Sunday, April 13, 2014

Reasons to be fearful

"(Overseas) tourists" go for a swim at Narooma in today's storm surf. (Pic by @StanGorton )
When today’s Coogee swim was cancelled, @alicejw3 tweeted, “When an ocean swim race is cancelled, there is always a good reason for it. Safety first. Good decision organisers…” Organisers will not cancel a swim without good reason.

Indeed. Organisers will not cancel a swim without good reason. Not on race day, especially. Organisers are the ones who have slogged it out for months beforehand to get to race day, generally unpaid, to raise funds for their organising surf club. They’re the ones who’ve organised all the support services; the water safety support. They’ve done the marketing; they’ve bought the caps; they’ve applied for all the permits; they’ve crossed the ts and dotted the is; they’ve acquired the bread rolls and saucissons for the barbie. It takes money and lots of time. Generally unpaid. When they have to cancel due to conditions on race day, they’re the most disappointed players of all.

Swimmers are often disappointed, too, but for different reasons. Said one mug lair on Twitter after today’s cancellation, someone called @dtsirekas, “damn...I even slept in my budgies last night I was so excited about a big swell swim today”.

Yes, some punters love a swell, us included. But even swell-lovers are at a disadvantage when they front for a swim at a beach with which they’re unfamiliar, because they’re confronted with a break and a system of banks, channels and gutters with which they’re unfamiliar. Plenty of punters are at a disadvantage because they aren’t confident in surf, and if they’re not confident, they’ll make errors of judgment.

Read our report, then come back here to tell us what you thought about this weekend's events... click here


  1. What a day, this is my first season of ocean swims. Its a fun activity with great variety. Some swims were held in lake like conditions (North Bondi) and some in Pounding seas (Bilgola).

    No mater what the conditions I am probably stupid enough to go and try and do the course, but then Im also no stranger to the time spend recovering from injuries gained from this activity.

    Its that last point which makes me thankful for the Organisers decision today. Coogee is usually a mellow beach but with a big swell it changes to a pounding shore break where the certainly for potential injury is to be avoided.

    While Im not so happy that I didnt get a race over a decent distance at least Im all paid up for one later in the year. Just hope the water is warm.

  2. Os.c - thank you for elaborating on the trials and tribulations swim organisers face when holding an ocean swim. We really feel for all the swims who've had to make the cancellation call, being a swim organiser is an emotional roller coaster and the last thing any of us want to do is disappoint the swimmers.

    Safety is the absolutely number 1 for every swim and we are expected by swimmers, SLS, Council and the wider community to take every precuation, consider all hazards and risks. For those who don't know Coogee very well, it has one of the highest incidence of spinal injuries in NSW, hence that shore dump is deceiving and takes it out on many unsuspecting swimmers.

    Coogee we salute you - we know you guys must be bitterly disappointed. We look forward to your November swim - thanks for all your efforts!

  3. Hi Paul. The prospect of the swim brought me down from Murwillumbah (Killer and Sharky didn't make it). Spent a good week in Sydney (including a very wet day at Randwick on the Saturday). Also now a card carrying member of the Bondi Icebergs and desperately close to the $1000 jackpot at Rose Bay Hotel trivia on Tuesday night. By the way, is there a roster system set up by NSW Transport to ensure that there is one, but one only, loud-talking-to-yourself in an aggressive manner person on every bus that you catch in Sydney. Tough work, but I suppose someone has to do it, no wonder most people on the buses seem cocooned in their own worlds of headphones and smartphones.
    Got to Coogee at around 8:30 (not too far from my brother's place at Vaucluse) to see a not very pleasant sight. Obviously only one decision to be made, so no complaints there.
    Being a connoisseur of event t-shirts (still think the Brass Monkey Killer Swim tees are the Oscar winners of the event t-shirt world), I was a bit miffed when I made my way to the surf club to see if it was possible to still get a shirt. Now, the people who organise swims are by definition very busy people and possibly disappointed on a morning such as this, but a friendly request to be able to purchase a shirt was met by a fairly gruff explanation that they had already been put away, so no go.
    I do know for a fact that visitors to Murwillumbah for the Killer Swim (last Sunday in November) are met with much more cordiality and consideration than I found in that brief encounter at Coogee last Sunday. As Ned Kelly may have said, "Such is life".


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