|Bottoms up: Lazy late starter at Turimetta, en route to Warriewood.|
We saw water quality graduate from murky and opaque at Warriewood (our eyes), to crystal clear (according to a blobber) at Shark Island. Why the difference? We wonder whether it's the greater vulnerability of the northern Sydney beaches to lagoon breakouts in heavy rain. There are none of those in the eastern suburbs or down sarf.
We've marvelled over the numbers of swimmers who have turned out during April, now in mid-autumn -- 1,400 at Coogee on April 14, and this weekend we saw five swims on the eastern seaboard with near 1,200 swimmers at three events on Sunday. Who'da thought that a few years ago? There were c. another 1,200 at Noosa, but that's Queensland.
It just goes to show that people are discovering what we've known and argued for years: that this is the best time of year to swim. Indeed, some swims are best done at this time of year.
We reckon it was especially good to see South Curly organisers run their 371-punter swim on the Post-it Note timing system. What is the Post-it Note system? Newer swimmers will have had no experience of this. It's a manual system whereby volunteer staff write times on Post-it notes as swimmers cross the line, with the swimmers handing their notes to a registration table. It takes more staff but, for hard-up swim organisers, it's cheaper. Warriewood used the Post-It note system, too. It's much cheaper than chip timing, which customarily costs c. $3,000, plus transport and accommodation if the timers have to travel.
A middle way is an iPad app, Race Splitter, which sells for $36.99 on the App Store. It allows the organiser to set up the event in an Excel spreadsheet on their puter at home, then transfer the starting list to the iPad. They record times sequentially on the iPad, then transfer the database back to the puter for post-swim processing. At some point, the person running the system must correlate times with a finishing order. There's a little bit of work there, but it's not huge, and it sounds like a perfect system for small events with very limited person-power.
Knowing how much chip timing costs generally, it's surprising more small events don't use it. Culburra have used it for three years now.
Chip timing is no panacea. We saw that demonstrated at Coogee on April 14, when the timing system seemed to stop recording times at a certain point, with close to 100 swimmers lost (their times were lost, not the swimmers). A well-organised workforce using Post-It Notes is just as effective -- sometimes more effective -- than chip timing, and infinitely cheaper. These events are run to raise money for needy causes, after all. Of course, the Post-It Note system is more practical for smaller events than for larger. This is not to argue against chip timing of larger events, but it suits some events better than others.
A friend suggested on Sunday, whilst we schlepped over the headland to Turimetta to the start of the Warriewood swim, that there should be a "Three Islands Challenge" - swims around Shark Island, off Cronulla, Wedding Cake Island, off Coogee, and the reef off Newport (does anyone know its name?): that's about a 2.5km round trip. This time of year would be the time to do that series, over successive weekends in May, say.
We've had feedback about Noosa -- where the booee broke loose - and we have blobs and other reports on our report page… click here
How was your swim last weekend? Click the comments link below and tell us...