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November 30, 2016

coogee swim 161127 01
The start at Coogee.

Swims this weekend...

Swell time makes island a challenge

Coogee has never really been a swim for the faint-hearted. There have been years when it's been a bit of doddle, sure. There have been years when it's been, more or less, a nice trip out to the back of the island, a bit of a look at the fish, and a nice trip back in. But always, there is the distance – 2.4 kilometres is a good, healthy swim – make it 2.8 kilometres, if you navigate like we do – and almost always, there is an unexpected challenge.

Some years, it's been ice-cold water. Other years, more jellyfish than a big jellyfish cake. (We think. We've never actually had a jellyfish cake, so we're guessing a bit here). Other years, it's the horror shore break, and the stinking mounds of kelp that were in it. We love that kelp. We can remember thinking, "Yay, more kelp." Some years, it's the swell and the tricky currents round the back. Let's face it, who'd be a swim organiser at Coogee? We take our hat off to you, Coogee swim people.

This year, November 2016, it was definitely the swell. Or rather, the combination of swells. And the distance. And the wind. And the tricky currents out the back. As put it, "3 to 4ft of Sth swell combining with 2-3ft ENE swell... winds horribly onshore SE/E... Water surface conditions are not inviting at all".

coogee swim 161127 06

Nonetheless, we turned up to swim in it. Because it is a trip around Wedding Cake Island, after all. Not many people, apart from ocean swimmers and a few mad snorkelers, get to see what's below the surface at the back of Wedding Cake Island. It is a privilege to do so and we wanted to see it again. And so it was that we yelled aloud with joy when we arrived at the top of the hill, and saw that the buouys were out around the back of the island. We weren't too sure about the buouys that were actually ON the island. Perhaps there is a story there that the swim organisers can tell us about some time.

Anyway, this year, Coogee was not a doddle. This year, it was hard. It was probably the hardest swim at Coogee we have ever done. Anyone who was in this one knows they were in a proper ocean swim. It was magnificent.

The run out the island was a slog like no other. It was the 3-4 foot of south swell that we felt the most. That and the wind chop going straight into our face. We couldn't see the buouys until they were about 20 metres away, so we just plunged on in the general direction of whatever water safety we could see, like everyone else around us.

After a long, long slog we made it out to the island. Now, there are some years that, depending on the tides and the swim course, you don't really see the island. You've gone past it and are going around the back before you've realised it's there. Not this year. We knew it was there, this year, from the huge waves that were booming away to our right. Basically, from that south swell rolling up the base of the island and smashing into that north-east swell. Sensational to watch.

But we couldn't really stop and look because there was a lot of swimming yet to do. And as we rounded the island we discovered the run out was just a taster. The real event was here, out the back. We slogged our way into a swell that had seemingly just doubled in size. We went up when the swell came up, down when the swell came down, and heard the boom when that swell hit the island a few seconds later. For once we spent more time checking our position in relation to the island, the buouys and the next big roller than we did watching the fishies below. We were glad that we could see the island, but we did not wish to plant our face upon it.

coogee swim 161127 09

But the best part of the swim was about to reveal itself. For us it was not, as you might expect, the easy run home with the swell behind us. Because it was not, in fact, an easy run home. Yes, the swell was behind us, and that was nice, but we had no arms left. They had been all used up on the way out, and it was still a long, long ways back to the beach.

Nope, the best part was, as we were coming around the south of the island, looking out from the top of those big waves as they came through, and as though on a cliff, we could see the whole swim course spread out below us like a carpet. Hundreds of little swim capped heads all making their way to the beach. And then the swell was past and all we could see was a wall of water. Humungous.

We have done the Wedding Cake Island swim at least a dozen times and this is the one we will remember the most. It was great. Huge thanks to the water safety crew: you did a great job on what must have been a challenging day.

Glenn Muir

Swims this weekend...

Refreshing the bucket-list

And so we move into summer, the long, hot summer, and the preponderance of swims around the joint itensifies. Five swims this weekend on Sat'dee, and two on Sundee, including one which definitely fits on the bucket-list of even the most jaded, wizened of swimmers. Weather is looking varied for Sydney over the weekend: Not much swell is forecast, and temps will be mild. There'll be cloud around, and a bit of breeze from the sarth on Sat'dee morning, but Sunday will be quite calm, according to the meteorologists.

tweed killer 0802vertWarning, warning!!

First, it's a warning to all: if you're frightened by large people from the country with personalities that fill a room, then watch out at North Curl Curl on Sat'dee, for it's the 11th appearance by our cobber, Killer, in the 3 Points Challenge. Further warning for those with delicate stomachs: in previous years, Killer has worn in the 3 Points Challenge a pair of flesh-coloured shorts which are also skin-tight, so tight, indeed, that they become almost see-through, particularly when wet. Those of you who are familiar with Killer's appearance will be aware of what this means. We'll say just this: when Killer first wore them on training runs in the streets around Mur'bah, up on the Far North Coast of NSW, so he reckons, he received death threats. Having witnessed this ourselves, we understand why. Any parent would seek to protect their children in similar circumstances, and sometimes, even just the image -- rather than the physical -- is enough to do lasting damage.

Killer, not in his flesh-coloured torpedoes, thank goodness (even this website has some sense of decorum), but in his "Ritas".

Killer and his cohort from the Murwillumbah Brass Monkeys have been visiting Sydney on 3 Points Challenge weekend for years -- as we say, this will be Killer's 11th -- and he keeps coming back because the awgies make the mistake of making a fuss over him. If they didn't make the fuss, he probably would not keep coming back. People such as Killer thrive on attention. They have yet to learn this at North Curl Curl. And they keep celebrating him over the loudspeaker. Every time he hears his name called out, Killer's face lights up, like a pimply, adolescent lad who finds himself locked in an adult shop at closing time. His entourage... well, they just roll their eyes.

Killer will be full of vim this year. In the past, North Curly follows by a week what became known as "The Killer Swim", the Tweed River Swim, which Killer's Murwillumbah Brass Monkeys ran to raise funds for Fingal Headland Surf Life Saving Club. This year, there has been a bit of a schism on the Far North Coast, and the Brass Monkeys withdrew. The Killer swim didn't happen. So he will be looking to the 3 Points Challenge to release all that pent up energy. Another warning, stay away from Killer during this event. It won't be hard. He'll be the last man on the course, and you can identify him because he runs with a chant, alternatively, "Pain is fear leaving the body", and, "Merryn makes me strong". Merryn is Killer's longs-suffering bride. If ever they're handing out OAMs on the Far North Coast, Merryn should be first in line. We haven't always been Merryn's favourite people, mind you. In the early days, when we'd first made Killer famous, she used to refer to us, in argument with her spouse, as "ocean-com-dot-thingy". It wasn't a term of endearment. But we've made up since.

With all this warning, you all should be safe enough to take part at North Curl Curl. It's a 2km swim, and the 3 Points Challenge biathlon. You can do either or both. The biathlon is interesting: three swims of c. 300m each separated by runs, from North Curly to Sarth Curly, from Sarth Curly to Freshwater, then from Freshie back to North Curl Curl. We'd like to say, Killer will be there with a cool drink to greet you, except that it will be everybody else who'll be waiting there to greet Killer.

We shouldn't make fun of him, though, although we know he loves it, because it all adds to the legend. We shouldn't make fun of Killer because this will be his 11th 3 Points Challenge, and there won't be many mugs out there who can claim that. He likes a laff, but he puts in the yards.

More info and enter online by 3pm Friday, Dec 2... Click here

Classics keep coming

The Classics Season began at the end of November with Coogee last weekend, and now this week it moves a little farther along Sydney's Eastern Beaches to Bondi for Bondi-Bronte. A significant change with this event, which has for several years mounted shorter distance events for younger and novice swimmers at Bronte prior to the main event later in the morning. This season, all those lead-up swims move to Bondi.

Awgies are pleased that Olympian Jarrod Poort will be swimming. It is one of the nice things of our sport that us mugs get to swim with the world's best. Mind you, they're usually well gone by the time we enter the water, but we can all claim that we swam in the same race as them.

A word of warning about this swim: while swell is forecast to be small (1-2ft, according to Coastalwatch), be aware that Bronte always can be a difficult beach in pretty well any conditions. So make sure you watch out for the water safety crew and listen to their instructions about the best way of getting into the beach. Bronte often requires an angled approach: if you go straight in, you may find yourself in the Bogey Hole. So pay attention and listen.

More info and enter online by 10pm Friday, Dec 2... Click here

For the bucket-list...

Waikiki Beach

A little out of town for us, but in Honolulu this Sundee is the Christmas Looong Distance Invitational Rough-H2O Swim. This swim follows the course of the the Waikiki Roughwater, but when you get to the point in the Roughwater when you would turn for shore, in this swim, you turn around and come all the way back. It's about 7km and, unless you've done it or the Waikiki Roughwater before, you must submit information about your swim times in order to gain a start. Something about this swim captures our imagination.

You know, it is possible to do Bondi-Bronte on Sunday then to hop on a plane on Sunday evening and make it to Honolulu in time to do this swim on Sunday their time.

Find out more... Click here

The stuff of dreams

waimea bayEveryone knows about Waikiki, by the way, but there's another series of swims that might capture the imagination more. How do you fancy swimming along the famed Oahu North Shore? You know the place names: Sunset Beach, Banzai Pipeline, Waimea Bay, etc. We know about them for the big surf over winter.

That's Waimea, here, at right, in winter... It shouldn't be like this in summer. Probably.

But there is a series of swims that run, over the course of summer, all along the North Shore. This stretch of shoreline is not that long: it's where the reef along the north shore hugs the shore, which is a stretch only a few kilometres long. At either end, the reef heads back out to sea. Each of the series swims covers a stretch of that coastline. Then, the weekend after the Waikiki Roughwater -- which generally is the Monday of the Labor Day weekend in the US, the first weekend in September -- in an ultimate swim of the season, you can do pretty much the entire North Shore stretch, 5km. A few Strãans have come to hear about this series in recent times -- we've had it on our calendar for several years now -- and, two years back, the 5km swim was won by one of our own, Sydney brief John de Mestre.

The series website has yet to be updated for the coming year, but we have updated dates on our calendar... Click here

Controversy Corner...

But what do you reckon? Send us your thoughts and we'll publish them...Click here

Or, see the comment box at the bottom of this page.

Glistening Dave's ocean swims calendar 2017

Order now for Xmas

calendar dhd 17 banner 250End of November today, and Glistening Dave is about to send his ocean swims calendar 2017 to the printers, for delivery in December. If you haven't already ordered yours, do so now so that you will be amongst the first batch sent out in plenty of time for Xmas.

The calendar includes every swim date we can find in Strãa, along with many in New Zealand and the Pacific, and a few more besides that we deem worthwhile. Pin it on your notice board at work, behind the door in the loo, on the wall in the kitchen, in your home office, your men's shed out the back, your sewing and knitting room, the wall in your hallway, so that you can check swim dates each time you leave home or return. Stick it on your garage door to remind you where you're going when you get in the car. Or get multiples and mount one in each of those places, so that you're constantly surrounded by images of ocean swimming. Or Dave's perceptions of them, anyway.

Your friends would like them for Xmas, too. They would love you even more if you gave them an ocean swims calendar from Glistening Dave.

Order yours now for Xmas (delivery in December)... Click here

Our Xmas special

Selenes so sick, they're almost gone

view selene mirror 05We've said it befor eand we'll warn you again: we've had an enormous response to our Xmas Special featuring the new mirrored Selene goggles bundled with the same model non-mirrored. There've been so many orders that two colours of the mirrored Selenes are almost sold out, and the third colour won't be far behind. We've asked View for more, but we're not sure when they will arrive.

The Selene is Mrs Sparkle’s fave goggle, the most comfortable gog you will ever wear, and the best all-round gog we’ve ever come across (and we’ve worn a few gogs in our time): it’s made with a soft, wide, silicone seal that doesn’t leave rocky-raccoon marks around your eyes, and it offers a wide field of view and a low profile.

We’ve long loved the View Fully Sicks, which also offer a mirrored lens, and now the same look and glare protection is available in the Selenes.

They come in three colour combinations – Pearl Black/Blue, Aquamarine Ice Blue/Yellow (with a glitter frame), and Lavender/Pink. The Pearly Black/Blue and the Aquamarine Ice Blue/Yellow are almost sold out. So get in now!

This is our 2016 Xmas Special: order a pair of View Selene Mirrored gogs and get a pair of Selene non-mirrored gogs for $9 off: that’s almost 30 per cent off the non-mirrored pair. Total $63 + p/h.

Order yours now... Click here

Tonga closes up

oceanswimsafaris 2017

sulawesi swimmers jump from boatAfter reporting on availability on our oceanswimsafaris to Tonga in July-August 2017, those spaces now have pretty well closed up. We're running three Tonga oceanswimsafaris next year, and interest has been rather phenomenal. That's Sulawesi, at right... oceanswimsafarists acting with abandon...

We have package details for two of our oceanswimsafaris in 2017 on our sibling site, You can find details for both Sulawesi (June 11-19) as well as Tonga. We have a few spots still available on our Sulawesi tour,. We'll have package details up for Port Vila (Vanuatu), San Sebastián, Costa Brava (both Spain), Greece, Mana Fiji and the Yasawas Fiji up very soon. And keep your eye out for a new Yasawas Fiji oceanswimsafari which will offer you the chance to swim with Manta rays.

Dates of our oceanswimsafaris in 2017 –

  • Vanuatu - Port Vila (May 24-29)
  • Vanuatu - Santo (May 29-June 3)
  • Sulawesi (Indonesia, June 11-19) - 4 spots left
  • Yasawas Fiji - Swim with Manta rays (July 16-23) (New oceanswimsafari!)
  • Tonga 1 - Swim with Whales 1 (July 25-Aug 2) - Final positions pending.
  • Tonga 2 - Swim with Whales 2 (Aug 1-9) - Sold out!
  • Tonga 3 - Swim with Whales 3 (Aug 8-16) - Sold out!
  • San Sebastián (Spain, Aug 23-29)
  • Costa Brava (Spain, Aug 31-Sep 8)
  • Greece's Northern Sporades (Sep 12-21 - Dates TBC)
  • Yasawas Fiji (Oct 16-23)
  • Mana Fiji (Oct 24-29)
  • Heron Island (Nov 4-8) 

I ocean swim, therefore...

bs cossies both bothJust the ticket for cutting a fine figure on Heron Island, or anywhere else you swim, for that matter... With the help of our cobbers from, we've released our very own oceanswims cossies. We haven't put commercial markers on them too heavily because we respect your right not to be a walking billboard. But observing punters will be in no doubt about whom you are: An Ocean Swimmer, ie "I ocean swim, therefore I am".

The Laydees model is designed with racing and swimming longer distances in mind. Mrs Sparkle loves this style, with its narrow straps that slide across the back to suit the way you swim. Very comfy, she says, and they keep her "in", whatever that means. They're chlorine-resistant, too, so you can wear them in the pool as well as the ocean.

The Gents model...? There's not much you can do with budgys for boofheads, of course, apart from make them look good, and chlorine-resistant, and the budgysmuggler people have done both of those things.

We love them. And you can buy them now... Click here

Tell us about your swim group

We've had a good many submissions from swim groups for listing on our new swim group guide. We'll be assembling the submissions in the next couple of weeks and launching the guide during December.

The vast bulk of ocean swimming takes place not in formal races on the weekend. It happens in the myriad informal swim groups that meet on beaches, at pools, in lakes, rivers, dams, ponds and billabongs all around Strãa, New Zealand and the South Pacific, every day. Locals know their groups, but what if you're travelling? You're in an unfamiliar place, you'd like a swim, but where? With whom? aims to offer the most comprehensive list of informal swim groups and locations in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. Wherever you are, you should never be without a suggestion of where to swim and with whom. We've received already submissions from swim groups from as far afield as Scotland and Hong Kong. We expect to have the first online in the next week or so. lists swim groups free of charge. Just complete the short form we've posted on our website and click the Submit button. You'll get a copy of your info straightbackatcha, and we'll slot it into our listings. Look under Swims on, or... Click here

toowoon 161126 05
Always a good idea to protect your gogs when you dive in, although the lass behind copped a clip over the head to knock hers off.

Swims open to online entry...

We have entries online open to a string of new season swims...

Coming soon... Plenty more.


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  • Latonya Comment Link
    Saturday, 25 January 2020 04:00
    Hi my friend! I want to say that this article is awesome,
    nice written and include almost all significant infos.
    I would like to peer extra posts like this .
  • Elisha Smith Comment Link
    Elisha Smith
    Wednesday, 30 November 2016 11:05
    Hi There,
    That photo is me diving in!
    Elisha Smith
  • Jenny Smith Comment Link
    Jenny Smith
    Wednesday, 30 November 2016 11:04
    What a fantastic story on the Coogee Island Challenge 2016. Read it and relived every single moment. Even gave me goosebumps. It was a tough one for this old girl but l pushed on, can & did say l enjoyed every crazy ridiculous minute.
    Made me appreciate just what it was l swam through.
    Who wants flat calm water, wheres the challenge in that!

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