Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Magnetic Island to Townsville Swim 8k 31st July

the seconds tick the time out

Man against nature,
As the turquoise sea thickens ...
Today man survives.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tropical Island Dreaming

Red shoulders
Tired shoulders
Big red tired shoulders

Dry skin
Itchy skin
Too many hours in a heated pool

Big red tired and itchy shoulders

"knowing I'll be back at Echo Beach some day"
To soothe my weary shoulders in the salve of Cleveland Bay

Friday, May 27, 2011

Another New Beginnings End

2010-2011: Another year of swimming tragic

Ocean swimmers are an independent bunch
While the rest of the world follows calendar years, or summer and winter seasons
I love it that we've decided that the Australian ocean swimming season finishes at the end of May and starts again at the beginning of June
For no real reason, other than the sea water on the south east coat of Australia is usually warm-ish from November until May, the cool-ish from June to October

I have enjoyed some good swimming over the last 12 months
Followed pretty much the same regime as last year with pool training and ocean swim races most weekends in summer, but ventured a little further afield and extended with some longer swims and some adventure swims
Some glimpses of improvement in swim times, not getting slower anyway

Total distance swum in open water races was about the same as last year
I got off to a slow start with no swims entered in October, while I completed a lifesaving course.
And then ditched a couple of the crowded swims that I didn't enjoy from last year
Although did end up doing more 5k longer swims than last season

I don't think os.c is giving out the results of the Ocean Swim Tallies until the presentation nite next month, I'll have to wait and see if I'm in the running again for Magoo's Distance Tallies Trophy. I did hear that some other swimmers had made a late charge with some longer swims this month.

Highlights from last season ...

- Magnetic Island to Townsville swim 8k -
Loved completing a challenging long swim in tough conditions, Loved the rolling celebration party afterwards - From the Surf Club, to the Waterworks Hotel in Townsville, to the Sun Ferry, to the Picnic Bay Hotel on Magnetic Island - Remember what happens on the island, stays on the island

- Pan Pacs Masters Open Water Swim 5k - A fun swim around a small lake on the Gold Coast - Took home a gold medal (team) and a silver medal (individual). Sometimes race selection is more important than swimming ability

- Sri Chinmoy Lake Swim Canberra 5k -
Not what I was expecting - heavy rains had brought muddy brown water and a strong wind chopped up the course. A good challenge and I enjoyed finishing

- "Bold & Beautiful" Manly Swims -
Some good informal swims with B&B Swimmers - including a "10k" harbour swim and "10k" ocean swim, both swims supported with paddler and fully catered with a teddy bear's picnic at the halfway mark

- "Across the Heads Swim" with B&B Swimmers and - Tough conditions, a little nervous, a good challenge. I never thought I would be doing something like that when I started ocean swimming a few years ago

- Around Cape Banks Swim - Little Bay to La Perouse - Informal swim with Murray Cox ( - another good adventure

- Coogee to Bondi Redux - An Informal swim with my Seas The Limit training buddies - Good confidence booster to complete a swim 5k in big seas, rough water and 2m swell

- South Head Roughwater Swim - with Murray's team - spectacular scenery and quite fun actually

- Swimming at Coogee every weekend (almost) all year round with my old swimming friends

- Swimming in an ocean swim event somewhere up or down the coast most weekends in summer with my new friends from ocean swimming

Thanks coach Chad for keeping the training fun and interesting and helping me with the confidence and mental preparation needed to take on longer and more challenging swims

Every swim is still an adventure for me

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

May Swims

The season for ocean swim races in Sydney is drawing to a close
2 individual events this month:
- Curl Curl 2k
- Bondi 2.1k
Did the South head Roughwater Swim as part of a team
And an informal swim around Cape Banks

Sunday, May 15, 2011

South Head Roughwater Swim 15th May

Hornby Light; photos

Macquarie Lighthouse

Team Finish

(native american name) Runs-with-balloons


10 k swim from Bondi Beach around South Head into Sydney Harbour finish at Watsons Bay.
Swam in a team of 4 with Murray Cox's team
This was the last leg of Murray's swim along the Sydney coastline

Quite a big southerly swell about 1.5m, behind us all the way
Good conditions, so times were fast
Water was coolish, 19-20c in the ocean, then dropped a couple degrees in the harbour

Shared the distance with the members of our team, with either one or two swimmers in the water at a time
I would have spent about 2 hours in the water, total about 5k swum
Our team finished on about 4 hours

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Around Cape Banks - Little Bay to Botany Bay Sat. 7th May

Cape Banks - Photo;


Little Bay Start; photo


Adventure swim with Murray Cox. One of the legs on his quest to swim the length of the Sydney coastline
From Little Bay south around Cape Banks into Botany Bay finish Congwong Beach at La Perouse
About 6k, took about 2-and-a-half hours
Tough swim with big southerly swell around Cape Banks and the current running against us as we swam into Botany Bay
A small group of 8 swimmers with a tinnie in support and a coastguard boat shadowing
Spectacular cliffs down the coastline from Little Bay to Cape Banks
Had to swim wide into Botany Bay to stay away from big surf pounding into the Cape
Turbulent at the entrance to Botany Bay where the current running out met the swell pushing in
And the water temp dropped a few degrees in the Bay
Water was a bit murky from swell, so didn't see any sea creatures, apart from lots those tiny blue fluorescent clockopods or whatever they're called
A good adventure today, I should have felt a like Capt Cook arriving in Botany Bay, I don't think anyone's done this swim before
But actually I was just pleased to finish and relieved when my feet touched the sand at Congwong Beach after a tough swim

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Coogee to Bondi Redux - Sat. 30th April

Towards Shark Point Clovelly

Autumn is the silly season for ocean swimming in Sydney
The water is still warm, but big seas this time of year usually result in some scheduled swims being cancelled or run over shorter courses
And some of the outdoor 50m training pools start closing until next season

Some swimmers from the club were looking for a big hit-out last weekend, in preparation for the South Head swim next month, so the shortened course for the annual Coogee to Bondi ocean swim last Monday was disappointing. Although I do understand the concerns of water safety trying to keep an eye on 300 swimmers out there in big seas and poor visibility

And so it was that a small group of 7 ocean swimming extremists pushed out from Coogee this morning to swim the original course to Bondi, taking advantage of the big seas to test ourselves on a longer swim in rough water. Our support kayaker sensibly declined to go out in the choppy conditions, so we agreed to stick together and all look out for each other in the water

We had to stay out far from Shark Point and the cliffs at Waverley because of the big swell up to about 2m on parts of the course. We didn't see much of Bronte and Tamarama beaches, keeping well away from the breaking surf. The current against us was unexpected and made progress slow, so I was happy to get around McKenzies Point into Bondi. Big surf at Bondi beach made for an interesting finish

Cold shower at Bondi to shake off the mild seasickness, then a lift back to Coogee for coffee and a big breakfast
Good training swim 5k, about 1hr40mins - slow going in tough conditions

Thursday, April 28, 2011

April Swims

southerly change

Approaching the end of ocean swimming season 2010/2011

5 swims in April, about 11k total:
- Stanwell Park 2.3k
- Balmoral 1k
- Queenscliff 1.5k
- Terrigal (1+2) 3k
- Coogee to Bondi - was 5k -shortened course around Coogee Bay because of the swell

Monday, April 18, 2011

Queenscliff & Terrigal 16/17 April

early morning central coast


2 swims - Queenscliff Swim for Saxon Saturday 1.5k - windy & rainy with choppy seas
Better conditions for Terrigal Sunday 1k & 2k. The Terrigal 2k swim looked long - 2 laps around a circuit of about 1.2k  

Swim for Saxon - Well done Queenscliff SLSC - that was great effort first-up. The swim on Saturday had a really good feel to it.

Wind, driving rain, choppy surf - but that only added to the camaraderie on the day.
And an outstanding professional job with water safety, I watched the lifesavers kick up a gear at the end of the swim, to make sure every swimmer entered was safely accounted for.
Definitely room for a 3rd swim at Manly on the calendar, run by the local surf clubs - Manly Daily, North Steyne and now Queenscliff - all were good this year

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Balmoral 10th April


Balmoral - 1k swim in Sydney Harbour

Perfect conditions - no wind, wave, swell
Good day for a time trial, thought I'd test myself on a 1k swim,
Try to hang on to those 1:45 per 100 intervals I've been doing in shorter sets in the pool

Went hard the whole way, bit of bargy with other swimmers but it didn't really slow me down

My Time 20:51 seemed slow, but the looking at other swimmers times they were all slow for a 1k swim
I'd say the course today was longer than advertised - about 1.2k
My relative finish position was good, I finished in the to 30% of all swimmers, which was a new experience for me
Having just finished in the top half of the field last week, I guess that's one target to try to hang on to for the rest of the season

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Swim Training is On Track

Fire on the Water

Tough week of pool training
I turned up for all of Chad's evening squads this week -
Sets of long swims, broken up with short sprints
Hard, but it seems to be working
Shoulder tendons stopped hurting now, so looks like they've strengthened up. Or perhaps my shoulders have just given up complaining about the discomfort
I can feel myself getting fitter and faster in the water
Surprised at my 50m and 100m sprint times this week - I've taken almost 5 seconds off my 100m time since going hard the last 6 weeks
I'm not really training for speed at this stage, but I remember that's what Kevin told me last year - As you do more quality swims to build endurance for the long swims, you can't help yourself but get faster in the pool

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Stanwell Park 3rd April

More fun than a bucket full of geckos ...

OK, So who left the leaf-tailed geckos in a handbasin at Coalcliff surf club ?

I left glasses stashed at Stanwell Park, and was perhaps not paying full attention to my surroundings. It turns out I was happily washing my goggles in a basin full of geckos, until a passerby stopped for a double-take.

A trick of nature. Got me big-time.

I should have expected a surprise from nature, given the locations of the Stanwell Park and Coalcliff surf clubs tucked away in beautiful coastal bushland.

Footnote: Yes, the geckos were safely caught and released from their slippery ceramic trap.

Swimming Tragics are We

Monday, March 28, 2011

March Swims

Georges River Sunset

Georges River Monster

4 Swims in March, total about 14k
- Lake Macquarie 3.8k
- Manly (2+1) 3k
- Sydney Harbour (2+1) 3k
- North Steyne (2.8+1) 3.8k 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Long Reef 27th February

Ode to a Stingray

I saw a little stingray
as I swam over Long Reef

I moved away and thought that
the encounter would be brief

But then the stingray spoke to me
from the bottom of the reef:

"I know we stingrays get bad press,
some despised as a thief

Related to the shark and then,
that incident with Steve

But do not be alarmed,
I will not harm you, Chief

The sting in my tail is small,
It could not cause you grief."

To demonstrate his lack of bite,
he smiled and said "No teef!"

Monday, February 28, 2011

February Swims

No Easy Path

Only 3 events completed in February -
- North Bondi Classic (1+2) 3k
- Canberra Lake Swim 5k
- Long Reef (1+2) 3k

Also done some good informal swims this month with B&B Swimmers - Manly 10k training swim and a swim across Sydney heads
Building some training distance in the pool now, 4 squads a week, getting used to swimming every day

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Canberra Sri Chinmoy Lake Swim 20th February

Sri Chinmoy Lake Swim 5k
Looking for Nirvana from the muddy banks of the Molonglo ...

Sri Chinmoy spent his life practising sport to express his philosophy of self-transcendence.
Being an old sceptic, I usually don't have much faith in this philosophy.
Still, I do try to go to keep an open mind when I go to these kinds of events that are organised by people who are committed to their beliefs.

The evening before


My first mistake was to drive down to the lake on Saturday evening to check out the conditions.
I knew about the algae warnings, but I didn't expect the water to be so brown.
My previous experience swimming in Lake Burley Griffin was the Sri Chinmoy Capital Swim in 2009.
Lovely cool clear water then. It would be different tomorrow.

Photos: Sri Chinmoy Races

I arrived early at Yarralumla Bay on Sunday morning and registered for the 5k lake swim and lined up at the start with the small group of purple-capped 5k swimmers. The course being 2 laps around a 2.5k circuit.

I was a little hesitant to enter the brown water. (That's me in the above photo still fiddling with my goggles, while the other swimmers are well into the race). Finally I dove into the murky water and pushed off.
My suspicions were confirmed - Zero visibility - Well almost zero anyway, maybe about one foot. I could see my arm about as far as my elbow, then my forearm and hand disappeared into the gloom.

Nursing a shoulder strain from a week of tough pool training, my plan was to take it easy for the 1st lap.
I knew I could push through shoulder pain on the 2nd lap if the shoulder blew up.
I find mentally the 1st half of a long swim is always the hardest. It seems to take me ages to relax and get into a rhythm. So usually after nearly an hour of swimming I'm doing it tough, knowing that I have still at least double the distance to go to get to the finish.
A couple of times I thought I might get out after completing just 1 lap (2.5k) and blaming it on the conditions. But then, nevermind, I  put my head down and got back into a repetition of stroke-stroke-breathe, and that negative creep went away.  

After completing the 1st lap and passing the halfway mark, I was feeling much better. The 2nd half always seems to be easier, like swimming downhill, with the end in sight.
A northerly wind had come up and was starting to chop up the course.
I had tried to avoid swallowing any of the brown and algae water, but now there was no escaping it, with the chop splashing my face as a turned to breathe. I tried to spit out as much as I could.
Shoulders were hurting as I passed the last turning buoy, with a 600m straight swim to the finish.
Just concentrating on maintaining a slow consistent stroke now, happy that I would be finishing today's race.

With 50m to go, I lifted my head and could read the writing on the FINISH sign.

Then from nowhere and without me thinking about it, a burst of energy filled my body. My kick grew stronger, my body flattened out and my arms were pulling harder with perfect technique. I didn't feel the weight of the water, it felt like I was skimming over the surface. I was smiling underwater as I flew through the finish gate. 

It was certainly a good feeling to finish on such a positive high.
Most likely it was an unconscious reaction to me being happy to finish a tough swim in adverse conditions, and pleased to conquer my negative thoughts before and during the race.
Those who are more spiritual might say that, on a muddy lake in a strange town, I enjoyed a small part of the self-transcendence experience. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Across The Heads Swim 12th February

Across the Heads Swim Sydney - North Head to South Head
(Quarantine beach to Camp Cove about 4k)

"Nothing great is easy !"
(Matthew Webb)
Today's swim was a great challenge
A little scary riding over in the boat from Watsons Bay to Manly and getting a good look at the wind and waves on the course before the swim
And the aforementioned big swell, losing sight of the landmarks, patches of unfamiliar stingers, DEEEP green water most of the way, and into a tide that was starting to turn against us the last little bit
Mentally that was a tough swim today
And that's the way it should be
Well done and thanks B&B and all the friendly helpers for putting it all together

Youtube video "Counting Heads across The Heads" - courtesy Tacomajim

photos: pacificjules

photos: ishootmermaids

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Manly Training Swim - 10k Ocean Swim

"Bold and Beautiful Swimmers" 10k informal swim Saturday 5th February


Today's journey had a little of everything:
- lovely clear water
- marine life off Manly Point - I saw 8-odd feet of shark (one 4ft dusky and a couple of babies)
- big schools of fish - tailor and yellowtail
- swell around the headlands
- a headwind and challenging current into Curl Curl
- catching a wave onto Curly and a rip out of Curly
- teddy bears picnic (makes this swim special)
- tough last little section in and out of Shelly - into the wind chop - when the arms weren't working so well anymore
About 4 hours in the water total

Monday, January 31, 2011

January Swims

January - Busy month of swimming
6 Events completed, about 20k total:

- Newport  2k
- North Bondi (2+1) 3k
- Penrith Regatta  2k
- Penrith B2B  5k
- Glenbawn (5+1) 6k
- Big Swim 2.5k

Looks like I've had some benefit from doing more squads with Chad and covering more distance in the pool
Hopefully building up some swim endurance in my shoulders from the longer fresh water swims
Not feeling tired after the longer swims now and recovery is quick

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Big Swim Sun. 30th January

The Big Swim Palm Beach to Whale Beach, about 2.5k
Conditions were good for an ocean swim -
Loved the waves breaking at both beaches at the start and finish, Fun riding the rip to carry us out to the first buoy, Challenged by big chop around the headland, Cooled by a refreshing patch of colder water half-way, Pushed by the friendly swell towards the finish

I think I'm starting to get the hang of this ocean swimming now

I enjoyed every part of this swim
Was able to swim quite hard at a consistent speed the whole way
Looks like I can hold a reasonable pace now for 2 to 3k

The start was busy with a large number of swimmers in my start wave. Not bothered by the other swimmers swimming into me and accidentally grabbing at my legs. Just kept a straight line and held my elbows out a little to protect my goggles and gently push them away when we bumped.
Time was a few minutes faster than last year
And did much better in terms of finish position (overall and category)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lake Glenbawn Classic 5k 26th January

Tough swims yesterday
5k swim with a 1k warm-up
The lake was looking good, fuller with more rain, but causing the water to be a little murky with some floating debris.
The forecast 40c weather arrived, together with warm water surface temperature.
Well done to the the organisors and water safety in managing this swim without incident

Statistics for Glenbawn:
- Air Temp. = Scorching
- Water Temp. = Warm
- Wind strength = 0 knots

Surprised my time was slower than what I expected. 6 minutes slower than last year and I thought I went harder. The warm water might have taken my strength (was measured at 28c but we swam through some warmer patches). It felt like the course may have been a little longer this year. Maybe an extra 100m per 1k lap.
We'll call that one a training swim

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Penrith Bridge to Bridge 23rd January

Penrith "Bridge to Bridge" 5k fresh water open water swim
Water was warm 27c
Good swim, was able to swim at a consistent pace the whole way
Looks like I've had some benefit from Chad's tough squads the last 2 weeks
5k Time 1:46:21
Five minutes faster than my time for the 5k swim at Penrith in November

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bulk Week

Covered some distance in Training this week
Pool training - long sets, short breaks about 13k
Harbour swim Sat. 10k
Penrith Regatta open water race Sun. 2k

Total swim distance this week 25k

Penrith Regatta 2k Open Water Swim

A feral swimmer in Penrith Lakes

I did this swim last weekend for the first time. A 2k fresh water swim in a straight line down the Sydney Regatta Centre.
Good swim. The water was clear, the weed was short, water temp a little warmish 25c.
A highlight of my warm-up swim was being eyeballed by a large carp that had come up to investigate.
A 2k straight swim in fresh water is tougher than it looks! Gotta keep your head down and go hard the whole way. No excuses to slow down to look for turning buoys or to stop for a drink.
I'm backing up at Penrith this Sunday for a more cruisy Bridge to Bridge endurance swim. There might be a couple of stops and a few slow strokes on that one!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Manly Training Swim - Bold & Beautiful 10k Harbour Adventure

Watch out for the ferries

Coffee Break at Little Manly

Paddler and water safety inspector

"Bold and Beautiful Swimmers" 10k informal swim Saturday 16th January

I arrived at Manly this morning expecting to slog it out for a few hours in the surf.
Instead I was treated to an Odyssey of harbour beaches, led by a man and his dog.
After 2 hours of swimming, I was running low on energy, and actually quite hungry.
So imagine my surprise when we arrived at the Quarantine Station, to find a swimmers picnic of fruit, drinks and lollies prepared by BB supporters.
Feeling re-energised after the treats, I didn't even object to Brendan's irrational suggestion to keep swimming a few hundred extra metres south to Flagstaff, instead of heading home the way we had come.
The sweet coffee surprise at Little Manly also hit the spot.

A cruisy long swim together as a group, stopping at every beach along the way.
Time in the water about 3.5 hours