Saturday, December 14, 2013

The "sore shoulders swim"

Did anyone see him?  The ghost with the lump of coal on his shoulder where the chip should be!

Old Pat Date.  Died 2 days after he retired in 1987.

Railway Man. Hard as nails!

Novocastrian… Old Newcastle!

He used to say that there were 2 types of people in this world: “Those who come from Newcastle and those who drive past.”

I reckon he saw the entry list and the addresses of the Sydney-siders and it was he who blew that southerly in just before the start.  Just to make them welcome and know they’d been to Newcastle.
He loved his footy played in the forwards too.  Hard! Uncompromising! Simple!

And that was what this swim was today. 2.5km straight into a southerly breeze, not a buster because that would be rude to our guests, but strong enough.  Hard!

No 2 strokes were the same. There was no length to the swell; chop, chop, chop. You had to concentrate to maintain stroke and momentum otherwise you’d stand still.  Especially when you were tired.  You could see who the pool swimmers were. They struggled.  Uncompromising!

I spent most of this swim not taking in the scenery (this really is a postcard swim) or watching the ever-changing sea bottom but instead I went back to my youth rowing surf boats recalling lessons from Mick & Don Ellercamp (osc.c’s uncle) “long and strong” and “catch and drive”.  This was secret to today’s swim. If you got a bad stroke, make sure the next one was better.  A long stroke with a good catch to get drive you through the chop and the rips coming out of the Cowrie Hole and Shark Alley. Simple!

This was a swim that demanded attention to detail and your stroke.  This was an Ocean Swim in the best way.  Most of the talk on the beach and in the sheds was disbelief.  ‘How hard was that?’  What about the chop!’  ‘My bloody shoulders!’  But the faces told a different story; smiles and a glint in the eye were the order of the day.

I loved seeing the old photos on Nobbys and Newcastle surf clubs and again being immersed in Old Newcastle.  Good to compare with my alma mater Caves Beach SLSC.  Same but different!

Then into New Newcastle for breakfast with The Hyphen at Scotties.  Bacon and eggs with coffee.  Simple but fancy.  I reckon Old Pat would be happy with that.

The Grey Nurse


  1. As one of the Sydney-siders that came up to tick Noddy's off my bucket list, I loved it today! A true Ocean swim and the reason we take to the sea. Yep, the shoulders are "humming" but nothing a dozen or more schooners hasn't fixed. Great course and well run event. To quote Schwarzenegger......I'll be back!


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