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March 23, 2020 – Virus snuffs season

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Emailed to 41,000 ocean swimmers weekly in season.

 

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Look carefully, although you don't need to look too carefully. This is one of the most beautiful images we have ever seen. Glistening Dave at the Mona Vale pool. Image by David Helsham @glistenrr

Look below...

Just like that... It's all over

Season 2019 snuffed by a virus

And, just like that (snaps fingers), it’s gone!

Our season. Gone in a flash.

Just over a week ago, Sat’dee, the COVID-19 issue was still nascent. It was building, but surely it wasn’t all that serious. Things like this don't happen in first world countries in modern times, do they? We live in Strã’a, and Strã’a is protected from all these nasties from overseas. Aren’t we?

There had been plenty of talk about it. Last weekend week, Stanwell Park had just cancelled, in light of the prospect of rising seas, and nothing else was open for online entry that weekend. But we were struck by how, in the face of the rising clamour about coronavirus, people continued to enter swims online. That Sat’dee, there was a steady stream of entries to swims that wouldn’t be held for over a week, at the earliest. There was absolutely no need at all to enter swims that day, particularly whilst there was so much of the unknown about the immediate future.

We expect punters to watch events themselves and decide whether conditions are right to enter. Over the past few years, we’d noticed how, if weather conditions were not propitious, entries would slow. We are loath to proffer advice ourselves, because we are not experts on individual beaches, and conditions can change dramatically from forecasts. These days, people know how to watch the weather for themselves. But not pandemics, apparently.

Bear in mind, this was the day after the Prime Minister announced a limitation on public gatherings, to take place from three days hence (not from straight away), due to coronavirus concerns. That, particularly, made us take more notice of how the situation was developing.

It alarmed us that these entries for swims at least a week into the future continue to roll in. We wondered, in our head to ourselves, Aren’t these people reading the papers and listening to the news on the electric wireless? Apparently not. And it struck us that we needed to do something to protect people from themselves, at least put a pause on entries until we could confirm with individual swim awgies what their intentions were. After all, there is no central authority in this caper, handing down decrees from on high. There was no-one to tell individual awgies what to do in light of a developing situation.

We made a decision. We halted entries to all swims. And we contacted all awgies of swims scheduled over the rest of the season and asked them, with the COVID-19 situation developing, what they intended to do. Would they still run? Or would they cancel? If there was any real prospect of a swim not going ahead, we figured it was unfair to continue to accept entries to it.

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That's the last we see of her... Random swimmer heads around Second Head, Forster.

Cancel… cancel… cancel…

Some responses came back straight away. On the oceanswims.com home page, we have a list of 18 swims that have cancelled. One swim, South Head, scheduled for mid-May, paused entries for a fortnight, hoping for clarity. But now they have cancelled for season 2019/20. Two swims have "postponed", thinking they might be able to run the postponed event early in the next season, 2020/21. We're not naming them right now because they are thinking about it still. But as news of individual swims is confirmed, we shall update their event pages on oceanswims.com. We will also update the event's date, so you may need to find it further down the Featured Swims list than you might have been expecting.

Thus, the 2019/20 ocean swimming season is snuffed out. Just like that.

March and April normally are our two busiest months of the season in terms of numbers of swims. While most swims around the country are well and truly over, on Sunday, April 5, there were five swims scheduled in NSW alone, including one of the biggest of the season (the autumn outing at Coogee). Now, we’re sitting here, twiddling our thumbs, self-isolated (we’re not sick, but we are being careful), wondering what we’ll read next. (Actually, we’re not reading anything much because we now have tidying up to do for 14 swims for which entries were coming in. But after that, we’ll be wondering what to read, we hope.)

Most swims have decided to cancel and roll-over entries to next season, when, we trust, COVID-19 has been brought under some kind of control.

We also noted the comments of the Prime Minister on Thursday last week when, for the first time, we heard someone in “authority” say how long they expected this situation to last. “These conditions will last for six months”, the Prime Minister said, or words to that effect, when outlining yet another tranche of pandemic measures. Then, the next day, on Friday, the same Prime Minister said, “…six months at least”. Since then, it's been consistently "six months at least".

Will we have a next season?


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Bondi beachgoers practise social distancing in the age of coronavirus. Image tweeted by Isabelle Truman (@isabelletruman). Next day, the Bill closed Bondi down.

oceanswimsafaris 2019

The road less travelled

It’s not just domestic ocean swims that have been affected by the pandemic. We had an entire winter of oceanswimsafaris planned over the next six months – French Polynesia (May), The Philippines (June), Sulawesi in Indonesia (later in June), Tonga (July), Spain (August-September), and Fiji (October). That’s all gone, too, at least the earlier oceanswimsafaris. At this point, the only oceanswimsafaris that we’re not ruling out entirely are to Spain’s San Sebastián (late August) and Costa Brava (mid-September), and Fiji’s Mana Island (late October) and the Yasawas (later October). We haven’t ruled out Spain and Fiji yet only because they are so far into the future.

But, right now, they ain’t looking great, other than on paper, where they look tremendous.

We work with some very good providers in all these destinations, and we have been able to roll over all our bookings in the first part of our season. Instead of being 2020 oceanswimsafaris, they will be 2021 oceanswimsafaris. Those providers are suffering, too, of course. All of these resorts, hotels, and other providers themselves will be shutting down completely. Spare a thought for all these businesses whose cash flow has just dried up, in an instant. We know how they feel.

The effects of this pandemic will be profound. Society always is a dynamic thing made up of mixes of trends and influences, and constant changes. But how will they be influenced by COVID-19? When everyone realises they can work from home productively, what effect will that have on the future of work and industrial relations (which we don’t have much of in Strã’a these days)? What effect will it have over the long term on transport planning? On social interaction? On hospitality? On our expectations of government?

Only one thing is for certain: Only time will tell.

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Calling crusty old sea dogs

pitt helen 250Attention all ocean baths swimmers: an ocean swimming journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald, Helen Pitt, is seeking ocean baths swimmers for a coffee table book she is doing with photographer Chris Chen, to be published by Thames and Hudson. Helen is seeking baths swimmers to talk to about their favourite ocean pools, and why they are their favourites. Ideally, Helen says, she would love the subjects to agree to be photographed in their cossies at their favourite pool.

Please email Helen (link below) with 100 words on what you love about your ocean pool (more if it has an interesting history).

If you are not willing to be photographed, Helen says she is open to suggestions of swimmers to photograph or talk to... Crusty old sea dogs, please apply.

Many will know Helen from The House (Allen & Unwin), her history of the Sydney Opera House, which won the Walkley Book Award in 2018.

Contact Helen Pitt... Click here

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All these persons from that person

mccreery cover 250We always like to celebrate the contributions of ocean swimmers to culcha, particularly to ocean swimming culcha. And so we tell you now about a book of short stories by Wollongong swimmer, Susan McCreery. Mind you, This Person Is Not that Person, McCreery's collection of stories, is not so much a book of short stories as a book of 22 portraits, of relationships. Many of those relationships are unsuitable, but that is the story of life, isn’t it. Life is grappling with a series of transient, often inappropriate relationships in the search for something meaningful and enduring; something that will feed your soul; something that will help you to leave your mark on the world. If you don’t conduct a search, you won’t find anything.

In this sense, McCreery’s book is a life manual in recognising relationship atrophy, forcing the reader to face up to it -- are they talking about you? -- and, perhaps, prompting them do something about it. You might wonder how much of this is autobiographical – all writing is autobiographical to some extent, particularly creative writing – and how much is picked up along the way from friends and acquaintances. We hope it’s not all from the one source.

McCreery has an eye for the detail of life which most people might notice, but she has stitched it fluently into her stories to add dimensions that many writers would struggle to describe, and so pithily. This, when hubby arrives home from work: “... I happen to glance up at our house, smiling, to see that my husband is home early. His face looking down from our bedroom window is grim and grey, and I deflate in an instant. Our smiles are no longer for each other.” 

That said, it’s not all bad news. There is plenty of uplift in this book, not least from the pleasure of its style. McCreery is an observant writer, and it is the detail noticed by observant people that gives life its colour.

It's also an eminently easy read. McCreery has an accessible style; none of the word portraits are a chore – one of them has a small dose of saccharin, but that's just one from 22. The reader will grimace as, so often, they might recognise themselves in the situations she writes about. We've all been there.

For a swimmer, only two of the 22 stories reference ocean swimming or swimming, one of them in passing, the other as the catalyst of a relationship situation. But don’t let that put you off. There is more to life than swimming.

When the book was published, on March 1, McCreery posted on Twitter (@SusanMcCreery2), "This ss collection, written by me, is out today, w means if you care to you can wander into your local bookshop (or distant one) & ask for it, & the person at the desk, after looking at you blankly, will check screen & say, Ah yes. Like us to order it in? Then you get to decide."

This gives you a feel for it.

This Person is Not that Person, Puncher and Wattman, March 1, 2020. ISBN 978-1-925780-44-4 


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New Swipe Wide-Eyes

More Swipes in stock now

V630ASA AMBK 300We have new stocks of the very popular View Swipes just arrived this morning. Even better, there's also a new model: the V630ASA (we call them Wide-Eyes) offer a wider field of vision, an adjustable nose piece, and both plain and fully sick mirrored versions. They will be more suitable, perhaps, for punters who need a longer or narrower nose-bridge. The Wide-Eyes also come with the latest Swipe technology.

We wore our original View Selene Swipes for 56 outings, until we lost them at Bondi last week. Left them in a change room, didn't we. We're now onto our 2nd pair, although now we're also looking forward to trying the new Wide-Eyes at our next swim.

We had been cautious about promoting the Swipes when we heard about them from the folk at View. We wore them 30 times before we were comfortable with flogging them to you. If they do fog at all, generally it's in one corner of a lens. Each time, we took them off, wiped the foggy bit gently with our forefinger, and no more fogging for the rest of the session. No goo, no spit, no nothing, except wetting them and wiping them carefully

We've sold 290 pairs of View Selene Swipes since we launched them just prior to Xmas; so many, in fact, that we'd sold out of four colours and we'd almost sold out of the fifth. New stocks arrived this morning, so get your orders in now.

The Selene has long been our most popular gog. A year or two back, View introduced a mirrored version of the Selene, and now they also offer the revolutionary Swipe, offering anti-fog capacity that lasts 10 times as long as existing goggles, the makers say.

According to the makers, the "10 times as long" refers to distance they say you can swim before you start to see some fogging with new goggles. They say the standard is 4km, but the Swipes will go 40kms. Whatever, all gogs will fog if you don't respect them and look after them. The issue also is how to deal with the fogging if and when it does occur.

For advice on looking after your gogs... Click here

Find out more and order Swipes... Click here

Controversy Corner...

What do you reckon about any of this stuff? We received a lot of feedback after last week's newsletter. Check it out... Click here

Let us know and we'll facilitate the debate... Click here

(Also see posts at the end of this newsletter.)

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Stare down the barrel: Forster Main Beach, last Sat'dee.

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Results...

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Emergency!

Don't be an emergency eejit. It's 'strordnry how many punters enter swims online and list themselves as their own emergency contact. Just say something happens to you out in the sea, who are awgies going to contact? You? Get real. Think about it, and enter someone else as your emergency contact, event if it's your boss at work.

List your swim group...

List your informal morning swim group on our directory, so that travelling swimmers will always have a place and a peloton to swim with... Click here

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For a quick idea of what's going on around your area -- formal events, informal swim groups -- check our swim maps. You'll find them for each area under Swims/Calendar on oceanswims.com.

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March 12, 2020

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Emailed to more than 40,000 ocean swimmers
weekly in season.

 

bongin autumn dawn 200310 glistenrr 600
Autumn. The mornings are cooler, crisper. And earlier. The Dawnbusters at Bongin Bongin Bay conspire to swim. Image by David Helsham @glistenrr

Look below...

Swims this weekend...

Capless warriors

Respect your swim caps

It happened at Coogee in November. It happened again at Freshwater last Sundee week. It’s probably happened lots more, too, but we don’t stand in the break taking notes, so we haven’t recorded all the times it’s happened. Neither can we attend every event, so many instances of it happening go unremarked and largely unnoticed.

What’s happened?

Something quite disrespectful, and potentially dangerous. And something with which awgies really need to come to grips. And swimmers need to heed.

We speak of swimmers in formal events leaving their event swim caps off, or ripping them off straight after the start, because they prefer to swim capless. After the Freshie swim, indeed, one swimmer commented on how many caps she’d seen discarded in the break.

After Freshwater, we ran a pic of the first starting wave with one of the gun swimmers, making his way out through the break, still knee depth, gogs firmly in place, but no cap. Clearly, he started without his cap. We also ran a pic after the Coogee swim, identical situation: one of the starting wave, an elite wave, one cove starting with no cap.

Why is this an issue? Why can't we decide for ourselves whether to wear swim caps? Why can't we be free?

Caps are issued for a good reason: They make swimmers far easier to identify in the water, at sea, from a distance. This is a safety issue. It’s also the formal rule of many – although not all – swims. Awgies do their best to make their event safe. That’s why they provide water safety staff. And swim caps make the water safety staff far more effective. There is a qualification to this, which we talk about further down. But, first…

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Fbook post: capless swimmer. Ned Wieland went on to win the swim.

Rules, schmules…

None of us likes rules. They hamper our capacity to lead our lives. But rules – laws – also form the framework of society. They’re our Junior Woodchuck Manual, as our old work cobber, Alan Thornhill, used to say. Rules turn a collection of houses and a mess of people and personalities into a peaceful community. If we want to live in a society, the compromise is that we accept that society’s rules.

We all, also, want to live our lives “in freedom”, ie to do what we want, unfettered by “the authorities”. Who wants a "nanny state"?

This a sanctimonious, rhetorical, and vacuous cri de coeur of the self-styled “alt-right”. The great irony of life -- one of them -- is that, in order to live your life “in freedom”, you have to accept that society must have rules. This is, in part, to protect your own quest for “freedom” from stronger people who might seek to dominate you. So the freedom for which you yearn is, ipso facto, constrained by the acceptance of rules to protect everyone's "freedom". Pure freedom is unattainable, because it occurs within a framework of rules. Rules exist to protect us, to make life safer, and to enhance our capacity – it sounds ironic, but t’strew – to live our lives to the full.

Food for thought

To reject rules is the way to anarchy. A collection of houses and lots of people with no rules is a mob with no personal security and only the very strongest have the opportunity to be “free”.

A bit heavy here, but there is a point.

After the death of Saxon Bird at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships in 2010, the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia (SLSA) introduced rules that were designed to improve safety in the water and to make a recurrence of the Saxon tragedy less likely. Those rules aimed to make ocean events run by the SLSA and by individual surf clubs safer, by making it easier to track competitors in the water. In our context, making swimmers easier to track in the water makes it easier to manage them in emergencies, and helps to ensure that emergencies may not arise because swimmers will be more visible and threats identified and dealt with more quickly.

The SLSA’s new rules (Circular 56/2012-13, December 14, 2012) prescribed that, from the following October 1 – the start of the next surf life saving season – “all aquatic activity participants in SLS surf sport competitions and SLS sanctioned/special events must be clearly identified with a standardised high visibility vest or swimming cap (for ocean swims only) as a means (of) easy identification”.

The circular went on to say, “… ALL participants in an SLS sanctioned/special open water based event must wear a high visibility fluorescent coloured Lycra vest.

“For open water ocean swims, a high visibility fluorescent coloured swimming cap may be used in lieu of a Lycra vest.”

The SLSA specified five fluoro colours from which an events caps or vests should be drawn: fluoro pink, red, green (lime), yellow, and orange.

The distinction between “SLS surf sport competitions” and “SLS sanctioned/special events” is that the former involves qualified and trained surf lifesavers -- surf carnivals, etc -- whilst the latter involves members of the public. They are our ocean swims.

The bottom line for ocean swims run by surf clubs, then, is that swimmers must wear fluoro vests, or they must wear fluoro caps. One or the other.

(The Queensland branch of the SLSA went further by mandating pink vests, which we think is way over the top and, to our mind, superfluous. Belt and braces. But more on that later.)

We have a surf lifesaving background, ourselves, having grown up in and around surf clubs and surf lifesaving competition. We know that one of the great traditions of surf lifesaving is resentment as the higher tiers of the movement tell the lower tiers what to do, or otherwise encroach upon their territory.

On this occasion, we agree with the SLSA wholeheartedly, especially on the options that this ruling offers: either a fluoro vest, or a fluoro cap. One or the other.

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Part of the debate on Fbook following the Freshwater swim. Barney Mullins, as a competitor, would have swum with a Freshwater swim cap, as all lifesavers do in competition in respect of their own club's caps, and in rescues.

Bayonets fixed

We think the vest is way over the top. Compelling surf clubs to provide vests for each and every swimmer changes the economics of ocean swims by adding a further, inescapable cost to the organising clubs. In Queensland, one swim awgie tells us that vests for his swim cost around $14 each. Recouping the cost might raise the cost of swim entry on a $40 swim, say, to $54, or by around one-third. This is not to mention the administrative burden on the organising club to source the vests and to manage them in distributing them to swimmers. Caps are much easier to manage, and much cheaper to obtain. And swims are using caps, anyway, so it’s not adding to the administrative burden. Caps are simply a matter of choosing the right colours. Some suppliers have those colours available; others don't.

We think vests are over the top because we can’t see that a fluoro vest makes it all that much easier to spot a swimmer in the water. The vest is under water, so any brilliance is subdued and masked. The swim cap, on the other hand, is above the water or, at the very least, on the water’s surface, which means it can be spotted, if it’s of a spottable colour, say one of the five fluoro colours that the SLSA specified in its circular of December 14, 2012.  Hence the importance of fluoro.

Lost at sea

There is a complementary issue here. But first, a bit more history…

Many years ago, back in about 2003, we did our first swim at Manly in Sydney. It was a grey and stormy day. Heavy, blue grey clouds billowed across the sky, rain fell intermittently, obscuring visibility, and a thumping swell forced awgies to switch both the start and finish to Shelly Beach. The course took us across Cabbage Tree Bay, behind the break towards North Steyne, then out to sea, then back towards Shelly. The swell was so big that, as the waves rolled through, swimmers on the outward reach could look down on adjacent swimmers in the trough as if from a second storey window. The sea was big that day, my friends.

It was hard enough spotting swimmers between these swells. It was harder still with the cap colours used: charcoal, navy blue, white, purple, dark red, maroon, that kind of thing. Along with racing green, olive green, things like that, we call them the “lost-at-sea” range of colours.

They are “lost-at-sea” because swimmers wearing them could be lost at sea. You cannot spot swimmers wearing caps of these colours because the colours of the caps make them invisible against the background of the rolling sea and the turbulent sky. Even light-coloured caps are invisible. Try spotting light blue in a rolling, choppy sea against a background of grey, dark blue skies. Or on a clear, bright day against a deep blue sea and blue sky. Try picking out a swimmer in a white cap on a windy, choppy day when the sea is full of white caps. They are invisible, and invisible means that, if they get into trouble, they can’t be seen or tracked by the event water safety staff, who won’t know that there’s trooble ahead.

Awgies deploy water safety staff for the very good reason that they need to keep an eye on the peloton. They need to be able to watch the swimmers who’ve paid to take part in their swim to minimise the possibility that they might fall victim to misadventure. Swimmers all know that they’re out there for an adventure, but awgies also know that if something nasty happens to them, it’s their responsibility. So it’s their responsibility to manage the risk.

We don’t seek to single out Manly for criticism here. Since then, we’ve watched hundreds of swims, and the majority of them also use “lost-at-sea” colours, including, at times, some linked closely to senior office bearers of the SLSA. You could count on one hand – two at most – the swims run by surf clubs that observe this rule. When we mention it to them, they’ve never heard of it.

flowers wetlands walk 600
Flowers in scrub, randomly, alongside the wetlands walk. There's beauty everywhere, if you look.

Respect

Awgies give swimmers caps because they’re trying to create the safest conditions possible for their swim. To rip your cap off at any stage after you receive it is disrespectful to the awgies. It could lead to incidents that really do not need to happen, and should not happen, and which could put the organisers in very difficult, not to mention embarrassing, situations. It works against the efforts awgies put in to create an environment that’s as safe as they can make it.

The most obvious cases of this are in the initial waves of an event, which often means they are elite swimmers who are watched particularly closely by the rest of the mob still standing on the beach. As the initial waves depart, everyone watches them scooting into the surf for a guide on what track to take themselves in their own start. What are the currents doing? Where are the weak spots in the break? But there are swimmers in pretty well every wave of an event who do it. We know of coaches who do it, so perhaps it’s hardly surprising that their squad members also think it’s a fair enough thing to do.

When we highlighted this after Coogee, we copped lip on social meeja from the elite swimmer. After Freshwater on the most recent occasion, the swimmer involved fessed up on social meeja. We like to think that, at the very least, highlighting the issue might lead to greater respect from all swimmers inclined to ditch their caps.

Responsibility

Awgies’ responsibility is not just to distribute caps; it’s also to distribute appropriate caps, which means fluoro colours, not lost-at-sea. If they don't, then the SLSA might decide to compel those silly vests.

Awgies have another responsibility, too: they must police this rule. If they issue caps, they must ensure, on the start line, that starters are wearing them. Most awgies take a break on the start line. They’re concerned to get the swim under way. We can think of none – none – that actually checks that swimmers are wearing their caps.

They must also enforce a rule that says, No-cap, No-swim, and No-cap, No-result. If you’re not wearing your cap, you don’t start. And if you return to the beach without your cap, you are not recorded in official results with official times, and you cannot win a place. It’s not an argument that someone’s cap broke, or they “lost it in the swim”. The rule must be applied firmly to be effective. There are too many grey areas to make exceptions.

Do this a few times, and swimmers will start wearing them.

Controversy Corner

What do you think... Click here

wollongong 200308 warry 600 01
The Wollongong Splash is protected from much of the worst weather because the main swim runs from Wollongong's boat harbour across the gap to North Beach. Here they are, one swim just after its start, and the leaders in the main swim leaving the harbour. Pics by Darryl Warry.

wollongong 200308 warry 600 02
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New model Swipe available

More Swipes in stock now

V630ASA AMBK 300We have new stocks of the very popular View Swipes just arrived this morning. Even better, there's also a new model: the V630ASA (we call them Wide-Eyes) offer a wider field of vision, an adjustable nose piece, and both plain and fully sick mirrored versions. They will be more suitable, perhaps, for punters who need a longer or narrower nose-bridge. The Wide-Eyes also come with the latest Swipe technology.

We wore our original View Selene Swipes for 56 outings, until we lost them at Bondi last week. Left them in a change room, didn't we. We're now onto our 2nd pair, although now we're also looking forward to trying the new Wide-Eyes at our next swim.

We had been cautious about promoting the Swipes when we heard about them from the folk at View. We wore them 30 times before we were comfortable with flogging them to you. If they do fog at all, generally it's in one corner of a lens. Each time, we took them off, wiped the foggy bit gently with our forefinger, and no more fogging for the rest of the session. No goo, no spit, no nothing, except wetting them and wiping them carefully

We've sold 290 pairs of View Selene Swipes since we launched them just prior to Xmas; so many, in fact, that we'd sold out of four colours and we'd almost sold out of the fifth. New stocks arrived this morning, so get your orders in now.

The Selene has long been our most popular gog. A year or two back, View introduced a mirrored version of the Selene, and now they also offer the revolutionary Swipe, offering anti-fog capacity that lasts 10 times as long as existing goggles, the makers say.

According to the makers, the "10 times as long" refers to distance they say you can swim before you start to see some fogging with new goggles. They say the standard is 4km, but the Swipes will go 40kms. Whatever, all gogs will fog if you don't respect them and look after them. The issue also is how to deal with the fogging if and when it does occur.

For advice on looking after your gogs... Click here

Find out more and order Swipes... Click here

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Mana Fiji SwimFest, Oct 20-25, 2020

Win back your accommodation!

mana fiji 19 can too finish 600 

A remarkable opportunity for swimmers who book their Mana Fiji SwimFest travel package through oceanswimsafaris.com/oceanswims.com: We will draw at random a name from all the fully-paid bookings we receive by September 15, and that swimmer (or swimmers, if there are multiples in their bure) will receive back the value of their accommodation. See our Mana Fiji event page for more info... Click here

We have our packages available now for the original South Pacific SwimFest on Mana Island in Fiji, and swim organisers, Mana Island Resort, are offering 35% discount on accommodation rates to those who book through oceanswimsafaris.com by the end of March.

The five-day base package -- Tuesday-Sunday -- includes two swim days -- a 10km swim (solo or 3 x relay) on the Thursday, and 5km, 2.5km, and 1km on the Saturday. On Wednesday and Friday, we'll have morning swims led by the most famous names in ocean swimming in Australia -- even the world -- the Grimsey brothers.

Our exclusive packages include 5-nights accommodation, including all meals, whilst on Mana Island, transfers between the airport and Mana Island, swim entries, functions, and goodies for both swim days, and a 60-minute experience at the Mana Spa.

More info, enquire and to book... Click here

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More pool etiquette

Flat arms, no paddles

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A wide-armed paddles swimmer is a menace to society, like a scud missile.

Another point of etiquette, from John Pratt in Albury...

Can I add to the pool lane etiquette section my concern at boofy blokes with flat wide freestyle arms using blades/paddles on their hands in crowded lanes. These implements become offensive weapons able to slice the hands of swimmers heading in the opposite direction.

It frigging hurts!!!

We empathise with John, having been the victims on several occasions of just such an attack. But it ain't just boofheads who are the guilty parties. At one pool where we swim, there is a laydee who swims her entire session with paddles, and her arms skate wide across the surface like scud missiles. Mid-recovery, she reaches almost all the way to the opposite lane rope.

The dangerous bit is the wide arms. It's perfectly possible for a swimmer to use paddles and not assault other swimmers in the same lane or in adjacent lanes. If you must use paddles, you need to ensure that your recovery is close to your body, not spread wide like a scud. It's the width of the recovery that causes the danger.

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This is how paddles should be used: close recovery, minding their own business.

Sceptical

We're always sceptical about swimmers who swim their entire session with paddles. It suggests that they don't really know what they are doing. Paddles are useful for sets within a session of, say, a couple of hundred metres at a time. They increase the resistance on the pull through, in theory strengthening your shoulders, and they instantly find out if your pull through is dodgy by slicing through the water at weird angles if your hands are not at the optimum attitude. But with the increased resistance, when used over longer distances, they can strain the shoulders and contribute to about the only unforced injury that swimmers can suffer, which is shoulder strain, rotator cuff or otherwise.

This is a particular danger if the swimmer -- usually inexperienced -- uses wide paddles that spread well-beyond the width of their hand. The resistance, and the danger to themselves and to comrade swimmers, is the greater as the sharp edge of the paddle extends beyond the palm.

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Online entries this weekend - Stanwell Park

Return of the Big Swim of the South

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I'm sorry, I'll try that again...

This will be the third attempt to resurrect The Big Swim of the South, from Coalcliff to Stanwell Park, one of the most spectacular swims you will ever do (providing you breathe left). Awgies tried to get it going last season, but weather and seas got in the way. They postponed to December last year, with this weekend's date also booked to make two iterations of this swim in the one season. But again, weather and seas got in the way. This Sunday, then, is their third attempt to get this swim going, after it lay in abeyance for three years in search of someone to run it.

It is a spectacular swim, following the Illawarra Escarpment from Coalcliff to Stanwell Park, finishing beneath the hill from where mad people hurl themselves into updrafts with hangliders.

Most of the way, the escarpment towers above the peloton, offering spectacular views to left breathers (since the swim runs sarth-north). If you can breathe only to the right, you're welcome anyway, although you'll probably have to stop swimming at some point to take in the vista.

Online entries to the Stanwell Park Ocean Challenge close on oceanswims.com at 3pm on Saturday, March 14.

More info and to enter online... Click here

PS: Always watch the weather and surf forecasts leading into a swim. It's your responsibility to judge whether you're up to it. Awgies are always watching, and they will make their own call at an appropriate time.

Caves next weekend

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Late announcement is that the Caves Beach swim is on next Saturday, March 21. This is one of our faves, because it's the beach where we grew up (or older). More info and to enter... Click here

Caveat entror

Be careful of official websites for ocean swims, ie those mounted by event organisers. You cannot rely solely on them because they gloss over their events, talking them up but strangely oblivious to much of the practical detail that you need to know. Some "official" event websites direct entrants directly to our entry portal, by-passing the event page on oceanswims.com. Just be aware that, by doing this, they are denying you exposure to important information not just about their event, but also about the online entry process itself which you need to know if you run into trouble, such as if you fall ill after entering and cannot then take part in the event.

This is all detail stuff, boring really -- "fine print", if you like -- but critical. Information such as the rules, the beach and break descriptions and other warnings, advice on what to do if you have problems whilst entering, usw, are important for entrants to know. Further, "official" event websites often are not updated once they're posted, or if they are, not often enough. Awgies might post their "official" site, but anything breaking following that might be posted on a Facebook page, not on the official site, so information might be in conflict, or denied to those who don't have full access to Facebook. And, let's face it, most amongst us wish they could leave Facebook out of their lives completely. What can also happen is that there is a disconnect between the event awgie and the organising club's website manager, so what the awgie might want might never appear either on the official website or on a sibling Facebook page.

The warning we give is: Don't rely on "official" event websites. Check them out, by all means. But oceanswims.com is the only place where the fine print detail is offered routinely, and which is updated daily as new information or awareness of issues comes to hand. We are also, generally, the only resource available to you that is experienced in dealing with event and entry queries. Even if we don't know a particular answer, we can find it out for you. We can check your online entries, resolve issues, fix errors, and so on.

This is not an invitation to entrants to expect us to do their thinking for them. There is plenty of information and many links on oceanswims.com that you can use to deal with most issues yourself, before you need to come to us. If you enter directly from an "official" event website, then you're on your own. Good luck.

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caps lycra lindfield hatch 250Swim school offers surplus gear

Sydney coach Michele Hatch has a bunch of swim school gear that she's offering to a good home: 4 used swim instructor rash shirts and 150-odd lycra caps. They're branded with Michele's former swim school at Lindfield, and have been in storage for 10 years, but Michele says they're still in "perfect condition". Caps are chlorine resist. Contact Michele... Click here

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Bushfire relief - Country swims

Your chance for a bit o'craic

Listen. Cup your hand around your ear… What do you hear?

It’s a crispness starting to creep into the early morning air. You can hear it approaching, subtly, deftly, insinuating itself into the atmosphere. On tip-toes. In woolly socks. Already, early morning swimmers are reporting that they’re “entering the water before sunrise”. Soon, they will commence to whinge that the air is chilly. Ironically, that makes the water seem warmer.

All things are relative.

Autumn is coming. Calendrically, we have just a few days to go, although one more this year than most, since it’s a leap year. Technically, we have less than a month to the autumn equinox, when the sun escapes into the northern hemisphere for the southern winter.

It is the best time of year to swim. It’s the time of year when there are many country swims, on stunning beaches, in beautiful, coastal, hamletish towns, with clear, warm water, gentle offshore breezes, smooth seas, and visibility under the waves for ages. We should all get away for the odd weekend to a country swim.

This year, we do it not just for our own benefit, but for the benefit of many areas affected badly by the bushfires of high summer. The fires robbed many country areas of their key income-earning season of the year, leaving them doing it very, very tough. One thing we can do is visit them, bringing our money with us, as Joe the Gadget Man would say, and putting our contribution into faltering local economies.

Here is a list of country swims coming up, with a list of nearby bushfire areas so you can attach a significant to how tough they’ve had it over recent months.

NSW South Coast

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March 22 – Gerringong

One of our faves, it’s an exciting journey along the rockshelf from Gerringong’s Boat Harbour around the Werri Beach. Unlike many country swims, Gerringong is a short drive from the big city, so it’s an easy day trip. Don’t be late for registration: they close when they say they do, because the peloton must schlepp over the headland to Boat Harbour to the start. We know too many punters who’ve arrived a few minutes late and missed out completely. This swim was postponed from its regular date at the beginning of January because of the fires and the smoke drifting over the town.

Bushfire damage nearby – Nowra and south.

April 5 – Shellharbour

Another beautiful swim which shows how a bit of reef here and there can make a short swim special. Reef means sea life, and this course is littered with little outcrops. You jump from one little reef to another. Main swim runs from Shellharbour Boat Harbour, around the rock shelf into main beach.

Bushfire damage nearby – Shellharbour is a little north of the worst affected bushfire areas, but the entire coastal economy has suffered.

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April 11, Easter Saturday – Nowra Culburra

We run out of superlatives in describing the beauty of this swim, which runs around Tilbury Headland, either north-south or south-north. The water off the headland is a constant swirl of swell around submerged reef. It’s such an exciting swim. First time we did this event, as awgies were briefing us in the surf clubhouse, they pointed out over the break, describing the course, and as we all turned, as one, to watch, a pair of dolphins leapt out of a breaking wave. That’s organisation that no other swim, of which we’re aware, has been able to match.

Be aware, we haven’t heard from the awgies this season. Their website lists the event on their calendar, so we assume it will run, but keep your eye on the event page on oceanswims.com

Bushfire damage nearby – Nowra down to Batemans Bay

May 3 - Mollymook

These swims are a seemingly endless list of our faves. Mollymook was one of the first country swims to stake a place in the autumn calendar, forced there by the glut of swims in the city. This year, it moves back a month to the first Sunday in May. This means that it’s running on the same day as Byron Bay, but Byron is a world away and, really, compared with the size of the peloton at large, there aren’t that many who head north. We’re looking forward to a weekend in Mollymook. It’s a very communal joint.

Bushfire damage nearby – Nowra down to Batemans Bay

NSW North Coast

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April 5 – Forster

Forster is one of those North Coast specialties: a north-facing beach. A southerly is offshore here. Autumn means we are coming into the season of the clearest, warmest water, with plenty of sea life to watch on the way along. Main swim runs from One Mile Beach (Cape Hawke surf club), around the headland and in on a long, long straight leg into Forster Main Beach. Awgies say it’s “3.8km”, but it’s really about 4.2km. It’s a nice opportunity to get some extra distance. If you like oysters, buy your Wallis Lake Sydney rocks direct from the grower. You can’t get any fresher than that. On her Forster key ring, Mrs Sparkle has written just this, “Paradise”. Yep.

Bushfire damage nearby – Lower-Mid North Coast and hinterland from Forster itself up towards Port Macquarie, including Failford, Black Head, Diamond Beach, Old Bar, Taree and surrounds.

April 5 – Coffs Harbour

Three distances offered in the relative shelter of Coffs Harbour er,… harbour. It’s a major event locally and has been running longer than many city swims. Coffs draws punters from Queensland as well as along the NSW North Coast. This even is under new management this year: it’s been taken on by Sawtell Surf Life Saving Club.

Bushfire damage nearby – North Coast hinterland behind Coffs

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April 12, Easter Sunday - Pacific Palms

Some will see it as unfair that this part of the coast – the Great Lakes region from Seal Rocks to Old Bar – should have so many beautiful beaches, and more than its share of north-facing beaches. Pacific Palms is Elizabeth Beach and, while not quite north-facing, it is nor’-east-facing, so it receives the benefits of all the other like beaches along the coast.

There is a belt of little beachside communities from Seal Rocks to Elizabeth Beach, then up to Forster and beyond, along the lower-mid North Coast. They’re off the highway, so many would just keep driving past them. But they have their adherents for the very good reason that they’re very beautiful places.

Bushfire damage nearby – Lower-Mid North Coast hinterland from Forster itself up towards Port Macquarie, including Failford, Black Head, Diamond Beach, Old Bar, Taree and surrounds.

South West Rocks – date TBA

We’re not sure whether this swim is happening this year, for we haven’t heard from the awgies and there’s nothing on their website. South West Rocks, yet another north-facing beach, also offers the oddity that you can watch the sun go down over the water from Trial Bay Gaol. Such a beautiful place, and such clear water.

We’ll update the calendar as information comes to hand about this swim, but for the moment we have it on a date that corresponds roughly with when it ran last season. Don’t take it as gospel yet.

South Australia

March 14 - Port Elliott

Late afternoon ocean swim on the south coast. Also getting down towards bushfire areas.

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Tonga - We don't take you just anywhere

Swim with the whales

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We don't take you just anywhere. Tonga is "not just anywhere". And swimming with humpback whales is something that you can in very few other places around the world. Others now offer tours to Tonga, but be careful: Ours is the only oceanswimsafari that takes groups of ocean swimmers to Tonga in humpback whale season, so offering you the chance both to pursue your passion, and to swim with the gentlest of giants, the humpback whales. In the ocean alongside them, not watching from a boat at a distance. Our week-long oceanswimsafaris include three days out swimming with whales, and two days ocean swimming in some of the most beautiful swim courses you will ever do. 

We have been running our oceanswimsafaris to Tonga since 2015. That means we have built up experience with the location -- Vava'U, Tonga's northern island group --  and its operators that no other ocean swimming tour company can match. 

We can take only eight swimmers/towel carriers at a time with us to Tonga. This makes this oceanswimsafari especially suitable for small groups, as well as singles and couples. If you'd like to share in this extraordinary experience, contact us quick and smart. Quick and smart is right: for the best way into our venue in Tonga, there are limited seats available. Last time we checked, there weren't many left. It's still possible to take a more convoluted route, but you really don't want to do that... Click here


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2020 oceanswimsafaris

tonga jump into the water
Can't wait to get in with those whales in Tonga... Click here

June 12-20 – The Philippines – Swim with whale sharks in another paradise of some of the clearest water of the greatest marine biodiversity in the Indo-Pacific region… Click here

June 23-July 1 – Sulawesi, Indonesia – More of the clear water and great marine biodiversity at the other end of the Celebes Sea from our Philippines location. This is a place that hardly any Strá’an visits. It’s pretty well just us... Click here

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The Blue Lagoon, Yasawas, Fiji... Click here

July 20-28 – Tonga - Swim with the Whales – Only four places left in our oceanswimsafari to swim with Humpback whales (above) – One of the most unusual, special experiences you can ever have swimming in the ocean. The humpbacks migrate over winter from Antarctica to Tonga to give birth and generally frolic around. Tonga is one of the few places in the world where we’re allowed to get in the water with the whales… Click here

August 25-31 – San Sebastián, Spain – Swim the Basque country, with its rich mix of culture, food, and history. And the swimming’s terrific, too. That's San Sebastián, above -- A romantic evening on the bay of la Concha... A must-stop during anyone’s trip to Europe… Click here

September 12-20 – Costa Brava, Spain – Swim Catalonia, and France to Spain around the end of the Pyrenees. Another journey through history, art, culture and food, and some of the clearest water you’ll ever swim in… Click here

October 20-25 - Mana Fiji SwimFest - Packages available now… Click here

October 26-Nov 2 - Yasawas Fiji -  Packages are online now… Click here

Controversy Corner...

What do you reckon about any of this stuff? We received a lot of feedback after last week's newsletter. Check it out... Click here

Let us know and we'll facilitate the debate... Click here

(Also see posts at the end of this newsletter.)

Swims open to online entry...

Coming soon - South Curl Curl (May 3)

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Advertise...

We email this newsletter to over 40,000 swimmers weekly in season, and less frequently out of season. If you'd like to advertise with us, please give us a yell.. Click here

If you're not receiving our emails...

... even if you believe you're on our list, chances are they're going into your Spam or Trash/Bin folders. Some email providers do that to us; gmail and Hotmail, for example. So check your Spam, your Trash and/or your Bin, and you might find us trapped in their, lonely, with no-one to talk to.

You might also add oceanswims.com to your email whitelist. This should help them to come through.

Results...

For swim results... Click here

If you have a link to results that we have not listed, please send it to us... Click here

Emergency!

Don't be an emergency eejit. It's 'strordnry how many punters enter swims online and list themselves as their own emergency contact. Just say something happens to you out in the sea, who are awgies going to contact? You? Get real. Think about it, and enter someone else as your emergency contact, event if it's your boss at work.

List your swim group...

List your informal morning swim group on our directory, so that travelling swimmers will always have a place and a peloton to swim with... Click here

Check our swim maps...

For a quick idea of what's going on around your area -- formal events, informal swim groups -- check our swim maps. You'll find them for each area under Swims/Calendar on oceanswims.com.

Buy gogs...

You can buy your fave View gogs and other swim needs from the oceanswims.com boutique... Click here

Check our back issues...

For all our back issues of the weekly oceanswims.com newsletter... Click here

Subscribe

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This newsletter...

We send this newsletter to a mailing list of over 39,000 swimmers, mainly in Australia and New Zealand, around the south-west Pacific, and even around the world. If ou'd like to advertise with us, give us a yell... Click here

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February 26, 2020

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Emailed to more than 40,000 ocean swimmers
weekly in season.

 

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This is why you do an early morning swim. Image by David Helsham @glistenrr

Look below...

Swims this weekend...

Sharks

When is the best time to swim?

And the least best

Our memories of Xmas and New Year on the NSW North Coast are becoming clouded by strong nor’-easterlies and murky water. Each of the last two seasons, the holiday period has suffered day after day of onshore winds: incessant, relentless, howling. They turbidise the coastal water, intensifying the murk already being spewed by the lake’s entrance, itself bushfire-hued and a little smelly. Doesn’t sound nice, eh!

One day, a bale of Forster Turtles on their early morning swim were bobbing around in the dark chocolate sea behind the break. “We’re breaking every rule in the book just to be out here,” one of us said.

One of the beauties of ocean swimming is, of course, that there are no rules. The “rule book” is mythical. But those rules are of commonsense. The beauty of commonsense rules is that they are “written” to be interpreted, not understood. Like the rules of the ALP. Thus, they can mean different things to different people. They become matters of judgment. You dont have to front a court if you break them, other than the court of public opinion.

In last week’s newsletter, we talked about the gummint’s shark safety efforts, and we urged you all to complete a state government survey that follows a four-year research program into “the shark problem”. The survey was to close last Sunday night, but now it has been extended till midnight next Sunday, March 1. It takes about 15 minutes to complete. Each question includes a short video to background the area being dealt with. If you haven’t completed the survey, you should. The process can only benefit from the more voices that have their say… Click here

Part of the survey, and part of what the gummint has dubbed its “Shark Smart” strategy, deals with advice on the dos and don’ts of swimming in the ocean, ie when is a good time and place to swim, and when is not. One of the survey questions deals with this, and the video supporting that particular question goes through the points as the Shark Smart strategy people see them.

As it happens, several punters asked us, following last week’s newsletter, Ok, when is the best time to swim? And the worst time? How do you make that judgment?

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The Bongin Bongin Dawnbusters hit the ocean... "Into the sea before sunroise," said staff snapper, Glistening Dave. It's the time of year. Image by David Helsham @glistenrr

Dotpoints, and responses

These are the points that the gummint makes in its “Shark Smart” exercise (with our comments tacked on) –

Tell an on-duty lifesaver or lifeguard if you spot a shark near swimmers or surfers – Well, yes. But be aware that there are many more incidents of sharks swimming near surfers and swimmers than you hear about, and the vast majority of these incidents are not dangerous. Some years ago, we ran a swim from Shelly Beach to Manly to raise funds for the people of Gizo, in the Solomon Islands, following a tsunami there. One swimmer rushed out of the water at the finish, and told an event volunteer, "There are sharks out there! You have to tell everyone!" We thought, lucky them. Cabbage Tree Bay is jam-packed with sharks, but they're not generally a threat. They're usually juvenile dusky whalers, wobbies and Port Jacksons. Cute little critters keeping to themselves. Most sharks are not a threat. Even "predator" sharks are not always a threat. Let's keep this in perspective, whilst, by all means, remaining aware and vigilant.

Don't swim too far from shore – What is “too far from shore”? A matter of personal judgement. You won't swim very far if you don't go "too far from shore". But best to swim with a few, like-minded comrades.

Don’t swim with bleeding cuts or wounds – If you have bleeding cuts and wounds, one would think you’d be home taking it easy or in hospital anyway. If you would like to know more... Click here

Always swim, dive or surf with other people – Fair enough, and see above. But, again, it’s a matter of judgment. You might prefer to swim alone, well aware of the risks. We know a bloke in Forster, "Dave", who swims every morning -- Every morning! -- from one end of the beach t'other and back, by himself. He gives us a friendly, How do! as he breaststrokes past, and we watch out to make sure we don't run head-on into him as we plunge haphazardly the other way. But he is always alone. Been doing it for years. Because he can.

Avoid swimming and surfing when it's dark or during twilight hours – Shark feeding time. We often wonder why there aren’t more “interactions” between sharks and surfers, with so many of them surfing through dawn and dusk. We wouldn't do it.

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One of the wonderful things about ocean swimming, and ocean swimmers, is that no-one judges you on your swimwear and gear. Whatever floats your floatie. Image by David Helsham @glistenrr. 

Avoid murky water, waters with known effluents or sewage – Murk means sharks have cover to hunt. Bull sharks are thought to prefer this type of water. It seems that bulls can sense the presence of something that they cannot see, and will bite first, to work out whether they want to eat them up. With humans, it seems they don't (want to eat us), but by that stage, it might be a bit late for us. Effluent means there’s food around for other fish, which gather for their feed, and other fish are what sharks are really hunting. The murk issue was especially the reason why we commented, behind the break at Forster, on having "broken every rule in the book to be out here".

Avoid areas used by recreational or commercial fishers – One day, we’ll tell again the story of the South Head Roughwater in 2003… Suffice for now to say that fisherfolk throw burley into the water to attract fish, and this attracts sharks. So if you see this kind of thing going on, chances are there will be more and larger sea life around. We learnt this a kilometre or two off Diamond Bay in 2003. Perhaps this was an issue with the tragedy in Tathra a few years ago.

Avoid areas with signs of bait fish or fish feeding activity; diving seabirds are a good indicator of fish activity – Ditto the above. Schooling fish are good feed for larger fish. They attract sharks. They attract sea birds, too, so whilst the sharks and dolphins round up the schooling fish, the birds dive on them from above. So if you see birds diving into disturbed water, chances are you’ve discovered a feeding frenzy. Best to steer clear.

Do not rely on sightings of dolphins to indicate the absence of sharks; both often feed together on the same food – See above.

Be aware that sharks may be present between sandbars or near steep drop offs – This is where smaller fish like to school. Smaller means anything smaller than a shark.

Avoid swimming in canals and swimming or surfing in river/harbour mouths – Same as for murky water: it provides cover for sharks to hunt. You can’t see them, and they can’t see you. But they might lash out at you with their mouths, regarding you as a possibility.

Avoid having pets in the water with you – Sharks are said to be attracted by the smell of animals. Never ceases to amaze us, living by the river, as we do, to see so many dog owners throwing sticks into the murky river for the dogs to fetch.

Do not swim/surf near or interfere with shark nets – Tell that to swim awgies. It’s difficult to avoid them if you’re an ocean swimmer. At the Bilgola swim some years back, awgies delayed the start because there was a shark caught in the shark net near the last turning booee, and another shark was hanging around. The IRBs tried to drive the waiting shark out to sea, but it wouldn't go. The swim finally started after they moved the booee 30 metres.

Consider using a personal deterrent – Yes, but difficult in practice at our level. There is nothing available of which we are aware that is both effective and practical for your average mug out for an early morning swim. There are several devices which we regard as most inadvisable. The most effective appears to be the Shark Shield from Ocean Guardian, but it comes with aerials, batteries, magnetic fields, ranges, and a whole lot of mucking abart. Not really the go for your average early morning swim.

Swim between the flags – Wrack off. That’s good advice for tea-baggers, but not for ocean swimmers. Not realistic. But if you’re swimming in an unfamiliar location, by yourself, it’s not a bad idea to let a lifeguard know your intentions, such as where you expect to swim to, and when you expect to be back.

Yes, yes, we're fully aware that these points are more a guide to when not to swim than when to swim. But with these points in mind, best decide for yourself. Take ownership.

To complete the survey… Click here

Controversy Corner

What do you think... Click here
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Mana Fiji SwimFest, Oct 20-25, 2020

35% discount till end March

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We have our packages available now for the original South Pacific SwimFest on Mana Island in Fiji, and swim organisers, Mana Island Resort, are offering 35% discount on accommodation rates to those who book through oceanswimsafaris.com by the end of March.

The five-day base package -- Tuesday-Sunday -- includes two swim days -- a 10km swim (solo or 3 x relay) on the Thursday, and 5km, 2.5km, and 1km on the Saturday. On Wednesday and Friday, we'll have morning swims led by the most famous names in ocean swimming in Australia -- even the world -- the Grimsey brothers.

Our exclusive packages include 5-nights accommodation, including all meals, whilst on Mana Island, transfers between the airport and Mana Island, swim entries, functions, and goodies for both swim days, and a 60-minute experience at the Mana Spa.

More info, enquire and to book... Click here

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Cuddling up to mum... Swim with whales in Tonga... Click here

More pool etiquette

Respect the lane ropes

Pool etiquette is an endless discussion. Every time we swim, something else occurs to us. Two things this week –

Lane rope disrespect -- Do not put your weight on the lane ropes: it will stretch them and break them, and before you know it, you’ll be swimming in a lane with a bow in the middle so vast that both directions will be crammed into one side.

At Vic Park last week, we witnessed a bloke preparing to enter the water. He sat on the edge, at the end of the lane, and rested his foot on the lane rope whilst he fiddled with his gogs. He didn’t bring all his weight to bear on the rope, but it showed a general disregard for the effect that this behaviour can have over time.

Over time, the rope will stretch. Poolies can tighten ropes to a degree, but after a point, no amount of tightening will have any effect.

Kids are the worst offenders at lane rope disrespect. How many times have you seen kids – young adults included – sitting on the lane ropes. Even grown-ups, Elite swimmers, slide over the ropes when exiting the pool rather than ducking beneath them.

Lane ropes are expensive. They are part of a pool’s infrastructure, and they cost money to maintain. Lane ropes can't speak up for themselves. Pools won't let them. So often, we whinge about pool management not replacing lane ropes that have deteriorated. Just bear in mind, those ropes have deteriorated partly because swimmers disrespect them. The problem is, of course that swimmers don’t pay for the lane ropes directly, so they don’t care. Think about this next time the entry fee to your pool goes up.

Short laps -- It's the ultimate statement of undisciplined insouciance towards your swimming. It shrieks, "I'm all over this". This is not so much etiquette as poor pool practice. How often do you see swimmers cutting short a lap: stopping a metre or so before the wall, turning and taking off again from a standing start? This doesn’t necessarily inconvenience other swimmers, but it displays a feckless, undisciplined attitude to lap swimming. It’s a showing-off thing. But over the course of a session, cutting a metre or so every hundred, they might miss out on maybe a lap. That’s a lap of work of which they’re cheating themselves. They should have more respect for their swimming. And how many races have you seen that finish shy of the wall?
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Online entries this weekend - Freshwater

Homage to Barney

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Back to Sydney's Northern Beaches this Sundee for the Barney Mullins Classic, 1.5km around yet another stunning beach. We just have so many of these places! One of the great beauties of ocean swimming is that the circuit takes us around all these places as the season progresses. You might never visit them otherwise. That's Freshwater, above. 

The late Barney Mullins was the legendary coach of Freshwater SLSC's R&R (rescue and resucitation) teams for many years; he mentored generations of outstanding surf swimmers, many of whom are going around still today. Mullins taught them about the surf, and about their beach. A couple of years back, baby-faced city brief John de Mestre credited Mullins's tutelage with his win at Freshwater: it was all about the flow of the surf and currents; knowing when to follow the back of the break; knowing when to head in. Every beach is different; it's all about knowing your beach.

Online entries to the Barney Mullins Classic close on oceanswims.com at 3pm on Saturday, February 29.

More info and to enter online... Click here

Caveat entror

The warning we offer above about the risk in relying on "official" event websites is true of all "official" event websites, in our experience. You cannot rely solely on them because they gloss over their events, talking them up but strangely oblivious to much of the practical detail that you need to know. Some "official" event websites direct entrants directly to our entry portal, by-passing the event page on oceanswims.com. Just be aware that, by doing this, they are denying you exposure to important information not just about their event, but also about the online entry process itself which you need to know if you run into trouble, such as if you fall ill after entering and cannot then take part in the event.

This is all detail stuff, boring really -- "fine print", if you like -- but critical. Information such as the rules, the beach and break descriptions and other warnings, advice on what to do if you have problems whilst entering, usw. Further, "official" event websites often are not updated once they're posted, or if they are, not often enough.

The warning we give is: Don't rely on "official" event websites. Check them out, by all means. But oceanswims.com is the only place where the fine print detail is offered habitually, and which is updated daily as new information or awareness of issues comes to hand. We are also, generally, the only resource available to you that is experienced in dealing with event and entry queries. Even if we don't know a particular answer, we can find it out for you. We can check your entries, resolve issues, fix errors, and so on. This is not an invitation to entrants to expect us to do their thinking for them. There is plenty of information and many links on oceanswims.com that you can use to deal with most issues yourself, before you need to come to us. If you enter directly from an "official" event website, then you're on your own. Good luck.

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Bushfire relief - Country swims

Your chance for a bit o'craic

Listen. Cup your hand around your ear… What do you hear?

It’s a crispness starting to creep into the early morning air. You can hear it approaching, subtly, deftly, insinuating itself into the atmosphere. On tip-toes. In woolly socks. Already, early morning swimmers are reporting that they’re “entering the water before sunrise”. Soon, they will commence to whinge that the air is chilly. Ironically, that makes the water seem warmer.

All things are relative.

Autumn is coming. Calendrically, we have just a few days to go, although one more this year than most, since it’s a leap year. Technically, we have less than a month to the autumn equinox, when the sun escapes into the northern hemisphere for the southern winter.

It is the best time of year to swim. It’s the time of year when there are many country swims, on stunning beaches, in beautiful, coastal, hamletish towns, with clear, warm water, gentle offshore breezes, smooth seas, and visibility under the waves for ages. We should all get away for the odd weekend to a country swim.

This year, we do it not just for our own benefit, but for the benefit of many areas affected badly by the bushfires of high summer. The fires robbed many country areas of their key income-earning season of the year, leaving them doing it very, very tough. One thing we can do is visit them, bringing our money with us, as Joe the Gadget Man would say, and putting our contribution into faltering local economies.

Here is a list of country swims coming up, with a list of nearby bushfire areas so you can attach a significant to how tough they’ve had it over recent months.

NSW South Coast

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March 8 – Broulee

Pretty journey swim around a little headland. We say “pretty” even though we’ve not done this swim, but we have been to this part of the coast on many occasions over the years, and we know how bushy and beautiful it is.

Bushfire damage nearby – Broulee, Batemans Bay, Mogo, Moruya, Guerilla Bay, Rosedale, Batehaven

March 22 – Gerringong

One of our faves, it’s an exciting journey along the rockshelf from Gerringong’s Boat Harbour around the Werri Beach. Unlike many country swims, Gerringong is a short drive from the big city, so it’s an easy day trip. Don’t be late for registration: they close when they say they do, because the peloton must schlepp over the headland to Boat Harbour to the start. We know too many punters who’ve arrived a few minutes late and missed out completely. This swim was postponed from its regular date at the beginning of January because of the fires and the smoke drifting over the town.

Bushfire damage nearby – Nowra and south.

April 5 – Shellharbour

Another beautiful swim which shows how a bit of reef here and there can make a short swim special. Reef means sea life, and this course is littered with little outcrops. You jump from one little reef to another. Main swim runs from Shellharbour Boat Harbour, around the rock shelf into main beach.

Bushfire damage nearby – Shellharbour is a little north of the worst affected bushfire areas, but the entire coastal economy has suffered.

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April 11, Easter Saturday – Nowra Culburra

We run out of superlatives in describing the beauty of this swim, which runs around Tilbury Headland, either north-south or south-north. The water off the headland is a constant swirl of swell around submerged reef. It’s such an exciting swim. First time we did this event, as awgies were briefing us in the surf clubhouse, they pointed out over the break, describing the course, and as we all turned, as one, to watch, a pair of dolphins leapt out of a breaking wave. That’s organisation that no other swim, of which we’re aware, has been able to match.

Be aware, we haven’t heard from the awgies this season. Their website lists the event on their calendar, so we assume it will run, but keep your eye on the event page on oceanswims.com

Bushfire damage nearby – Nowra down to Batemans Bay

May 3 - Mollymook

These swims are a seemingly endless list of our faves. Mollymook was one of the first country swims to stake a place in the autumn calendar, forced there by the glut of swims in the city. This year, it moves back a month to the first Sunday in May. This means that it’s running on the same day as Byron Bay, but Byron is a world away and, really, compared with the size of the peloton at large, there aren’t that many who head north. We’re looking forward to a weekend in Mollymook. It’s a very communal joint.

Bushfire damage nearby – Nowra down to Batemans Bay

NSW North Coast

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April 5 – Forster

Forster is one of those North Coast specialties: a north-facing beach. A southerly is offshore here. Autumn means we are coming into the season of the clearest, warmest water, with plenty of sea life to watch on the way along. Main swim runs from One Mile Beach (Cape Hawke surf club), around the headland and in on a long, long straight leg into Forster Main Beach. Awgies say it’s “3.8km”, but it’s really about 4.2km. It’s a nice opportunity to get some extra distance. If you like oysters, buy your Wallis Lake Sydney rocks direct from the grower. You can’t get any fresher than that. On her Forster key ring, Mrs Sparkle has written just this, “Paradise”. Yep.

Bushfire damage nearby – Lower-Mid North Coast and hinterland from Forster itself up towards Port Macquarie, including Failford, Black Head, Diamond Beach, Old Bar, Taree and surrounds.

April 5 – Coffs Harbour

Three distances offered in the relative shelter of Coffs Harbour er,… harbour. It’s a major event locally and has been running longer than many city swims. Coffs draws punters from Queensland as well as along the NSW North Coast. This even is under new management this year: it’s been taken on by Sawtell Surf Life Saving Club.

Bushfire damage nearby – North Coast hinterland behind Coffs

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April 12, Easter Sunday - Pacific Palms

Some will see it as unfair that this part of the coast – the Great Lakes region from Seal Rocks to Old Bar – should have so many beautiful beaches, and more than its share of north-facing beaches. Pacific Palms is Elizabeth Beach and, while not quite north-facing, it is nor’-east-facing, so it receives the benefits of all the other like beaches along the coast.

There is a belt of little beachside communities from Seal Rocks to Elizabeth Beach, then up to Forster and beyond, along the lower-mid North Coast. They’re off the highway, so many would just keep driving past them. But they have their adherents for the very good reason that they’re very beautiful places.

Bushfire damage nearby – Lower-Mid North Coast hinterland from Forster itself up towards Port Macquarie, including Failford, Black Head, Diamond Beach, Old Bar, Taree and surrounds.

South West Rocks – date TBA

We’re not sure whether this swim is happening this year, for we haven’t heard from the awgies and there’s nothing on their website. South West Rocks, yet another north-facing beach, also offers the oddity that you can watch the sun go down over the water from Trial Bay Gaol. Such a beautiful place, and such clear water.

We’ll update the calendar as information comes to hand about this swim, but for the moment we have it on a date that corresponds roughly with when it ran last season. Don’t take it as gospel yet.

Victoria

March 7 - Lake Nagambie

Freshwater lake swim over 1.1km.

South Australia

March 1 - Whyalla

1.6km harbour swim.

March 9 - Port Noarlunga

Three distances inside the reef on the coast south of Adelaide. Getting down towards bushfire-affected areas.

March 14 - Port Elliott

Late afternoon ocean swim on the south coast. Also getting down towards bushfire areas.

March 15 - Port Pirie

Estuarine swim over two distances. Right out in the country.

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Avalon, March 29

Around the Bends

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A message from the organisers of the Avalon Beach Surf Swim, inclding Around the Bends - Newport-Avalon...

It is not often that you get to combine and enjoy two great passions: the beauty of the ocean and exercise. The Avalon Beach Surf Life Saving Club would like to share these combined passions in a magical swimming experience with as many people as possible.

On Sunday 29th March 2020 the Avalon Beach SLSC will coordinate one of Sydney’s most beautiful ocean swims for the 4th time. Starting from the northern end of Newport Beach, the current will take you around the headland. Surrounded by your fellow swimmers and plenty of water safety you will continue across the sandy bottom of Bilgola Beach until you reach Bilgola Headland. Usually a great vantage point for whale watching, you will see these amazing headlands from a unique perspective. Above the water the views are great but below you the rock shelves extend to large boulders and caves. This pristine world is home to giant schools of fish and it’s not unusual to spot a turtle or a very friendly cuttlefish. 2.5 kilometres of wonder and excitement; conquer 3 beaches before breakfast in the safety of a group of ocean swimmers.

Volker Klemm, member of the ABSLSC, has swum the course a number of times and said: “I loved the changes in the underwater environment as we swam along. Last time I saw a lovely ray and lots of little fish amongst the bright green beds of seagrasses just before getting into Avalon Beach. The underwater views are absolutely wonderful. I don’t tend to swim it at full pace as I get caught up enjoying the view.”

Kalinda, who is new to ocean swimming, said: “Even on an average day, you can see the bottom of the ocean most of the way, which is very reassuring. If you really want to enjoy the swim without the competitiveness of a swim race, grab your flippers, wear a wetsuit, and join us in the Back of Pack starting group for a more relaxed sort of a swim.”

March 29th has been chosen as the water is expected to be a balmy 23C and the tides on the day will not be very extreme. We are looking forward to a lovely swim in the best possible weather and conditions. Bring your Go Pro for a truly magical experience.

On the same day we will also be running for the 27th time our 1.2km Avalon Swim in front of Avalon Beach.

With the help of the ‘North Avalon express’, you can get an easy ride out past the flowing seaweed and sea life covered rocks to the first bouy before swimming across the beach to the middle of the beach and back to the new club house.
Imagine the feeling of doing so with your child by your side! While Avalon’s shore dump can at times be tricky to navigate, the easy ride out and the scenic swim across the beach between the headlands make it all worthwhile, and of course offers valid bragging rights for you and/or your child as soon as landing on the sandy finish line!

This year we will offer the two swims for the price of one – the 2.5km Around the Bends Swim and the 1,2km Avalon swim. The 2.5km starts at 8.00am and the 1.2km starts at 9:30am. This timing means that if you have a child who would like to swim, you can do both swims

So enter one or both swims . Cost is $40 for one or both swims .

More info and to enter online... Click here

With enquiries, please email Volker Klemm, or phone Volker on 0403 193 337.

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Tonga - We don't take you just anywhere

Swim with the whales

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We don't take you just anywhere. Tonga is "not just anywhere". And swimming with humpback whales is something that you can in very few other places around the world. Others now offer tours to Tonga, but be careful: Ours is the only oceanswimsafari that takes groups of ocean swimmers to Tonga in humpback whale season, so offering you the chance both to pursue your passion, and to swim with the gentlest of giants, the humpback whales. In the ocean alongside them, not watching from a boat at a distance. Our week-long oceanswimsafaris include three days out swimming with whales, and two days ocean swimming in some of the most beautiful swim courses you will ever do. 

We have been running our oceanswimsafaris to Tonga since 2015. That means we have built up experience with the location -- Vava'U, Tonga's northern island group --  and its operators that no other ocean swimming tour company can match. 

We can take only eight swimmers/towel carriers at a time with us to Tonga. This makes this oceanswimsafari especially suitable for small groups, as well as singles and couples. If you'd like to share in this extraordinary experience, contact us quick and smart. Quick and smart is right: for the best way into our venue in Tonga, there are limited seats available. Last time we checked, there weren't many left. It's still possible to take a more convoluted route, but you really don't want to do that... Click here

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55 swims in

Swipes continue to amaze

V825A CBL 250We wore our View Swipes for their 55th outing at Vic Park in Sydney yesterday morn. We'd washed them with washing up liquid a couple of swims ago, otherwise we've just rinsed each use in fresh water, air dried them, and kept them in their case. We're always careful not to let suncream, or any cream, or anything like that, near them. Suncream is the enemy of clear gogs. The result yesterday: perdectomondo. It is remarkable. We had been cautious about promoting the Swipe when we heard about them from the folk at View. We wore them 30 times before we were comfortable with flogging them to you. If they do fog at all, generally it's in one corner of a lens. Each time, we took them off, wiped the foggy bit gently with our forefinger, and no more fogging for the rest of the session. No goo, no spit, no nothing, except wetting them and wiping them carefully

We've sold 270 pairs of View Selene Swipes since we launched them just prior to Xmas; so many, in fact, that we've sold out of four colours and we've almost sold out of the other. New stocks are expected around the end of February, but if you want to get yours now, don't delay.

In the meantime, remember the best value gog you will every find: the Solace. That's them, at right. $25 each. They're still available.

The Selene has long been our most popular gog. A year or two back, View introduced a mirrored version of the Selene, and now they also offer the revolutionary Swipe, offering anti-fog capacity that lasts 10 times as long as existing goggles, the makers say. The Selene Swipe has technology in its interior lens coating that allows you to clear fog from the lens simply by "swiping" your finger across it.

According to the makers, the "10 times as long" refers to distance they say you can swim before you start to see some fogging with new goggles. They say the standard is 4km, but the Swipes will go 40kms. Whatever, all gogs will fog if you don't respect them and look after them. The issue also is how to deal with the fogging if and when it does occur.

Selene is one of the best value gogs you will ever find. And made with an extra wide silicone seal, the Selene is probably the most comfortable low-profile gog you'll find, and it doesn't leave you with Rocky Raccoon marks around your eyes. The Selene Swipe offers anti-fog performance that's 10 times longer than normal, and a swiping lens durability, say the people at View, offering 1,500 swipes without degrading performance.

Find out more and order Selene Swipes... Click here

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2020 oceanswimsafaris

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Can't wait to get in with those whales in Tonga... Click here

June 12-20 – The Philippines – Swim with whale sharks in another paradise of some of the clearest water of the greatest marine biodiversity in the Indo-Pacific region… Click here

June 23-July 1 – Sulawesi, Indonesia – More of the clear water and great marine biodiversity at the other end of the Celebes Sea from our Philippines location. This is a place that hardly any Strá’an visits. It’s pretty well just us... Click here

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The Blue Lagoon, Yasawas, Fiji... Click here

July 20-28 – Tonga - Swim with the Whales – Only four places left in our oceanswimsafari to swim with Humpback whales (above) – One of the most unusual, special experiences you can ever have swimming in the ocean. The humpbacks migrate over winter from Antarctica to Tonga to give birth and generally frolic around. Tonga is one of the few places in the world where we’re allowed to get in the water with the whales… Click here

August 25-31 – San Sebastián, Spain – Swim the Basque country, with its rich mix of culture, food, and history. And the swimming’s terrific, too. That's San Sebastián, above -- A romantic evening on the bay of la Concha... A must-stop during anyone’s trip to Europe… Click here

September 12-20 – Costa Brava, Spain – Swim Catalonia, and France to Spain around the end of the Pyrenees. Another journey through history, art, culture and food, and some of the clearest water you’ll ever swim in… Click here

October 20-25 - Mana Fiji SwimFest - Packages available now… Click here

October 26-Nov 2 - Yasawas Fiji -  Packages are online now… Click here

Controversy Corner...

What do you reckon about any of this stuff? We received a lot of feedback after last week's newsletter. Check it out... Click here

Let us know and we'll facilitate the debate... Click here

(Also see posts at the end of this newsletter.)

Swims open to online entry...

Coming soon - South Curl Curl (May 3), South Head (May 17)

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Advertise...

We email this newsletter to over 39,000 swimmers weekly in season, and less frequently out of season. If you'd like to advertise with us, please give us a yell.. Click here

If you're not receiving our emails...

... even if you believe you're on our list, chances are they're going into your Spam or Trash/Bin folders. Some email providers do that to us; gmail and Hotmail, for example. So check your Spam, your Trash and/or your Bin, and you might find us trapped in their, lonely, with no-one to talk to.

You might also add oceanswims.com to your email whitelist. This should help them to come through.

Results...

For swim results... Click here

If you have a link to results that we have not listed, please send it to us... Click here

Emergency!

Don't be an emergency eejit. It's 'strordnry how many punters enter swims online and list themselves as their own emergency contact. Just say something happens to you out in the sea, who are awgies going to contact? You? Get real. Think about it, and enter someone else as your emergency contact, event if it's your boss at work.

List your swim group...

List your informal morning swim group on our directory, so that travelling swimmers will always have a place and a peloton to swim with... Click here

Check our swim maps...

For a quick idea of what's going on around your area -- formal events, informal swim groups -- check our swim maps. You'll find them for each area under Swims/Calendar on oceanswims.com.

Buy gogs...

You can buy your fave View gogs and other swim needs from the oceanswims.com boutique... Click here

Check our back issues...

For all our back issues of the weekly oceanswims.com newsletter... Click here

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This newsletter...

We send this newsletter to a mailing list of over 39,000 swimmers, mainly in Australia and New Zealand, around the south-west Pacific, and even around the world. If ou'd like to advertise with us, give us a yell... Click here

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February 19, 2020

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Emailed to more than 40,000 ocean swimmers
weekly in season.

 

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Thirroul, in the 'Gong, the morning after the night before (when there was a big storm). Pic by @susanmcreery2. 'Strodnry, and soul-expanding, how the storm cleans the air.

Look below...

Swims this weekend...

Sharks

Minimising the risk

This week, we found the answers to questions that have been troubling us for some time: how effective are shark repellent devices? The answer is, for most of those on the market, not very. Indeed, for ocean swimmers, the only practical way to improve your safety in the water, it seems, is to swim smarter.

We say this because the only shark repellent device – or range of devices – that have been demonstrated independently to have any significant effect on the likelihood of being bitten by a shark is also rather impractical for individual swimmers, particularly those swimming off a beach in early morning swims.

We also say this because our firm conviction is that any shark threat is not as great as the meeja play it up to be – typical, really – and that being more aware of the risk and how to mitigate it is far more effective than seeking succour in commercial or other technological devices, which, really, simply transfer your perception of risk mitigation to something else.

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Sunset swim off Mana Island, Fiji, last October.

The authorities

Thank you to Anna Lewis, Can Too cossie designer, for drawing our attention to an online survey by the Department of Primary Industry in NSW of the public’s attitudes towards options available to mitigate the shark attack risk. We were oblivious to this survey until Anna told us about it. You should all complete it to give “the authorities” a good idea of how ocean swimmers feel about this issue. But be warned, the survey closes this Sunday night. So get in quick.

You find the survey here… Click here

The survey is part of public consultation following the DPI’s research into different methods of shark risk management, including capture with drum lines, tagging, sea-dragging (dragging a captured shark out to sea for a kilometre and hoping it won't come back, which the research found was generally successful), listening buoys, drone and helicopter surveillance, and public education. The survey is intended to gain a feel for what the community would support as the gummint follows this research with longer term measures.

Why we’re just discovering this survey now is beyond us. Sure, perhaps we should have maintained contact with “the authorities” whilst they have carried out this research program over the past five years. But if a gummint is trying to engage as much of an involved community as it can in a far-reaching program, why would it not seek to communicate directly with interest groups, such as ocean swimmers? They haven’t told us about this, and we are the only direct line of communication available with ocean swimmers. As Dorrie Evans would have said, “Why wasn’t I told?”

The value of the survey is that it takes the respondent through various policy options, talks about the results of research into them over the last five years, then gives the respondent the opportunity to rate them. This is your chance to have your say on this. The survey takes 15-20 minutes to complete. It closes this Sunday night, so get in now and have your say.

To reach the survey… Click here

Here's a video from the NSW gummint on the issue...

What we reckon

Our view is that the risk of shark attack is not as great as many people think it is, and that much of that risk can be mitigated by smarter swimming, ie swimming by a better informed peloton.

Our response was that the only policy actions worth taking are to make the community more aware of the risk of shark attack, eg when and where are better times and places to swim; when and where are inadvisable times and places to swim. Where and when is the risk greater; where and when is the risk lesser.

There could be some greater information spread about the presence of predatory sharks in a particular area, but in the context that this information is incomplete and not absolutely reliable. A DPI trial of a “clever buoy” in the Great White breeding ground of Hawks Nest, for example, showed that such buoys were reliable “45% of the time within a 46m range”. That’s an awful lot of area and reliability left out. What about all the rest? These devices could cause you to take risks that you really shouldn’t be taking. Is it wise to rely on them? Mind you, despite the numbers of whites around Hawks Nest -- there are lots and lots of them -- no-one has been attacked there, as far as we are aware. There was an incident a few years back on the other side of the spit at Hawks Nest, inside Port Stephens, but not off the ocean beach itself.

Most technical solutions, such as drones, drum lines, nets and beach meshing, and helicopter surveillance are rather hit-and-miss and might encourage a false sense of security to swimmers. If there are no warnings about shark presence, for example, it doesn’t mean that sharks aren’t there; it simply means that sharks have not been detected. Even the listening booees will tell you only when a tagged shark is within 500m of the booee; it won’t tell you about whether the vast majority of sharks in the sea, which are not tagged, are present. A less informed swimmer may not know this.

Tell us that it's Bubbles

To the DPI's credit, they targeted predatory sharks, not all sharks. Predatory sharks are considered whites, bulls, and tigers. That lets Fluffy (a grey nurse) off the hook, as it were, but not Bubbles (a white), who's hung around Forster for ages, with numerous interactions and sightings, without any of them representing a threat to anyone. We assume Bubbles is the same shark each time. Many of us have the SharkSmart app which tells us when a tagged shark has been detected. It would be helpful if those notifications could tell us which shark it is, eg if Bubbles is tripping the booee sometimes several times each day, can the norifications not tell us that it's Bubbles, or one of Bubbles' relos? Presumably, the tags each have their own id number, so could this not be included in the notifications?

Some of those other measures also pose a risk to many other marine animals without any significant mitigation of the risk of aggressive sharks.

You may have different views. Please complete the survey to have your say… Click here

Repellent devices

Regular readers may recall a story we told a year or so back about an incident in Wallis Lake at Forster, when a Forster Turtle – an human swimmer, not a reptile – was approached by a bull shark. This swimmer -- let's call her, "Gina" -- was wearing a shark band, which is an anklet which purports to deter sharks. The swimmer was in knee-deep water at the time. She found that the bull shark appeared to be attracted to her, only to turn away “at the last minute”, about 30cm from her leg.

This prompted us to do a bit of desk research, but we found that it was impossible to find, online, authoritative information about the effective range of repellent devices. It turns out, their range is very limited, down to well under a metre, depending on the device. Some of them, such as ankle bands, have an effective range less than 20cm, and then only 6 per cent of the time, according to a study done as part of the DPI research.

According to this study, which looked at the reaction by Great Whites attracted by a bait suspended under a board, the only device found to have a significant effect to deter them from approaching the bait was one using Shark Shield technology.

The study tested five different devices, some of which could not be seen to have any effect at all. Yet they are on the market, selling for up to $A500.

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The Shark Shield Freedom7. Image from ocean-guardian.com.au

In its executive summary, the report, by researchers at Flinders University in Adelaide, said, “The effectiveness of the deterrents was variable, with (the Shark Shield device) affecting shark behaviour the most… and reducing the percentage of bait taken from 96%... to 40%... Shark’s mean distance to the board increased from (c. 1.6m to c. 2.6m).... The other deterrents had limited or no measurable effect on white sharks.”

The tested device that appeared to reduce the number of approaches by white sharks to the bait used in the study was the Ocean Guardian Freedom+ Surf. (Ocean Guardian is the old Shark Shield using Shark Shield technology.)

The other devices tested were Chillax surfboard wax (which plays on sharks' sense of smell), SharkBanz bracelet (as "Gina" was wearing) and surfboard leash (magnetic fields), a Rpela (electric field), and the Shark Shield (electric field).

The only demonstrably effective device, the Ocean Guardian Freedom+ Surf, is designed for use on surfboards, not by swimmers. There are devices designed for divers (Freedom 7), which swimmers could use -- and have used in some longer distance, offshore ocean swims -- but there are technical issues with range and the electrical field that they create that make their use by individual swimmers problematic.

The technology is based on an electrical field created from a trailing aerial which interferes with the shark’s natural sensors, thus turning them away from the source of the interference.

But the range issue means they cannot protect a peloton of swimmers, because the effective range is so small. And the use of the aerial and its electrical field means other swimmers cannot get too close to the swimmer wearing the device. Individual swimmers would need their own devices, and to stay apart from each other. Also, whilst we are not sparkies, we are not sure what would happen if the aerial dragged along the bottom. Or how the electrical field might affect a swimmer with a pacemaker, say.

These issues make these devices problematic for early morning swim groups.

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No sharks to worry about here... The start of the swim at la Concha in San Sebastián, in Spain.

Early morning swims

It also makes them problematic for formal swims, since you would need many, many devices to create an effective field large enough to protect the peloton as a whole. Larger shark shield devices would have greater range, one would expect, but you still would not get wide area coverage.

There is much more in the report of this study, far too much to include here. Check it out yourself… Click here

The devices also are expensive. The Freedom+ Surf, designed for surfboards, for example is offered on the ocean guardian website for $A499, whilst the Freedom7, designed for divers, sells for $A599.

This may not be the solution for every codger or laydee who swims each morning with their cobbers.

Make of this what you will. We remain convinced that the only effective and practical approach is a better informed swimming community. The clever technology stuff can be interesting and useful, but none of them in isolation is a solution, and none of them alone, or as a group, are good enough enough to be used reliably.

Note how we don't canvas the issue of culling. It would be loonyville.

What do you think... Click here
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Mana Fiji SwimFest, Oct 20-25, 2020

35% discount till end March

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We have our packages available now for the original South Pacific SwimFest on Mana Island in Fiji, and swim organisers, Mana Island Resort, are offering 35% discount on accommodation rates to those who book through oceanswimsafaris.com by the end of March.

The five-day base package -- Tuesday-Sunday -- includes two swim days -- a 10km swim (solo or 3 x relay) on the Thursday, and 5km, 2.5km, and 1km on the Saturday. On Wednesday and Friday, we'll have morning swims led by the most famous names in ocean swimming in Australia -- even the world -- the Grimsey brothers.

Our exclusive packages include 5-nights accommodation, including all meals, whilst on Mana Island, transfers between the airport and Mana Island, swim entries, functions, and goodies for both swim days, and a 60-minute experience at the Mana Spa.

More info, enquire and to book... Click here

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Some humpback whales like to get up close and personal in Tonga.

Controversy Corner review

Rights of the Swimmer 

There was quite a bit of Controversy Corner feedback after last week’s stuff about the rules of pool etiquette… (To study it… Click here…) but there is an over-riding rule that hit us as a blinding flash of insight the day after we published. It is this: The Swimmer has right of way.

This may seem obvious, and it is, in a sense, a restatement of one of the rules that we did discuss: that a slower swimmer should not push off the wall as a faster swimmer is coming in to turn (thus getting in their way). But this one is more to the point. If a swimmer is swimming, as distinct from gas-bagging at the end of a lane between sets, then they have rights that the gas-bagger does not have, by virtue of the fact that they are swimmer and the gas-baggers are not. They have the right of uninterrupted and safe progress. It’s a matter of courtesy, and one of safety. It’s relevant to the situation referred to above, and to such situations as the puffed-up bath robe wearer at North Sydney who insisted on barging across our squad lanes as squad swimmers were coming in to turn.

Swimmer has right of way.

If you are swimming, you have rights that the non-swimmer does not. You have the right to proceed without some other eejit interrupting your set, your flow, or compromising your welfare, just as the rules of the road bar vehicles leaving the kerb until the road is clear. There is a good reason for this.

There are exceptions to this rule – in this case, not every exception disproves the rule, as Oscar Wilde maintained – such as a faster swimmer pushing off before a demonstrably slower swimmer (although, whether the push-off swimmer really is faster is subjective.) Perhaps the demonstrably faster swimmer should allow the slower swimmer to proceed, respect their right-of-way, then give them space before pushing off themselves. The other rule also comes into play, about choosing your lane carefully based on your relative pace.

Others may come up with other potential exceptions.

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The Yasawas in Fiji... You can see why it's called, The Blue Lagoon.

Controversy

There was a range of feedback that came in last week, most of it supportive – ie, in general agreement – some of it critical. And some of it surprising.

Eleanor Godley suggested to her local pool that they post the rules on their noticeboard, but, she said, the pool’s reaction was that she herself was a pool nazi.

Neil Warren defended drafting: “I’ll never agree with you on drafting. I’ve drafted and been drafted and I enjoy the tactical nature of that side of racing. Meanwhile I’m off to read the herald and try and recover.”

Matt Starr said: “Thank god I'm not the only one who is driven mad by selfish pool swimmers who mill about at the end of the lanes and kick off into their way-too-slow-for-this-lane pace just as I'm turning! I can't wait to tell my wife that I'm not the only one who gets frustrated by these self-entitled space wasters (I'm pretty sure she thinks I'm the equivalent of a muttering old man telling the kids to get off my lawn).

"If people just took a second to think about what the polite/sensible thing to do is, rather than what they just want to do in that moment, the pool, and probably the world, would be a nicer place to be.”

Glynn Collins warned of “the people who do their calisthenic exercising in the middle of the lanes”, which he says happens all too frequently at Ryde.

Tim Nixon “vehemently” disagreed with our exception on heel wafting, that it may be acceptable if it’s done just briefly by a faster swimmer to notify slower swimmers that they wish to overtake. Tim said, “...deliberately touching someone's feet -- or indeed touching anyone anywhere in the pool -- is never acceptable.

"If you're faster than the person in front and need to overtake, then you wait for the opportunity to safely pass and then increase speed to make the move. If you're not fast enough to safely overtake, then you should either swim slightly slower and wait for the person ahead to stop, or take a break yourself and wait until space opens up to swim at your pace.

"Deliberately touching someone to get out of your way is a greater breach of lane standards than any others listed in your email.”

Kirsty Keating pulled us up on our reference to “insignificant punters who are demeaned throughout their daily lives – by stronger-willed wives…” (Read the full reference… Click here) 

Kirsty said: “Now you probably thought it was ‘just’ a little ‘joke’ about strong willed women ha ha. But I don’t see you mentioning how maybe there’s a million and one reasons a woman might be in the bloody pool to escape worse things than a ‘strong willed wife’ or being a strong willed wife. Such an old trope to roll out in this day and age. The poor man who must escape his ‘strong willed wife’ The old ‘ball and chain’ I’m guessing?

“It’s insulting to women.

“Mild as they may seem these type of comments are micro aggression and a stereotype. I as a regular reader, previous wife and woman don’t appreciate it and wanted to highlight this as a regular reader.

“Microaggressions—the brief statements or behaviours that, intentionally or not, communicate a negative message about a non-dominant group

"I’m pretty sure it was unintentional. I hope it was, as your readership would be at least 50% female and many would have at least bristled at that ‘joke’ at their expense as a gender.”

Kirsty has a point, and she is both right and wrong: it was unintentional on our part; but it was a joke not against the wives, but against the husbands. We know enough about life as a boofhead to sense how frustrating it can be dealing with the likes of us. But, as a boofhead, we are not in a position to make judgments on behalf of ladies as to their reasons for swimming. We can only surmise. No doubt, some women do gain, in their swimming, relief from weaker-willed husbands. There are people close to us who would identify with that.
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Online entries this weekend - Bondi

Bluewater Challenge

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Back on Sydney's eastern beaches this Sundee for the Bondi Bluewater Challenge. There are three swim distances on offer in Bondi bay, and a 4km Beach Run.

Those of you who entered last season, when this event was postponed, then cancelled, please check your entries on the roll-over list on oceanswims.com to ensure your entry is there. If it's not, and you believe it should be, get in touch with us... Click here

Be aware, there is no link to the roll-over list on the event's official website. Indeed, there is no mention on the event website, that we could see, of the existence of the roll-over list. Neither is there, on the official event website, much of the detail of which you need to be aware before you enter, including advice on what to do if you run into problems whilst entering. You get this information only on oceanswims.com.

Online entries to the Bondi Bluewater Challenge close on oceanswims.com at 3pm on Saturday, February 22.

More info and to enter online... Click here

Caveat entror

The warning we offer above about the risk in relying on "official" event websites is true of all "official" event websites, in our experience. You cannot rely solely on them because they gloss over their events, talking them up but strangely oblivious to much of the practical detail that you need to know. Some "official" event websites direct entrants directly to our entry portal, by-passing the event page on oceanswims.com. Just be aware that, by doing this, they are denying you exposure to important information not just about their event, but also about the online entry process itself which you need to know if you run into trouble, such as if you fall ill after entering and cannot then take part in the event.

This is all detail stuff, boring really -- "fine print", if you like -- but critical. Information such as the rules, the beach and break descriptions and other warnings, advice on what to do if you have problems whilst entering, usw. Further, "official" event websites often are not updated once they're posted, or if they are, not often enough.

The warning we give is: Don't rely on "official" event websites. Check them out, by all means. But oceanswims.com is the only place where the fine print detail is offered habitually, and which is updated daily as new information or awareness of issues comes to hand. We are also, generally, the only resource available to you that is experienced in dealing with event and entry queries. Even if we don't know a particular answer, we can find it out for you. We can check your entries, resolve issues, fix errors, and so on. This is not an invitation to entrants to expect us to do their thinking for them. There is plenty of information and many links on oceanswims.com that you can use to deal with most issues yourself, before you need to come to us. If you enter directly from an "official" event website, then you're on your own. Good luck.

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Swim Group this week

NKNC - No Kilometre, No Cake

Champion Geraldton 600 

Whipping way across to the West, and the venue at Champion Bay in Geraldton, for NKNC - No Kilometre. No Cake. They swim every day, 6am or 7am, depending on the season, up to 3.2km. It's a protected surf beach, as you can see. Looks quite nice, although we prefer a bit more of a wave, ourselves.

You can check out more details of NKNC, and many other swim groups on our Swim Group maps. Check the links above under Swims/Calendar for more.

Send us a group pic of your swim group. Make sure it's a good sized pic (say, 1500px wide, 500kb-1mb) to allow for editing... Click here

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Tonga - We don't take you just anywhere

Swim with the whales

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One of the corollaries of running oceanswimsafaris to exotic, interesting, unusual locations is that, once we prove them, others copy us. Such as with Tonga. Others now offer tours to Tonga, but be careful: Ours is the only oceanswimsafari that takes groups of ocean swimmers to Tonga in humpback whale season, so offers you the chance to pursue your passion, and to swim with the gentlest of giants, the humpback whales -- in the ocean alongside them, not watching from a boat at a distance. Our week-long oceanswimsafaris include three days out swimming with whales, and two days ocean swimming in some of the most beautiful swim courses you will ever do. 

We have been running our oceanswimsafaris to Tonga since 2015. That means we have built up experience with the location -- Vava'U, Tonga's northern island group --  and its operators that no other ocean swimming tour company can match. 

We can take only eight swimmers/towel carriers at a time with us to Tonga. This makes this oceanswimsafari especially suitable for small groups, as well as singles and couples. If you'd like to share in this extraordinary experience, contact us quick and smart. Quick and smart is right: for the best way into our venue in Tonga, there are limited seats available. Last time we checked, there weren't many left. It's still possible to take a more convoluted route, but you really don't want to do that... Click here

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New gogs - 52 swims in

Dont forget the Solace

V825A CBL 250We wore our View Swipes for their 52 outing at Crummy Drummy yesterday morn, and they started to cloud a little. Not much; just in the corner of the right lens, then, a few laps later, in the left, upper corner of the left lens. Each time, we took them off, wiped them gently with our forefinger, and no more fogging for the rest of the session. No goo, no spit, no nothing, except wetting them and wiping them carefully

We've sold over 250 pairs of View Selene Swipes since we launched them just prior to Xmas, so many, in fact, that we've sold out of three colours and we've almost sold out of both others. New stocks are expected around the end of February, but if you want to get yours now, don't delay.

We've sold so many, in fact, that we're out of Blue, Lavender, and Black, and we're almost out of Clear Blue. We also have Bronze. We've been promised new stocks at the end of February.

In the meantime, remember the best value gog you will every find: the Solace. That's them, at right. $25 each. They're still available.

The Selene has long been our most popular gog. A year or two back, View introduced a mirrored version of the Selene, and now they also offer the revolutionary Swipe, offering anti-fog capacity that lasts 10 times as long as existing goggles, the makers say. The Selene Swipe has technology in its interior lens coating that allows you to clear fog from the lens simply by "swiping" your finger across it.

According to the makers, the "10 times as long" refers to distance they say you can swim before you start to see some fogging with new goggles. They say the standard is 4km, but the Swipes will go 40kms. Whatever, all gogs will fog if you don't respect them and look after them. The issue also is how to deal with the fogging if and when it does occur.

Selene is one of the best value gogs you will ever find. And made with an extra wide silicone seal, the Selene is probably the most comfortable low-profile gog you'll find, and it doesn't leave you with Rocky Raccoon marks around your eyes. The Selene Swipe offers anti-fog performance that's 10 times longer than normal, and a swiping lens durability, say the people at View, offering 1,500 swipes without degrading performance.

Find out more and order Selene Swipes... Click here

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 2020 oceanswimsafaris

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I love you, mum... Swim with whales in Tonga.

June 12-20 – The Philippines – Swim with whale sharks in another paradise of some of the clearest water of the greatest marine biodiversity in the Indo-Pacific region… Click here

June 23-July 1 – Sulawesi, Indonesia – More of the clear water and great marine biodiversity at the other end of the Celebes Sea from our Philippines location. This is a place that hardly any Strá’an visits. It’s pretty well just us... Click here

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Up here, overlooking the bay of la Concha, San Sebastián, there is a Novotel. Of all things.

July 20-28 – Tonga - Swim with the Whales – Only four places left in our oceanswimsafari to swim with Humpback whales (above) – One of the most unusual, special experiences you can ever have swimming in the ocean. The humpbacks migrate over winter from Antarctica to Tonga to give birth and generally frolic around. Tonga is one of the few places in the world where we’re allowed to get in the water with the whales… Click here

August 25-31 – San Sebastián, Spain – Swim the Basque country, with its rich mix of culture, food, and history. And the swimming’s terrific, too. That's San Sebastián, above -- A romantic evening on the bay of la Concha... A must-stop during anyone’s trip to Europe… Click here

September 12-20 – Costa Brava, Spain – Swim Catalonia, and France to Spain around the end of the Pyrenees. Another journey through history, art, culture and food, and some of the clearest water you’ll ever swim in… Click here

October 20-25 - Mana Fiji SwimFest - Packages available now… Click here

October 26-Nov 2 - Yasawas Fiji -  Packages are online now… Click here

Controversy Corner...

What do you reckon about any of this stuff? We received a lot of feedback after last week's newsletter. Check it out... Click here

Let us know and we'll facilitate the debate... Click here

(Also see posts at the end of this newsletter.)

Swims open to online entry...

Coming soon - South Curl Curl (May 3), South Head (May 17)

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Advertise...

We email this newsletter to over 39,000 swimmers weekly in season, and less frequently out of season. If you'd like to advertise with us, please give us a yell.. Click here

If you're not receiving our emails...

... even if you believe you're on our list, chances are they're going into your Spam or Trash/Bin folders. Some email providers do that to us; gmail and Hotmail, for example. So check your Spam, your Trash and/or your Bin, and you might find us trapped in their, lonely, with no-one to talk to.

You might also add oceanswims.com to your email whitelist. This should help them to come through.

Results...

For swim results... Click here

If you have a link to results that we have not listed, please send it to us... Click here

Emergency!

Don't be an emergency eejit. It's 'strordnry how many punters enter swims online and list themselves as their own emergency contact. Just say something happens to you out in the sea, who are awgies going to contact? You? Get real. Think about it, and enter someone else as your emergency contact, event if it's your boss at work.

List your swim group...

List your informal morning swim group on our directory, so that travelling swimmers will always have a place and a peloton to swim with... Click here

Check our swim maps...

For a quick idea of what's going on around your area -- formal events, informal swim groups -- check our swim maps. You'll find them for each area under Swims/Calendar on oceanswims.com.

Buy gogs...

You can buy your fave View gogs and other swim needs from the oceanswims.com boutique... Click here

Check our back issues...

For all our back issues of the weekly oceanswims.com newsletter... Click here

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We send this newsletter to a mailing list of over 39,000 swimmers, mainly in Australia and New Zealand, around the south-west Pacific, and even around the world. If ou'd like to advertise with us, give us a yell... Click here

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February 13, 2020

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Emailed to more than 40,000 ocean swimmers
weekly in season.

 

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Noice demo of the pull through: Note the high elbow, the reach, the body position: Codie Grimsey at Mana Island, Fiji, last October.

Look below...

Swims this weekend...

Pool etiquette

Civilising anarchy

We’ve swum in a pool a few times lately. So what? We used to do that all the time, but we’ve fallen out of the habit in recent years due to a range of factors. Apart from when we’re in Forster, we don’t live near the beach, so ocean swimming each morning is not an option for us. Pool swimming is.

One of our fave pools is Crummy Drummy. When we call it Crummy Drummy, some people think we’re being disparaging. We’re not. It’s rhyming slang. Crummy Drummy has its flaws – chiefly, its management in recent years by both Canada Bay Council and the contract managers, Belgravia Leisure (contract management of public pools is a canker and is an excuse for councils to avoid their responsibilities. Council pools are public facilities which make immeasurable contributions to community health, and they should be run in that spirit, not as the Greiner government made councils do, that is run them as profit centres. That mindset is a canker of gummint generally.). One thing the council did recently that was smart – amongst a long line of dumb things -- was to install shower heads that don’t require you to head-butt the wall when you wish to get wet. An example of a dumb thing was to install power points under the hooks where you hang your dripping cossies whilst you dress, post-swim. Another dumb thing the council did was to rebuild Caba-Ripper-Rita pool, also riparian, in doing so removing the stadium seating, which meant the pool became absolutely unsuitable for school swimming carnivals. Did anyone consider these things when planning them?

Another problem with Drummy is that the council seems in thrall to the local water polo club and the swimming club. The water poloists behave like absolute boofheads and dickheads when they get to the pool, intimidating extant users out of the water; and the swimming club gets two lanes clear in the morning for four or five swimmers, when the rest of the pool is crowded. Go figure.

But we like Crummy Drummy – and Caba-Ripper-Rita -- because it’s one of Sydney’s great salties: a 50m lap “Olympic” pool filled with salt water from the adjacent upper harbour. They clean it before we swim in it, so to all intents and purposes, it is a normal swimming pool, but with salt water rather than ‘fresh”. The wonderful thing about this is that we, a rank-and-file boofhead, float, in contrast with a “fresh water” pool, in which we swim vertically. Salt water is denser than fresh water, and since boofheads usually have no inherent physical flotation capacity in the lower half of their bodies – unlike laydees, who do – our lower halves drop. That’s why pools are built deep at one end, and modern pools are built deep at both ends, because the alternative is to swim each lap with your toenails dragging along the bottom.

This week, we swam in a public lane. Now, we are here to say that the most dangerous place on the surface of the planet is the public lanes at your local swimming pool. The public lanes are the place where there are no rules; where codgers who’ve been doing the same thing all their lives are not going to change for anybody; where angry owners corporation (strata) treasurers take out their frustrations anonymously on swimmers sharing their lane; where insignificant punters who are demeaned throughout their daily lives – by stronger-willed wives, haranguing bosses, etc – can assert themselves equally at last; where society breaks down into anarchy, and only the strongest survive. Where bully boys get to show off untrammelled: “Look! See how clever I am, doing ‘fly in a freestyle lane!”, or, “Look!, I can squeeze through two swimmers on either side of the line, swimming in opposite directions, whilst doing ‘fly.”

If it sounds as if we are down on ‘fly swimmers, we will just say that some of our best friends are ‘flyers; just as some of our best friends are breaststrokers. But there is a time and a place for everything, and a crowded public lane at the local pool is not the place to show-off your butterfly.

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Yes, we've had bushfires around Sydney, too. The remnants now are washing up on city beaches: at Bongin Bongin Bay, as witnessed by Glistening Dave @glistenrr (above), and at Bondi, by @Robbosal. Both logs charred.

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We are reminded, too, of the codger who wrote to The Sydney Morning Herald to complain of “lane nazis” at one of the other of the city’s great salties, North Sydney pool, the one “under the Bridge”. Bear in mind, the way to fix any problem is “to write to the Herald”. What that really fixes is your anger about that particular problem, but you feel as if you’ve fixed it because you’ve been able to sound off about it. It’s particularly satisfying when they actually run your letter. Does anything change as a result of this? Not really. People still smoke, despite us writing repeatedly to the Herald over the years about the need to lock ‘em up. They actually ran some of our letters, one of which said, apropos smoking, and inter alia, “The starting point for this debate should be the length of the gaol sentence for doing it in public”. But they stopped running them when the woman in charge of the Letters page was a chain-smoker. (About that time, we also wrote to them about an error in a story, which they wouldn’t accept as an error even though we had a former Prime Minister testifying to it. This is about the time the Herald ceased to be a relevant newspaper, apart from Kate McClymont.)

Back in the public lanes at Crummy Drummy, we were still warming up this week when the bully-boy who’d had the lane to himself, till the crowd turned up, hit us in the head, doing fly in the opposite direction whilst squeezing between us, going one way, and another swimmer, going the other. Shocked, we yelled to this eejit: “You know, there are others sharing this lane.” That got him; cut to the bone. It was a relief to us that we had kept our language pure, and that we hadn’t committed ourselves, via threat, to anything more than we really were prepared to commit, ie verbal shellacking instead of physical threats.

Now, it may have been ok for this character to do his fly when he had the lane to himself, but we argue that it wasn’t ok when the pool began to fill and he came to a position where he was sharing it. There is etiquette about the use of lanes in a public swimming pool. It’s unwritten – apart from in places such as this – but it is the only force that stops public lanes becoming like the arena in Rome where Spartacus drove in the chariot races (that’s a nod to Kirk Douglas, vale).

Some people observe the rules of pool etiquette; others ignore them; whilst others think they apply to others, not to themselves. These rules have been around for a long, long time, and most of them really are just commonsense and civil decency. But they bear repeating, if only to refresh the awareness of them.

Some rules

Don’t stand over the turning pad – Our fave rule: how often do you come in to turn only to find idiots ahead of you in the lane have stopped and are milling around the lane end, blocking the end and particularly the turning pad, so that you can’t touch and turn, or finish the lap, or you can’t touch and turn other than on a slippery surface, which is unsafe. Some might decry this as paltry, but most pools have a “pad” in the centre of each end which offers better grip on the turn, and the ability to access that pad for your turn actually is quite important. It’s also a matter of commonsense and decency. Don’t be an eejit; think of your fellow swimmers.

Don’t push off as another swimmer is coming in to turn – Particularly important when you’re slower than other swimmers in the lane. You can hardly blame faster swimmers from acting like Lane Nazis when a slower fool pushes off just as they’re coming in to turn.

Select your lane deliberately: make sure the pace is appropriate to your pace – The codger at North Sydney was insisting on his right to swim in whatever lane he liked, no matter how much more dangerous his ambling freestyle made the lane: he become like a solid block in the lane that faster swimmers had continuously to negotiate around.

Pace is relative: -- “Fast” in one pool may not be in another pool. Similarly, “slow”. Be sensitive to that.

Respect other swimmers: Don’t sit on someone’s feet. – Just like drafting in the open water: some cheats do it habitually, even bragging about it. It’s one thing to draft – which is cheating, and bludging, because you’re using someone else’s effort to drag you through the water – but it’s quite another thing to physically assault the other swimmer in the process. There are few things more distracting and infuriating than having a following swimmer constantly wafting the soles of your feet, particularly when that swimmer does it throughout the race, only to pull out at the finish and surge past you, fresh and lively, because they’ve bludged off you all race. Even worse is when they do that to you, then brush you when you, sportsperson-like, go up to them afterwards to congratulate them on beating you. We know of this exact thing happening to a swimmer in Sydney.

Foot-tapping – heel-wafting – is acceptable only when you want to let a slower swimmer know that you’d like to overtake them, and then done only momentarily and intermittently until they get the message and let you past.

Respect faster swimmers when they wish to pass. Give them room at the end of the lane and don’t accelerate when they pass mid-length. – The opposite side of the above: if you get the call, let them past.

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Two grabs: two swimmers have been listening to their coaches. Is it relevant that both are laydees?

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Be careful of other lanes: don’t cross lanes when swimmers are coming in to turn – We had many run-ins with another entitled idiot, also at North Sydney pool, who swam in an adjoining lane, then insisted on barging across our squad lanes when he wanted to get out. As coach at the time, we would try to bar him till the way was clear, but he would try continually to get across anyway. He swanned around the pool deck in a bath robe; thought he was the ants pants.

Be conscious of your arms: flat arms will hit swimmers on the other side of the lane rope or the lane – An excellent reason to practise your finger-trail drill, recovering your arms close to your body, high elbow, finger tips trailing through the water, so you’re not swimming like an albatross. Remember: You are this wide! We caused merriment in a squad some years back when, wide-armed, we locked arms with a laydee swimming the other direction and did a pas de deux. We spun around two full turns, locked in embrace at the shoulders, before we could extricate ourselves. The only thing we didn’t do was kiss.

Be careful overtaking: Don’t try to squeeze between a swimmer in front of you and another coming in the opposite direction – Overtaking is fine, when done safely. But as the following swimmer, it’s your responsibility to overtake with care and safety. If there is another swimmer coming towards you on the other side of the lane, then you should wait till they’ve passed and the other side of the lane is clear. This one complements above: Respect faster swimmers when they wish to pass. A similar point should be made about shared cycle/walking paths: cyclistes seem to think these paths are just for them, and by ringing their little bells, pedestrians should instantly jump out of the way, cowering on the verge. No. We fiercely occupy our half (just inside the centreline, so that we’re not infringing the other side), protecting Mrs Sparkle on the outside, and if a cycliste wants to get past, they must slow and overtake responsibly, carefully, safely, and sensitively. Even worse are the pelotons travelling in the opposite direction, who think that, just by seeing them coming, we should jump out of the path urgently. Of course, the other “most dangerous place on the planet” is a shared walking/cycle path the morning after the Tour de France commences each year.

Don’t swim ‘fly in a crowded lane when everyone else is swimming free – ‘Fly requires wide arms. It’s simply not smart to swim ‘fly in a crowded lane already full of albatrosses, because someone could get a broken wrist or arm. You be the smart one: use your brains.

Breaststroke is not appropriate in a fast lane. Period. Neither is backstroke. But if a backstroker "touches you up" as you pass, don't assume it's a deliberate sexual assault. It's just as unnerving for the backstroker to suddenly find their fingers deep inside someone's groin as it is for the victim. This is a case where the assailant is also the victim.

Don’t jump into a lane on top or next to other swimmers. Enter the water gracefully and respectfully. No-one appreciates a boofhead who bombs. – Particularly relevant to testosterone-rich water poloists. Mind you, it can be ok. Our buddy, Simmsy, swims with the Balmain Water Polo mob in the mornings at Drummy. They swim in one lane, eight-to-12 of them at times, but they work it out doing short sets of 50s or 100s. Simmsy has this thing where he must be the last one into the water. So he waits, like a bull poring the turf with his hoof, and when all others are in, Simmsy launches himself at the starting block, hysterically, narrowly skirting around it, and leaps feet first into the pool, simultaneously ejaculating a high-pitched squeal that intensifies as his tootsies touch the water.

Be a sharer. Others have a right to swim in your lane, too, you know. – Memo boofhead, entitled ‘flyer.

If you’re a poolie, do your job: Poolies should police lane use and ensure swimmers are safe. – Too many poolies might watch the pool, sort of, but even when they see ridiculous, dangerous behaviour, they do nothing about it. Poolies should manage the lanes for safety. If they see a silly old codger in the fast lane, and in there “on principle”, then they should move the silly old bugger out of it. Some years back, a friendly poolie told us they were actually instructed not to police lanes because it might upset some swimmers. Good grief!

If you’re a coach running a squad, do your job: Coaches should keep their swimmers safe, which means managing their lane use, and protecting them from idiots who want to cross the lane indiscriminately – Coaches have a responsibility for the safety of their charges. They must protect them from cretins who strut about pool deck in dressing gowns then want to cross squad lanes unsafely, and from each other in managing things like the order of swimmers leaving on a set, the time between them – some squad swimmers deliberately go early so they can draft – and even the direction of swim. Coach Charm used to run her two lanes at North Sydney, one clockwise, the other anti-clockwise, to accommodate old Pete with his wide left arm. This way, both lanes would come back next to each other, not agin’ each other, and in harmony.

All this is intended to civilise the public lanes; to introduce order into anarchy. The world has learnt to live together, sort of. Why can’t lap swimmers?

There are plenty of more rules of etiquette that we could list. Please send us yours… Click here


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Mana Fiji SwimFest, Oct 20-25, 2020

Packages available now

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We have our packages available now for the original South Pacific SwimFest on Mana Island in Fiji. This is a terrific 5-day stay to swim in some of the best water in the world. And Mana Island Resort are offering, till March 31, a 35% discount on rack rates for accommodation.

The five-day base package -- Tuesday-Sunday -- includes two swim days -- a 10km swim (solo or 3 x relay) on the Thursday, and 5km, 2.5km, and 1km on the Saturday. On Wednesday and Friday, we'll have morning swims led by the most famous names in ocean swimming in Australia -- even the world -- the Grimsey brothers.

Our exclusive packages include 5-nights accommodation, including all meals, whilst on Mana Island, transfers between the airport and Mana Island, swim entries, functions, and goodies for both swim days, and a 60-minute experience at the Mana Spa.

More info, enquire and to book... Click here

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Online entries this weekend - Malabar

Magic doused

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This weekend was supposed to be the Malabar Magic, run by the Rainbow Club, the charity that teaches disabled kids to swim. But the prospect of cyclones, and the hangover from last weekend's stormy weather, in terms of water quality, have combined to prompt the awgies to cancel. Such a pity. But there you go.

Swimmers who had entered when the swim was cancelled, this morning, are being offered the choice of rolling over their entries to 2021, or making their entry fee a donation.

Next up, the following weekend, we're back up the eastern beaches for the Bondi Bluewater Challenge. There are three swim distances in Bondi bay, and a 4km Beach Run on offer.

Online entries to the Bondi Bluewater Challenge close on oceanswims.com at 3pm on Saturday, February 22.

More info and to enter online... Click here

Shire off

The Shire Cronulla Swim over 10km and 5km and scheduled for next Saturday, February 22, also has been cancelled, but for other reasons. We have refunded entry fees, and the organiser is contacting entrants to let them know.

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Swim Group this week

Takapuna - By the Boat Ramp

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Years ago, at one of our first forays to Mana Island in Fiji, there was a mob of swimmers from Auckland who'd named themselves after their meeting spot and time. There were "8 o'clock by the Toilet Block". They swam, as we recall, at Takapuna, the long, long beach on Auckland's North Shore. This lot isn't them, but they swim at the other end of Takapuna, by the boat ramp. Following that style, they'd be called,"7 o'clock by the Boat Ramp". Above are (l-r) Ian Gunthorp, Jo Hammer, Simon Walter, and Alton Jamieson.

You can check out more details many swim groups on our Swim Group maps. Check the links above under Swims/Calendar for more.

Send us a group pic of your swim group. Make sure it's a good sized pic (say, 1500px wide, 500kb-1mb) to allow for editing... Click here

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Tonga - Just 4 spots left

Swim with the whales

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Here's a heads-up: our Tonga oceanswimsafari has only four spots left. We can take only eight swimmers/towel carriers at a time with us to Tonga. This makes this oceanswimsafari especially suitable for small groups, as well as singles and couples. If you'd like to share in this extraordinary experience, contact us quick and smart. Quick and smart is right: for the best way into our venue in Tonga, there are limited seats available. Last time we checked, there weren't many left. It's still possible to take a more convoluted route, but you really don't want to do that... Click here

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New goggles - 50 swims in

Dont forget the Solace

V825A CBL 250We wore our View Swipes for their 49th outing at Crummy Drummy yesterday morn, and they started to cloud a little. Not much; just in the corner of the right lens, then, a few laps later, in the left, upper corner of the left lens. Each time, we took them off, wiped them gently with our forefinger, and no more fogging for the rest of the session. No goo, no spit, no nothing, except wetting them and wiping them carefully

We've sold over 250 pairs of View Selene Swipes since we launched them just prior to Xmas, so many, in fact, that we've sold out of one colour and we've almost sold out of several others. New stocks are expected around the end of February, but if you want to get yours now, don't delay.

We've sold so many, in fact, that we're out of Blue, Lavender, and Black, and we're almost out of Clear Blue. We also have Bronze. We've been promised new stocks at the end of February.

In the meantime, remember the best value gog you will every find: the Solace. That's them, at right. $25 each. They're still available.

The Selene has long been our most popular gog. A year or two back, View introduced a mirrored version of the Selene, and now they also offer the revolutionary Swipe, offering anti-fog capacity that lasts 10 times as long as existing goggles, the makers say. The Selene Swipe has technology in its interior lens coating that allows you to clear fog from the lens simply by "swiping" your finger across it.

According to the makers, the "10 times as long" refers to distance they say you can swim before you start to see some fogging with new goggles. They say the standard is 4km, but the Swipes will go 40kms. Whatever, all gogs will fog if you don't respect them and look after them. The issue also is how to deal with the fogging if and when it does occur.

Selene is one of the best value gogs you will ever find. And made with an extra wide silicone seal, the Selene is probably the most comfortable low-profile gog you'll find, and it doesn't leave you with Rocky Raccoon marks around your eyes. The Selene Swipe offers anti-fog performance that's 10 times longer than normal, and a swiping lens durability, say the people at View, offering 1,500 swipes without degrading performance.

Find out more and order Selene Swipes... Click here

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 2020 oceanswimsafaris

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I love you, mum... Swim with whales in Tonga.

June 12-20 – The Philippines – Swim with whale sharks in another paradise of some of the clearest water of the greatest marine biodiversity in the Indo-Pacific region… Click here

June 23-July 1 – Sulawesi, Indonesia – More of the clear water and great marine biodiversity at the other end of the Celebes Sea from our Philippines location. This is a place that hardly any Strá’an visits. It’s pretty well just us... Click here

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The start at la Concha, San Sebastián.

July 20-28 – Tonga - Swim with the Whales – Only four places left in our oceanswimsafari to swim with Humpback whales (above) – One of the most unusual, special experiences you can ever have swimming in the ocean. The humpbacks migrate over winter from Antarctica to Tonga to give birth and generally frolic around. Tonga is one of the few places in the world where we’re allowed to get in the water with the whales… Click here

August 25-31 – San Sebastián, Spain – Swim the Basque country, with its rich mix of culture, food, and history. And the swimming’s terrific, too. That's San Sebastián, above -- A romantic evening on the bay of la Concha... A must-stop during anyone’s trip to Europe… Click here

September 12-20 – Costa Brava, Spain – Swim Catalonia, and France to Spain around the end of the Pyrenees. Another journey through history, art, culture and food, and some of the clearest water you’ll ever swim in… Click here

October 20-25 - Mana Fiji SwimFest - Packages will be ready soon... Watch this space… Click here

October 26-Nov 2 - Yasawas Fiji -  Packages are online now… Click here

Controversy Corner...

What do you reckon about any of this stuff? We received a lot of feedback after last week's newsletter. Check it out... Click here

Let us know and we'll facilitate the debate... Click here

(Also see posts at the end of this newsletter.)

Swims open to online entry...

Coming soon - South Curl Curl (May 3), South Head (May 17)

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Advertise...

We email this newsletter to over 39,000 swimmers weekly in season, and less frequently out of season. If you'd like to advertise with us, please give us a yell.. Click here

If you're not receiving our emails...

... even if you believe you're on our list, chances are they're going into your Spam or Trash/Bin folders. Some email providers do that to us; gmail and Hotmail, for example. So check your Spam, your Trash and/or your Bin, and you might find us trapped in their, lonely, with no-one to talk to.

You might also add oceanswims.com to your email whitelist. This should help them to come through.

Results...

For swim results... Click here

If you have a link to results that we have not listed, please send it to us... Click here

Emergency!

Don't be an emergency eejit. It's 'strordnry how many punters enter swims online and list themselves as their own emergency contact. Just say something happens to you out in the sea, who are awgies going to contact? You? Get real. Think about it, and enter someone else as your emergency contact, event if it's your boss at work.

List your swim group...

List your informal morning swim group on our directory, so that travelling swimmers will always have a place and a peloton to swim with... Click here

Check our swim maps...

For a quick idea of what's going on around your area -- formal events, informal swim groups -- check our swim maps. You'll find them for each area under Swims/Calendar on oceanswims.com.

Buy gogs...

You can buy your fave View gogs and other swim needs from the oceanswims.com boutique... Click here

Check our back issues...

For all our back issues of the weekly oceanswims.com newsletter... Click here

Subscribe

If you wish to receive our newsletters by email, or you know someone who would like to receive them... Click here

This newsletter...

We send this newsletter to a mailing list of over 39,000 swimmers, mainly in Australia and New Zealand, around the south-west Pacific, and even around the world. If ou'd like to advertise with us, give us a yell... Click here

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February 5, 2020

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Emailed to more than 40,000 ocean swimmers
weekly in season.

 

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OOF!!!... and he breasts the break, at Shark Island on Sundee.

Look below...

Swims this weekend...

For the marathon swimmer

A Strã'an Triple Crown

From Chris and Sue Guesdon
Australian open water swimming "pioneer" administrators

With Marathon Swimming booming in Australia the time has arrived to have Australia’s own Triple Crown.

The Triple Crown will be achieved by the successful completion of the three established marathon swims in race or solo around the country.

The Triple Crown is in not an annual event. It can be completed at any time in a swimmer’s career. This formula is similar to other multiple swim challenges in other parts of the world

This Australian Triple Crown series includes an ocean swim, a channel swim and a river swim giving a challenging variation for swimmers, coaches and pilots.

With thousands of open water swimmers taking on a multitude of events in this country, either as solo or in races, the time is right to have a series that is meaningful for marathon swimmers to challenge

Since the removal of the 25k championship from Swimming Australia’s competition program, marathon swimmers have ventured to other events in Australia and overseas to swim in many famous events. Some of these swims are included in other international Triple Crowns series of Marathon Swimming and in the Oceans Seven and the MSF’s Toughest 13.

An example of the many successful marathon swimmers in Australia is that 26 Australians completed the English Channel in 2019 - the Blue Ribbon of marathon swims. Those swimmers are only the tip of the iceberg in the numbers preparing to swim marathons.

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Water sculpcha at Shark Island.

The Honour Roll

To claim Australian Triple Crown status the claimant must provide the results of each of the events in the series showing the course was completed. In the event of completing any of the swims as a solo swim, claimants must provide the swimmers log compiled by an independent observer.

The three courses for Australia’s Triple Crown of marathon swimming are:

  1. Port to Pub Ultra Marathon from Fremantle to Rottnest 25K WA
  2. The Big Swim- Derwent River Marathon 34k Tasmania 
  3. Palm Beach to Shelley Beach 27k NSW 

The series is listed on the worldwide Marathon Swimmers Federation website in the ‘Long Swims Database’ section.

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    Jammers! Yes or No

    We received, some time back, this contribution to Controversy Corner from Peter Nickless…

    Jammers, I suspect, will become standard in the near future. People look for the advantage. Ian Thorpe wore a modified wetsuit for some of his swim records. Electric devices to make racehorses go faster! I used a triathlon wet suits for some of my events. Jelly fish protection, warmth, the others had them and, above all else, the flotation and speed. So I stick to what Murray Rose used! Unto thy self be true! If I miss the buoy, I will go back and do it properly. Sanctimonious, I know! Old school not really for this 73-year-young. Just a rejection of something that does not feel quite fair dinkum to use!

    Peter was attempting to stir debate. Then, when no-one responded, he sent us this…

    Might be like the Emperor’s new clothes! The silence is deafening! Is it because so many people have jammers. Ian Thorpe setting swim records in what was a modified wetsuit. Too uncomfortable to discuss? Or these new running carbon shoes. World best times in the marathon with pacemakers who protect you from the wind! Changing world. Murray! I am staying traditional. Be true to yourself!!

    Peter N.

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    The 'Mer'can Olympic team, or some of them.

    Editorial

    oceanswims.com says!...

    We have our own views on swim clothing: we believe that the only true ocean swim racing is in having people compete against each other, not against their technology. This means conventional cossies only, and certainly without hi-tech assistance. We would love to see an ocean swimming world in which the only swim clothing allowed was budgys for the boofheads, and laydees budgys, ie no arms, legs, or anything apart from what might be termed “traditional” clobber. Only then can you have a true contest amongst people, rather than the depth of their pockets, or the cleverness of their backers.

    There is also the issue that some jammers are made with neoprene, which is wettie material, which means they offer flotation assistance. The makers bill them as "training gear". Sure. A clever language device meaning, "Here you go, lads! Cheat away!"

    Hi tech cossies, be they “jammers (the boofheads knee-length swim shorts), or long-legged “skins”, are worn because they are perceived to confer an advantage over one’s rivals. We asked a cobber why he wore jammers. He said, “It supports my core”, meaning that they help him to swim faster, ie the jammers assist him to swim faster. Suddenly, the contest becomes one of who is able and prepared to invest in hi-tech cossies. Suddenly, the entry cost to the sport – hitherto a pair of cossies and a pair of gogs, plus a swim entry fee – becomes double what it was, and perhaps more. Throw in wetties, and suddenly you’re looking at a thousand dollars just to be competitive in an ocean swim race, instead of, under “traditional conditions”, less than $100. How do rank-and-file families afford that, let alone normal punters?

    Over the years, there have been a few awgies who’ve agreed with us, and the essence of our argument has been incorporated into the rules of a few events. But it’s one thing to have a rule; it’s another thing to enforce it. And awgies, who change over every few years, have commitment to these rules in inverse proportion to the years since the rules were adopted by their event, which means zero after the first year. Whilst we love the fact that ocean swimming has no “rules” that apply across the sport – thus we remain un-anal, unlike “official” swimming or triaffalon, two of the most anal sports of which humanity could possibly conceive – a downside is that there are no standards. We do our best to encourage a culcha, but we are just a lone voice…

    Controversy Corner

    Tell us what you think... Click here
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    Just for the poms, or is it ours, too?

    A kerfuffle has erupted in The Old Country (yes, yes, that is an annoyingly Anglo use of the term, when so many Australians and Kiwis do not boast heritage from there) about “wild swimming”, sparked by a comment in The Guardian newspaper. Is “wild swimming” a confection of “white, upper and middle class urban-dwelling women”, thus is it elitist? Is “wild swimming” merely “swimming as it used to be”, but with a positioning line attached? Just a social meeja phenomenon?

    “Wild swimming” is a concept peculiar to the poms. It means swimming in the country, in ponds, rivers, creeks, lakes, in urban parks, and perhaps in the sea. Its bible is Waterlog, the genre-leading book by the late Roger Deakin that articulated, in 1999, the at that stage nascent cult of swimming outdoors. Since then, there has been a profusion of literature that articulates it or touches on it, and even The New Yorker ran a piece (January 27) on the fad in the UK. The Guardian piece has provoked criticism as “sneering” at those in the city who get into it and who are perceived to have taken it over. Others see it as fair comment. We reproduce the piece here to stimulate our own discussion, and also to show the parallel movement in a foreign country.

    We have “wild swimming”, but we know it commonly as “ocean swimming”. Punters swim in rivers, creeks, lakes, etc, here in Strã’a and New Zealand, but we have beaches, surf, and water very unlike that of the UK, so ours takes a different form. In Little England, “wild swimming” often is little more than bob-bob-bobbing abart in a pom-pom hat in cold water in winter. But getting into the water there in winter is an enormous achievement in itself, with water temps usually just above freezing. The UK has a healthy calendar of distance events over their summer – they wear wetties (that’s a sneer) -- but the fad seems to be about quieter stuff in small, enclosed water year-round. The UK has an abundance of pretty water holes in which to swim. They get more rain than we do, these days, especially, and they have a lot of these spots that aren’t too far from urban areas, thus they are accessible. In England, nowhere is farther than 70 miles from the coast.

    This is not to say that ours is better or more valid than theirs; it is to say that it’s different in other places, conditioned by the conditions that swimmers in those places must cope with.

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    Wild swimmming en route around Shark Island.

    'Wild swimming'? We used to just call it swimming

    From The Guardian, January 29, 2020

    Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

    The romantic poets – Coleridge, Byron, Keats – loved to swim. Swimming in open water offered the opportunity to connect with nature, nourish creativity, garner spiritual inspiration and experience the sublime. Their obsession was called hydromania, and it’s back. “Wild swimming”, as it is now known, is growing in popularity across the UK. It is increasingly featured in the press and on social media, often coupled with intensely romantic language. In publishing, memoirs about swimming and its ability to heal addiction and mental health problems have become their own niche genre.

    This, together with a boom in nature writing, a new trend for “forest bathing”, a general obsession with going “off grid” and internet-free retreats, and the introduction of a new natural history GCSE, all seems to indicate an increased popular engagement with the natural world. Is this a response to the climate crisis and the pressures of modern living? It feels as though we are entering a new era of high romanticism, but unlike the past, the proponents of the trend – at least in the often twee fascination with it online and in the media – seem to be white, upper and middle class urban-dwelling women.

    I’ve never been a fan of the phrase “wild swimming”; in Snowdonia, where I grew up, we always just called it swimming. To call it “wild”, I feel, is to centre the urban, the municipal and the populated, and to place the rural and the natural at the margins.

    I spent much of my childhood swimming outdoors, because we were spoiled for beautiful, clear, deep bodies of water, in the form of mountain lakes and river pools, quarry holes, waterfalls and lagoons. We thought nothing of it; the idea of it being a “trend” would not have made sense to us. These days, social media is flooded with posed photos of attractive, middle class urbanites in natural lakes and rivers. To the many rural-dwelling Brits who prefer to swim in a natural setting, it must seem strange to see something that is simply a part of many people’s routines become an activity to show off about on social media. My friend’s nan has been swimming in Lake Windermere for decades. Now you can buy a Wordsworth-themed wild swimming package holiday and join her.

    I was bemused when my old local lake, Llyn Padarn, at the foot of Yr Wyddfa (or, if you must, Snowdon), popped up in a New Yorker article about the vogue for outdoor swimming, via an Observer piece recommending the best winter spots. Llyn Padarn is the last place we would have swum as teenagers – not especially clear and, back then, not very clean either, being as it is next to a sewage works. These days I’m told it has been cleaned up and, as it offers a free, family-friendly activity in a deprived area, is packed with people in the summer. There are even food trucks, and a resulting litter problem. Locals I know continue to keep the quieter, more beautiful swimming spots to themselves.

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    Last Sunday was the first time we'd done Shark Island since 2002. And the first time since then that we'd worked with the Shark Island awgies. So it was pleasing to see them with more than 700 online entries -- almost double the level the year before -- and 929 finishers, on a day when the resurrected Cole Classic @ Manly had a tad under 3,000. That's a lot of mugs schlepping around a course on the same day in Sydney. Shark Island really is one of the best swim courses on the Strã'an coast, up there with Wedding Cake Island, Rotto, Byron Bay, the Pier to Perignon, Nobbys-Newcastle, the Club to Club at Forster, and The Big Swim (Palm-Whale). The numbers at Cronulla (Shark Island) demonstrated that regular swimmers really do want an alternative to the Cole.

    Seeing my much-loved lake marketed back at me did lead me to wonder, perhaps ungenerously, whether this whole trend is being led by those who view the natural world as a cure-all in the midst of a capitalist-driven mental health epidemic. “It’s all incredibly elitist,” says Luke Turner, author of Out of the Woods, a memoir about love, sexuality, religion and nature. “Go for a wild swim or a forest bathe and you’ll be easily connected with nature and all your problems solved, your guilt at being part of the capitalist system causing climate change washed away.” Turner set out to write a nature cure book, but “it ended up being about how we need to dissolve this nonsensical idea that forest bathing or climbing or swimming or looking after a wild animal is some kind of universal means of solace, healing and redemption.”

    In London, the Hampstead Heath bathing ponds have become, for some at least, a sort of posh girl status signifier, as satirised by the hilarious Twitter account Bougie London Literary Woman. Now the ponds’ inclusion in a long New Yorker essay has cemented their cachet. As one of the few single-sex spaces in the city, the women’s pond has a special place in many hearts, including mine. It is particularly beloved by older and queer women, and there has been some beautiful writing about it, most notably in the Daunt Publishing collection At the Pond. But the flipside of this is that, in summer, it’s packed with people trying to take photos in the meadow where everyone sunbathes topless.

    My friend Nell Frizzell, who worked as a lifeguard at the women’s pond, points out that urban dwellers are more alienated from nature than perhaps ever before. “They travel to work on a bus, they sit at a computer all day, they live in a small flat with no garden, they buy their food in supermarkets, there are no trees on their street, they have never grown food, they do not recognise birdsong, they miss entire seasons,” she says. “We are not built to live that way. Of course we’re not. And so, I believe, a latent hunger for something – anything – that feels like the outdoors world pulls us to ponds, to rivers, to the sea.”

    Young women’s bodies are also among the most surveilled by capitalism, and to remove one’s body from its place as a perceived site of transaction and to dunk it in freezing cold water can feel rebellious and freeing. Yet 4 million people swim outdoors each year – people of all ages, shapes and sizes choose to do this, and groups such as Swim Dem Crew aim to make swimming more inclusive. The attractively posed shots are only part of the story.

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    Even if some of the behaviour on social media is annoying, Frizzell says that, when undertaken regularly, outdoor swimming significantly improves your life, and I agree. It is certainly no miracle cure, but it can offer a kind of healing. A friend who swam in Llyn Padarn during her cancer treatment tells me that it was a way of remembering who she was. Amy Liptrot’s memoir of addiction, The Outrun, contains one of my favourite passages in literature about swimming. Liptrot writes: “By swimming in the sea I cross normal boundaries. I’m no longer on land but part of a body of water making up all the oceans of the world, which moves, ebbing and flowing under and around me. Naked on the beach, I am a selkie slipped from its skin.”

    This passage suggests that sea swimming results in feelings of communality, of living in the world; much-needed sensations for those alienated under capitalism. It seems clear that the climate crisis is part of the picture, even if unconsciously. It has brought about a need to recuperate the nature that has been so neglected, to take stock of it and make the most of it while it is still here. It’s a way of communing with a planet that is dying, of feeling part of the whole.

    I wonder what the historians of the future will make of this vogue for throwing ourselves into the water, then writing about it. Are we swimming while Rome burns, projecting our own 21st century narcissism on to a natural world we’ve treated with contempt?

    Or are we waking up to what really matters? And is it all too little, too late?

    Controversy Corner

    What do you think?... Click here
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    Online entries this weekend - North Bondi

    Carnival classic

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    The second of the two North Bondi swims held each season, and much the more popular of the two with the masses. The second Sunday in February usually offers a glorious day (although the North Bondi awgies have had problems over the last two seasons with the weather, but that is against the norm).

    Two distances -- 1km and 2km. And everyone who swims has their name included in a drawer for a trip for two to Hawai'i, one male prize, one female prize. If you enter both North Bondi events, you receive two entries into the draw.

    Everyone should swim at Bondi, if only for the colour and the pageantry of the venue and the occasion. The swims take place against one of the world's most iconic beach backdrops, certainly iconic urban beach.

    Online entries to the North Bondi Classic close on oceanswims.com at 3pm on Saturday, February 8.

    More info and to enter online... Click here

    Gogs & oceanswimsafaris boutique

    swipe selene 150 puffoceanswims.com will have our gogs boutique under hi-tech canvas at North Bondi this Sundee, so come along and get your gogs. 

    We'll also have our gogs boutique at Malabar (Feb 16), Balmoral (Apr 5), and perhaps at a few other swims, too. Watch out for our colourful tent... You can't miss it.

    In the meantime, if you'd like to order them immediately... Click here

    And have a chat to us (especially Mrs Sparkle) about our oceanswimsafaris... We have lovely pitcher books (by Glistening Dave) of many of our tours -- Tonga, Sulawesi (Indonesia), Yasawas and Mana Fiji, The Philippines, and French Polynesia.

    Good grief, there are so many wonderful places to go!

    North Bondi Roughwater prizes

    Following The Roughwater at North Bondi on January 12, organisers have asked us to let prize winners know...

    "We have posted (prize) vouchers to all recipients we have an address for. Unfortunately, many entrants did not have an address (recorded with their entry).

    Vouchers will be available at the North Bondi Classic Swim on February 9, at a dedicated table in the registration area."

    Mollymook changes date

    The Mollymook Ocean Swim, usually run early in April, has switched date this season to May 3. Logistical issues forced the change.

    We reckon this will be a better date for this swim, giving it free water and air on a weekend when swimmers will be looking for an alternative to the Byron swim, run the same day on the far north coast of NSW.

    Mollymook is one of the prettiest beaches on the coast, and a terrific venue for a country weekend away. Even better, it's an area affected by bushfires, so supporting Mollymook, especially staying for the weekend, will be an excellent way of helping these areas get back on their feet after the fires.

    Find out more... Click here

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    Swim Group this week

    Manly - Bold & Beautiful

     manly bold n beautiful

    Perhaps the largest swim group (certainly of which we're aware) in Strã'a is Manly's Bold & Beautiful, swimming each morning at 7am from the corner at Manly Beach, near the surf club. B&B started a few years ago when the then Club Captain of Manly Life Saving Club, Julie Isbill, took a few women for a swim over to Shelly Beach and back. Was it Xmas Day? Or Boxing Day? They loved it so much, they asked to come back next day. And they're still coming back.

    You can check out more details about the B&B and many other swim groups abart the place on our Swim Group maps. For the NSW map... Click here

    For Swim Group maps, see Swim Groups at the top of the oceanswims.com home page.

    Send us a group pic of your swim group. Make sure it's a good sized pic (say, 1500px wide, 500kb-1mb) to allow for editing... Click here

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    Tonga - Just 4 spots left

    Swim with the whales

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    Here's a heads-up: our Tonga oceanswimsafari has only four spots left. We can take only eight swimmers/towel carriers at a time with us to Tonga. This makes this oceanswimsafari especially suitable for small groups, as well as singles and couples. If you'd like to share in this extraordinary experience, contact us quick and smart. Quick and smart is right: for the best way into our venue in Tonga, there are limited seats available. Last time we checked, there weren't many left. It's still possible to take a more convoluted route, but you really don't want to do that... Click here

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    New goggles - 47 swims in

    Selene Swipe - A gentle wash

    view 820ASA selene swipe 450Interesting experience this morn, at squad: we wore our View Swipes for their 47th outing, after we'd washed them gently in warm water and dishwashing detergent. Result: clear gogs all squad, but all we'd done at the start was wet them in the pool water. No goo, no spittle (our spit is particularly high qual in viscosity and usually does the trick, but we didn't apply it this time), no nothing, except wetting them.

    We've sold over 200 pairs of View Selene Swipes since we launched them just prior to Xmas, so many, in fact, that we've sold out of one colour and we've almost sold out of several others. New stocks are expected around the end of February, but if you want to get yours now, don't delay.

    We're up to 47 swims, as we say. From about 29 swims on, we found a little fog creeping into our right lens, but when we swipe our finger gently over the inside of the lens, it goes away. We've also found that, if you wash your gogs every few swims, gently with dishwashing detergent, air dry them, and keep them clean, in their case, this, too, helps enormously, but that's true of all gogs.

    The Selene has long been our most popular gog. A year or two back, View introduced a mirrored version of the Selene, and now they also offer the revolutionary Swipe, offering anti-fog capacity that lasts 10 times as long as existing goggles, the makers say. The Selene Swipe has technology in its interior lens coating that allows you to clear fog from the lens simply by "swiping" your finger across it.

    According to the makers, the "10 times as long" refers to distance they say you can swim before you start to see some fogging with new goggles. They say the standard is 4km, but the Swipes will go 40kms. Whatever, all gogs will fog if you don't respect them and look after them. The issue also is how to deal with the fogging if and when it does occur.

    Selene is one of the best value gogs you will ever find. And made with an extra wide silicone seal, the Selene is probably the most comfortable low-profile gog you'll find, and it doesn't leave you with Rocky Raccoon marks around your eyes. The Selene Swipe offers anti-fog performance that's 10 times longer than normal, and a swiping lens durability, say the people at View, offering 1,500 swipes without degrading performance.

    Selene Swipe comes in Blue (BL), Light Blue (CLB), Lavender (LV), Black (BK), Bronze (BR).

    Find out more and order Selene Swipes... Click here

    Price increases

    View have just now advised us that they are raising prices for most of their gog and swim accessory lines. The rises are small, and View gogs remain amongst the lowest priced and best value gear on the market. Compare them with other "high profile" brands: there really is no comparison, particularly considering their quality. We've been wearing View for more than 20 years, and they've never let us down.

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     2020 oceanswimsafaris

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    I love you, mum... Swim with whales in Tonga.

    June 12-20 – The Philippines – Swim with whale sharks in another paradise of some of the clearest water of the greatest marine biodiversity in the Indo-Pacific region… Click here

    June 23-July 1 – Sulawesi, Indonesia – More of the clear water and great marine biodiversity at the other end of the Celebes Sea from our Philippines location. This is a place that hardly any Strá’an visits. It’s pretty well just us... Click here

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    The start at la Concha, San Sebastián.

    July 20-28 – Tonga - Swim with the Whales – Only four places left in our oceanswimsafari to swim with Humpback whales (above) – One of the most unusual, special experiences you can ever have swimming in the ocean. The humpbacks migrate over winter from Antarctica to Tonga to give birth and generally frolic around. Tonga is one of the few places in the world where we’re allowed to get in the water with the whales… Click here

    August 25-31 – San Sebastián, Spain – Swim the Basque country, with its rich mix of culture, food, and history. And the swimming’s terrific, too. That's San Sebastián, above -- A romantic evening on the bay of la Concha... A must-stop during anyone’s trip to Europe… Click here

    September 12-20 – Costa Brava, Spain – Swim Catalonia, and France to Spain around the end of the Pyrenees. Another journey through history, art, culture and food, and some of the clearest water you’ll ever swim in… Click here

    October 20-25 - Mana Fiji SwimFest - Packages will be ready soon... Watch this space… Click here

    October 26-Nov 2 - Yasawas Fiji -  Packages are online now… Click here

    Controversy Corner...

    From last week's newsletter, on What makes an ocean swim?", we received this feedback from Mark...

    I really enjoyed your piece on "what makes an ocean swim". It definitely doesn't involve being herded by surf ski paddling water patrol volunteers, although I respect their commitment to my safety. Big crowds, surf skis, and lots of buoys definitely feels like "schlepping" around in the sea to me, with a t shirt at the end.

    As a regular and lifelong "earlyish" most mornings "or whenever/wherever feels good" solo swimmer, I find the whole big swim thing a bit strange? I like the fact that money is raised and like-minded swimming people get together to just.... swim, but if I'm swimming wide of the pack, it's for a reason.

    I enjoy your newsletter and the colour pieces about the swim "culcha". I guess the moral of the story for me at least is... just rock up and swim with some of the local swimming groups around our wonderful coastline, and of course your newsletter is a good place to start in that respect.

    Thanks again for your contribution to the broadening of our swimming culcha.

    Cheers, Mark

    What do you reckon about any of this stuff? We received a lot of feedback after last week's newsletter. Check it out... Click here

    Let us know and we'll facilitate the debate... Click here

    (Also see posts at the end of this newsletter.)

    Swims open to online entry...

    Coming soon - Pacific Palms (Easter Sunday, Apr 12), South Curl Curl (May 3), South Head (May 17), 

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    More water sculpcha: Random punter rounds the last can from Shark Island.

    Advertise...

    We email this newsletter to over 39,000 swimmers weekly in season, and less frequently out of season. If you'd like to advertise with us, please give us a yell.. Click here

    If you're not receiving our emails...

    ... even if you believe you're on our list, chances are they're going into your Spam or Trash/Bin folders. Some email providers do that to us; gmail and Hotmail, for example. So check your Spam, your Trash and/or your Bin, and you might find us trapped in their, lonely, with no-one to talk to.

    You might also add oceanswims.com to your email whitelist. This should help them to come through.

    Results...

    For swim results... Click here

    If you have a link to results that we have not listed, please send it to us... Click here

    Emergency!

    Don't be an emergency eejit. It's 'strordnry how many punters enter swims online and list themselves as their own emergency contact. Just say something happens to you out in the sea, who are awgies going to contact? You? Get real. Think about it, and enter someone else as your emergency contact, event if it's your boss at work.

    List your swim group...

    List your informal morning swim group on our directory, so that travelling swimmers will always have a place and a peloton to swim with... Click here

    Check our swim maps...

    For a quick idea of what's going on around your area -- formal events, informal swim groups -- check our swim maps. You'll find them for each area under Swims/Calendar on oceanswims.com.

    Buy gogs...

    You can buy your fave View gogs and other swim needs from the oceanswims.com boutique... Click here

    Check our back issues...

    For all our back issues of the weekly oceanswims.com newsletter... Click here

    Subscribe

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    This newsletter...

    We send this newsletter to a mailing list of over 39,000 swimmers, mainly in Australia and New Zealand, around the south-west Pacific, and even around the world. If ou'd like to advertise with us, give us a yell... Click here

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    January 29, 2020

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    Emailed to more than 39,000 ocean swimmers
    weekly in season.

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    Sometimes, they are so fast, even the Brownie Starflash-in-a-plastic-bag can't keep up... From the Elite start, The Big Swim, Palm Beach last Sundee.

    Look below...

    Swims this weekend...

    Perennial search

    The "true ocean swim"

    What is a true ocean swim?

    Like most good debates, this one has no end point. For the notion of “a true ocean swim” will vary from time to place to viewpoint, and back again.

    The Big Swim from Palm Beach to Whale Beach in Sydney, held last weekend for its 45th iteration, likes to present itself as “a true ocean swim” for its “big” challenge of swimming around the headland between the two beaches. And it’s true, as formal ocean swims go, The Big Swim probably is one of the “truest” you will find. We will never forget it as one of the most enjoyable ocean swims we’ve ever done, one particular year, way back in time, maybe 15 years ago.

    In those days, there were no booees between a booee behind the break at Palm Beach, and another behind the break at Whale Beach. This meant you were free to swim your own course, unconstrained by pesky things like guide booees or intrusive, officious water safety staff. This particular day, there was a stiff sou’-easter blowing into your face all the way out to Little Head and around it, a swell also from the sou’-east, and a sharp chop atop the swell blown up by the breeze. It was a bumpy, up-and-down swim, so much so that we still reckon we spent more time and distance going up and down than we did forwards. And, rounding the headland, we swam so close to the cliff that we could almost touch the rocks, except that bouncing up and down so much it was hard to get a fix on them.

    This marks a significant difference between the other great “around the headland” swim in Sydney, Bondi-to-Bronte. There is a rock shelf that runs out from Mackenzies Point, between Bondi and Glamarama, so that even on a high tide, with any kind of swell you need to skirt the headland with plenty of room to avoid the shallows and the break, sometimes by 100m or more. From Little Head at Palm Beach, in contrast, the bottom drops straight down, which means the swell does not cause other than a dishevelled bump till it hits the base of the cliff. So The Big Swim offers delights of which Bondi-to-Bronte can only dream.

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    There's a very good reason why this swimmer is not diving with her head down... From The Big Swim, Palm Beach last Sundee.

    Headspace

    What adds to the quality of The Big Swim as a “true ocean swim” is this libertarian course, with minimal constraint apart from the start and finish booees, both of which, in those days, were set well off the beaches as general guides.
    There’s also the head factor: it’s 1.6km from the start at Palm Beach to a position off Little Head where you could confidently say you were “at it”. Your target is that point, for after that you can see the finish and you know you’re well over half-way. But there are a couple of undulations in the cliff line along the way from the beach to Little Head. A couple of times, you think you have the point in sight, only to find it’s a false head and you still have another headland to go. This does not show up well looking from Google Earth, but you experience this from the water, and the closer in your course is towards the shoreline, the more disheartening, or taxing, it is. This is the head factor.

    You then hit the runout from the northern end of Palm Beach. This will swing you out to sea a bit, when you’re already battling a current in your face off the headland, offering another little test of your headspace.

    On the upside, given clearish water, you can watch the bottom all the way out to the headland, and this takes your mind off the distance.

    There can be other little treats along the way. One year, the water was filled with little, benign jellies all the way out, so many of them that every stroke was like swimming through half-set jelly. They gave you something to grab apart from the water.

    So, yes, The Big Swim’s positioning as “a true ocean swim” has more than a grain of truth. That said, in recent years, there’ve been more booees added to the course designed to guide the peloton along the way and to keep it off the rocks. We understand why the awgies do that, and we also understand that some of the feedback that awgies receive post-swim is for more such booees. But in many formal events, this can go over the top, so that the course your set is so constrained that the challenge is not just to get from one beach to another, but to mark the waypoints with booees every couple of hundred metres. This might make it easier to digest, particularly for less experienced swimmers, but does it detract from the “true ocean swim”? Does it, instead, set you on railway tracks, so that you’re more completing a task than travelling a journey?

    Three islands

    A similar phenomenon happens at Coogee, where the main swim, twice a year, rounds Wedding Cake Island. This is our fave Sydney course, but in the formal event, the booees are set so far off the island that you don’t get to experience much of the island itself. We understand why this is: the water around Wedding Cake Island is turbulent and prone to strong, conflicting currents. When swell hits the island, it wraps around it, and meets itself on the other side. It can be very dangerous water, and the swell doesn’t have to be large before it becomes dangerous. Some punters can handle these things, but many punters are less experienced. Sometimes, the currents are such that even experienced swimmers find it hard to maintain control. On one occasion at Coogee, the booees set by awgies were washed by the current out of position, so that the straight course from the farthest-out booee behind the island, to the next booee off Wylies Baths, took you straight across the island.

    There are currents and turbulence around Shark Island, off Cronulla – a swim whose 2020 iteration is this Sunday. This is different again: whereas the course at Wedding Cake skirts the island, out and back, the course at Shark Island is a genuine circumnavigation, with the loop being closed over shallow reef between Cronulla Point and the island. This is where the currents and the turbulence can be all over the place. This part of the course offers different water and conditions than the rest of the journey, and perhaps this should be another test of whether a course is a “true ocean swim”: that it offers diverse conditions as the mug punter progresses along it.

    Gap

    Now that we think of it, the other great island circumnavigation in Sydney doesn’t have a formal swim around it, but it should have. This one is off the Newport reef, sou’-east of the beach and down past the regular Newport course, the Pool to Peak, on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. We’ve done this swim informally in early winter, which is the best time to do all these swims, with a greater chance of a gentle offshore breeze with smooth, clear water that holds its warmth till winter, and clear, gently sunny skies. We swam anti-clockwise, so we crossed the shallow reef inside the island first, then rounded left-shoulder.

    Our coastline really is blessed with courses like these, all of them “true ocean swims”. It’s one of the characteristics of our ocean swimming that makes it different from most other places around the globe: that we deal with surf, as well as with the sea itself. Why someone has not pulled all three of these courses into an autumn-early winter series is one of the great mysteries and tragedies of ocean swimming. This series perhaps should be done over a long weekend, eg June. (The SIPS at Cronulla [the Shark Island Psycho Swimmers] have an annual outing [next weekend, Feb 8, as it happens] of their own three-island swim day, when they do Shark Island, Wedding Cake Island, and Bare Island at La Perouse all on the one day. That would lead into a fun lunch, indeed. It’s more than a cuppa. But don’t forget Newport. Mind you, punters from the Shire always have difficulty finding the Sydney Harbour Bridge, as do punters from the Northern Beaches.

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    When you've been in the water as long as we have, the sea plays funny tricks on you. All of a sudden, you're seeing happy piglets... or koalas... From The Big Swim, Palm Beach last Sundee.

    Pressure

    The pressure on awgies always is to make a swim safer, hence the booees, and the copious water safety staff. We understand that. But does this make the swim more enjoyable? Another swim in Sydney is known, by us at least, as the most officious event we’ve done for the methods of the water safety staff to keep you on the course that they want you on, rather than a course you may set yourself, even to the extent of putting rescue mals or skis across the peloton to force swimmers to change direction. The first you know of this is when you hit your head on the board that’s blocking your way.

    Other events are like sheep dog trials, with so many punters that they’re more an exercise in crowd management – often done very haphazardly – than in “true ocean swimming”. We’re thinking of the Cole this weekend at Manly, and the Pier to Pub at Lorne on Victoria’s Surf Coast. Everyone should do these swims at some stage, for the overall experience (and in Lorne’s case, for the t-shirt), but don’t be fooled into thinking that they are “true ocean swimming”. Our calendar oozes with events that are more “true ocean swims” than these.

    Indeed, “true ocean swimming” perhaps should be seen really as the informal stuff, the pioneering, on-the-edge-of-civilisation stuff, with no water safety, no booees, no-one officiously telling you where you can swim, or to swim their way, not your way, and no-one “winning”.

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    The edge was sharp at Palmie last Sundee, my friends.

    Epitome

    Each year, we lead an oceanswimsafari to the Costa Brava in Catalonia/Spain, where the highlight is the Transfronterera course, around the end of the Pyrenees from France to Spain. When done as a “formal” event, there are no booees, everyone is off go, and when you get to the finish, they announce you over the line, but there is no timing, no places, no medals, and little formality. Just plenty of bonhomie. There is a drink station half way around, positioned below the border, which you can spy high above you, marked by a little post atop the towering, limestone cliffs that form the point where the mountain range meets the sea.

    Swimming beneath those mountains is an exhilarating experience. It’s c. 3.6km each way. We did it twice as a formal, albeit liberal event. The first time, we went France to Spain. The second time, waiting in Spain at the finishing beach, before the bus shuttled us over the mountain to the start in France, awgies announced that, anyone who would like to swim around to the start was welcome to do so. Our bunch did, so we got both ways that day, with a 10-minute break in France between the two legs.

    As we’ve changed the time we’re in Spain, now we do this swim by ourselves, just us and our little group, accompanied by a dive boat, followed by lunch at a husband-and-wife run bistro perched on the cliff above the port in Cerbère, on the French side. And that is a “true ocean swim”, along with the culcha following it.

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    The 2018 Costa Brava peloton creates culcha at our fave Catalunyan wine bar, Chez Pau, with Pau himself, a retired war photographer.

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      Swimmer's ear

      Don't put anything in your ear larger than your elbow

      ear diagram 600Every swimmer suffers at some time from swimmer's ear -- an infection or inflamation inside the ear that makes the ear very painful in or out of the water. Surfers suffer from it, too. It's been known to end swimming careers and to cause an awful lot of misery on the way through. We get it sometimes, but only from pool swimming, not from the ocean. Go figure.

      So how to deal with it?

      Ear, nose and throat specialist, and ocean swimmer, Niell Boustred (he's a Maillot Jaune swimmer in Sydney), wrote about this condition, and how to deal with it, in our newsletter of March 7, 2018. It's worth going back over it to remind yourself how to deal with this very painful, and often debilitating condition... Click here

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      Bushfire relief

      Be aware, authorities have issued warnings about dodgy appeals, such as through cold calls, door knocking, etc, and online, so you should ensure that whoever you donate to is legitimate. We feel the best way to do this is via the ABC Appeals web page that has been set up to list many legitimate appeals. Go there, and make your choice... Click here
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      Shark Island, Cronulla

      Around the island

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      Ocean swimmers often are carried away with the beauty of what they experience in the ocean. This is especially the case around reefs. We organise mosts of our oceanswimsafaris in places where we can swim over stunning reef, with all the sea life and myriad colours they display. Reef is good because it attracts fish, and fish are attracted because reefs offer food. You can't see all this if you're watching from the shore; you can experience it only if you're with it, over it, in the sea. Some swims offer this experience.

      shark island logo 20 250One of them is the Shark Island Swim Classic at Cronulla, in Sydney's south. The swim leaves South Cronulla beach and heads straight out to sea, before circumnavigating Shark Island -- or Shark Rock, as some people refer to it, since this "island" carries no undergrowth, foliage, or soil -- threads between the island and Cronulla Point, then turns back into the beach. It's 2.3km and it is what we categories with a few swims on our calendar as an "epic", mixing up types of water, different bottoms, currents, depths, sea life floral and faunal, and maybe even the odd shark. 

      Here's how one swimmer felt about swimming around Shark Island...

      Sliding through the sand, wade through knee deep water and waves, off we go, swimming past mouse trap reef and the surfers at the point, out to the Island, I saw it out of the corner of my eye…. briefly, another breath and rolling my face back into the water – there, directly under me, was the most magnificent wild school of sprinting gar-fish, angling away toward the island. Another rhythmic breath, another dip of my face into the deep and I see it all again.

      Just as we reach the reef surrounding Shark Island, stretched below me were magnificent greens, swirling golden seagrasses, sandy holes, drop offs and fish all around. For a moment I was no longer swimming – but stalled in another world, looking down, immersed and amazed….

      All I could I feel at that moment was a surreal and surrounding ocean, as I swam on in the rolling swell of the Pacific, soothing every pore of my body, every relaxing breach I take for breath, I look out to a thousand miles of ocean – next stop infinity…. Yet just below me I can see another world, with me, swimming with the fish…

      In 2020, The Shark Island Swim Classic is on Sunday, February 2. It offers a dramatic and colourful alternative to another, much larger, crowded, frenetic and much expesnive swim occurring on the same day. 

      We'll be at Shark Island. We haven't done this swim in some years. We're looking forward to it very much.

      More info and to enter online... Click here

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      Gogs & oceanswimsafaris boutique

      swipe selene 150 puffoceanswims.com will have our gog boutique under canvas at the Shark Island swim at Cronulla, so come along and get your gogs. 

      We'll also have our gogs boutique at North Bondi (Feb 9), Malabar (Feb 16), Balmoral (Apr 5), and perhaps at a few other swims, too. Watch out for our colourful tent... You can't miss it.

      In the meantime, if you'd like to order them immediately... Click here

      And have a chat to us (especially Mrs Sparkle) about our oceanswimsafaris... We have lovely pitcher books (by Glistening Dave) of many of our tours -- Tonga, Sulawesi (Indonesia), Yasawas and Mana Fiji, The Philippines, and French Polynesia.

      Good grief, there are so many wonderful places to go!

      North Bondi Roughwater prizes

      Following The Roughwater at North Bondi on January 12, organisers have asked us to let prize winners know...

      "We have posted (prize) vouchers to all recipients we have an address for. Unfortunately, many entrants did not have an address (recorded with their entry).

      Vouchers will be available at the North Bondi Classic Swim on February 9, at a dedicated table in the registration area."

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      Swim Group this week

      Torquay - A cosy grope

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      Moving up along Victoria's Surf Coast, to Torquay and the Cosy Gropers, apparently here planning their next grope. This pic was last winter, at the post-swim cuppa, which is, after all, the only reason punters swim: to gain access to the cuppa and all the culcha that that entails. The Cosy Gropers swim from Cosy Corner at Torquay, every Sat'dee all year 'round, says spokesgroper Greg Costa.

      You can check out more details about the Gropers and many other swim groups abart the place on our Swim Group maps. For the Victorian map... Click here

      For other Swim Group maps, see Swim Groups at the top of the oceanswims.com home page.

      Send us a group pic of your swim group. Make sure it's a good sized pic (say, 1500px wide, 500kb-1mb) to allow for editing... Click here

       

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      Tonga - Just 4 spots left

      Swim with the whales

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      Here's a heads-up: our Tonga oceanswimsafari has only four spots left. We can take only eight swimmers/towel carriers at a time with us to Tonga. This makes this oceanswimsafari especially suitable for small groups, as well as singles and couples. If you'd like to share in this extraordinary experience, contact us quick and smart. Quick and smart is right: for the best way into our venue in Tonga, there are limited seats available. Last time we checked, there weren't many left. It's still possible to take a more convoluted route, but you really don't want to do that... Click here

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      New goggles - 43 swims in

      Selene Swipe, still no probs

      view 820ASA selene swipe 450We've sold many, many of the new View Selene Swipes since we launched them just prior to Xmas, so many, in fact, that we're close to sold out of most colours. New stocks are expected around the end of February, but if you want to get yours now, don't delay.

      Our personal usage stands now at 42 swims, and still good vision. From about 29 swims on, we found a little fog creeping into our right lens, but when we swipe our finger gently over the inside of the lens, it goes. We've also found that, if you wash your gogs gently with dishwashing detergent, air dry them, and keep them clean, in their case, this, too, helps enormously, but that's true of all gogs.

      The Selene has long been our most popular gog. A year or two back, View introduced a mirrored version of the Selene, and now they also offer the revolutionary Swipe version, offering anti-fog capacity that lasts 10 times as long as existing goggles, the makers say. The Selene Swipe has technology in its interior lens coating that allows you to clear fog from the lens simply by "swiping" your finger across it.

      According to the makers, the "10 times as long" refers to distance they say you can swim before you start to see some fogging with new goggles. They say the standard is 4km, but the Swipes will go 40kms. Whatever, all gogs will fog if you don't respect them and look after them. The issue also is how to deal with the fogging if and when it does occur.

      Selene is one of the best value gogs you will ever find. And made with an extra wide silicone seal, the Selene is probably the most comfortable low-profile gog you'll find, and it doesn't leave you with Rocky Raccoon marks around your eyes. The Selene Swipe offers anti-fog performance that's 10 times longer than normal, and a swiping lens durability offering 1,500 swipes without degrading performance.

      Selene Swipe comes in Blue (BL), Light Blue (CLB), Lavender (LV), Black (BK), Bronze (BR).

      Find out more and order Selene Swipes... Click here

      Price increases

      View have just now advised us that they are raising prices for most of their gog and swim accessory lines. The rises are small, and View gogs remain amongst the lowest priced and best value gear on the market. Compare them with other "high profile" brands: there really is no comparison, particularly considering their quality. We've been wearing View for more than 20 years, and they've never let us down.

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       2020 oceanswimsafaris

      tonga whales humpback 1907 01 600a
      I love you, mum... Swim with whales in Tonga.

      June 12-20 – The Philippines – Swim with whale sharks in another paradise of some of the clearest water of the greatest marine biodiversity in the Indo-Pacific region… Click here

      June 23-July 1 – Sulawesi, Indonesia – More of the clear water and great marine biodiversity at the other end of the Celebes Sea from our Philippines location. This is a place that hardly any Strá’an visits. It’s pretty well just us... Click here

      san sebastian la concha swim 16
      The start at la Concha, San Sebastián.

      July 20-28 – Tonga - Swim with the Whales – Only four places left in our oceanswimsafari to swim with Humpback whales (above) – One of the most unusual, special experiences you can ever have swimming in the ocean. The humpbacks migrate over winter from Antarctica to Tonga to give birth and generally frolic around. Tonga is one of the few places in the world where we’re allowed to get in the water with the whales… Click here

      August 25-31 – San Sebastián, Spain – Swim the Basque country, with its rich mix of culture, food, and history. And the swimming’s terrific, too. That's San Sebastián, above -- A romantic evening on the bay of la Concha... A must-stop during anyone’s trip to Europe… Click here

      September 12-20 – Costa Brava, Spain – Swim Catalonia, and France to Spain around the end of the Pyrenees. Another journey through history, art, culture and food, and some of the clearest water you’ll ever swim in… Click here

      October 20-25 - Mana Fiji SwimFest - Packages will be ready soon... Watch this space… Click here

      October 26-Nov 2 - Yasawas Fiji -  Packages are online now… Click here

      Controversy Corner...

      What do you reckon about any of this stuff? We received a lot of feedback after last week's newsletter. Check it out... Click here

      Let us know and we'll facilitate the debate... Click here

      (Also see posts at the end of this newsletter.)

      Swims open to online entry...

      newsletter divider clear bgrd


      Wave dynamics... Forster, this morn.

      Advertise...

      We email this newsletter to over 39,000 swimmers weekly in season, and less frequently out of season. If you'd like to advertise with us, please give us a yell.. Click here

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      ... even if you believe you're on our list, chances are they're going into your Spam or Trash/Bin folders. Some email providers do that to us; gmail and Hotmail, for example. So check your Spam, your Trash and/or your Bin, and you might find us trapped in their, lonely, with no-one to talk to.

      You might also add oceanswims.com to your email whitelist. This should help them to come through.

      Results...

      For swim results... Click here

      If you have a link to results that we have not listed, please send it to us... Click here

      Emergency!

      Don't be an emergency eejit. It's 'strordnry how many punters enter swims online and list themselves as their own emergency contact. Just say something happens to you out in the sea, who are awgies going to contact? You? Get real. Think about it, and enter someone else as your emergency contact, event if it's your boss at work.

      List your swim group...

      List your informal morning swim group on our directory, so that travelling swimmers will always have a place and a peloton to swim with... Click here

      Check our swim maps...

      For a quick idea of what's going on around your area -- formal events, informal swim groups -- check our swim maps. You'll find them for each area under Swims/Calendar on oceanswims.com.

      Buy gogs...

      You can buy your fave View gogs and other swim needs from the oceanswims.com boutique... Click here

      Check our back issues...

      For all our back issues of the weekly oceanswims.com newsletter... Click here

      Subscribe

      If you wish to receive our newsletters by email, or you know someone who would like to receive them... Click here

      This newsletter...

      We send this newsletter to a mailing list of over 39,000 swimmers, mainly in Australia and New Zealand, around the south-west Pacific, and even around the world. If ou'd like to advertise with us, give us a yell... Click here

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      January 22, 2020

      fos scroll blank canvas 350

      Emailed to more than 39,000 ocean swimmers
      weekly in season.

      forster main beach 200122 03 600
      The Forster Turtles have a commander. Can you guess who it is?

      Look below...

      Swims this weekend...

      Charles Sprawson, Haunts of the Black Masseur

      ‘The best book about swimming ever written’ 

      From The Guardian, January 9, 2020

      The news of the death of Charles Sprawson, 78, who had been suffering from vascular dementia, was announced by Sprawson’s friend and fellow author, Alex Preston, who called him “a majestic writer, a brilliant mind, a great friend”, and Haunts of the Black Masseur “the best book about swimming, perhaps the best book about any sport, ever written”.

      sprawson 350“Like all great books, it’s about so much more than its purported title and is full of the most brilliant passages of memoir, nature writing and literary criticism. It provided a model not only for so many of the swimming memoirs that have become such a staple of the literary landscape, but also for a range of authors from William Fiennes to Philip Hoare to Ann Wroe – who weave together life writing, literature and the natural world in the elegant footsteps of Sprawson … I hope that wherever Charles is now, he is doing what made him happiest – swimming,” said Preston, who raised thousands of pounds by swimming the Hellespont in 2018 to help fund Sprawson’s long-term medical care. The author had been suffering from vascular dementia.

      Preston said Sprawson had been working on a second book, about Slovenian endurance swimmer Martin Strel, but that it remained in draft form.

      haunts cover 300Born in Pakistan, Sprawson published only one book, an exploration of the history of swimming that JG Ballard called “an exhilarating plunge” and Iris Murdoch said was “as zestful as a plunge in champagne”. Tracing the great swimming heroes, from Byron crossing the Hellespont to Hart Crane diving to his death in the Bay of Mexico, it also delved into the character of swimmers – people who Sprawson described as “rather remote and divorced from everyday life, devoted to a mode of exercise where most of the body remains submerged and self-absorbed”.

      “It seemed to me that it appealed to the introverted and eccentric, individualists involved in a mental world of their own,” he wrote.

      The book also laid out Sprawson’s own, although somewhat less romantic swim across the Hellespont, the four-mile strait that connects Europe to Asia. “Within seconds of entering the water I was enveloped in waves and dragged sideways, but managed to cling to some rocks, from where I groped my way back to the shore, to the vast amusement of the passengers lining the decks of the departing ferry,” he wrote.

      Published in 1992 to great acclaim, Haunts of the Black Masseur was subsequently largely forgotten, although it is regarded as the precursor to the now popular narrative non-fiction about the natural world. Sprawson later worked as an art dealer, but Haunts received a new lease of life when it was reissued by Vintage in 2013 with a new introduction from the writer Amy Liptrot.

      Last year, a BBC Radio 4 programme, Searching for Swimming Pools, followed the author as he navigated a retirement home and his advancing vascular dementia. The BBC described the programme as a “portrait of lifelong obsession, the debilitating effects of dementia and the transformative power of swimming”, adding that “even as [Sprawson] grows increasingly frail, he can still be found wandering the corridors looking for swimming pools, opening doors in the hope of finding shimmering water to plunge into”.

      Literary agent David Godwin, who first commissioned Sprawson to write Haunts of the Black Masseur for publisher Jonathan Cape, remembered him as “a very special man, sophisticated, clever and eccentric – and this is a tragic end.”

      “I thought Haunts would be a great book but I’d only been at Jonathan Cape for about a month and everyone thought it was the most insane commission they’d ever heard of, but it turned out to be an amazing book,” he said.

      “I wish he’d written more than one.”

      forster main beach 200122 01 600
      Life takes many forms... Forster, this morn.

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      Getting under waves, it's bottoms up... Forster, this morn.

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        Bushfire relief

        Be aware, authorities have issued warnings about dodgy appeals, such as through cold calls, door knocking, etc, and online, so you should ensure that whoever you donate to is legitimate. We feel the best way to do this is via the ABC Appeals web page that has been set up to list many legitimate appeals. Go there, and make your choice... Click here
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        Shark Island, Cronulla

        Carried away around the island

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        Ocean swimmers often are carried away with the beauty of what they experience in the ocean. This is especially the case around reefs. We organise mosts of our oceanswimsafaris in places where we can swim over stunning reef, with all the sea life and myriad colours they display. Reef is good because it attracts fish, and fish are attracted because reefs offer food. You can't see all this if you're watching from the shore; you can experience it only if you're with it, over it, in the sea. Some swims offer this experience.

        shark island logo 20 250One of them is the Shark Island Swim Classic at Cronulla, in Sydney's south. The swim leaves South Cronulla beach and heads straight out to sea, before circumnavigating Shark Island -- or Shark Rock, as some people refer to it, since this "island" carries no undergrowth, foliage, or soil -- threads between the island and Cronulla Point, then turns back into the beach. It's 2.3km and it is what we categories with a few swims on our calendar as an "epic", mixing up types of water, different bottoms, currents, depths, sea life floral and faunal, and maybe even the odd shark. 

        Here's how one swimmer felt about swimming around Shark Island...

        Sliding through the sand, wade through knee deep water and waves, off we go, swimming past mouse trap reef and the surfers at the point, out to the Island, I saw it out of the corner of my eye…. briefly, another breath and rolling my face back into the water – there, directly under me, was the most magnificent wild school of sprinting gar-fish, angling away toward the island. Another rhythmic breath, another dip of my face into the deep and I see it all again.

        Just as we reach the reef surrounding Shark Island, stretched below me were magnificent greens, swirling golden seagrasses, sandy holes, drop offs and fish all around. For a moment I was no longer swimming – but stalled in another world, looking down, immersed and amazed….

        All I could I feel at that moment was a surreal and surrounding ocean, as I swam on in the rolling swell of the Pacific, soothing every pore of my body, every relaxing breach I take for breath, I look out to a thousand miles of ocean – next stop infinity…. Yet just below me I can see another world, with me, swimming with the fish…

        In 2020, The Shark Island Swim Classic is on Sunday, February 2. It offers a dramatic and colourful alternative to another, much larger, crowded, frenetic and much expesnive swim occurring on the same day. 

        We'll be at Shark Island. We haven't done this swim in some years. We're looking forward to it very much.

        More info and to enter online... Click here

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        Swim Group this week

        Into the smoke: Lorne, 8am

        lorne 8am 200115 600

        We received this pic late last week from Brett Davidson: "...a shot of the Lorne 8am crew before swimming into the smoke haze this morning," which was last Wensdee. We asked Brett whether he had an image showing a bit of face, faces being what many punters relate to. He said: "Sorry - no group shots (they're a shy lot)".

        "Many of the morning crew have disappeared this week (after the big Pier to Pub race on Sat - back to work. Some mornings, we've had 50 ppl."

        You can read our report of the Lorne Pier to Pub, from roving reporter and naturalist, Glenn Muir... Click here

        Send us a group pic of your swim group. Make sure it's a good sized pic (say, 1500px wide, 500kb-1mb) to allow for editing... Click here

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        Entries online this weekend...

        newcastle beach aerial sea
        Newcastle Beach: You can just see Nobbys in the distance; the swim runs from there, around the rock shelf, past the Cowrie Hole and Newcastle Ocean Baths, and into the beach. Such a spectacular swim.

        Nobbys-Newcastle - Saturday

        This really is one of the prettiest courses you will ever do, particularly if you can breathe to the right. It runs from the beach beneath Nobbys headland -- near where the Pasha Bulker was grounded -- around the rockshelf, past Newcastle Ocean Baths -- one of the great ocean pools on the 'Strã'an coast -- and into Newcastle beach. It passes the majestic residential district of Newcastle East, the famed surf spot, Cowrie Hole -- where Young Einstein surfed -- and into one of the only beaches that sits in a city's CBD. That's one of the aspects that makes Newcastle such a pretty city: the beach in the heart of the city. But then, we're biased. We're Novacastellian, ourselves.

        Online entries close at 3pm on Friday, January 24.

        More info and to enter online... Click here

        Newcastle Harbour - Sunday, Australia Day

        newcastle hbr 20 banner 600

        This classic swim is in its 24th edition and returns as perhaps the richest open water swim in Australia, with prizemoney of $3,500 split amongst the overall fastest, males and females. Winner gets $1,000, 2nd receives $500, and 3rd $250. That's an invaluable contribution to squad fees. This is why, a few years back, we'd arrive at Newcastle Harbour to find a sub-peloton of some of the best open water swimmers in the world, including world champions, waiting to plunge into Newcastle Harbour., just as we'd yearned to do as little tacs waiting for the Stockton ferry on a hot summer Sunday.

        Online entries close at 3pm on Saturday, January 25.

        More info and to enter online... Click here

        The Big Swim (Palm-Whale) - Sunday, Australia Day


        Course preview by Chris Ivin (@1worldimages)

        A big swim and a big season classic. Around Little Head from Palm to Whale. And The Little Big Swim, a 1km circuit off Palm Beach. You may enter either swim or both swims.

        Online entries close at 3pm on Saturday, January 25.

        More info and to enter online... Click here

        Gogs & oceanswimsafaris boutique

        swipe selene 150 puffoceanswims.com will have our gog boutique under canvas at Palm Beach and Whale Beach (although we probably won't have canvas at Palm Beach at the start), so come along and get your gogs. 

        We'll also have our gogs boutique at Cronulla (Feb 2), North Bondi (Feb 9), Malabar (Feb 16), Balmoral (Apr 5), and perhaps at a few other swims, too. Watch out for our colourful tent...

        In the meantime, if you'd like to order them immediately... Click here

        And have a chat to us (especially Mrs Sparkle) about our oceanswimsafaris... We have lovely pitcher books (by Glistening Dave) of many of our tours -- Tonga, Sulawesi (Indonesia), Yasawas and Mana Fiji, The Philippines, and French Polynesia.

        Good grief, there are so many wonderful places to go...

        We're your next adventure.

        North Bondi Roughwater prizes

        Following The Roughwater at North Bondi on January 12, organisers have asked us to let prize winners know...

        "We have posted (prize) vouchers to all recipients we have an address for. Unfortunately, many entrants did not have an address (recorded with their entry).

        Vouchers will be available at the North Bondi Classic Swim on February 9, at a dedicated table in the registration area."
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        Tonga - Just 4 spots left

        Swim with the whales

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        Here's a heads-up: our Tonga oceanswimsafari has only four spots left. We can take only eight swimmers/towel carriers at a time with us to Tonga. This makes this oceanswimsafari especially suitable for small groups, as well as singles and couples. If you'd like to share in this extraordinary experience, contact us quick and smart. Quick and smart is right: for the best way into our venue in Tonga, there are limited seats available. Last time we checked, there weren't many left. It's still possible to take a more convoluted route, but you really don't want to do that... Click here

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        New goggles - 42 swims in

        Selene Swipe, still no probs

        view 820ASA selene swipe 450We've sold many, many of the new View Selene Swipes since we launched them just prior to Xmas, so many, in fact, that we're close to sold out of most colours. New stocks are expected around the end of February, but if you want to get yours now, don't delay.

        Our personal usage stands now at 42 swims, and still good vision. From about 29 swims on, we found a little fog creeping into our right lens, but when we swipe our finger gently over the inside of the lens, it goes. We've also found that, if you wash your gogs gently with dishwashing detergent, air dry them, and keep them clean, in their case, this, too, helps enormously, but that's true of all gogs.

        The Selene has long been our most popular gog. A year or two back, View introduced a mirrored version of the Selene, and now they also offer the revolutionary Swipe version, offering anti-fog capacity that lasts 10 times as long as existing goggles, the makers say. The Selene Swipe has technology in its interior lens coating that allows you to clear fog from the lens simply by "swiping" your finger across it.

        According to the makers, the "10 times as long" refers to distance they say you can swim before you start to see some fogging with new goggles. They say the standard is 4km, but the Swipes will go 40kms. Whatever, all gogs will fog if you don't respect them and look after them. The issue also is how to deal with the fogging if and when it does occur.

        Selene is one of the best value gogs you will ever find. And made with an extra wide silicone seal, the Selene is probably the most comfortable low-profile gog you'll find, and it doesn't leave you with Rocky Raccoon marks around your eyes. The Selene Swipe offers anti-fog performance that's 10 times longer than normal, and a swiping lens durability offering 1,500 swipes without degrading performance.

        Selene Swipe comes in Blue (BL), Light Blue (CLB), Lavender (LV), Black (BK), Bronze (BR).

        Find out more and order Selene Swipes... Click here

        Price increases

        View have just now advised us that they are raising prices for most of their gog and swim accessory lines. The rises are small, and View gogs remain amongst the lowest priced and best value gear on the market. Compare them with other "high profile" brands: there really is no comparison, particularly considering their quality. We've been wearing View for more than 20 years, and they've never let us down.

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         2020 oceanswimsafaris

        tonga whales humpback 1907 02 600a
        Swim with whales in Tonga.

        June 12-20 – The Philippines – Swim with whale sharks in another paradise of some of the clearest water of the greatest marine biodiversity in the Indo-Pacific region… Click here

        June 23-July 1 – Sulawesi, Indonesia – More of the clear water and great marine biodiversity at the other end of the Celebes Sea from our Philippines location. This is a place that hardly any Strá’an visits. It’s pretty well just us... Click here

        san sebastian 190824 la concha lovers 600
        A tender scene by la Concha, San Sebastián.

        July 20-28 – Tonga - Swim with the Whales – Only four places left in our oceanswimsafari to swim with Humpback whales (above) – One of the most unusual, special experiences you can ever have swimming in the ocean. The humpbacks migrate over winter from Antarctica to Tonga to give birth and generally frolic around. Tonga is one of the few places in the world where we’re allowed to get in the water with the whales… Click here

        August 25-31 – San Sebastián, Spain – Swim the Basque country, with its rich mix of culture, food, and history. And the swimming’s terrific, too. That's San Sebastián, above -- A romantic evening on the bay of la Concha... A must-stop during anyone’s trip to Europe… Click here

        September 12-20 – Costa Brava, Spain – Swim Catalonia, and France to Spain around the end of the Pyrenees. Another journey through history, art, culture and food, and some of the clearest water you’ll ever swim in… Click here

        October 20-25 - Mana Fiji SwimFest - Packages will be ready soon... Watch this space… Click here

        October 26-Nov 2 - Yasawas Fiji -  Packages are online now… Click here

        Controversy Corner...

        What do you reckon about any of this stuff? We received a lot of feedback after last week's newsletter. Check it out... Click here

        Let us know and we'll facilitate the debate... Click here

        (Also see posts at the end of this newsletter.)

        Swims open to online entry...

        Coming soon - Freshwater (Mar 1), Avalon (Mar 29), Mollymook (Apr 4), Forster (Apr 5)

        newsletter divider clear bgrd

        forster main beach 200122 04 600
        Wave dynamics... Forster, this morn.

        Advertise...

        We email this newsletter to over 39,000 swimmers weekly in season, and less frequently out of season. If you'd like to advertise with us, please give us a yell.. Click here

        If you're not receiving our emails...

        ... even if you believe you're on our list, chances are they're going into your Spam or Trash/Bin folders. Some email providers do that to us; gmail and Hotmail, for example. So check your Spam, your Trash and/or your Bin, and you might find us trapped in their, lonely, with no-one to talk to.

        Results...

        For swim results... Click here

        If you have a link to results that we have not listed, please send it to us... Click here

        List your swim group...

        List your informal morning swim group on our directory, so that travelling swimmers will always have a place and a peloton to swim with... Click here

        Check our swim maps...

        For a quick idea of what's going on around your area -- formal events, informal swim groups -- check our swim maps. You'll find them for each area under Swims/Calendar on oceanswims.com.

        Buy gogs...

        You can buy your fave View gogs and other swim needs from the oceanswims.com boutique... Click here

        Check our back issues...

        For all our back issues of the weekly oceanswims.com newsletter... Click here

        Subscribe

        If you wish to receive our newsletters by email, or you know someone who would like to receive them... Click here

        This newsletter...

        We send this newsletter to a mailing list of over 38,000 swimmers, mainly in Australia and New Zealand, around the south-west Pacific, and even around the world. If ou'd like to advertise with us, give us a yell... Click here

        Share this post

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