Do you love to swim, but also love to run?
This is exactly who Coogee SLSC, best known for their Coogee Island Challenge ocean swim, is targeting with their inaugural RunSwim Coogee Aquathlon event, set to be hosted this Sunday, 1 May.
The new event on the ocean swimming calendar this year will challenge participants over 1.6 kilometres of ocean swimming and 5.5 kilometres of running along the famous Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk.
We caught up with event organiser, Michael Scroop, Rejoov Running and Swimming Head Coach, Greta Truscott, and prolific sports adventurer, Andrew ‘Reidy’ Reid, to find out how the event came to be and some hot tips for race day.
The idea comes to life
The idea of the RunSwim Coogee Aquathlon has been doing the rounds within Coogee Surf Life Saving Club for years, but it wasn’t until this year, 2022, that it came to life.
“There have been several concepts proposed within the club over years, including fun runs that could be tagged onto our Coogee Island Challenge swim,” said Mr Scroop, “but none of these concepts ever got off the ground.”
“The RunSwim Coogee Aquathon came to be from an internal surf club run-swim event which was very popular with members.
“These types of transitional run swim events are becoming increasingly popular with athletes so we decided to have a go and run it.”
A scenic course
The RunSwim Coogee Aquathon sits somewhere between a run-swim-run and a swimrun. Participants enter as individuals and swim with their shoes on.
“The event is unique due to the coastline and bays involved but the overall distances exceed what a standard aquathlon would usually be,” said Mr Scroop.
“The course is set along some of the most beautiful sections of the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Path.
“There will be transitional swims in Clovelly, Gordons Bay and Coogee.
Greta Truscott and Andrew Reid completed one of the test runs of the RunSwim Coogee Aquathlon and describe it as “super fun”.
“When we tested the course, it felt great getting into a running rhythm going along the coastal footpaths with spectacular ocean views most of the way,” said Ms Truscott.
“There are some punchy hills but the downhills make up for those, so don’t worry, and along Coogee Promenade everyone will be cheering you along.
“The first swim is at Clovelly and is a welcome reprieve and is always pretty spotting fish and blue gropers while swimming.
“It’s then a short run from Clovelly to Gordon’s Bay, for the next swim, where you should ‘lizard crawl’ in on your belly with no diving due to submerged rocks at the entry point. During your swim at Gordon’s Bay, you’ll see the beautiful sandy floor and little stingrays.
“From Gordon’s Bay, you’ll run to North Coogee where you’ll enjoy your final swim across Coogee Bay, finishing with a short sand run to the finish line. Yay!”
Ms Truscott is looking forward to the incredible fun to be had at the inaugural event.
“I really encourage everyone to have a go – all ages and levels,” said Ms Truscott.
“You can plod along and soak up the sights and chat or you can smash it out and see how you go with placing.
“It will be great to watch everyone have fun and enjoy the beautiful sights of the eastern suburbs.
Mr Reid enjoys the run start from Coogee to Clovelly but that isn’t all he loves about the course.
“One of my favourite parts of the course is running back to North Coogee from Gordon’s Bay,” said Mr Reid.
“You have spectacular views from the cliffs over the ocean and Wedding Cake Island.
“Then looking over Coogee, you can see your final swim across the bay and the finish line on the sand.”
Greta’s Hot Tips
For traditional ocean swimmers who don’t mind a bit of a jog (or walk), MsTruscott says it’s an easy transition and the payoff for some basic training pre-event is well worth it.
- 15-minute warm-up jog, 20-minute hilly undulating effort and a 10-minute cool-down jog.
- 15-minute warm-up jog, 20-minutes (1 minute hard, 1 minute easy), and a 10-minute cool-down jog.
Get in a few run sessions on a hard surface in the lead-up, such as:
Mix up your ocean swimming sessions in the lead-up, such as:
- 1-1.5 kilometre swim, throwing in some efforts such as 100 strokes hard, 50 strokes easy. While you’re doing this practice sighting, by regularly looking up to see where you’re going.
Ms Truscott also suggests training (including running) in your goggles, bathers and shoes that you would like to wear in the event in the lead-up, so you know they are going to work for you on the day.
- Wear light shoes, it makes swimming easier
- Wear socks to avoid rubbing
- Make sure your goggles have clear lens with excellent vision, so you can spot where you are
- Swimming with shoes is much harder than without but try to pull with your upper body while having a light flutter kick behind you
- Kick your shoes off at Coogee Beach for the final swim. You’ll be able to swim faster and enjoy the short final run across the soft sand barefoot.
- For entry into the water, during the ocean swim, always ‘lizard crawl’ by crouching down and easing onto your belly into the water, DON’T DIVE, due to shallow entries with submerged rocks etc.
Reidy’s Hot Tips
Mr Reid suggests practising lots of ‘ins and outs’, this is where you’re running into the ocean, swimming out for a period and then back in and running out of the ocean. By practising your entries and exits, you will be able to fine-tune your technique, pacing and breathing.
- Bondi Penguins have an ins and outs training session on Wednesday mornings at Bondi (6.15am, meet at North Bondi SLSC) if you are looking for a group environment
- Rejoov Coogee Stingrays have training at Coogee Beach where you can familiarise yourself with the swim and add in some soft sand running before and after your ocean swim.
- Wear ‘floaty pants’ which are wetsuit material shorts to help keep the hips and legs afloat during the swims, as your shoes can drag you down a bit.
To join Reidy and Greta in the RunSwim Coogee Aquathlon on Sunday, 1 May 2022, head to the RunSwim Coogee Aquathlon listing for more information and a link to enter.