a bay and it's nice to swim through different conditions as you do.

    Every aspect of the swim was extremely well organised - especially transport. Perhaps one more buoy of the point would have helped, but I do like swims where you have to think about where you're going...

    My congratulations to the organisers on a great day.

  12. I completely support Spot Anderson in his actions.

    There is very often an element of deliberately "cutting corners" which is rarely addressed. He is a prominent competitor, easily identified and has contributed a lot to the sport of ocean swimming and I think he has every right to assert the rules out there in the race.

    The 16yrs age competitor who faced being beaten by the "corner-cutter" trained very hard and deserved better.

    Fiona Dobrijevich

  13. Great day up at the big swim again, despite the weather. The organisation was fantastic, lots of water safety and awesome refreshments afterwards. Presentations took a little long to start but hey if you're winning you shouldn't complain.

    I'm dumbstruck that somebody would think to cut a bouy, particularly if they are in the placings for a medal and they are a junior competitior. You're only cheating yourself, no one will think you're a winner. We don't need any Lance Armstrongs in the ocean....

  14. Another great Big Swim - definitely the jewell in the crown of the Sydney season IMHO. I did the harbour swim on the Saturday too and agree with a lot of what's been said above. A nice event though, and great to be swimming in amongst (or near to) the racing ferries and generally the Aussie Day festivities.

    Any idea what's going on with the results for the Big Swim anyone ?

    Stephen Thompson


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