Sunday, April 7, 2013

A flock of rays makes autumn swimming worthwhile

Evening at Forster. No one need wonder why we like coming here for autumn swims.
We've just had a quadrella of swims on the first Sundee in April, three of them drawing record numbers in early entries, but all of them showing how glorious is swimming on the NSW coast in autumn.

We were at Forster, a swim we haven't done these past two years. It was good. Water around 24C. We hear Terrigal, Queenscliff and Shellharbour all were good, too.

The Forster swim reminded us of why we love coming here at this time of year. The main swim is billed as 3.8km, but that's to avoid scaring people. It's really about 4.2km, and it's an epic from Cape Hawke beach, around the point, and along a long, long reach into Forster main beach.

Water was 25.2C, and about a kilometre from home, we swam over a flock of about 200 rays, about two metres below us, all about 2/3 of a metre across, wafting gracefully through the water. Never seen anything like that before. That made the trip worthwhile by itself. We love swimming in the ocean.

But how was your swim?


  1. I can only say that my inaugural swim was memorable. As for Miss Kate, well, she'll be talking about this one for some time, I reckon. Thanks Mrs Sparkle, she did very much appreciate "Kate watch" and the accompanyment into shore from the last can

    1. Well done Fiona! Couldn't have had better conditions for your first ocean swim.

      It was fantastic to see the whole family involved in the Forster swims. Is 6 members of the one family in one event a record for an ocean swim?

  2. I was going to comment on Mrs Sparkle's attempt to enforce a rule that doesn't exist on Georgie but you have removed that part of the story from your blog. Why?

    Turncurry Tim

  3. Interesting you refer to "a rule that doesn't exist". It was Georgie insisting that drafting was allowed in "the rules of ocean swimming".

    Indeed, there are no rules, and she was wrong to insist there were. It's wrong to swim on other swimmers feet, persistently stroking those feet. It's rude, discourteous and, indeed, it's a form of assault.

    While there are no rules, and it could well be futile and conter-productive to try to impose them, we try instead to encourage a culture of fairness, honesty, decency, hoping that ocean swimmers will adopt such values as their guiding principles in taking part in swims.

    The section of the blob was taken down because the protagonist wished it removed. But feel free to have your say on the substantive issues.

    1. Hi Paul,

      I have 2 things that I would like to say to people who draft off me:

      1. They must be pretty desperate as I am not a fast swimmer
      2. If they must draft off me, then don't let me know they are doing it. I don't need constant touching to let me know they are there.

      When I saw your retweet on 6 April from Michael Miller re what to not do during OWS, just loved "14. Tap feet unless you want a broken nose." Yep, that sums it up for me!

      Susan Tutt

  4. It seems I've missed some intrigue about drafting. Timely too, as I was going to post a mini-rant about this from Queenscliff on Sunday.

    There were some very keen toe-tappers in both races - persistent they were too, with one girl in the 1.5 touching my foot every stroke for about 200m of the first leg. I'd swerve, and a couple of seconds later she was back on it, ticking my toes with each stroke.

    Eventually I'd had enough and stopped to ask her to please not fondle my feet (fine if she wants to draft, but distracting the swimmer in front of her is only going to slow both of us down). She looked at me as if I were barking mad and promptly fell in behind again - it at least inspired me to put in a burst to get away from her.

    Annoying, not to mention a bit weird - I'm not sure what people hope to gain from being right up behind you. From all that I've read about the physics of drafting the optimal position is with your reach about a foot behind the swimmer in front, not to mention the danger of being kicked in in the chops.

    Race itself was perfectly pleasant, with warm if slightly murky water and the welcome addition of the 800m race. It's always interesting to see how many fast swimmers come out of the woodwork for their local event on the Northern beaches.

    Unfortunately a lot of these swimmers also appear to register on the day, resulting in long queues and a 20-minute delay starting each event on Sunday.

    The only thing that I couldn't find at the end of either of the Queenscliff races was (free) water or fruit - was this simply me being short-sighted, or was this simply not provided? If so not having water at least is slightly disappointing - it shouldn't be hard or costly to organise a container and some disposable cups.

    One last thing too - despite having tags this year there were probably about ten manual counts conducted of the starters in each wave. If indeed judged to be necessary can this not be done electronically as they do in cole / tama-cloey / etc?

    Wise in any case starting in only two waves in the 800 - this was much preferred to the long delays at North Steyne a couple of weeks ago, where they started waves 5 minutes apart for possibly 8 waves (?)

    1. It's funny you mentioned about drafting in the 800m at Queenscliff. I was sure someone was drafting off me on the return leg (sensibly they didn't follow me on the way out as I headed for the wrong red buoy so at least on the way back I knew where I was going) but I thought why would anyone bother drafting in a leisurely 800m swim?

      I did the 1500m too and it was such a beautiful day that I stopped out near the furthest buoy to take in the view (no drafters there).

      I thought it was well organised and I was quite happy the 800m was running late as we were as well (and so was Tony Abbott) but I agree if someone wants to register on the day they should get there early so they don't delay everyone else.

      There was a bit of a wait between the 2 swims and I did think it was unnecessary to count everyone too but I can understand why the Club were extra careful and I didn't mind waiting in the sun.

      There was an announcement made between the 2 swims that there was free water and fruit but by the end of the 1500m there was none of either left. I heard the bacon and egg rolls were good though and good value too and I can vouch for the coffee (smart move being located right in front of the entrance to the surf club).

      This was the first time I have done this swim and I will certainly do it again (I think numbers were up on previous years too which was good). It was a beautiful day for remembering such a tragic event.


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