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March 1, 2017

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Morning peloton launches from Mana Island's North Beach, training for the Mana Fiji SwimFest.

Been there, swum that

 The new rage for adventure swimming holidays

fiji mana ocean swim coatesHave you ever wondered what it would be like to take part in the Mana Fiji SwimFest, held annually in October? Or what it's like coming on an oceanswimsafari? We get a lot of enquiries from punters, many of whom come with us to Fiji, but many others who don't manage to make it. Now you can find out what it's like from a punter who was there. See the report by Pip Coates -- that's Pip, at right, a very handy swimmer herself -- in the latest issue of The Australian Financial Review's Sophisticated Traveller magazine...

Day one in paradise: it's barely 7.30am and I'm up with the red-vented bulbuls and white-collared kingfishers, which are in full song outside my bure. There's no going back to sleep – nor do I want to.

Dressed in swimmers, I gather my goggles and cap and step out onto the sandy path that winds between hibiscus, frangipani and palm trees towards the resort.

The infinity pool is sparkling in the morning light as staff plump the lounges. That will entice me later, but not now. I'm at Mana Island Resort & Spa in the heart of Fiji's Mamanuca group of islands, to swim – a lot. And, as it happens, my idea of an active stress-busting holiday (instead of flop and drop) is not so strange after all. Almost 30 of us have signed up for this six-day swimming safari of daily distances ranging from one to 10 kilometres.

Read more

And check out our range of exciting oceanswimsafaris to exotic locations below... Click here

We are all average swimmers

...most of us are, anyway

Most of us are mug hackers when it comes to swimming: we thrash away, dropping shoulders, over-rotating, lifting our head to breathe, crossing leading arms, criss-crossing feet, pulling our hands out early. We look on with envy when we spot at the pool or the beach one of those characters who obviously was taught proper as a kid: their technique is so elegant, efficient; and they keep it all their lives, no matter their body shape as they age. It's all so easy for them.

Wish we could swim like that.

Now, riding out of the dawn to the rescue, on his white steed... no, that's his hair these days... comes John Konrads, one of Strãa's genuine swimming legends, of the milieu of some of the greatest swimmers this nation has produced: Murray Rose, John Devitt, Our Dawny... In his free hand, John is waving a parchment, "Stop!... Before you dive in... !!"

John's parchment contains some sage advice for all of us average mug swimmers...

John Konrads' tips for the average ocean swimmer

konrads johnOcean swimming is distance swimming which used to be my specialty when I was a little bit younger (read 1956 to 1960!). Many principles of still water swimming apply.

The numbers in brackets (below) indicate one of the 7 Basic Principles of freestyle efficiency for the average swimmer:

  1. Sink down, let the water do the work of holding you up.
  2. Rotate your body for a more powerful stroke.
  3. Relax the kick, it's not worth the effort.
  4. "Catch-up", delay the pull.
  5. Roll to breathe don't lift to breathe
  6. Have your hand lower than your elbow in the air.
  7. Nothing changes to swim fast, except you pull harder but not sooner.

For the average swimmer? Well, that's how Mack Horton, Grant Hackett, the Campbell sisters and champions swim!

The bottom line is to apply energy only where it's needed and not waste it. The only difference between us and the swim legends is youth, fitness and talent.

So here goes -

  • The warm-up. Swim at least 300m. and get a bit puffed out, about a half hour before the event. If you don't you'll feel a "second wind" sometime after the start. Well, that was your warm up and now you will swim faster.
  • Unless you are very fit don't sprint into the water at the start. So what if they're 30m. ahead, that's 2% of 1500m. and you'll pass them. Heard the story of the old bull and the young bull contemplating a pasture of cows?
  • Swim at flotation depth [Principles 1 and 4]. The rubber ducky has a bigger motor than you. Pierce through the chop [6], don't try to get over it.
  • Swim at even pace, that's the most efficient. When training in a pool, do sets of say, 50m. with 10 seconds rest, all at the same speed.
  • To swim straight, don't lift your head [1 and 4]. Simply follow the horde who are lifting their heads. You'll pass them when they're buggered.
  • Yes, sprint to the finish line passing the swimmers who sprinted in.

To all of us mug swimmers, John has a special offer: "Order my Swim Easy training video directly by email with your address, for only $35 (RRP $60, online $48). I will advise payment details by cheque or bank transfer."

"Happy swimming!"

Click the link above to email John Konrads, or... Click here

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A mug and a laydee perform their morning swim.

Learn how to predict the surf

Coastal Watch Plus Rec WOBWould you like to be better at anticipating what the surf may be like at next week's swim? One of the great traditions of ocean swimming is leaving your entry to a swim as late as possible so that you get a better idea of what surf conditions are likely to be on swim day. Now, we've teamed up with Coastalwatch to bring you the opportunity to learn how to better forecast surf conditions. It won't give you perfect vision forwards, but it should make you better equipped to make that often difficult judgment.

Coastalwatch offers a range of online tools to help you forecast surf conditions in your area. Over the next two months, they're running a series of workshops on using these tools in Sydney (Queenscliff, February 25), on the Gold Coast (Rainbow Bay-Snapper Rocks, March 15) and on the Victorian Surf Coast (Torquay, April 15). The workshops follow the surfing pro tour. They are run by Coastalwatch's lead forecaster, Ben Macartney (whose dad is a regular on the ocean swimming circuit), and surfer and writer Nick Carroll, former editor of Surfing and Tracks magazines (the latter one of our bibles as adolescents -- we had several, the others being Surfing World and Surfabout), whose own dad briefly was our boss, sort of, when we were a younger hack.

We're giving away a double pass to the workshop of your choice. This means the competition is opened up to ocean swimming mugs in NSW, Queensland, and Victoria. All we ask you to do is to tell us, ideally in 25 words or fewer, why you like to ocean swim. A lyrical approach will earn you greater points. We did already draw a winner of this competition, but they couldn't make the workshop in Sydney last weekend. So we'll keep it going till we get one. So get your entries in. We'll publish the best of the entries.

See the link here to find out more about the surf forecasting workshops, or click the Coastalwatch logo above...

To enter... Click here

forster turtles 170223 09
Off he goes.

Last weekend's postponements

Two swims in Sydney last weekend were postponed: North Curl Curl now has been rescheduled to Saturday, April 22... Click here... and Bondi also will be rescheduled, perhaps to the same weekend. Their new date has not been confirmed yet.

North Curl Curl has re-opened for online entry and existing entries will carry over to the new date.

We expect Bondi's arrangements to be similar. Their online entries will re-open when their new date is finalised.

Narrandera cancelled

The Riverina Rush at Narrandera, scheduled for Sat'dee week, March 11, has been cancelled due to weed infestation in Lake Talbot... Click here

Pittwater winner drawn

Pittwater Swim Series awgies have drawn the winner of their prize to swim to Byron Bay in May. The winner is Jason Tan. Jason wins two return air tickets to Byron Bay, three nights accommodation at Bay Royal Apartments, and entry to the Byron Bay Classic on the first Sunday in May. To qualify for the draw, Jason swam at Avalon, Mona Vale and in The Big Swim.

This weekend...

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We're taking entries for just one swim this weekend, the Barney Mullins Classic at Freshwater on Sydney's northern beaches.

This swim honours a legend of Freshwater Surf Life Saving Club, Barney Mullins, who was the mentor of some of the most prominent swimmers on the ocean swimming circuit, indeed of swimming in Strãa generally. It was run for years as a private event within the surf club, but was opened up to the public a few years back.

Freshwater itself is one of the country's icon beaches, for it was here that Duke Kahanamoku demonstrated the new sport of surf board riding during a visit from Hawai'i around 100 years ago. The Duke's board still hangs in the Freshwater clubhouse.

It's one of the shorter swims on the circuit, at 1.5km. The tide will be near its nadir at swim start on Sundee, so there will be a bit of a jog into the runout near the pool to get out into the sea. But the runout will get you out there quick anf smart. It's a noice swim.

Online entries close at 3pm on Saturday, March 4.

To enter online and for more info... Click here

ReCap?

ReCap will be at Freshwater on Sundee, which also is Clean Up Australia Day, so all the more reason to donate your used and/or otherwise unwanted swimcaps to better causes. Bring them along to the Barney Mullins Classic at Freshie and tumble them into the ReCap bin near the finish line. For more info... Click here

Controversy Corner...

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

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

We call our feedback section Controversy Corner in memory of the late Rex Mossop, a pioneer in the art of sporting debate, who blazed the way for Roy and Haitch-G, Bruce McAvaney 'n all. Rex had Controversy Corner on his Sundee morning footy show on the telly. It was formative in our upbringing.

Swim with Mantas

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Manta rays... We're heading to Fiji's Yasawas in June to swim with them. Come with us... Click here

Our three oceanswimsafaris to Tonga to swim with whales in 2017 have long been filled, but you still can come with us to Fiji to swim with Manta rays. We're offering a new oceanswimsafari to Fiji's Yasawa islands in June. Come with us.

Anyone who has ever swum with Mantas will have been struck by the grace of these creatures. You may be lucky enough to witness a Manta mating train. On this oceanswimsafari, we'll spend part of our time at Blue Lagoon Resort, and part at Paradise Cove, from where we'll join the Mantas.

Come with us... More info and to book... Click here

port vila harbour

Our Vanuatu oceanswimsafari is different in 2017. Port Vila is a five-day package from Wednesday, May 24-Monday, May 29, with Santo running from Monday through Friday, June 2.

The organisers of the 3.2km Port Vila swim (this year on Saturday, May 27), now the Port Vila MasterBathers, have returned to the swim's original Port Vila Harbour home at the old Rossi Restaurant now once more named the Rossi following a recent change of ownership, as swim HQ (the inaugural original home was when the swim was an informal event in Port Vila's Second Lagoon, but no-one really wants to swim there these days). Around the swim, we have arranged a series of events to offer you a five-day stay in Port Vila with swimming, dining, exploring and lazing about.

Then we're heading up to Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu's "Adventure Island", for a four night/five day oceanswimsafari which this year features the trial of a new swim course past the famed Champagne Beach. We've swum most of this course many times in the past between Lonnoc Bay and Champagne Beach, both ways, but this time we're heading between Lonnoc, around the reef and Timmy's Place, farther along the shoreline. It makes it a slightly longer swim and a much more diverse swim of around 2.5km.

We've also included other local excursions on the beautiful island of Aore, and local swimmers are running the traditional Espiritu Santo Aore Swim from Luganville across the channel to Aore Island Resort, all of which will be available to oceanswimsafarists who come with us to Santo.

We're taking bookings now. For more info and to book... Click here

Heron Island almost ready for booking

Thre are plenty of punters hanging out for bookings to open for the Great Barrier Reef Swim on Heron Island in November. The news is that we expect them to be open within a week or so. Just a few ts being crossed, the odd i being dotted before all is a go-go. Watch this space.

Our oceanswimsafaris in 2017

We've had tremendous interest in our oceanswimsafaris in 2017, so much so that five of them already are SOLD OUT, and one more (Spain's Costa Brava) has just a couple of places left. If you're interested, get in quick and smart.

  • Vanuatu - Port Vila (May 24-29)
  • Vanuatu - Santo (May 29-June 3)
  • Sulawesi (Indonesia, June 11-19) - Sold out!
  • Yasawas Fiji - Swim with Manta rays (July 16-23) - New oceanswimsafari!
  • Tonga 1 - Swim with Whales 1 (July 25-Aug 2) - Sold out!
  • Tonga 2 - Swim with Whales 2 (Aug 1-9) - Sold out!
  • Tonga 3 - Swim with Whales 3 (Aug 8-16) - Sold out!
  • San Sebastián (Spain, Aug 23-29) - Sold out!
  • Costa Brava (Spain, Aug 31-Sep 8) - only 2 places left
  • Greece's Northern Sporades (Sep 12-21)
  • Yasawas Fiji (Oct 16-23)
  • Mana Fiji (Oct 24-29)
  • Heron Island (Nov 4-8) - Bookings to open in the next week or so.

forster turtles 170223 11
Morning peloton.

oss cossies on sale!

bs cossies both bothWe're running out of sizes of our oceanswims cossies. Right now, we still have Laydees' sizes 12, 14 and 16, and Blokes' 36 and 38. Get in quick before they all sell out!

We developed our oceanswims cossies with the help of our cobbers from budgysmuggler.com.au. They're still on special: 10 per cent off whilst the special lasts - Laydees' sizes for $A76.50, Men's for $A49.50.

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

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

We love them. And you can buy them now on special while stocks last... Click here

Website not working for you?

A few people contact us from time to time to report things like, "The website doesn't work". Or, "the entry page is broken". Almost invariably, it turns out to be an issue with their own 'puter, and even, in some cases, they're going to the wrong page to enter. Some punters claim it's all broken, and it turns out they have Googled a swim and have been using a link relating to a past event. Little wonder that that link did not work. Others try to "enter" through other websites that purport to offer entries to swims, when in reality those websites use old or incorrect links. And they don't follow up when links or info changes.

The only reliable way to find a swim's event page in order to enter online is to use the link on our Featured Swims list on our home page (oceanswims.com), or on our calendar (in rare cases, if we are taking entries but the event has not chosen to become a Featured Swim).

Remember to leave your mobile phone number when you enter. If a swim is cancelled or postponed, often we are able to sms you to let you know, if you've entered online. But we can't send you an sms if you've left a landline number. A number of entrants to Bondi and North Curl Curl last weekend did not receive an SMS informing them of the postponements because they did not use valid Strãan mobile numbers with their entries.

Remember, too, you collect your "swim pack" for all swims (other than the Cole Classic) at the beach on swim day. Most swims' "swim packs" are your timing chip (if applicable) and your swim cap. That's all.

Swims open to online entry...

New entries here... Pacific Palms (April 16, Easter Sundee)

In the works... Nil this week

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February 22, 2017

forster turtles 170222 04
Every morning, all around the joint, bunches of mugs form pelota and go for a swim. The feeling of inner goodness that results sets the tone for their day. Here is one such peloton. Note the homage paid in the break to Dolphy, the god of ocean swimming.

Whiiiich are you? Who, who? Who, who?

osc ossc logo newsletter 150

We suspect Elizabeth Farrelly was making more a point about politics than swimmers when she wrote this piece for The Sydney Morning Herald, published there on February 18, but there's something in it for all of us...

Swimming lessons. Mostly, on these mornings of fire, ash and parliamentary brimstone, I mosey down for a swim. Early but not too early; local pool, nothing flash. Yet sometimes that great striped slab of improbably turquoise water seems to hold a microscope to self, city and the human condition.

First, self. Living as I do within contagion-distance of Central, my short poolward stroll takes me through the grey-faced office-bound hordes. They stream south, pinstriped and grimly smoking, while I, in thongs and happy pants and with outsize flippers under arm, thread my way north. Each morning without fail – and this will not surprise you – it gives me deep and undeniable pleasure thus to swim against the tide.

I'm not analysing that further. Just noticing, as my guru would say, and letting go.

For it's in the pool that things get really interesting. At first everything looks serene. A few lap swimmers, a few players and ditherers, one grizzly toddler and half-a-dozen bored-looking attendants. Situation normal. But within moments it becomes clear that this microcosm harmony is deceptive.

farrelly e m dinkusSpeeds are meant to be self-sorting – fast, medium, slow. Naturally, I tend to the extremes, but today the middle lane looks calmer, emptier. I'm just kicking off, lap one, when a great shadow flies overhead. Within seconds, barely a metre ahead, there's a gargantuan splash. Woolly mammoth hits water. The tidal wave that results gives me several mouthfuls while said mammoth surfaces, grunts, and starts to swim – butterfly. Not well, as you can imagine, and not fast.

So I'm stuck behind this great blundering lump of braggadocio, unable to squeeze past, unwilling to crawl behind, entirely subject to his ego. I start wondering; what makes him do it? Why be so disruptive, so aggressive? Then I think, heavens! It's Cory "I make no apology" Bernardi; wholly self-absorbed, zero concern for his impact on others, vastly less impressive than his own estimation suggests and unable to resist even momentary attention.

Naturally, then, I look around for Malcolm – and eventually find him, buried within the testosterone haze that hangs like a smear of two-stroke above the entire right-hand side of the pool.
It's the squaddies, of course. Most of us, as locals, have paid twice to be there – once in rates, again on entry. But the squaddies gazump all that. They're the "good" swimmers; fast, loud, furious. Very serious about self. And presumably it's this that entitles them not only to half of the peak-time pool but also to proclaim that ownership with much bellowing and braying, both in-pool and from their roaring sidelines trainers.

pool bosch simon emf 170221
Illustration by Simon Bosch, The Sydney Morning Herald

As I watch the thrashing and guffawing, the sense of chosen-ness, of total disdain for everyone and everything else, it becomes clear that the squaddies view the pool as the Liberal Party views Australia, and especially Sydney. There for the taking.

We, you and I, might think the pool – the country, the city – is common ground. But for these guys, whether it's some valley-destroying mine, city-destroying motorway or private school system that sucks all public benefit back to the fat little hands of privileged north shore-ites, it's the same old tale of entitlement. It's all about them, and what they can get.

If, by accident, you attempt to swim in their lanes, they'll instruct you peremptorily to scram. Yet if one or two of their (unmarked) members, like my Bernardi mammoth, spill grumpily into the public lanes, tearing up and down like a bunch of maddened roadsters, everyone seems just fine with it.

And it's amid all this, breathing the hormone-hazed air, that I spy Malcolm. He knows he's sacrificing everything he ever believed in or stood for but he's done that dumb deal. He thinks it's worth it. Whatever it takes, just to be the rooster on the rubbish heap – but what he doesn't see is, he's not in the lead at all.

He is actually hemmed in by the relentless fury of competition, aggression and ruthless judgment, trapped in a mad round robin. He is trying desperately to perform fast and well but, tightly controlled by squads of lane-nazis, failing, flailing. He knows he can do better, but is fearful to insist in case they chuck him from the team that cares only for one thing: control.
On the far right, in a lane where three or four chaps chat prettily at the end, is a lone swimmer. He has that strange habit of stopping and turning a body-length out, so he never engages the group. I'm mystified until I recognise former Liberal MP Ross Cameron, who delivered that extraordinary anti-gay, anti-difference tirade at the other night's Q Society meet. "I don't mind that most of our parliamentary class is gay. I just wish ... they'd build a damn wall."

In his head, no doubt, this looks like rugged individualism. In fact, its effect is to destroy the lane for anyone else. Then there's Scott Morrison, who sees the smoke haze of inferno Australia yet, insisting climate change is nonsense, brandishes a kick-board of filthy black coal. Insensitive as it seems, he clearly believes this to be an effective flotation device.

Suddenly, there's a kerfuffle in the slow-play lane on the left. A thrasher, having strayed from his allocated pool-half, berates an elderly woman for her leisurely breaststroke.

The attendant's response is immediate. With her beehive hair and helicopter eyes, she berates the woman, ejects her and reshuffles the lane ropes. Now everything is for the squaddies.

I walk home, wet, reflecting on it all; amused, entertained, appalled. But still gratified that, out in the real world, away from the swimming bullies and despite their universal push to the fast, the concrete and the shiny, downtown Sydney is still somewhere you can walk home, wrapped in a towel at peak hour and nobody bats an eye.

@emfarrelly

Fancy yourself with words?

Win a surf forecasting workshop with Coastalwatch

Coastal Watch Plus Rec WOBOne of the great traditions of ocean swimming is leaving your entry to a swim as late as possible so that you get a better idea of what surf conditions are likely to be on swim day. Now, we've teamed up with Coastalwatch to bring you the opportunity to learn how to better forecast surf conditions. It won't give you perfect vision forwards, but it should make you better equipped to make that often difficult judgment.

Coastalwatch offers a range of online tools to help you forecast surf conditions in your area. Over the next two months, they're running a series of workshops on using these tools in Sydney (Queenscliff, February 25), on the Gold Coast (Rainbow Bay-Snapper Rocks, March 15) and on the Victorian Surf Coast (Torquay, April 15). The workshops follow the surfing pro tour. They are run by Coastalwatch's lead forecaster, Ben Macartney (whose dad is a regular on the ocean swimming circuit), and surfer and writer Nick Carroll, former editor of Surfing and Tracks magazines (the latter one of our bibles as adolescents -- we had several, the others being Surfing World and Surfabout), whose own dad briefly was our boss, sort of, when we were a younger hack.

We're giving away a double pass to the workshop of your choice. This means the competition is opened up to ocean swimming mugs in NSW, Queensland, and Victoria. All we ask you to do is to tell us in 25 words or fewer why you ocean swim. A lyrical approach will earn you greater points. We'll announce the winner in next week's newsletter, and we'll publish the best of the entries. This would make you a published writer.

See the link here to find out more about the surf forecasting workshops, or click the Coastalwatch logo above...

To enter... Click here

Swimming the island

italy swim sportoni 1510 01

Swim the Island
Bergeggi, Italy
October 10-11, 2015

This Yrpean swim was 18 months ago, but it's a nice read... From Jo-Anne Elliott

In 2015 on the back of a surprise birthday visit to the UK, we added on a mini grand tour to Italy finishing in Liguria for the fifth running of Swim the Island. After 3 weeks tapering, with the last two combined with intense carbo loading, we were feeling a bit off the pace and had to admit we probably weren't in peak condition for our chosen events; 800 m team event (Saturday) and 3.5 km and 6km respectively for myself and Jerome (Sunday).

Saturday morning we arrived at the beach to find a DJ on stage, a couple of bars and eateries set up on the sand, a few stalls selling motivational books, swim aids, wetsuits and more. We were surprised by the scale of the event (sponsored by Red Bull) and running the show was Mateo and his team making sure it all ran seamlessly.

The 800m team challenge was a nice way to ease into the event and get our bearings for the following day without the crowds. Later in the evening was the swim briefing followed by the Welcome dinner, concert and a "pole to pole" party (which we skipped and never did find out exactly what it was).

italy swim sportoni 1510 02

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Water safety.

Sunday morning we arrived at the beach with the rest of the 2,000 competitors and their friends and family. It was packed. The registration desk was chaos but fortunately we'd collected our timing chip and goody bag the day before. We found ourselves a small plot of sand, dumped our gear and went back into the throng to collect our complimentary t-shirt and Restube (every swimmer was required to wear a Restube - a harness with a small pocket on the back and a tag, which when pulled, released a small float).

It wasn't long before the competitors for the 3.5 km were being herded into the corral. We were divided into 3 groups according to an estimate of our time over 1 km (submitted with our application). The 3.5 km swim was the more popular with 3 start groups of at least 200 in each group. I stayed at the back and as I approached the waters edge sank into pebbles before being released as I dived into fresh, crystal clear water. There were a lot of arms and legs thrashing around me, thinning out as we got further into the course but I never really broke clear except when I went slightly off course. I knew I wasn't going to be competitive so I swam at my own pace and each breath took in the view and the surrounds. After rounding the last buoy and trying to muster a final sprint to the end I struggled with a fellow swimmer to emerge from the pebbles and almost crawled out onto solid ground and across the finish line.

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Staple of every Italian swim, and some in Victoria, too.

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Only one of these characters is Strãan.

Jerome was waiting for me at the finish and I gave him a few quick tips before he ran off for the start of the 6 km swim. I followed the trail of swimmers along the waterfront and watched as they swam the first circuit of the island and headed for the second and final circuit. Returning to the beach I presented my ticket for a free bowl of pasta and waited for Jerome to finish. He was easy to see being one of the few swimmers not wearing a wetsuit. Looking exhausted and shivering he collected his bowl of pasta and we retreated to our plot on the sand. We didn't stay for the presentations and left to the sound of "Happy" being broadcast over the beach as the winners in each category collected their prizes.

This swim is crowded, loud and brash but also a lot of fun, attracting swimmers from all over the world and hopefully in the near future we'll get another chance to do it all again.

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This weekend...

We're taking entries for two swims this weekend, although the weekend's focus for many punters will be thousands of kilometres away, over in the west, where the biggest ocean swim in the world takes place. We speak of Rottnest Channel. It's not the biggest in terms of numbers of mugs swimming -- we reckon that honour belongs to Lorne -- but it's probably the biggest in terms of the overall size of the event: over 2,000 swimmers, along with escort boats, escort paddlers, officials, meeja, water safety, and prurient interest craft, all coralled into a corridor 500m wide for the 19+ kilometres from Cottesloe to Rottnest Island. Go well, you lot, all of you who are swimming Rotto this weekend. It's something all ocean swimmers should experience at some point in their careers.

Meanwhile, back in the east, we're taking entries to North Curl Curl on Sat'dee and Bondi on Sundee.

north curl curl from pointPacific Champs

North Curl Curl is hosting on Saturday the Pacific Championships of the Global Swim Series. It's a first time for this event, which has parallel swims in other places around the world. The organisers of the series team up with established local awgies to run a pointscore over participating swims that aims to rank mugs all around the globe.

Two distances on offer at North Curl Curl: 1.5km and 3.8 km, both run over circuits inside the bay at Curl Curl. So, if you aim to get your distance up, you can do 5.3km on Saturday by doing both swims, then another 3.1 on Sunday at Bondi, thus 8.4km for the weekend. Dont laugh. There will be some obsessives who will do this.

North Curl Curl always puts on a good event. Note that online entries close at bit earlier than normal, at noon on Friday (instead of the usual 3pm). So don't leave it till the last thinking you still can enter onlinie after midday. You can enter at the beach on swim day, of course, but that will cost you $10 more for your entry fee.

More info and to enter online... Click here

bondi 160228 osc 01 teaserBluewater at Bondi

Sundee, head to Bondi, the colour capital of Sydney: two distances offered: 1km and 2.1km, and this season, they're also offering a 4km beach run. You will get to experience Bondi inside out.

This will be the first time in our recollection that a swim event has offered a beach run with the swims as a separate event, although the Splash event in December runs a combined run/swim on Bondi.

The 1km swim at Bondi is a more traditional circuit, but the longer swim, 2.1km, follows a "Marie Antoinette" course, like an old-fashioned champagne glass, out towards Mackenzies Point, up to Ben Buckler, and back to the centre of the beach at Bondi.

More info and to enter online... Click here

ReCap?

At this point, we do not expect ReCap will be able to make it to Bondi this Sundee, but we are expecting them at Freshwater the following Sunday, March 5. Check our newsletter next week for updates. For more info... Click here

Controversy Corner...

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

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

We call our feedback section Controversy Corner in memory of the late Rex Mossop, a pioneer in the art of sporting debate, who blazed the way for Roy and Haitch-G, Bruce McAvaney 'n all. Rex had Controversy Corner on his Sundee morning footy show on the telly. It was formative in our upbringing.

Come, swim with Mantas

manta ray 01
Manta rays... We're heading to Fiji's Yasawas in June to swim with them. Come with us... Click here

We're offering a new oceanswimsafari to Fiji's Yasawa islands in June that's very different from the tour we run in tandem with the Mana Fiji SwimFest in October. In June, we visit the Yasawa to swim with Manta rays. Come with us.

Anyone who has ever swum with Mantas will have been struck by the grace of these creatures. You may be lucky enough to witness a Manta mating train. On this oceanswimsafari, we'll spend part of our time at Blue Lagoon Resort, and part at Paradise Cove, from where we'll join the Mantas.

Come with us... More info and to book... Click here

port vila harbour

In Vanuatu in 2017, we're making some changes. Port Vila is a five-day package from Wednesday, May 24-Monday, May 29, with Santo running from Monday through Friday, June 2.

The organisers of the 3.2km Port Vila swim (this year on Saturday, May 27), now the Port Vila MasterBathers, have returned to the swim's original Port Vila Harbour home at the old Rossi Restaurant now once more named the Rossi following a recent change of ownership, as swim HQ (the inaugural original home was when the swim was an informal event in Port Vila's Second Lagoon, but no-one really wants to swim there these days). Around the swim, we have arranged a series of events to offer you a five-day stay in Port Vila with swimming, dining, exploring and lazing about.

Then we're heading up to Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu's "Adventure Island", for a four night/five day oceanswimsafari which this year features the trial of a new swim course past the famed Champagne Beach. We've swum most of this course many times in the past between Lonnoc Bay and Champagne Beach, both ways, but this time we're heading between Lonnoc, around the reef and Timmy's Place, farther along the shoreline. It makes it a slightly longer swim and a much more diverse swim of around... (distance?).

We've also included other local excursions on the beautiful island of Aore, and local swimmers are running the traditional Espiritu Santo Aore Swim from Luganville across the channel to Aore Island Resort, all of which will be available to oceanswimsafarists who come with us to Santo.

We're taking bookings now. For more info and to book... Click here

Heron Island almost ready for booking

Thre are plenty of punters hanging out for bookings to open for the Great Barrier Reef Swim on Heron Island in November. The news is that we expect them to be open within a week or so. Just a few ts being crossed, the odd i being dotted before all is a go-go. Watch this space.

Our oceanswimsafaris in 2017
  • Vanuatu - Port Vila (May 24-29)
  • Vanuatu - Santo (May 29-June 3)
  • Sulawesi (Indonesia, June 11-19) - 3 spots left
  • Yasawas Fiji - Swim with Manta rays (July 16-23) (New oceanswimsafari!)
  • Tonga 1 - Swim with Whales 1 (July 25-Aug 2) - Sold out!
  • Tonga 2 - Swim with Whales 2 (Aug 1-9) - Sold out!
  • Tonga 3 - Swim with Whales 3 (Aug 8-16) - Sold out!
  • San Sebastián (Spain, Aug 23-29)
  • Costa Brava (Spain, Aug 31-Sep 8)
  • Greece's Northern Sporades (Sep 12-21)
  • Yasawas Fiji (Oct 16-23)
  • Mana Fiji (Oct 24-29)
  • Heron Island (Nov 4-8) - Bookings to open in the next week or so.

oss cossies on sale!

bs cossies both bothWe're running out of sizes of our oceanswims cossies. Right now, we still have Laydees' sizes 12, 14 and 16, and Blokes' 36 and 38. Get in quick before they all sell out!

We developed our oceanswims cossies with the help of our cobbers from budgysmuggler.com.au. They're still on special: 10 per cent off whilst the special lasts - Laydees' sizes for $A76.50, Men's for $A49.50.

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

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

We love them. And you can buy them now on special for the rest of January... Click here

forster turtles 170222 18
Under the lip.

Website not working?

One thing we'd mention: a few people contact us from time to time claiming things like, "The website doesn't work". Or, "the entry page is broken". Almost invariably, it turns out to be an issue with their own 'puter, and even, in some cases, they're going to the wrong page to enter. One punter yesterday claimed it was all broken, and it turned out they had Googled a swim and had been using a link relating to a past event. Little wonder that that link did not work. Some people Google and get links that are years old. Others try to "enter" through other websites that hold themselves out as offering entries to swims, when in reality those websites pinch their info from oceanswims.com and use old or incorrect links. And they don't follow up when links or info changes.

Another punter complained to us that results from a swim had his suburb wrong: it was an old address, not his current one. He had entered by paper entry form on race day, and someone else had keyed in his details.

So, a word of warning: there is only one reliable way to enter swims to ensure your info is as you wish it, and that is to enter online through oceanswims.com, using the relevant event page. You should know that, apart from some events that handle their own entries, only oceanswims.com offers online entry to swims in NSW and Queensland. Anyone else who claims to, apart from on some occasions the event itself, is merely posing and trying to harvest your email address.

Remember to leave your mobile phone number when you enter. If a swim is cancelled or postponed, often we are able to sms you to let you know, if you've entered online. But we can't send you an sms if you've left a landline number.

Remember, too, you collect your "swim pack" for all swims (other than the Cole Classic) at the beach on swim day. In reality, most swims' "swim packs" are your timing chip (if applicable) and your swim cap. That's all.

Swims open to online entry...

New entries here... Balmoral (April 2)

In the works... Nil this week

Security

We've changed our url to https://oceanswims.com. If you have trouble finding us under http://oceanswims.com, try the new one. It means our site is more secure, which is important for our shopping cart, entries online, team registrations, etc.

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February 15, 2017

north bondi swim 170212 600 04
The critical moment: oceanswims.com's News-on-the-Spot Brownie Starflash-in-a-plastic-bag captures the moment when a boofhead's feet threaten the face of a following laydee. We tried to stop it, but it was more important to get the shot. See our report from North Bondi... Click here

Not drowning, waving

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A terrible accident compels Elizabeth Quinn to swim the race of her life. Again.

This story was published first in The Big Issue.

On the second Saturday of every new year, the waters around the Victorian seaside town of Lorne heave and churn like a deep-fryer of boiling oil cooking a wire basket-load of chips. The Lorne Pier-to-Pub has been going for 36 years and is the world's biggest open-water swimming race.

It is one of the busiest days for St John's Ambulance. The area under the Lorne Surf Life Saving Club rooms is transformed into a makeshift hospital ward in preparation for the expected casualties. Death by heart attack and/or drowning are high on the list of possibilities. Fears of death by shark bite have so far proved unfounded: would-be competitors shouldn't be put off by the fact that 10-year swim veterans are officially referred to as Shark Bait.

In my case, the overriding fear that kept me from participating was none of the above. It was the prospect of random physical contact with strangers.

I am a girl who can't catch a crowded train without hyperventilating. My extended personal space requirements have long been a source of entertainment for those who have had the misfortune to play any form of contact sport with me: hockey, basketball, aerobics, ping-pong – you name it, you'll find me cowering in the back row as far from the action as possible.

quinn elizabethThe haphephobic Elizabeth Quinn.

Swimming – a non-contact sport – is my recreation of choice. I have regularly swum two kilometres a day for over 15 years and yet the idea of swimming the 1.2 kilometre Pier-to-Pub – with its potential for prolonged physical contact with underdressed strangers – was so repulsive as to be morbidly fascinating. I told myself that one day when I was very old I would enter the ballot. I reasoned that if I was the youngest in my age group I would have a pretty good chance of survival. I could be the sprightly 80-year-old in the 80-to-90 age group.

The death of a friend brought forward my schedule. Tony died aged 47 of early-onset dementia, and at his wake I met a woman who swam the Pier-to-Pub every year. I told her of my nebulous plans for some time in the distant future and she gently chided me, saying that Tony's premature death should have taught me not to put off anything.

Damn her.

Four months later I was standing in the hot sun on the Lorne foreshore with 4999 other competitors. Competitive ocean swimming is like climbing Everest: it only feels good once it's over. The experience itself is like wrapping yourself in rubber so tight you can hardly move, then lying in freezing cold, wet cement and propelling yourself along with your arms and legs while simultaneously remembering to take the odd gasp of air. All this while other similarly clad bodies launch themselves at and over you in their quest for the finish line.
It's not for the faint-hearted.

That first year, I competed in the race and survived to tell the tale. When asked why I had done it, I named Tony as my inspiration. But his early death didn't explain why I had felt the need to challenge myself this way in the first place. I still don't understand the impulse that made me swim it that first year and again the following year, after which I decided I didn't ever have to do it again.

And then I broke my neck in a car accident.

A broken neck does not necessarily lead to paralysis. Despite two fractures, my spinal cord remained intact. For the next nine months, my life was very simple. All I had to do was focus on my health. It was an experience I wouldn't have missed, in spite of the inconvenience of being imprisoned in an upper-body brace that never came off, then dealing with the physical consequences of not having lifted anything heavier than a coffee cup for nine months. I had survived a serious car accident and got to see my family and friends in a new light as they all pulled together for a common cause: my recovery.

Nine months after the crash I was as close to perfect as I was going to be. Long walks holding the hands of my children for safety, saline injections for my frozen shoulder, and regular physiotherapy and gentle training at the gym had restored the health of both my mind and body. I had just one more thing to do to prove to myself that I wasn't broken any more. If anyone asked me why I swam the Pier-to-Pub a third time, I had the answer ready. Strangely enough, no-one asked me. 

Elizabeth Quinn
First Published in The Big Issue

Learn to forecast the surf

Coastal Watch Plus Rec WOBOne of the great traditions of ocean swimming is leaving your entry to a swim as late as possible so that you get a better idea of what surf conditions are likely to be on swim day. Now, we've teamed up with Coastalwatch to bring you the opportunity to learn how to better forecast surf conditions. It won't give you perfect vision forwards, but it should make you better equipped to make that often difficult judgment.

Coastalwatch offers a range of online tools to help you forecast surf conditions in your area. Over the next two months, they're running a series of workshops on using these tools in Sydney (Queenscliff, February 25), on the Gold Coast (Rainbow Bay-Snapper Rocks, March 15) and on the Victorian Surf Coast (Torquay, April 15). The workshops follow the surfing pro tour. They are run by Coastalwatch's lead forecaster, Ben Macartney (whose dad is a regular on the ocean swimming circuit), and surfer and writer Nick Carroll, former editor of Surfing and Tracks magazines (the latter one of our bibles as adolescents -- we had several, the others being Surfing World and Surfabout), whose own dad briefly was our boss, sort of, when we were a younger hack.

We're giving away a double pass to the workshop of your choice. This means the competition is opened up to ocean swimming mugs in NSW, Queensland, and Victoria. All we ask you to do is to tell us in 25 words or fewer why you ocean swim. A lyrical approach will earn you greater points. We'll announce the winner in next week's newsletter, and we'll publish the best of the entries. This would make you a published writer.

See the link here to find out more about the surf forecasting workshops, or click the Coastalwatch logo above...

To enter... Click here

Murray Rose Malabar Magic

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Not armed, still dangerous

There are a couple of special entrants to the Murray Rose Malabar Magic this Sunday. Two swimmers from Brisbane are coming down especially to do this swim, and both of them exemplify the spirit of the Malabar Magic: teaching kids with disabilities to swim.

gockel paul kerry leeKerry-Lee Gockel and her husband, Paul (right), both live with disability, but it has not stopped them leading active lives.

Paul Gockel was born with spina bifida, and represented Australia in the Paralympics in both Barcelona (1992) and Atlanta (1996), winning a silver medal in the pool in Atlanta. More recently, he was development officer for swimmers with a disability with Queensland Swimming.

Paul shows that you can do things in the water despite difficulties on land. We all float, after all.

Kerry-Lee's sign off on her emails is, "Not armed, but still dangerous". She was born with no arms. This means Kerry-Lee has to do with her feet many of those things that regular punters do with their hands. She is a practising solicitor, drives, cooks, and otherwise, with Paul, leads a life like any other, except that she has had to adapt.

We became aware of Kerry-Lee at a Noosa swim about 10 years ago. She swims with her kick and with fins.

Give them a hi-ho! if you see them on Sundee.

No surf at Malabar

We're taking online entries to the Murray Rose Malabar Magic, one of those rare ocean swims that doesn't promise surf.

Malabar beach lies at the end of Long Bay, which is called that because it is long. So long that, while some swell does make it to the beach, it's very little and usually doesn't break until washing up on the shore. This means that you don't need to wait until the last minute to see what the sea is likely to be doing. It won't be doing very much at all at Long Bay.

It's also an event for those ocean swimmers who feel nervous in surf, who want a good, hard, flat race, or who want to just stretch out and employ their stroke. It has broad appeal, really.

Malabar is unusual, too, as an event that's run directly by the charity beneficiary of the event, The Rainbow Club. That means that the awgies don't automatically have the resources of a surf club behind them to provide water safety. But Malabar receives strong support from members of North Bondi SLSC, which was Murray Rose's club, so the water safety is well covered.

Online entries to the Murray Rose Malabar Magic close at 3pm on Saturday, February 18. More info and to enter online... Click here

ReCap at Malabar

ReCap will be collecting unwanted swim caps at the Malabar swim. Look for their bins as you leave the finishing area. All caps donated will go to a good use with a good cause. For more info... Click here

north bondi swim 170212 600 02
A pool start in the surf? Peter Thiel and Matt Fernandez demonstrate dive technique at the North Bondi Classic last Sundee. Note: no heads up.

Pulled from the water

Last of the big classics in Sydney last Sunday, the North Bondi Classic, with 1,424 finishers recorded over the line. Our report is on oceanswims.com now... Click here

After the North Bondi swim on Sunday, we received an email from a Can Too swimmer, Lara Solomon, who told how she'd been pulled from the water by water safety staff before she was able to finish.

Lara said she'd been in the water for about 50 minutes and was 400m from the end of the swim.

"I swam the 2km at Bondi yesterday and the lifeguards made me get a lift 200m because they were closing the water safety," Lara wrote.

"I wanted to swim the whole way on my own and, yes, I am slow, but I was 400m from the finish, and had to miss 200m due to this."

Lara does not argue that there should be no time limit on swims, but that this was not made known beforehand.

"I did check the race beforehand to see if there were any time restrictions and it didn't say that there were," she said.

"The thing is that I wouldn't have entered if I had known that I wouldn't be allowed to properly finish.

"I am not asking them to stay out later, but to declare for all the slow swimmers how much time they are prepared to give us!"

Lara says she is "practising on speeding up, but it is disappointing to have only swum 1.8km of a 2km course".

Disappointing

We understand it's disappointing for any swimmer to be prevented from finishing a course, particularly when you are, as Lara says, "400m from the finish". It's a particularly big thing for CanToo swimmers, some of whom had North Bondi as a goal swim. Lara's goal swim was 1km Little Big Swim at Palm Beach two weeks earlier, which she completed, but she "thought that I would push myself to do this 2km swim with all the Cantooers".

She said: "The lifeguards that came up to us told us that that water safety was closing and they had to give us a lift 200m in the dinghy. I said, don't worry, that's fine, we don't need water safety (a speedier friend was swimming with me). And they said something about the timing chips, that they needed them, and we said, that's fine we will take them off. But they said, who will you give them to? We aren't taking them.

"It was just a very disappointing experience," Lara said.

"I have been doing the CanToo 12 week swim program and did the 1km at Palm beach 2 weeks ago and knew that this one would be a challenge for time, and thought I'd be about an hour, but I would have probably been about 1hr 10 if I had swum it all.

"I had a panic attack on the way in - my Mum and Dad both died from cancer, which is part of why I am doing it, and I seem to get very emotional on the day. I know that is not the organisers' issue, but that for me was part of the delay."

All relative

wedgieNot all swims have time limits, and those that do usually publicise them along with other details and entry conditions of their events. In other swims, those in charge of water safety generally use their judgment in light of conditions on the day and their assessment of how swimmers are faring. Will they make it? It's very much in the eye of the beholder. The judgment must strike a balance between allowing swimmers to achieve a goal, and realistically assessing their prospects. Added to that, event managers -- the awgies -- must manage the safety of their event staff, many of whom are in the water for hours on end during an event such as this one.

We asked North Bondi awgies about this case, and they told us that three swimmers had been brought in in this way, while all other swimmers had finished in under an hour.

"Expecting to take over an hour to swim 2km seems excessive - that's pretty slow swimming", and awgie said in response.

Perhaps it is slow, but it's certainly not unusual. There are some very slow swimmers in this caper.

Awgies said some water safety crew had been in the water for two and a half hours. That's difficult if the weather is cloudy and cold, and it is difficult if it is clear and hot.

They probably would use a time limit in next season's events, the awgie said. We trust they will publicise it beforehand.

north bondi swim 170212 06 600
At North Bondi, real and surreal dimensions exist in parallel, thanks to a blob on the lens of our Brownie Starflash-in-a-plastic bag. Which one is real? A timeless question, in which there is something for everyone.

Wedgie

Awgies have responsibility for running an event as safely as possible, as we note above, but it's true that some water safety staff are more zealous than others. North Bondi is not alone in this. Awgies generally see an event through the prism of once-a-year experience, while many swimmers have this experience week in and week out. There is not a lot of cross fertilisation across events, not a lot of sharing experiences that might mellow judgments. Most awgies - and particularly their heads of water safety -- are not swimmers per se, so their judgement of situations is different from ours. We -- us mugs in the peloton -- must be kind to them, for sometimes they know not what they do, or the corollary effects of what they do. But we must remember that theirs is a set of responsiblities and management of liabilities. It's different for swimmers. We have responsibilities, too, such as we must wear our swim caps throughout at event to make it easier for water safety staff to keep track of us. But ours is a matter of immersing ourselves in an experience, not managing a liability. They're there to do a serious job. We are there to have fun.

That said, memo awgies: awgies and their water safety people should also remember that ocean swims are not just events for buff boofheads to show off to girls with their speed and athleticism and bugger the slow ones down the back. They are egalitarian occasions where every swimmer -- jsut like every voter in an election -- has an equal right to enjoy the experience. Everyone pays the same entry fee.

Lara is not the first swimmer to have this kind of experience at North Bondi. Some years back, we fielded complaints from swimmers about water safety forcing swimmers into a track of their choice by putting their rescue boards across the course, rather than allowing swimmers to sight the route themselves. More than one swimmer resented being forced off their own track, which they argued was more direct than the corridor being enforced by the water safety staff. It is an ocean swim, after all, not track race.

Another, older swimmer, a wearer of "trunks" rather than cossies, reported being hauled into an IRB by water safety staff who had decided he would not be allowed to continue.

"They gave me a wedgie," he told us later.

Everyone deserves a chance to finish; no-one deserves a peremptory wedgie; and water safety staff deserve respect for doing a difficult job generally very well.

Controversy Corner...

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

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

We call our feedback section Controversy Corner in memory of the late Rex Mossop, a pioneer in the art of sporting debate, who blazed the way for Roy and Haitch-G, Bruce McAvaney 'n all. Rex had Controversy Corner on his Sundee morning footy show on the telly. It was formative in our upbringing.

Swimming with Mantas

manta ray 01
Manta rays... We're heading to Fiji's Yasawas in June to swim with them. Come with us... Click here

We're offering a new oceanswimsafari to Fiji's Yasawa islands in June that's very different from the tour we run in tandem with the Mana Fiji SwimFest in October. In June, we visit the Blue Lagoon, but then we also visit an area lower down the Yasawa island chain to swim with Manta rays.

Anyone who has ever swum with Mantas will have been blown away by how graceful these creatures are. You may be lucky enough to witness a Manta mating train. We'll spend part of our time at Blue Lagoon Resort, and part at Paradise Cove, from where we'll join the mantas.

Come with us... More info and to book... Click here

port vila harbour

In Vanuatu in 2017, we're making some changes. Port Vila is a five-day package from Wednesday, May 24-Monday, May 29, with Santo running from Monday through Friday, June 2.

The organisers of the 3.2km Port Vila swim (this year on Saturday, May 27), now the Port Vila MasterBathers, have returned to the swim's original Port Vila Harbour home at the old Rossi Restaurant now once more named the Rossi following a recent change of ownership, as swim HQ (the inaugural original home was when the swim was an informal event in Port Vila's Second Lagoon, but no-one really wants to swim there these days). Around the swim, we have arranged a series of events to offer you a five-day stay in Port Vila with swimming, dining, exploring and lazing about.

Then we're heading up to Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu's "Adventure Island", for a four night/five day oceanswimsafari which this year features the trial of a new swim course past the famed Champagne Beach. We've swum most of this course many times in the past between Lonnoc Bay and Champagne Beach, both ways, but this time we're heading between Lonnoc, around the reef and Timmy's Place, farther along the shoreline. It makes it a slightly longer swim and a much more diverse swim of around... (distance?).

We've also included other local excursions on the beautiful island of Aore, and local swimmers are running the traditional Espiritu Santo Aore Swim from Luganville across the channel to Aore Island Resort, all of which will be available to oceanswimsafarists who come with us to Santo.

We're taking bookings now. For more info and to book... Click here

Our oceanswimsafaris in 2017
  • Vanuatu - Port Vila (May 24-29)
  • Vanuatu - Santo (May 29-June 3)
  • Sulawesi (Indonesia, June 11-19) - 3 spots left
  • Yasawas Fiji - Swim with Manta rays (July 16-23) (New oceanswimsafari!)
  • Tonga 1 - Swim with Whales 1 (July 25-Aug 2) - Sold out!
  • Tonga 2 - Swim with Whales 2 (Aug 1-9) - Sold out!
  • Tonga 3 - Swim with Whales 3 (Aug 8-16) - Sold out!
  • San Sebastián (Spain, Aug 23-29)
  • Costa Brava (Spain, Aug 31-Sep 8)
  • Greece's Northern Sporades (Sep 12-21)
  • Yasawas Fiji (Oct 16-23)
  • Mana Fiji (Oct 24-29)
  • Heron Island (Nov 4-8)

oss cossies on sale!

bs cossies both bothWe're running out of sizes of our oceanswims cossies. Right now, we still have Laydees' sizes 12, 14 and 16, and Blokes' 36 and 38. Get in quick before they all sell out!

We developed our oceanswims cossies with the help of our cobbers from budgysmuggler.com.au. They're still on special: 10 per cent off whilst the special lasts - Laydees' sizes for $A76.50, Men's for $A49.50.

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

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

We love them. And you can buy them now on special for the rest of January... Click here

Take care with your entry, and leave your mobile

One thing we'd mention: a few people contact us from time to time claiming things like, "The website doesn't work". Or, "the entry page is broken". Almost invariably, it turns out to be an issue with their own 'puter, and even, in some cases, they're going to the wrong page to enter. One punter yesterday claimed it was all broken, and it turned out they had Googled a swim and had been using a link relating to a past event. Little wonder that that link did not work. Some people Google and get links that are years old. Others try to "enter" through other websites that hold themselves out as offering entries to swims, when in reality those websites pinch their info from oceanswims.com and use old or incorrect links. And they don't follow up when links or info changes.

Another punter complained to us this week that results from a swim had his suburb wrong: it was an old address, not his current one. He had entered by paper entry form on race day, and someone else had keyed in his details.

So, a word of warning: there is only one reliable way to enter swims to ensure your info is as you wish it, and that is to enter online through oceanswims.com, using the relevant event page. You should know that, apart from some events that handle their own entries, only oceanswims.com offers online entry to swims in NSW and Queensland. Anyone else who claims to is merely posing and trying to harvest your email address.

Remember to leave your mobile phone number when you enter. If a swim is cancelled or postponed, often we are able to sms you to let you know, if you've entered online. But we can't send you an sms if you've left a landline number.

Remember, too, you collect your "swim pack" for all swims other than the Cole Classic at the beach on swim day. In reality, most swims' "swim packs" are your timing chip (if applicable) and your swim cap.

Swims open to online entry...

New entries here... North Steyne (Mar 26), South Head (May 21)

In the works... Balmoral (Apr 2)

Security

We've changed our url to https://oceanswims.com. If you have trouble finding us under http://oceanswims.com, try the new one. It means our site is more secure, which is important for our shopping cart, entries online, team registrations, etc.

Subscribe

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

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February 8, 2017

cole 170205 jfx 22
We've long wondered how professional photograrphers get those pics where the subject is represented both above and below the water. See here to see what we mean. It doesn't suit every shot, but it can be dramatic and colourful. Now, we think we know how it's done, and we're about to start trying ourselves. Meantime, this image from Fairfax photographers at the Cole Classic... Our report... Click here

Sea Fever

Expanded for ocean swimmers

osc ossc logo newsletter 150Many of us will be familiar with John Masefield's poem about wo/man's relationship with the sea. As ocean swimmers, we thought perhaps we should expand it, just for us. The final two verses here are ours, not Masefield's, so don't hold it against him.

By John Masefield

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

We must go down to the seas again, we peloton's pioneers,
In a breeze that holds the breakers up, whisped whitecaps in our ears,
A brisk few laps, breathe right and left, 'neath a rising, yawning sun,
Then warm me up with a coffee cup, an honest effort done.

I must go down to the seas again, for it's there my heart resides,
The ceaseless wash of the taunting waves and the ebbing, flowing tides,
Come hither, see you best and tame the turmoil of this surf
and reach your spirit's rapprochement, at peace on kindred turf.

North Bondi this weekend

north bondi 03

The peak of the season continues this weekend with the North Bondi Classic. This swim often reaps the benefit of increased interest from the Cole Classic the weekend before. This season, we also had the first inaugural South Maroubra Ocean Challenge running contemporaneously with the Cole. We recall, some years back, North Bondi pulled hundreds more than it had previously – we have a feeling of over a thousand, but we're not sure – extra punters following a big showing by the Cole. Let's see how it goes this weekend after over 4,000 swimmers swam last weekend, the Cole alone experiencing a 25 per cent increase in finishers, and Sarth Maroubra, on its first outing, pulling over 500.

Watching the flow of online entries, it does seem stronger than in previous seasons. As we write, numbers are at 442, so things are looking good.

It's a colourful, fun event at North Bondi: you could sit there all day just watching punters schlepping past on their morning constitutionals. But there will be over a thousand more to watch in the water, not to mention two events to swim yourself: 1km and 2km.

Swim ReCap will not, at this stage, be at North Bondi this Sundee. We'll keep you posted on their appearances.

Be aware, you collect your "swim pack" -- just your timing chip and your swim cap -- for the North Bondi swim at North Bondi on swim day. (Only the Cole Classic offers a facility for collecting these things before race day.)

Online entries close at 3pm Sat'dee on oceanswims.com. More info and to enter online... Click here

Take care with your entry

One thing we'd mention: a few people contact us from time to time claiming things like, "The website doesn't work". Or, "the entry page is broken". Almost invariably, it turns out to be an issue with their own 'puter, and even, in some cases, they're going to the wrong page to enter. One punter yesterday claimed it was all broken, and it turned out they had been trying to enter through the event page for The Roughwater at North Bondi on January 8. Little wonder that that link did not work. Some people Google and get links that are years old. Others try to "enter" through other websites that hold themselves out as offering entries to swims, when in reality those websites pinch their info from oceanswims.com and use old or incorrect links. And they don't follow up when links or info changes.

So, a word of warning: there is only one reliable way to enter swims to which we offer online entry, and that is through our event page, making sure you use the appropriate page. You should know that, apart from some events that handle their own entries, only oceanswims.com offers online entry to swims in NSW and Queensland. Anyone else who claims to is merely posing and trying to harvest your email address.

Remember, you collect your "swim pack" for all swims other than the Cole Classic at the beach on swim day. In reality, most swims' "swim packs" are your timing chip (if applicable) and your swim cap.

Remarkable effect of water?

From The Snooze Doc

freediverKnowing what a stickler you are for the facts, I'm a bit concerned about errors in your recent article on the remarkable effect of water immersion on the human body. This relates to Boyle's Law and how it doesn't hold up at depth. I'm concerned that impressionable young school aged swimmers may read the article and come away with a flawed view of Robert Boyle.

From memory, the story was about the first man to free dive 100ft and survive. He was told by his doctors that, according to Boyle's Law, his lungs would collapse at depth and he would die. The fact that he survived was put forward as an argument that Boyle's Law doesn't work at depth.

An alternative explanation may be that the doctor didn't understand respiratory physiology. To explain:

At sea level, we are standing at the bottom of an ocean of atmosphere that goes up maybe 100,000 ft. It has weight that we are unaware of as we were born with this weight on us so it's always been there. The weight of the atmosphere is roughly equal to 10m of sea water.

Every 10m you descend in the sea, the pressure goes up by 1 atmosphere. Your diver was 100 ft down which is close enough to 30m. At this depth, he has 4 atmospheres of pressure on him, ie the original atmospheric pressure from the atmosphere plus the three from water.

Every school student knows that Boyle's Law states that, at a constant temperature, the volume of a gas is inversely proportional to the surrounding pressure. As our diver will be surrounded by 4 atm. of pressure at depth, his lung volume will decrease by 75 per cent.

A fit adult will have a lung capacity of 7-8 litres. Immediately before he dives, he will no doubt take in a breath of absolutely maximum volume. At depth, his lung volume will decrease to about 1.5-2l. This is a significant drop in volume but is hardly a lung collapse. As he ascends back to the surface, the surrounding pressure will drop and his lung volume will increase back to its original volume. Boyle's Law works at depth!!!!

His doctor's interpretation of the significance of Boyle's Law is incorrect.

Howard Roby

Big nambas at Cole, Sarth Maroubra

cole 170205 jfx 11

As we say, over 4,000 swimmers swam last weekend at either the Cole Classic at Manly or at Sarth Maroubra. Outstanding result, but it is the season's peak. We did a very silly thing, and our movie camera died after we shot one starting wave at the Cole, leaving us imageless. But Fairfax Meeja, kindly, provided us with access to images shot by their own staff photographers so that we still had photograrphs to show you... Click here

From South Maroubra, there is a photo gallery from Chris Glover linked from our report page on oceanswims.com... Click here... and you can check another photo gallery from a photographer member of the organising surf club... Click here

SBS ran a nice story on Sundee night focussing on a group of Muslim lady swimmers wearing burkinis... Click here

Fiji winner from the Cole

Well done, yourself! Valerie Scotchmer, a Novacastellian, who won the draw at the Cole Classic for the trip for two to take part in the Mana Fiji SwimFest in October. Valerie, who says she is "ecstatic", and rightly so, is taking husband Peter with her to Fiji. It will be good to have you with us, Valerie.

Swim caps

We don't wish to sound a grump, although plenty tell us that we are, especially those nearest and dearest to us, but there is a worrying tendency at swims for punters to swim without swim caps. Perhaps they feel uncomfortable in a swim cap. Maybe they reckon they can swim, can handle surf and the sea, therefore they don't need one. Heaven forbid, some may even feel that requirements such as swim caps are for others, not for them. We know of one punter who is allergic to latex, or so he tells his bride. Some issues should remain between couples, of course. Not for us to judge. But we are hardline on swim caps.

retro-ruffle-girlie-swim-cap-pinkWhy? Swim caps are a safety item. They are issued by swim organisers so that swimmers will be visible in the water. Swimmers need visibility in the water so that, inter alia –

  1. They can be seen from the shore or the sky, such as search craft
  2. They can be seen by water safety crew
  3. Particularly, they can be seen by IRB and jet ski drivers, and we all know what they can be like once they get those high-revving motors throbbing in their hands, so that IRBs and jet skis don't run over them,
  4. And here's a rub: people who insure events can be assured that the organisers are doing their best to run a safe event and that the risk they (the insurers) take is being managed.

From our observations, awgies don't police the wearing of swim caps. They should. If something goes wrong, and a swimmer without a cap gets hurt because they are difficult to see, it will be the awgie's fault and their insurance coverage might be compromised. The protection that surf clubs that organise swims have from prosecution relies in part on the awgies doing all they can to manage the event safely. If they allow swimmers to swim without caps, then that comes into question.

Some swimmers lose their caps inadvertently during the course of a swim. Some lose their caps deliberately during the course of a swim. Others don't bother even starting with them.
Awgies, get smart, get safe: police your caps and make sure swimmers wear them. Make a rule: wear the swim cap throughout the swim, all the way to the other side of the finishing line, otherwise no official time, no place, no prize.

We are surprised that the Surf Life Saving Association hasn't got something to say about this. They issued a sensible decree a few years back, in the wake of the loss of Saxon Bird, that cap colours in ocean swims must be one of a limited range of fluoro colours. The alternative was forcing everyone to wear those superfluous hi-vis singlets. Very few organisers observe this directive; some don't even know about it. Perhaps the SLSA itself, who don't appear to police it, might bear some responsibility if something unpleasant happens.

Be assured, this comment is not aimed at anyone in particular. It is aimed at the issue, which we regard as a problem for awgies, particularly. It's not limited to any one person or any one group of punters.

Controversy Corner...

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

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

Big head

Without being egotistical I have a big head. Standard swim caps do not fit. I take several caps of various colours to try and comply. Organisers could sell caps to cater for those that do not conform to "one size fits all".

Flip McMahon

Lost at sea

100% agree. No cap, no time. And no green, blue, grey or other seawater coloured caps!

Mark Boyd

We call our feedback section Controversy Corner in memory of the late Rex Mossop, a pioneer in the art of sporting debate, who blazed the way for Roy and Haitch-G, Bruce McAvaney 'n all. Rex had Controversy Corner on his Sundee morning footy show on the telly. It was formative in our upbringing.

Swimming with Mantas

manta ray 01
Manta rays... We're heading to Fiji's Yasawas in June to swim with them. Come with us... Click here

We're offering a new oceanswimsafari to Fiji's Yasawa islands in June that's very different from the tour we run in tandem with the Mana Fiji SwimFest in October. In June, we visit the Blue Lagoon, but then we also visit an area lower down the Yasawa island chain to swim with Manta rays.

Anyone who has ever swum with Mantas will have been blown away by how graceful these creatures are. You may be lucky enough to witness a Manta mating train. We'll spend part of our time at Blue Lagoon Resort, and part at Paradise Cove, from where we'll join the mantas.

Come with us... More info and to book... Click here

port vila harbour

In Vanuatu in 2017, we're making some changes. Port Vila is a five-day package from Wednesday, May 24-Monday, May 29, with Santo running from Monday through Friday, June 2.

The organisers of the 3.2km Port Vila swim (this year on Saturday, May 27), now the Port Vila MasterBathers, have returned to the swim's original Port Vila Harbour home at the old Rossi Restaurant now once more named the Rossi following a recent change of ownership, as swim HQ (the inaugural original home was when the swim was an informal event in Port Vila's Second Lagoon, but no-one really wants to swim there these days). Around the swim, we have arranged a series of events to offer you a five-day stay in Port Vila with swimming, dining, exploring and lazing about.

Then we're heading up to Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu's "Adventure Island", for a four night/five day oceanswimsafari which this year features the trial of a new swim course past the famed Champagne Beach. We've swum most of this course many times in the past between Lonnoc Bay and Champagne Beach, both ways, but this time we're heading between Lonnoc, around the reef and Timmy's Place, farther along the shoreline. It makes it a slightly longer swim and a much more diverse swim of around... (distance?).

We've also included other local excursions on the beautiful island of Aore, and local swimmers are running the traditional Espiritu Santo Aore Swim from Luganville across the channel to Aore Island Resort, all of which will be available to oceanswimsafarists who come with us to Santo.

We're taking bookings now. For more info and to book... Click here

Our oceanswimsafaris in 2017
  • Vanuatu - Port Vila (May 24-29)
  • Vanuatu - Santo (May 29-June 3)
  • Sulawesi (Indonesia, June 11-19) - 3 spots left
  • Yasawas Fiji - Swim with Manta rays (July 16-23) (New oceanswimsafari!)
  • Tonga 1 - Swim with Whales 1 (July 25-Aug 2) - Sold out!
  • Tonga 2 - Swim with Whales 2 (Aug 1-9) - Sold out!
  • Tonga 3 - Swim with Whales 3 (Aug 8-16) - Sold out!
  • San Sebastián (Spain, Aug 23-29)
  • Costa Brava (Spain, Aug 31-Sep 8)
  • Greece's Northern Sporades (Sep 12-21)
  • Yasawas Fiji (Oct 16-23)
  • Mana Fiji (Oct 24-29)
  • Heron Island (Nov 4-8)

oss cossies on sale!

bs cossies both bothWith the help of our cobbers from budgysmuggler.com.au, we've released our own oceanswims cossies. We've said this before, but as the season proceeds, we've decided to make our cossies the object of our next oceanswims.com special. For the rest of January, we're reducing the price of our cossies by 10%. That brings the cost of the laydees ocean swimmers' cossie to $76.50, and the boofheads' version to $49.50.

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

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

We love them. And you can buy them now on special for the rest of January... Click here

(Some sizes no longer available.)

Swims open to online entry...

New entries here...

In the works... Balmoral (Apr 2), South Head (May 21)

Security

We've changed our url to https://oceanswims.com. If you have trouble finding us under http://oceanswims.com, try the new one. It means our site is more secure, which is important for our shopping cart, entries online, team registrations, etc.

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February 1, 2017

big swim 170129 osc nletter 01
Peeking through the glass... Start of a laydees wave at the start of The Big Swim. Our report... Click here

osc ossc logo newsletter 150Amphibians

Remarkable effect of water

James Nestor explores the science of the "mammalian dive reflex," the phenomenon by which water triggers an immediate decrease in heart rate.

In 1949, a stocky Italian air force lieutenant named Raimondo Bucher decided to try a potentially deadly stunt off the coast of Capri, Italy. Bucher would sail out to the center of the lake, take a breath and hold it, and free-dive down one hundred feet to the bottom. Waiting there would be a man in a diving suit. Bucher would hand the diver a package, then kick back up to the surface. If he completed the dive, he'd win a fifty-thousand-lira bet; if he didn't, he would drown.

Scientists warned Bucher that, according to Boyle's law, the dive would kill him. Formulated in the 1660s by the Anglo-Irish physicist Robert Boyle, this equation predicted the behavior of gases at various pressures, and it indicated that the pressure at a hundred feet would shrink Bucher's lungs to the point of collapse. He dove anyway, delivered the package, and returned to the surface smiling, with his lungs perfectly intact. He won the bet, but more important, he proved all the experts wrong. Boyle's law, which science had taken as gospel for three centuries, appeared to fall apart underwater.

Boyle's law, which science had taken as gospel for three centuries, appeared to fall apart underwater.

Bucher's dive resonated with a long line of experiments — most of them very cruel and even monstrous by modern standards — that seemed to indicate that water might have life-lengthening effect on humans and other animals.

In 1962, Per Scholander, a Swedish-born researcher working in the United States, gathered a team of volunteers, covered them with electrodes to measure their heart rates, and poked them with needles to draw blood. Scholander had seen the biological functions of Weddell seals reverse in deep water; the seals, he wrote, actually seemed to gain oxygen the longer and deeper they dived. Scholander wondered if water could trigger this effect in humans.

He started the experiment by leading volunteers into an enormous water tank and monitoring their heart rates as they dived down to the bottom of the tank. Water You triggered an immediate decrease in heart rate.

oceanswims tile cole 17If you're an entrant in the Cole Classic at Manly this Sunday, you could win a trip for two to Fiji to take part in the Mana Fiji SwimFest in October, 2017...

Next, Scholander told the volunteers to hold their breath, dive down, strap themselves into an array of fitness equipment submerged at the bottom of the tank, and do a short, vigorous workout. In all cases, no matter how hard the volunteers exercised, their heart rates still plummeted.

This discovery was as important as it was surprising. On land, exercise greatly increases heart rate. The volunteers' slower heart rates meant that they used less oxygen and therefore could stay underwater longer. This also explained, to some degree, why Bucher could survive up to three times longer in water than they could in open air: water had some powerful, unknown capacity to slow animals' hearts.

Scholander noticed something else: Once his volunteers were underwater, the blood in their bodies began flooding away from their limbs and toward their vital organs. He'd seen the same thing happen in deep-diving seals decades earlier; by shunting blood away from less important areas of the body, the seals were able to keep organs like the brain and heart oxygenated longer, extending the amount of time they could stay submerged. Immersion in water triggered the same mechanism in humans.

This shunting is called peripheral vasoconstriction, and it explains how Bucher could dive to below one hundred feet without suffering the lung-crushing effects that Boyle's law had predicted. At such depths, blood actually penetrated the cell walls of the organs to counteract the external pressure. When a diver descends to three hundred feet — a depth frequently reached by modern freedivers — vessels in the lungs engorge with blood, preventing them from collapse.

On land, the equivalent pressures would be debilitating. But not in water. And the deeper we dive, the stronger the amphibious reflexes become.
Boyle's law was not merely bent in the face of this physiological conversion; it seemed to be nullified.

Scholander found that a person need submerge only his face in water to activate these life-lengthening (and lifesaving) reflexes. Other researchers tried sticking a hand or a leg in the water in an attempt to trigger the reflex, but to no avail. One researcher even put volunteers into a compression chamber to see if pressure alone would trigger a similar diving reflex. No dice. Only water could trigger these reflexes, and the water had to be cooler than the surrounding air.

As it turns out, the tradition of splashing cold water on your face to refresh yourself isn't just an empty ritual; it provokes a physical change within us.
Scholander had documented one of the most extreme transformations ever discovered in the human body, a change that occurred only in water. He called it the Master Switch of Life.

From DEEP: Life, Death & Amphibious Humans at the Last Frontier on Earth by James Nestor (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).
Previously published by ted.com... Click here 

south maroubra break from north
Surf, surf, surfin' at Maroubra... We don't know that Little Patty will be there on Sunday, but we hope the first inaugural South Maroubra Ocean Challenge pulls a good crowd.

East is east, but some twains meet

Since the Cole Classic moved to Manly from North Bondi in 2005, it has faced competition amongst swims in Sydney only in that first year, when North Bondi ran its North Bondi Classic on the same day, the first Sunday in February. There was quite a bit of ill-feeling between the two events at the time, the Cole Bros leaving their traditional home following a deterioration in their relationship with the club over financial matters. (The Coles were the Cole's awgies, paying North Bondi SLSC a fee for hosting the event. North Bondi looked after race day logistics, water safety, etc.) The Cole had always been run at North Bondi; its founder, Graham Cole, was a Bondi local, as were his three lads.

When the relationship broke down, the Cole brothers tried several alternatives as venues for their swim, including Bondi itself, the sibling surf club just along the beach from North Bondi. When that didn't work out, we remember clearly, the Coles were pretty well resigned to the inevitability that the Cole Classic would die. The brothers sported hangdog looks on their dials (except for middle sibling Walter, who always displayed a breezier countenance). They could not, it seemed, conceive of the event running anywhere other than in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs. We understand that. We know of another Bondi local who boasts that he has not been into the Sydney CBD in 35 years. Insularity can develop anywhere. Bondi is the provinces, just like anywhere else.

Enter Manly. As the Coles worked through the options, which ran out, we were approached by one of Manly's favourite sons, Craig Riddington, the iron man and one of the most skilful surf swimmers we have ever seen (although some say his old man, Max, was better, which is saying something. That's by the by, by the way.) Was there any chance, Riddington asked us, that he could get the Cole to Manly?

Brother superior

When you think about it, and with the experience now of 12 years, Manly is an obvious venue for an event such as the Cole: it's a narrow beach with an elevated promenade, a headland with a walkway around the point towards Shelly Beach, which offers a natural start and a cosy finish on days when the seas make the break at Manly problematic. Shelly means Manly always has a bad weather alternative. The walkway rises up as it wends its way around the littoral of Cabbage Tree Bay, affording spectating punters magnificent views of the course. The narrow beach means punters are never far from the action. And there is a passing parade of punters promenading by the Manly Life Saving Club every day, demonstrating the joint's value as a place that punters liked going to.

So we put Riddington in touch with Christopher Cole, the Brother Superior of the Cole family and the most involved in the event's day to day organisation. The contact was positive, and the Manly club appointed Riddington and another executive member, Scott Crawford, to negotiate with the Coles.

The rest is history, indeed.

On that first outing at Manly, the Cole and North Bondi pulled roughly similar numbers, with the Cole slightly ahead (so slightly that the difference meant nothing). But North Bondi decided immediately that they would not again run against the Cole, and they slipped back a week to the second Sundee in February, which had been traditionally the Cole's rain date, from the days when there was space on the calendar to allow such luxuries as rain dates.

The two events have been separate on the calendar ever since.

In 2009, the Coles transferred the event to Fairfax Meeja, where it joined a stable of high-profile mass participation events such as the City to Surf foot race. At the time, Christopher Cole told us, "We did not sell the event", which has left us speculating ever since in our inner monologue.

north bondi 03
North Bondi runs the week after the Cole Classic.

Search for a swim

In time, the Bondi club started its own swim. They recognised that many swimmers, especially in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs, rejecting the Cole under Fairfax, still wanted to swim on Cole day and that there was considerable demand. Bondi's objective always was to run on the same day as the Cole. Local politics got in the way, however, and Bondi was never able to secure local approvals. To this date, no other Sydney swim, after North Bondi in 2005, has ever run against the Cole Classic.

Meanwhile, many regular swimmers felt alienated from the Cole, and many still will not enter, even this far on. Over the years, the Cole's numbers dropped, dramatically, and the shorter, 1km swim eclipsed the 2km "main event" as the larger of the two races. This reflected the fact, we feel, that Fairfax was highly effective at pulling new, less experienced swimmers into the sport, which is terrific, but not so effective at attracting regular swimmers and treating them respectfully. With new management of Fairfax's sporting events in recent years, however, Fairfax's style in running the event has changed. Last season, the Cole's decline in numbers arrested, and we await the numbers for 2017.

Swimmin' at Maroubra

But the demand for an alternative remains. Now enter South Maroubra, a club that's never hosted a swim on a beach that's never hosted a swim. Now, from this Sunday, there is an alternative available to swimmers in the form of the South Maroubra Ocean Challenge. Three distances on offer: 2.5km, 1km, and 500m, and there's a separate 500m swim for the younger swimmers.

These days, we have no major issue with Fairfax's management of the Cole, although we still reckon entry fees are too high (South Maroubra is much cheaper). We hope both events do well. We will be at the Cole, but we are sorry to miss South Maroubra. Whatever your preference, you should swim this Sunday. You choose: Manly or South Maroubra. But swim, and show your support for both events on offer.

We can't offer online entry to the Cole, but we do offer it to South Maroubra. For more info and to enter online... Click here

cole 1202 600

Cole part full

If you're a laydee swimmer aged 30-34, and you haven't yet entered the main event at the Cole Classic this Sundee, but you intend to, then we have the sad news that this category now is full.

Other categories are nearing capacity and are, awgies tell us, "very close to closing" -

  • 1km - 11-12 years
  • 2km 25-29 Female
  • 2km 40-44 Female
  • 2km 65-69 Male

The awgies also tell us that entries to the Cole are "still going up" on 2016. Their message is, you need to get in quick to ensure your place.

That said, we can also advise that there still is, at this point, plenty of room left in the 5km event.

More info about The Cole Classic and to enter online... Click here

Controversy Corner...

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

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

We call our feedback section Controversy Corner in memory of the late Rex Mossop, a pioneer in the art of sporting debate, who blazed the way for Roy and Haitch-G, Bruce McAvaney 'n all. Rex had Controversy Corner on his Sundee morning footy show on the telly. It was formative in our upbringing.

big swim 170129 osc nletter 02

Summer's apex at The Big Swim

Last weekend...

Classics Season started with The Big Swim last Sundee... Our report... Click here

port vila harbour
Port Vila Harbour... You'll swim around Iririki Island in the Vanuatu Open Water Swim... Click here for more info

Shaking it up in Vanuatu

In 2017, we're making some changes in our oceanswimsafari to Vanuatu. Port Vila is a five-day package from Wednesday, May 24-Monday, May 29, with Santo running from Monday through Friday, June 2.

The organisers of the 3.2km Port Vila swim (this year on Saturday, May 27), now the Port Vila MasterBathers, have returned to the swim's original Port Vila Harbour home at the old Rossi Restaurant now once more named the Rossi following a recent change of ownership, as swim HQ (the inaugural original home was when the swim was an informal event in Port Vila's Second Lagoon, but no-one really wants to swim there these days). Around the swim, we have arranged a series of events to offer you a five-day stay in Port Vila with swimming, dining, exploring and lazing about.

Then we're heading up to Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu's "Adventure Island", for a four night/five day oceanswimsafari which this year features the trial of a new swim course past the famed Champagne Beach. We've swum most of this course many times in the past between Lonnoc Bay and Champagne Beach, both ways, but this time we're heading between Lonnoc, around the reef and Timmy's Place, farther along the shoreline. It makes it a slightly longer swim and a much more diverse swim of around... (distance?).

We've also included other local excursions on the beautiful island of Aore, and local swimmers are running the traditional Espiritu Santo Aore Swim from Luganville across the channel to Aore Island Resort, all of which will be available to oceanswimsafarists who come with us to Santo.

We're taking bookings now. For more info and to book... Click here

manta ray 01
Manta rays... We're heading to Fiji's Yasawas in June to swim with them. Come with us... Click here

Our oceanswimsafaris in 2017
  • Vanuatu - Port Vila (May 24-29)
  • Vanuatu - Santo (May 29-June 3)
  • Sulawesi (Indonesia, June 11-19) - 3 spots left
  • Yasawas Fiji - Swim with Manta rays (July 16-23) (New oceanswimsafari!)
  • Tonga 1 - Swim with Whales 1 (July 25-Aug 2) - Sold out!
  • Tonga 2 - Swim with Whales 2 (Aug 1-9) - Sold out!
  • Tonga 3 - Swim with Whales 3 (Aug 8-16) - Sold out!
  • San Sebastián (Spain, Aug 23-29)
  • Costa Brava (Spain, Aug 31-Sep 8)
  • Greece's Northern Sporades (Sep 12-21)
  • Yasawas Fiji (Oct 16-23)
  • Mana Fiji (Oct 24-29)
  • Heron Island (Nov 4-8)

oss cossies on sale!

bs cossies both bothWith the help of our cobbers from budgysmuggler.com.au, we've released our own oceanswims cossies. We've said this before, but as the season proceeds, we've decided to make our cossies the object of our next oceanswims.com special. For the rest of January, we're reducing the price of our cossies by 10%. That brings the cost of the laydees ocean swimmers' cossie to $76.50, and the boofheads' version to $49.50.

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

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

We love them. And you can buy them now on special for the rest of January... Click here

(Some sizes no longer available.)

Swims open to online entry...

New entries here... Newport-Avalon (Mar 19)

In the works... Balmoral (Apr 2)

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January 25, 2017

san sebastian oceanswimsafari 01
Not like swimming at Warriewood last Sunday... See how the head is down... Early morning swim, Bay of la Concha, San Sebastián... Come with us in August... Click here

osc ossc logo newsletter 150Sunday swim day

It's coming your way

A message from our cobbers at The Big Swim...

Sunday Swim day is this Sunday, 29th January 2017.

With the summer holidays winding down, there is no better way to clear out the cobwebs of the holiday excess.

Perhaps a short swim from Palm to Whale Beach on Sydney's Northern Beaches will do the trick.

WHOA!!!!!!

A short swim would be the URM Little BIG Swim at the southern end of Palm Beach, known locally as Kiddies Corner. An excellent swim for newbies looking to dip their toe into the ocean swimming scene, or as a warm-up for the major event of the day...

This is, The Big Swim, up to 3km swimming around the headland between Palm and Whale Beaches through the Tasman Sea.

The Macquarie Big Swim is a fight through the current, the wind, the chop, it's a tough swim, and it's the Big Swim.

Any swimmer completing the Big Swim is a winner.

big swim posterThe premiere Ocean Swim on the NSW Calendar and the final of the Pittwater Swim Series, quality prizes for all divisions. Fastest male and female are off to Mana Island, Fiji, in October for the Mana Fiji SwimFest. Last year's winners attended and blitzed the field.

There have been 42 years of big swims. Many swimmers have 10 swims or more, some have done 20+. One guy has done 40... Click here to read the stories: 42 years of big swims and they're still swimming.

Just so you know, Sunday 29th of January the Macquarie Big Swim, URM Little Big Swim and The URM Dash for Cash.

Do one or do the lot see you there. thebigswim.org.au.

Hey! Check this out

It's a BIG Weekend at Whaley; it's the end of the Summer holidays...

Saturday 28th
Midget Farrelly Surf Comp 9am "Anything over 6ft"... Enter NOW
Monthly Drinks 5pm "Anything goes"

Sunday 29th
Little Big Swim 8.30am "Anything under 1km"... Enter NOW
The Big Swim 10am "Anything between 2.5 and 3km"... Enter NOW
The Big Recovery 11am-3pm "Anything cold" - Bring coin!
Live Music, food and drinks, bus shuttle until 3pm

oceanswims tile cole 17Fuelling Your Swim

There was a lot of interest in the advice from sports dietician, Chloe McLeod, in a recent newsletter about eating for sport. So we asked Chloe to revist the issue with swimmers particularly in mind. 

Do you ever feel like you are training so hard, but not quite getting the results that you are after? What about finding that you are super hungry at times during the day you wouldn't expect to be? The key may be in changing the time that you eat.

A lot of my clients enjoy swimming a bit during the week, whilst balancing work and family life, and participating in the odd race on weekends. Regardless of your age, ability or goals, eating well around training sessions is essential to improving performance, achieving body composition goals, and enhancing energy levels over the course of the day.

Eating Before Swimming

Food intake prior to a training session depends on:

  • What you are planning to do
  • When you are planning to do it
  • How long you are planning to do it for

If your morning swim is planned first thing in the morning for less than an hour, it is completely feasible (and likely beneficial) to complete this without eating anything, or with just a small serve of fruit. As a general recommendation, I will often suggest to clients that the morning session be fasted, whilst for an afternoon session a small snack approximately an hour or 45 minutes before the session will help the most.

Longer sessions that go over an hour, or if you are participating in a race, it is a good idea to include something to help fuel the session, and make sure you perform at your best. If swim is planned to be for 90 minutes or more, then a mini meal will be most beneficial. Carbohydrate that is readily digested, with a small amount of protein is best here, for example Weetbix and milk, fruit and yoghurt or a smoothie. If the race is shorter, a piece of fruit, such as a banana may be all that's required.

eggs smoked salmonRecovery food, available from all decent caffs near swim venues. Is that wrong

What about after the swim?

Again food choice is important, but timing is king. Leaving it hours and hours after any session can be detrimental. Consuming a source a protein and carbohydrate within 20-30 minutes of finishing your swim will give you the best outcomes, and help with managing hunger levels later in the day.

So what are the best choices? Milk has been shown in research to be the best option for recovery, due to its unique profile of protein and carbs, along with electrolytes. As such a smoothie is a great choice as it is also easy to consume on the go (especially on those days you have to rush off to work). Otherwise, eggs on toast, salmon with sweet potato, or any other combination of lean protein and good quality carbs are all appropriate choices.

Does this mean I should be eating extra?

For most of us, planning meals around training sessions more effectively will lead to the best performance and body composition. Including extra meals is usually not required. If you have a very heavy training program, extra meals may be needed.

What about race day?

Just like you probably wouldn't wear your bathers, or a pair of goggles for the first time in a race, it's important to practice what you want to do.

Here's a video which I think illustrates really well why it's important to know what you're getting yourself into: Practice for your race.

Know that your pre-event meal is something that sits well and fuels you well, through having tried it out in training sessions before hand. This gives you the peace of mind that you'll perform well using your nutrition plan – one less thing to worry about on race day!

Chloe McLeod is a sports dietician with Balmain Sports Medicine.

cole start 01

5km full at the Cole? Quelle horreur!

There was a buzz at the beach, for the word had got around that the 5km at the Cole Classic this year was full. Quelle horreur! Meanwhile, anyone who looks at the Cole entry portal will see that entries to the 5km are being accepted still.

Last year's Cole 5km had a cap of 200 swimmers, but this year's limit is much higher. At this point, one wave of 200 mug punters is full, but a second wave has comfortable space remaining.

This situation won't last, however. If you want to do the 5km at the Cole, get your entry in. Don't leave it till the last moment. Remember, there are no entries to this event – to any Cole event -- on swim day.

Last year's 5km entrants receive free entry this year, following the great timing fiasco of 2016. The Cole has changed timers this year and we trust all should run well.
How are entries going overall? They're ahead of last year at this point, awgies tell us. There are more female entrants, for example.

Awgies say:

1km

1km opens male and female are filling quickly but, due to demand, awgies have added another wave at the back of the pack, so entries remain available.

2km

Some of the age categories (particularly women) are nearly at capacity. 30-34, 40-44, and 45-49 have only a few spaces still available. Men's 40-44 and the two 50s age groups also are filling, but not as quickly as the laydees'.

There is "plenty of space in the mixed opens" available.

New qualifying requirements for Elites in the 1km and 2km has meant that there is space in both those events.

5km

In 2016, the Cole had one wave of 200 swimmers. In 2017, the first wave of 200 already is full. A second wave of 200 still has ample space available at this point. Awgies say, "It is great growth for this distance year on year", which doesn't surprise us at all.

Longer distances

We have seen for the last few years that the great growth in ocean swimming in NSW is at the shorter distances, accommodating new swimmers who don't quite feel up to more traditional distances for one reason or another. This is their entrée.

We are also seeing now a strong growth in interest in longer than traditional distances: 10km swims are growing strongly, albeit from a much lower base, and 4-5km are pulling big fields, too.

In Victoria, where traditional distances are much shorter than in NSW (1-1.2km as compared with 2km), the growth has been in longer distances: 2.5km to 4-5km, again from a low base, but all things in life are relative, eh?

cole 1205 600The pageantry that is the Cole.

The Cole

Some punters may be struck in the change in our tone towards the Cole in the past two seasons. We're struck by it, too. We've talked about this before (last season), so we have explained ourselves, but it bears repeating that the Cole now has management who are prepared and able to listen and change. We find them very easy to deal with, in contrast with previous management who ran the event from a bunker beneath the Lubyanka in Moscow.

"We want to be part of the ocean swimming community," said Fairfax Meeja's head of sporting events, Christopher Secker, when we met him first last season. He repeats it still, and you can see from their change in tone that that is what they seek.

Some of the changes we've seen since then have included stepped entry fees to encourage early entry, no rise in the base fee for several years, a more empathetic approach to swimmers who fall ill and seek to withdraw, a much more relaxed approach to collecting swim packs (now, you can pick them up at the beach on swim day, if you like), much safer cap colours, and more.

That said, if there are areas in which you, the mug punter, feel the Cole can continue to change and improve, please let us know. We'll pass them on... Click here

More info about The Cole Classic and to enter online... Click here

south maroubra break from north

Sarth Maroubra

In 2017, the Cole faces its first significant opposition since its first year at Manly in the mid-noughties. That first year, North Bondi ran on the same day as the Cole, on the traditional date of the first Sundee in February. But they changed tack after that and switched to the second Sundee, traditionally the Cole's rain date, from the days when there was space in the calendar for such luxuries.

When the Bondi Bluewater Challenge launched five or six years back, their objective was to run on Cole day, the idea being that many swimmers in the eastern suburbs and otherwise on the south side wanted to swim, but didn't want to swim the Cole, and didn't want to cross the harbour bridge, wherever it was (some of them still haven't worked it out, just like some/many swimmers on the northside also have no idea where the bridge is). Local politics prevented Bondi ever running on Cole day, however.

In 2017, South Maroubra (above) is running its first inaugural ocean swim on the same day as the Cole, Sundee, February 5. We think and hope they will go well. Three distances on offer: 500m, 1km, 2.5km. Find out more and enter online... Click here

It's about time we had a swim at Maroubra, and it's about time swimmers who don't wish to deal with the crush that is Manly on any Sundee had an alternative.

We wish both swims well.

Controversy Corner...

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

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

We call our feedback section Controversy Corner in memory of the late Rex Mossop, a pioneer in the art of sporting debate, who blazed the way for Roy and HG, Bruce McAvaney 'n all. Rex had Controversy Corner on his Sundee morning footy show on the telly. It was formative in our upbringing.

mona vale swim 170122 03

Face plant at Warriewood

Last weekend...

New course from Warriewood to Mona Vale offers everything from a chunderous break to a sugar bag bed of seaweed... Our report... Click here

We also have our report from HRH The Prince of Duckenfield on the Nobbys-Newcastle Swim, which went from Nobbys to Newcastle via Stockton... Click here

Did you lose your phone on Sunday?

We're told an iPhone was found at Mona Vale after Sundee's swim. If you lost yours, get in touch and we'll connect you with someone who may have it. You'll have to tell us a bit about the phone, etc (nothing personal or intrusive), just so we can have some assurance that you're not dodgy.. Click here

port vila harbour
Port Vila Harbour... You'll swim around Iririki Island in the Vanuatu Open Water Swim... Click here for more info

Shake shaking it up in Vanuatu

In 2017, we're making some changes in our oceanswimsafari to Vanuatu. Port Vila is a five-day package from Wednesday, May 24-Monday, May 29, with Santo running from Monday through Friday, June 2.

The organisers of the 3.2km Port Vila swim (this year on Saturday, May 27), now the Port Vila MasterBathers, have returned to the swim's original Port Vila Harbour home at the old Rossi Restaurant now once more named the Rossi following a recent change of ownership, as swim HQ (the inaugural original home was when the swim was an informal event in Port Vila's Second Lagoon, but no-one really wants to swim there these days). Around the swim, we have arranged a series of events to offer you a five-day stay in Port Vila with swimming, dining, exploring and lazing about.

Then we're heading up to Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu's "Adventure Island", for a four night/five day oceanswimsafari which this year features the trial of a new swim course past the famed Champagne Beach. We've swum most of this course many times in the past between Lonnoc Bay and Champagne Beach, both ways, but this time we're heading between Lonnoc, around the reef and Timmy's Place, farther along the shoreline. It makes it a slightly longer swim and a much more diverse swim of around... (distance?).

We've also included other local excursions on the beautiful island of Aore, and local swimmers are running the traditional Espiritu Santo Aore Swim from Luganville across the channel to Aore Island Resort, all of which will be available to oceanswimsafarists who come with us to Santo.

We're taking bookings now. For more info and to book... Click here

san sebastian oceanswimsafari 02
And they're off! Everyone at once into the Bay of la Concha in San Sebastián. It's an experience.

Our oceanswimsafaris in 2017
  • Vanuatu - Port Vila (May 24-29)
  • Vanuatu - Santo (May 29-June 3)
  • Sulawesi (Indonesia, June 11-19) - 3 spots left
  • Yasawas Fiji - Swim with Manta rays (July 16-23) (New oceanswimsafari!)
  • Tonga 1 - Swim with Whales 1 (July 25-Aug 2) - Sold out!
  • Tonga 2 - Swim with Whales 2 (Aug 1-9) - Sold out!
  • Tonga 3 - Swim with Whales 3 (Aug 8-16) - Sold out!
  • San Sebastián (Spain, Aug 23-29)
  • Costa Brava (Spain, Aug 31-Sep 8)
  • Greece's Northern Sporades (Sep 12-21)
  • Yasawas Fiji (Oct 16-23)
  • Mana Fiji (Oct 24-29)
  • Heron Island (Nov 4-8)

oss cossies on sale!

bs cossies both bothWith the help of our cobbers from budgysmuggler.com.au, we've released our own oceanswims cossies. We've said this before, but as the season proceeds, we've decided to make our cossies the object of our next oceanswims.com special. For the rest of January, we're reducing the price of our cossies by 10%. That brings the cost of the laydees ocean swimmers' cossie to $76.50, and the boofheads' version to $49.50.

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

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

We love them. And you can buy them now on special for the rest of January... Click here

(Some sizes not available.)

This weekend...

big swim 350 02One of the biggies this weekend, but you know that already: The Big Swim, Palm Beach to Whale Beach, and it's shorter sibling, The Little Big Swim. There are no new entries on race day to these swims, so you must enter online by 3pm on Saturday, January 28. This is called The Big Swim because it is a big swim, around the headland from Palm to Whale. Always interesting coming in to a beach where you haven't seen the break. Make sure you park legally. There is free parking in designated zones (check the event website for those zones), but you must park legally.

Online entry to The Big Swim closes at 3pm on Saturday. More info and entry online... Click here

Swims open to online entry...

New entries here... Avoca (Mar 19), Terrigal (Apr 15)

In the works... Balmoral (Apr 2), Newport-Avalon (Mar 19)

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January 18, 2017

sulawesi 151115  600
What's it like, swimming off Sulawesi? Now you can see for yourself... Come with us in June

Sat, Jan 21Portsea, Port Campbell (Vic), North Cottesloe, Bunbury (WA), Tauranga (NZ)
Sun, Jan 22 - Mona Vale, Nobbys-Newcastle (both e, NSW), Red Beach (NZ), Perth (WA), Mt Maunganui, Queenstown (NZ)

osc ossc logo newsletter 150Why is it so?

A plea for lost swims

Over the years, you see swims come and go. There were some cracker swims around, and there still are. However, there are also old favourites. Not too many years back, there was the Beach to Breakers; a swim in the mild waters of Port Stephens, from Jimmys Beach, a dash across the sand-dunes, and then a swim through the surf up to Hawks Nest surf club. This is one swim that I believed was cancelled when a shark took some fancy to a body boarder's backside.

Then there was the mind swim: the 3.8km Across the Lake Swim (across Lake Macquarie). I did this 9 times but never made it 10 because of "unprecedented" wildlife. By the way, any of you who don't think this was challenging, think again! This swim, cancelled in 2015, 2016 and forever, has now been replaced by a new swim, but I am yet to appreciate how a swim at the entrance of Lake Macquarie is less sharky than one in the lake (yes, I know, bull sharks vs. great whites, blah blah blah).

Now, this year sees the cancellation of one of all time faves; the Cross the Harbour swim, held in Newcastle Harbour. This has been my Australia Day morning for quite a while now, and sure, there is something appealing about parading around in my latest pair of Budgy Smugglers and then pier diving head first into the sometimes murky waters of Newcastle Harbour. This swim has had its cancellations due to the 2015 appearance of Bruce (that was the name given by Novocastrians to the great white that shut the beaches for two weeks), but was held last year.

Now the organisers of the swim say: "The management committee have decided to cancel the annual Stockton/Newcastle Harbour swim indefinitely... Increased marine activity has made it difficult to maintain competitor safety, so the event has been cancelled and a new event in the future will be introduced to take its place."

oceanswims tile cole 17I don't have any qualms about the organisers actually cancelling the event; I am just very disappointed that it is gone. However, as a scientist (aka geologist), I must make the point that the awareness of the Noahs has increased from the obvious media attention given to recent attacks and the debate about culling, but also from the introduction of new technologies and social media.

I live near Warners Bay, which is 10 km from the entrance to Lake Macquarie, where sightings of "great whites" have been posted on Facebook (so it must be true!). Then, there is the Apps such as SharkSmart and Dorsal to alert you about shark sightings. Tagged sharks are tagged and released using SMART drumline technology, so you can know the whereabouts of your favourite white death. A local beach is also using drone technology to patrol the beaches.

So my argument or question is:

Is it just the fact that we go looking for them, we put in place sophisticated technology to track/locate them, we have constant reminders of their presence through social and other media, that raises a greater awareness and hence fear of sharks! If we didn't have these technologies, and we were less aware of their presence, would we have this reaction from swim organisers. Anyhow, that's my beef (shark bait) for the moment.

John Bambery

newcastle harbour 1001
One of our funnest ocean swimming pics ever, this photographic essay-in-a-single-image is by our cobber, Glistening Dave, from the Newcastle Harbour Swim Classic a few years back. Through nuance and subtle manipulation of light and motion, it articulates the devil-may-care joi de vivre of Novacastellians celebrating the right, given them by the swim on Strãa Day each year, to swim in the harbour, something we always wanted to do as kids but weren't game to try, for fear of getting into trouble from Rotten ol' Herbie, and from Nan, the top of whom's pitched roof at the end of Maitland Street you can see from the ferry wharf Newcastle side.

Controversy Corner...

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

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

We call our feedback section Controversy Corner in memory of the late Rex Mossop, a pioneer in the art of sporting debate, who blazed the way for Roy and HG, Bruce McAvaney 'n all. Rex had Controversy Corner on his Sundee morning footy show on the telly. It was formative in our upbringing.

Big Swim seeks hardy veterans

big swim 350 02A message from our cobbers at The Big Swim and The Little Big Swim...

The Big Swim is just a couple of weeks away, and the organisers of The Big Swim and The Little Big Swim are looking for swimmers who've been with the longest continuously running ocean swim in NSW for 10 years or more. If you've done 10 or more Big Swims, the organisers want to hear from you.

Held on the last Sunday of January each year over 2.5-2.8km, it's known as THE BIG SWIM because it is BIG. Conditions vary from dead calm to testing south-easterly or uncomfortable nor'easters which can arrive early in summer with swells from all directions making for challenging swimming when you breathe to the left.

"It's a huge achievement to complete one swim and some have swum in over 30 swims," says organiser Simon Morgan.

"But who are THEY?"

Morgan says: "We are searching for those hardy souls who have completed 10 or more Big Swims since its inception in 1974.

"If you're one of those swimmers, we would like you to contact us to allow us to share the credit of your perseverance and success."

Records are incomplete, so if you've done all those swims, and you can tell us some or all of the years you swam, that would help enormously, Simon Morgan said.

You can contact Simon Morgan through The Big Swim's website... Click here... or by email... Click here 

Have a crack

There is not much Ocean Swimming in Sydney’s South over the next few weeks and those of you who like a dip at Manly in the Cole can certainly do with a warmup just one week before. So as they say up around Whale Beach, "Have a Crack!"

Thought to be NSW's longest continuing running ocean swim, with its first start in 1974, THE BIG SWIM, presented by the Whale Beach Surf Lifesaving Club in association with Macquarie Group, is a journey swim, not around the buoys in a bay, or up and down a beach outside the break, but a true ocean swim, from Palm Beach around the headland to Whale Beach through the Tasman Sea.

This year’s swim is on Sunday 29th January, 2017. As a precursor, The URM Little Big Swim starts at 8:30am with an 800 metre swim around Kiddies corner at Palm Beach. This is a perfect introduction to open ocean swimming with enormous water safety and a fabulous location for a short course swim.

Registration for both events opens in front of the changeroom pavilion at Palm Beach at 7.30am. The Macquarie Big Swim starts off with the Elite group of swimmers at 10am. Use free shuttle transport from event parking areas at Careel Bay soccer fields,  or arrive early for a beachside carpark. See the event website for parking details... Click here

This is the final event of the Pittwater Swim Series: by competing in just three of the Pittwater swims on the northern beaches, you can win a trip to the Byron Bay swim in May.

Entries are online only. There are no new entries accepted on swim day.

Full details and entries... Click here

Vanuatu santo champagne 600
Champagne Beach, Santo. Mer'can troops used to take champagne to this beach on their days off, during the war.

Shake shaking it up in Vanuatu

Came the New Year, we had all our oceanswimsafari packages online for you to choose your winter adventure. There's always something new, even with more established oceanswimsafaris, and Vanuatu – traditionally the first of the winter season – is a case in point.

In 2017, we're making some changes in our oceanswimsafari to Vanuatu, this year between Wednesday, May 24 and Friday, June 2 (if you take both Port Vila and Espiritu Santo legs into account).

The organisers of the 3.2km Port Vila swim (this year on Saturday, May 27), now the Port Vila MasterBathers, have returned to the swim's original Port Vila Harbour home at the old Rossi Restaurant now once more named the Rossi following a recent change of ownership, as swim HQ (the inaugural original home was when the swim was an informal event in Port Vila's Second Lagoon, but no-one really wants to swim there these days). Around the swim, we have arranged a series of events to offer you a five-day stay in Port Vila with swimming, dining, exploring and lazing about.

These are in addition to the official swim event functions, a pre-event dinner and a post-swim breakfast, both this year held at the Rossi Restaurant.

Then we're heading up to Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu's "Adventure Island", for a four night/five day oceanswimsafari which this year features the trial of a new swim course past the famed Champagne Beach. We've swum most of this course many times in the past between Lonnoc Bay and Champagne Beach, both ways, but this time we're heading between Lonnoc, around the reef and Timmy's Place, farther along the shoreline. It makes it a slightly longer swim and a much more diverse swim of around... (distance?).

We've also included other local excursions on the beautiful island of Aore, and local swimmers are running the traditional Espiritu Santo Aore Swim from Luganville across the channel to Aore Island Resort, all of which will be available to oceanswimsafarists who come with us to Santo.

We're taking bookings now. For more info and to book... Click here

fiji yasawas blue lagoon 1510
Sunset over the Blue Lagoon, Yasawas, Fiji

Our oceanswimsafaris in 2017
  • Vanuatu - Port Vila (May 24-29)
  • Vanuatu - Santo (May 29-June 3)
  • Sulawesi (Indonesia, June 11-19) - 3 spots left
  • Yasawas Fiji - Swim with Manta rays (July 16-23) (New oceanswimsafari!)
  • Tonga 1 - Swim with Whales 1 (July 25-Aug 2) - Sold out!
  • Tonga 2 - Swim with Whales 2 (Aug 1-9) - Sold out!
  • Tonga 3 - Swim with Whales 3 (Aug 8-16) - Sold out!
  • San Sebastián (Spain, Aug 23-29)
  • Costa Brava (Spain, Aug 31-Sep 8)
  • Greece's Northern Sporades (Sep 12-21)
  • Yasawas Fiji (Oct 16-23)
  • Mana Fiji (Oct 24-29)
  • Heron Island (Nov 4-8)
Let everyone know you're an ocean swimmer...

Now on special!

bs cossies both bothWith the help of our cobbers from budgysmuggler.com.au, we've released our own oceanswims cossies. We've said this before, but as the season proceeds, we've decided to make our cossies the object of our next oceanswims.com special. For the rest of January, we're reducing the price of our cossies by 10%. That brings the cost of the laydees ocean swimmers' cossie to $76.50, and the boofheads' version to $49.50.

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

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

We love them. And you can buy them now on special for the rest of January... Click here

(Some sizes not available.)

mona vale
Mona Vale beach, with Bongin Bongin Bay in the foreground, now the finish of the Warriewood-Mona Vale swim this Sundee. A beautiful study by Glistening Dave.

This weekend...

We're taking online entries to Warriewood-Mona Vale and Nobbys-Newcastle, both on Sundee.

The traditional Don Jenkin Warriewood-Mona Vale Mighty Marathon gets a shake up of its own this season, with an extended course taking the peloton from the start at Warriewood, all the way along Mona Vale beach, around the rock shelf and into Bongin Bongin Bay. Those with dodgy ankles, hips and knees will welcome this change, eliminating the steep sprint up from the shorebreak that has characterised this swill till now. It also adds 700m to the course, lifting the swim out from the mob of 1.5km-2km swims along the Northern Beaches, and offering a step-up to the 2.5km-2.8km Big Swim from Palm Beach to Whale Beach the following Sunday.

Online entry to the Warriewood-Mona Vale Swim closes at 3pm on Saturday. More info and entry online... Click here

Nobbys-Newcastle was supposed to run in December, but postponed because of warnings from lifeguards about conditions expected on swim day. Now it's on this Sunday, rather than the original Saturday, and runs this weekend. It's a pretty course, from Nobbys beneath the lighthouse, around the rockshelf, past the Cowrie Hole, past the Newcastle Ocean Baths -- the Newcastle Police Boys Amateur Swimming Club (NPBASC) swam on Saturdays in our day, so they won't be there to watch -- and into Newcastle Beach. Newcastle has the distinction, almost unique, of having stunning, open surf beaches in the CBD. The swim is lined by the escarpment of Newcastle East and, if you can breathe to the right (and everyone should teach themselves to do that, if they can't already), you're in for a magnificent view.

Online entry to the Nobbys-Newcastle Swim closes at 3pm on Saturday. More info and entry online... Click here

newcastle beach aerial sea
The Nobbys-Newcastle Swim comes around the rock shelf, past the Ocean Baths, and into Newcastle Beach. Noice image from Craig Riddington's SEA Australia.

Ode to River Swimming

parramatta river swimmerOur piece recently on why more Strãans don't swim in urban rivers struck a chord. Here, Cassie Giudice waxes lyrical about the Parramatta River, now the subject of a local government campaign to clean it up enough for swimming by 2025. At right, a supporter of the campaign readies herself for 2025. This is not, as far as we know, Cassie herself, BTW.

I've swum in the Lachlan, the Darling and the 'Bidgee
and I just don't understand
why people don't wanna swim in the Parra or the Wyong,

for they'll fear they'll lose a hand
to a bull shark or ferocious creature,
but it makes no sense to me
why we don't take the plunge
the way we would at the beach.

'Round my way in Parramatta,
they talk about cleaning it up
and restoring the beach
that used to be there
for the families to have some fun

I just can't wait for our minds to change
and I can already see
the people swimming and the children laughing
and the lifesavers in their IRBs.

Cassandra Giudice

Swims open to online entry...

New entries here... Nil

In the works... Balmoral (Apr 2), Terrigal (Apr 15)

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January 11, 2017

san sebastian oceanswimsafaris 1501
San Sebastián, dusk from Monte Igueldo, overlooking the bay of La Concha. Come with us on our oceanswimsafari in August 2017. More info... Click here

This weekend's swims...
Thalassotherapy 101

Why swimming in the sea
is good for you

Sergio Diez Alvarez
Director Of Medicine, The Maitland and Kurri Kurri Hospital, University of Newcastle

From The Conversation

If you live near the sea, make frequent trips to the beach, or are planning an island holiday this summer, chances are you're getting more out of it than just enjoyment. It has long been thought sea frolicking has many health benefits.

Historically, doctors would recommend their patients go to the seaside to improve various ills. They would actually issue prescriptions detailing exactly how long, how often and under what conditions their patients were to be in the water.

Using seawater for medical purposes even has a name: thalassotherapy.

In 1769, a popular British doctor Richard Russell published a dissertation arguing for using seawater in "diseases of the glands", in which he included scurvy, jaundice, leprosy and glandular consumption, which was the name for glandular fever at the time. He advocated drinking seawater as well as swimming in it.

To this day, healing and spa resorts by the seaside abound. They are thought of as places where people can not only let go of their troubles but, in some cases, even cure arthritis.

But does the evidence actually stack up? Does seawater cure skin conditions and improve mental health symptoms?

oceanswims tile cole 17Skin conditions and wounds

Ocean water differs from river water in that it has significantly higher amounts of minerals, including sodium, chloride, sulphate, magnesium and calcium. This is why it's highly useful for skin conditions such as psoriasis.

Psoriasis is a chronic, autoimmune (where the immune system attacks healthy cells) skin condition. People with psoriasis suffer often debilitating skin rashes made of itchy, scaly plaques.

Bathing in natural mineral-rich water, including in mineral springs, is called balneotherapy and has long been used to treat psoriasis. There is also evidence for climatotherapy (where a patient is relocated to a specific location for treatment) in the Dead Sea being an effective remedy for the condition.

Patients suffering from psoriasis have themselves reported feeling better after swimming in the ocean, but this may also have to do with sun exposure, which has been found to improve psoriasis symptoms.

Ocean swimming also has benefits for eczema, another immune-mediated condition. Swimming in the sea can be a good exercise option for those with severe eczema as they often struggle to exercise in the heat and chlorinated pools.

But the response of eczema sufferers to saltwater is variable: some find it soothing, others uncomfortable.

There is some evidence to support the idea magnesium absorption is beneficial for the skin of eczema sufferers – presumably because it makes it less dry – as those using Epsom salt baths will attest. This may happen because magnesium-rich seawater may improve moisture retention in the skin, making it stronger and more rigid.

Because it is rich in other mineral salts such as sodium and iodine, ocean water can be considered an antiseptic, meaning it may have wound-healing properties. On the other hand, swimming in the ocean with open wounds may expose you to potential bacterial infections.

nbondi roughwater 170108 osc 800 01
The passing parade that is Bondi, at The Roughwater, North Bondi, last Sundee. Check out report... Click here

Hay fever and sinus issues

Nasal irrigation, or flushing of the nasal cavity, with salty solutions is used as a complementary therapy by many people suffering from hay fever as well as inflammation and infection of the sinuses.

Ocean swimming and exposure to the salt environment are possibly associated with reduced symptoms of hay fever and sinusitis, as well as other respiratory symptoms.

This is because the saline effect on the lining of sinuses may reduce inflammation, although scientific evidence for this is less robust.

The director of clinical services at the medical charity Allergy UK claims people who live by, and swim in, the sea tend to have healthier respiratory systems.

She says because seawater is cleansing and mimics the body's own fluids in the lining of the airways, it doesn't irritate them.

newport 17018 dhd 01
Mug punters negotiate the break at Newport last Sunday. See more pics from Newport from Glistening Dave and Chris Ivin... Click here

Meditation and relaxation

Exercising in natural environments has been shown to have greater benefits for mental health than exercising elsewhere. This is because it combines the benefits of exercise with the restorative effects of being in nature. Swimming in the ocean is no less the case.

It can be relaxing, meditative and reduce stress. In his 2014 book Blue Mind, marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols brought together evidence for why people find themselves in a meditative and relaxed state when they are in, on or under water.

One reason is the breathing patterns used during swimming and diving. These stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (the system that controls organ function and quietens the brain) and have effects on brain waves and hormones that influence the brain positively.

The weightlessness of water can also have a calming effect on the mind, even changing or slowing down brain waves.

It can help provide a distraction from life, giving a sense of mindfulness, which is a state in which one is aware of one's surroundings in a meditative sort of fashion.

Hydrotherapy (water therapy) and swimming have also been shown to decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety. One study showed the effects of balneotherapy were comparable to a commonly used anti-depressant drug called paroxetine.

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Split personality: the water plays tricks on the camera at North Bondi. Check our report... Click here

Cold water therapy

Hydrotherapy has been extensively used in rehabilitation, but here I will focus on the health benefits of swimming in cooler ocean water.

Cold-water swimming activates temperature receptors under the skin that release hormones such as endorphins, adrenalin and cortisol. These have therapeutic benefits for musculoskeletal conditions – such as fibromyalgia, which is a condition with chronic pain and tenderness all over the body – and skin discomfort.

Recurrent cold water exposure may also lead to enhanced function of the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps with organ function. This has been linked to an increase in the release of dopamine and serotonin.

Depending on the temperature, swimming in colder waters will use up more calories to preserve body temperature – although the overall effect on fat mass is controversial.
Frequent exposure to cold water has also been shown to increase the body's immunity.

Overall, you would be wise to make ocean swimming a health habit.

I ocean swim, therefore I am... Now on special!

bs cossies both bothWith the help of our cobbers from budgysmuggler.com.au, we've released our own oceanswims cossies. We've said this before, but as the season proceeds, we've decided to make our cossies the object of our next oceanswims.com special. For the rest of January, we're reducing the price of our cossies by 10%. That brings the cost of the laydees ocean swimmers' cossie to $76.50, and the boofheads' version to $49.50.

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

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

We love them. And you can buy them now on special for the rest of January... Click here

(Some sizes may not be available.)

This weekend...

avalon pano club 600

We're taking online entries to Avalon and Black Head, both on Sunday.

Ah, Avalon (above), one of our fave beaches along the Strãan coast, exposed to the east, shifting banks, gutters, a ferocious runout in the northern corner, wide open and proud of it. Two distances on offer: 1km (aimed at kids but open to all), and the traditional course of 1.5km.

Online entries to the Avalon Beach Surf Swim close at 3pm on Saturday, January 14... Click here

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And Black Head, another of the prettiest beaches you will ever visit, on the Lower North Coast just up from Forster. The beach is shaped and oriented like Mollymook on the Sarth Coast. It's one of those places you'd probably never go to if you didn't have a reason like this, if only because you wouldn't know to. Black Head is better known as Hallidays Point, a small community nestled by this beautiful beach. Two events: 1.5km and 700m, and also a ski paddle from Black Head to Diamond Beach and return.

Online entries to the Head2Head Swim at Black Head close at 3pm on Saturday, January 14... Click here

Our 2017 adventures

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Swim start on the beach at la Concha, San Sebastián. Find out more... Click here

We're back in 2017 for another go at some of the best food, some of the richest culture in the world. San Sebastián is the heart of Spain's Basque country (Euskadi), where the locals know the town as Donostia. San Sebastián is also one of the most famous surf spots in western Europe.

Our oceanswimsafari will be over six nights this time, meeting on Wednesday, August 23, and running through Tuesday, August 29. The centrepiece will be the locals' flagship annual race, a 3km swim around Isla Santa Clara in the bay of La Concha. There's a carnival atmosphere about it as it takes place on one of the world's most famous city beaches...

We have packages online now for all our oceanswimsafaris in 2017, including San Sebastián (Aug 23-29). Spaces are filling, so if you're interested, get onto us quick and smart... Click here

oceanswimsafaris in 2017

Things that make us different

simms peter cockatoo wharf 161120We all have our idiosyncrasies: those little habits that can infuriate and fascinate, that make us all different from each other. Getting into the pool, for example. When we get in at the start of squad, we stand imperiously on the end of the lane, by the blocks (councils don't trust us to use blocks any more), and we go through a stretching process. This is a faux-stretching process, since what we're really doing is prevaricating.

In the autumn, when the early morning air cools – we're talking 5:30am – Mrs Sparkle has a habit, when she dives in, of surfacing briefly from her dive, head up, emitting a little squeak, like a baby dolphin, before heading off on her warm up.

Then there's Simmsy. Many of you will know Peter Simms from our account of him guiding swimmer traffic under the wharf on Cockatoo Island (there he is, at right). Over summer, Simmsy swims #earlymorningsquad with his cobbers from Balmain Water Polo in a lane at Crummy Drummy. Their lane can get rather crowded – maybe seven or eight swimmers, although that's nothing against what we've heard and seen with some coaches around the inner city.

As we walk down the stairs to pool deck right on 5:30am, we spy Simmsy's cobbers nonchalantly diving in and heading off on their warm-ups. And we spy Simmsy, prowling impatiently up and down pool deck behind the blocks. Why doesn't he dive in, too?

Simmsy seems to have this thing about being last into the water. So he prowls up and back, waiting, waiting, his hands fumbling irritably... And when they're all in, and Simmsy is satisfied there are no more coming, he backs up a step or two, as if winding himself up, then launches himself, running – despite the signs in every pool that say, "No running", the ones alongside the signs that say, "No having fun" – a look on his face of great focus, of higher purpose, running, pitter-patter, clump, clump, clump, faster, through the pool deck puddles, splash and splish, leaping onto the raised starting block plinth, one foot placed, and he hurls himself, upright, out over the water. It's as if there's a competition to see how far out you can get before your feet get wet. And he flies through the air – plummetting horizontally – and just as his feet are about to touch the water's surface, Simmsy emits a little shout. Not a baby dolphin squeak like Mrs Sparkle, more a startled grunt, almost in pain, as if to say, "I know I gotta do this, and I just want to get it over with as quickly as possible..."

Then off he goes on his warm-up laps. All normal.

Does anyone else do anything like this?

Dearly departed

tweed swim 0803

We were fascinated as little children with our Nana's apparent obsession with the Death Notices in The Newcastle Morning Herald. She studied them religiously, daily. We couldn't understand how she could take such an interest in so morbid (although we didn't know that word at the time) a matter.

Now we are older, we have some greater understanding of Nan's interest. We thought it was a watershed when we heard of the death of an ex-boyfriend of a female acquaintance, the lady of similar age to us. We figured, you know you're getting old when your exes start dropping off the twig. Nowadays, there's nothing we like better than a good obituary. If it's written well – the Poms are excellent at it – it's not just a recitation of someone's life, it's contemporary history and their part in it. We love a good eulogy, too. But there are two tragedies to these things: 1) someone has to die to get them, and 2) you find out so much about the departed that you wished you'd known whilst they were alive.

While we appreciate a good obituary and a eulogy, we don't like delivering them ourselves. This is more a recap, a summary than hard news to some people, but when we saw someone tweet during the week about the demise of the Newcastle Harbour Swim, we thought we should present the position this season to date.

We have lost, by our count, five swims in NSW this season and a major event in Victoria -

  • Tweed River (The Killer Swim) – died when the Mur'bah Brass Monkeys withdrew their organisational expertise on behalf of the beneficiary, Fingal Rovers SLSC.
  • Fingal Mile – A different Fingal, this one just south of Port Stephens, which died for this season only, we hope, after the Hunter Branch of Surf Life Saving rescheduled a string of surf carnivals to the beach after losses of sand at traditional venues. The awgies felt they had so many events, the couldn't burden their volunteers too much so the swim is dropped, we hope just for this season.
  • Bloody Big Swim (Frankston-Mornington) – Normally run in late January, announced in November that it would not run in 2017, after announcing in September that "we don't have a committee to organise and run the 2017 and beyond swim".
  • Newcastle Straa Day (right) – Hasn't run for two years after local hysteria over Bruce the Shark, and now the Stockton SLSC leadership has decided, sadly, it has "run its course". Another event may replace it, they say, but perhaps not a swim.
  • Sydney Straa Day – Privately-run swim died for want of a sponsor after being taken over by another private group from Victoria. We hope this will just be for this season, too.
  • Stanwell Park – The Big Swim of the South, died for lack of resources, the club says, although we gather the resources refers to a willing awgie or two.

newcastle harbour 1001

These deaths follow the demise of Across Lake Macquarie, one of Straa's oldest open water swims, which died also two years ago amidst the Bruce the Shark hysteria, although, to be fair to the awgies, reports of a stray white shark in Lake Macquarie keep coming in. There are plenty of bulls in the lake, but a white takes it too far. It's been replaced by the awgies, Swansea-Belmont SLSC, with the Nine Mile Classic 1k & 2k Swims, this season on April 29 at Blacksmiths Beach.

One view of this is that all these losses are indeed unavoidable tragedies. The loss of any swim is. Another view is that it's a function of supply and demand: there has been such growth in the supply of swims in recent years that it's difficult to spread the market (the sport) across them feasibly.

The other reality, however, is that awgies put a lot of effort into their swims and they burn out, and if they have not a succession plan in place, then their swims are far more vulnerable. We've watched plenty of events go through generational change with their awgies, and it's not an easy process, and often not a pretty spectacle. Some survive; others don't, as we are witnessing.

So this is a shout out to awgies everywhere: you're not invincible or immortal; get a succession plan in place so that, when you've had enough, there is a smooth transition and your event survives.

And a shout out to swimmers, too: awgieing a swim is not easy. Be kind to your awgie. They're usually volunteers and they're doing their best. Most, after all, are doing it as a labour of love to their surf club and, as Fanny Eubanks of Omaha would put it, "that's such a noble cause".

Awgies need to feel appreciated, too, just like swimmers.

Caveat punter

Other people's mailing lists

We are being approached increasingly by punters who ask why they are receiving unsolicited emails from other groups to do with ocean swimming.

We have been warning about this throughout this season. There are a couple of groups out there apparently intent on harvesting email addresses to build up mailing lists, which then have a commercial value for marketing, promotion, etc.

One of these groups runs a survey which harvests the email addresses of participants. It also lists upcoming swims with links that purport to offer online entry. When you click these links, again you're prompted to leave your email address.

Some of the people who've approached us are aware of having – unwisely, they say – left their email address through one of these processes. Others reckon they have done no such thing and they wonder why they are receiving these unsolicited communications.

We make two points about this –

1. Your email address, or any contact information, did not come from oceanswims.com. We guard our data tightly. It goes to no-one.
2. If you are on a mailing list, you can ask to be removed from it. There is an unsubscribe link at the bottom of their emails (it's in the fine print right at the bottom)

Still other groups purport to offer the services that oceanswims.com offers, although they appear to have no real involvement in the sport and they go to great lengths to avoid telling you who they are. Internet searches reveal nothing, they use first names only, and those first names change. Beware. They are not as they appear. They have no role and no substance that we can see.

We're proud of our record in ocean swimming since 1999. We're proud that we're the real, original home of ocean swimming. When you're at the beach for a swim event, look around you. Usually, you can see us. You can't see the others, because they're not there.

Anyone else is entitled to set up their own operations, of course. But they should build it from scratch, by their own labours, not try to stand on the shoulders of others – we mean us – to create a false impression of substance where little exists.

Beware; be careful where you leave your personal details.

Swims open to online entry...

New entries here... Blacksmiths (April 29)

In the works... Balmoral (Apr 2), Terrigal (Apr 15)

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January 4, 2017

san sebastian start 1608
One of the world's great urban swims, San Sebastián in Spain.

It's Super Sundee

Swims this weekend...

See below for more info about swims open to online entry this weekend (marked above with "e").

Silly season

oceanswims tile cole 17We'd have thought the answers were obvious, but... it is the "silly season" in the meeja.

Mooching idly through the meeja over the Xmas-NY "break", we stumbled on this piece in The Guardian Online. It wonders why Strãans don't swim in their urban rivers more, despite a history of doing so. We have our own views on this report, but what do you think? Do the authors consider the reasons why we don't swim in the Yarra through Melbourne, the Parramatta River, the Brisbane River, the Torrens, etc? The Derwent and the Swan have swims. We can think of a few factors that they seem to have left out.

When we retweeted this story on Twitter a few days back, we were met with a definite response. Ocean swimmers seem to be at one on this. They understand. But you read the story, then tell us what you think...

There's a response form at the bottom of this newsletter if you're reading it online. Otherwise, email us and we'll post your response manually. There's a link at the end of this story...

Reproduced below from The Guardian, Dec 30, 2016...

River swimming: why don't Australians take the plunge?

Australia is world-famous as a swimming nation. We have a celebrated beach culture, not to mention more privately owned pools per capita than any other country. Yet few urban Australians would consider swimming in their city's river.

Almost every major Australian city sits on the banks of a large river. But judging by online reactions to the suggestion of a dip in the Brisbane river, most people are worried about everything from ear infections to a painful death from brain-eating amoebae.

Melbourne's Yarra river has been the butt of many jokes, most famously when Norman Gunston extolled its virtues as the river where you could go fishing and land a catch pre-wrapped in newspaper. In Sydney and Perth, people just prefer the beach.

It wasn't always like this. Our modern distaste for river swimming is a stark contrast with a history where urban rivers provided a venue for sport, recreation and entertainment – all within easy distance of shops, offices and public transport.

There were clubs such as the North Adelaide District Swimming club, formed in 1905, and open-water swimming competitions such as those held on Perth's Swan river from 1912. The Yarra river's three-mile swim was held from 1917 to 1964, and at its peak was the largest open-water swimming competition in the world.

There was spectacle as well as sport, with feats of aquatic derring-do that made swimming look like vaudeville theatre. In the Yarra, Annette Kellerman – one of the first women to reject pantaloons in favour of a one-piece bathing costume – swam her way to a world record between Church Street bridge and Princes bridge in 1904. After leaving Australia she developed her own swimwear line and went on to become an author and renowned Hollywood actress. The Yarra was her unlikely springboard to global celebrity.

Endurance was similarly tested by "Professor" Alec Lamb in 1907 who swam seven miles (11km) and dove from eight bridges, stopping for sustaining glasses of milk and whisky from his trainer's boat. As the Argus newspaper faithfully noted, the first of his bridge dives was so high that the force of the impact tore off his swimming costume. Harry Houdini also famously attracted a crowd of 20,000 to watch him emerge triumphant from chains, handcuffs and the Yarra mud in 1910.

Melbourne's river even hosted innovative fundraising events. In 1910 the Royal Life Saving Society used it to stage a fake near-drowning, with a society member throwing himself off Princes bridge before being "rescued" by a "policeman". A third member then produced a megaphone to request donations from the concerned crowd of onlookers.

An arguably less brazen charity appeal centred on Solomon Islands swimmer Alick Wickham's record-breaking dive of 250 feet (76m) into the river in 1917, attracting 50,000 spectators, with the proceeds going to the Soldiers Amelioration Fund.

san sebastian 1608 01

Pouring txakolí in San Sebastián: a culchural experience available to our oceanswimsafarists... Click here

Several lengths behind

Some projects are now aiming to recast Australia's urban rivers as fun places to swim, including Our Living River in Sydney's Parramatta river, and the Swim Thru Perth open-water swimming event to be held in the Swan river. Meanwhile, the Yarra Swim Co. is planning to revive the three-mile race and build a river-fed swimming pool on the Yarra's banks.

Fears about pollution are understandable but can be managed by websites such as Yarra Bay Watch and the New South Wales Office of Environment Health. While important, the official advice inadvertently adds to the view that Australian urban rivers are little more than an extension of the stormwater system.

Compare that with the renaissance of river swimming internationally. British writer Caitlin Davies swam of the length of London's Thames to uncover a multitude of present and historical swimming cultures. And municipal governments in Copenhagen, Portland, Berlin, New York and Boston have all embraced river swimming.

The Swiss must surely be the world leaders, even advocating for river swimming in international diplomacy. Every year, large Swiss cities host mass-swimming events like the Rhineschwimmen in Basel.
As the Swiss have already realised, to swim in an urban river is to reclaim, one stroke at a time, a public space and a wilder romantic past. It is no coincidence that the same country that zealously promotes urban river and lake swimming can also lay claim to a distinguished environmental record. Our regular, primary contact with this most primal of elements can act in a way to force change in the way our rivers are managed, helping both people and the environment to be a bit healthier.

Marco Amati is associate professor of international planning at the centre for urban research at RMIT University. This article was co-authored by Sally McPhee, based on her honours thesis for RMIT's bachelor of urban and regional planning, and has been republished from the Conversation, which is part of the Guardian Comment Network

Controversy Corner...

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

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

Return to Donostia in 2017

san sebastian 1608 04
One of the great urban beach swims - in the Bay of la Concha in San Sebastián.

We're back in 2017 for another go at some of the best food, some of the richest culture in the world. San Sebastián is the heart of Spain's Basque country (Euskadi), where the locals know the town as Donostia. San Sebastián is also one of the most famous surf spots in western Europe.

Our oceanswimsafari will be over six nights this time, meeting on Wednesday, August 23, and running through Tuesday, August 29. The centrepiece will be the locals' flagship annual race, a 3km swim around Isla Santa Clara in the bay of La Concha. There's a carnival atmosphere about it as it takes place on one of the world's most famous city beaches...

We have packages online now for all our oceanswimsafaris in 2017, including San Sebastián (Aug 23-29). Spaces are filling, so if you're interested, get onto us quick and smart... Click here

Our oceanswimsafaris in 2017

This weekend

Newport pano 01

It's a big weekend, with the world's largest ocean swim in Victoria on Sat'dee, and three good swims in NSW on Sundee, a classic in the West, and a journey in the sarth. Why, oh why are so many good swims grouped together? For one thing, there isn't room on the calendar to spread them apart.

sun moon lake swimOn Saturday, we have the Pier to Pub, at Lorne, which we reckon is the largest ocean swim in the world. Melbourne's Age described it recently, hyperbolically, as the world's largest open water swim, but they're wrong. We wonder whether they even checked. We can think of two that are much bigger: the Sun Moon Lake Swim (right) in Taiwan, which runs in early July and attracts over 20,000 punters, and the Midmar Mile in Sarth Africa, this year running over the weekend of February 11-12, which also claims 20,000+, although if you look at their website it's very hard to tell anything about it. The best we could get by counting last year's results was just over 6,000, but that still puts it up there.

There may be more. But, we reckon Lorne certainly is the biggest ocean swim in the world with over 5,000 entrants and around that in finishers. At $70 per entry, that means $350,000 in entry fee revenue for Lorne SLSC, which also take revenue from sponsors and exhibitors. Not a bad haul for buying new rescue boards and torpedo booees. Entries have long since filled, so it's too late to enter if you haven't already, but you could go as a spectator and just get a feel for what is an extraordinary event. Lorne is a very pretty place on the Great Ocean Road, always uplifting.

gerringong swim 01 2014

The trek over the headland from Werri Beach to Gerringong Boat Harbour is a spectacular experience in itself.

In NSW, it's Super Sundee with three good swims all on Sunday...

Down on the near Sarth Coast, it's the Captain Christie Classic at Gerringong, a 1.8km journey from Gerringong Boat Harbour around the rock shelf into Werri Beach. Don't be late for this one: reghistratin at the Gerringong SLSC at Werri Beach closes at 9, and they mean it. Punters must be briefed before schlepping over the headland to Boat Harbour. We've seen too many tardy punters from Sydney miss out by a few minutes, so be sharp about yourself.

Online entries to Gerringong close at 3pm on Saturday, Jan 7... Click here

On Sydney's north side, there's the Pool to Peak Swims at Newport, Round 2 in the Pittwater Ocean Swim Series. Two distances available: 2km and 800m. Newport (above) is a beautiful, open beach offering a typical beach break with shifting banks, gutters, etc, all of which make the start and finish interesting. The beach receives some protection from the reef offshore and slightly to the south.

Online entries to Newport close at 3pm on Sat, Jan 7... Click here

north bondi startIn Sydney's eastern suburbs, at one of the most colourful venues on the calendar, The Roughwater at North Bondi (right), two distances run amid the passing parade that is Bondi Beach. It is not true that "everyone at Bondi has rings in their nipples", as some more conservative swimmers have claimed. But Bondi certainly offers colour and variety and is perhaps the most interesting venue on the calendar for the life that passes by on the promenade whilst the swims proceed. We love going to Bondi. Never boring. And there's the opportunity for real value in North Bondi's Combo entries: enter The Roughwater this Sundee and the North Bondi Classic on February 12, together with a Combo entry, and get special discount rates. It is one of the best swim entry deals on the calendar.

Online entries to North Bondi close at 3pm on Sat, Jan 7... Click here

And another one bites the froth

After our report in our Xmas Eve newsletter about the swims that have ceased to exist this season, now comes another: Stanwell Park, promoted once as The Big Swim of the South. Awgies cite a "lack of resources", which we understand to mean a lack of organisers. Stanwell Park ran from Coalcliff along the Illawarra Escarpment to Stanwell Park and was one of the most spectacular swims you could do, provided you breathed left. If you breathed right, you got just the sea. If you breathed bilaterally, you got both, and a more relaxed neck.

The swim, run by Helensburgh-Stanwell Park SLSC, changed awgies last year, then changed again, and having heard nothing from them so far this year, we had wondered how they were going this season. Then this appeared on their website earlier this week...

stanwell park cancelled

It's always hard to organise a swim, particularly if you aren't a swimmer yourself: you do it as a labour of love for your surf club.

Let's hope Stanwell Park can find the appropriate resources in the future and get "The Big Swim of the South" going again before too long. It's too good a swim to die.

Still time to find out what day it is

calendar dhd 17 banner 250It's New Year already, but you still need to know what day it is, and what swims are on. So get your order in now for Glistening Dave'socean swims calendar 2017.

Dave's ocean swims calendar 2017 includes every swim date we can find in Strãa, along with many in New Zealand and the Pacific, and a few more besides that we deem interesting. Pin it on your notice board at work, behind the door in the loo, on the wall in the kitchen, in your home office, your men's shed out the back, your sewing and knitting room, the wall in your hallway, so that you can check swim dates each time you leave home or return. Stick it on your garage door to remind you where you're going when you get in the car. Or get multiples and mount one in each of those places, so that you're constantly surrounded by images of ocean swimming. Or Dave's perceptions of them, anyway.

Order yours now... Click here

Interesting fact...

In season 2015/16, oceanswims.com raised $355,929 for swim organisers -- mainly surf life saving clubs -- through accepting online entries on their behalf.

This is a real figure, not something hypothecated from a fantasy.

We notice others are claiming to "be responsible for over $430,000 in entry fees" for surf clubs. As far as we can tell, they didn't take a single online entry, so we're not sure how that works. That's the difference between being the real home of ocean swimming, and a posturing pretender.

Swims open to online entry...

New entries here... Caves Beach (April 23)

In the works... Balmoral (Apr 2)

Our swim calendar

Our home page on oceanswims.com holds a list of Featured Swims that awgies have asked us to feature more prominently. But for our full calendar of swims across Strãa, New Zealand, the Pacific and some more, go to Swims/Calendar on oceanswims.com... or click here

When you go to our calendar, you can search swims by date, location, by swim type (journey or circuit), by type of water (salt or fresh), type of venue (surf beach, protected beach, etc), whether there's another discipline involved, whether you can enter with a team or just by yourself, and much more.

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December 24, 2016

costa brava swimmer 1609 dawn
Morning swim, Llafranc, Costa Brava.

They say it's our birthday

The real and original home of ocean swimming

We're sending this newsletter out to you on Xmas Eve. Funny time to do it, perhaps. Many punters will have knocked off already, their attention distracted for a few days. But we have our reasons. As it happens, Xmas Eve is our birthday. We're 17 today.

oceanswims.com launched on Xmas Eve 1999.

At the time, our sole objective was to post an online calendar of NSW swim events. As swimmers on Sydney's southside (we lived in Sydney's Sutherland Shire at the time), we'd been frustrated that there was nowhere to find out what was going on in the world of ocean swimming. We knew there were swims on the north side. We'd heard about The Big Swim, for example. And everyone knew about the Cole at Bondi. And we knew that North Bondi had another swim in early January that you could do to prepare for the Cole. But there was nowhere central to find the details of these swims and whatever else there might be available to swimmers looking to throw the arm over.

The reason is that ocean swimming is a sport with no central authority. There's no "they" handing down decrees from on high; no-one dreaming up rules that make no sense on the beach. Nowhere to find out what was going on.
We thought, what we need is a website. Websites were the big new thing at the time. We were in the midst of the "dot-com" boom, a time when lots of smarty-pantses were making a lot of money from often flimsy web ideas. Lots of them quite quickly went bust.

queenscliff 161218 01
OMG! I've left the gas on!... From our Queenscliff report, last Sundee... Click here

Free

We had a cobber in Perth who called himself Webdog. He'd built a website, and he agreed kindly to build one for us. The ambition was not grand: just a flat page, magazine-style format listing swim events. We set out with a premise: that information to ocean swimmers should be free. This is a hangover from our days as hacks, bashing out stories on the Remington with bouncy keys.

And we set about researching. If were going to run a calendar, we needed to actually find out what was on, and we had to get some details of them. We were stunned to find in 1999 that there were 17 swims in NSW.17! We made lots of phone calls. We had cuppas with people (we'll never forget Christopher Cole turning up to a cuppa at Bondi dressed in his Cole Classic polo shirt, for recognition purposes, a rather surreal sight since the shirt had shrunk and it looked like a bolero. Thankfully, Christopher wore his Cole shirt over his normal shirt, so his midriff remained coyly hidden. Well, it was Bondi.) We hauled our young family up and down the coast when we had no number or contact that we could call. One grey, blowy Sundee afternoon, we fronted up at Gerringong surf club because we'd heard they had a swim each year. The first character we met there was Mark Booth, part of a posse of slavers who were hosing out the rubber duckie after a day's patrols. As providence would have it, Mark was the swim's organiser and it was through that encounter that the Captain Christie Classic was entered onto our calendar, and remains one of our favourite swims. We still deal with Mark, when we must.

Burnt out old hacks as we were, we began to write reports of swim events we attended. Kodak released a digital camera with a waterproof case. We got one, and we used to wear it across our shoulders, like a school bag. It rubbed a bit, so we took to wearing a rashie, which slowed us down but it protected our rubbing bits. And we began to take pitchers to illustrate our reports.

oceanswims tile cole 17Stop Press

A bit over a month after we launched, we actually got a story: the surf was dodgy and the Cole Classic was called off, postponed for a week (in those days, the Sunday after the Cole traditionally was its rain date and no-one else jumped on that day). We thought, we have to get this onto oceanswims.com. So we rang Webdog in Perth and cajoled him into going into the website's back end to post a Stop Press at the top of the home page, to let swimmers know. We were beginning to show how useful oceanswims.com could be.

Shortly after, we worked out how we could take entries to swim events online, so we began offering this service as a means of making entering swims easier for swimmers, and of defraying the costs of maintaining the website. It was a clumsy system to operate: for each entry, we received four emails, and unless we received those four emails, we couldn't be sure that an entry was complete and paid. Once it was complete, we would copy and paste the data from various of those emails across to a spreadsheet to make up the master database of entrants. One night, prior to one of the early Bondi-Bronte swims, we sat up till 4:30am making sure that we had four emails for each of 400-odd online entrants. Mrs Sparkle snoozed on the couch nearby, waking occasionally to engage us in conversation so that we ourselves would stay awake.

All that was in the early noughties.

A long way, baby

The caper has come a long way since then. From the 17 swims with 4,500 swimmers at the end of the last millennium, now we have hundreds of swims just around Strãa and New Zealand. We know a website in Yrp that lists 1,800 swims. You can get up to this caper anywhere there is water. And this does not include all those solitary punters and groups that swim informally each morning. Last year, in organised, publicly open events alone, we had 48,000 swimmers.

We like to think we played a role in that growth over the years. Along with that growth, we like to think there are mature generations around the joint now who are much healthier and fitter than they were before. And that is the key to what we get up to: it's the coalition of like-minded souls around the healthy, pioneering, adventurous, and in many ways altruistic activity that is ocean swimming that makes it special. You do the activity; the activity facilitates the context; and the context is the culcha. The activity enhances our physical health, but the context, the culcha, nourishes the soul and makes us more complete individuals spiritually.

From the start, we have been blessed with good friends and supporters who have been prepared to help us by doing stuff that we can't do ourselves. There is so much stuff that we couldn't have done without our generous cobbers.

But what really makes it all possible is all of you lot. All of you have your own stories. Some of you have more stories than others. Some of your stories are more "colourful" than others. Some of you ooze stories, desperate to tell them (we think of Killer, whose stories ooze the more with the parade of pints). Some of you must be cajoled, teased, seduced before you'll release what's within. The best stories are these, from the more reticent of you, all of them pieces of the jigsaw that fit together to make up the pitcher of our lives together.

All of you lot, have a very happy Xmas with your families and your friends. We shall see you on the beach in the New Year. Except for the Forster Turtles, whom we'll see on the beach in the week after Xmas. Mrs Sparkle is v. excited.

queenscliff 161218 kelso

Is this Sydney's best ocean swimmer?

We asked in our Queenscliff report last Sundee (... click here) whether the bloke above, John Kelso, was perhaps the best ocean swimmer we know. He looks like just another codger out for a Sunday swim. Getting in the way of all the faster, smarter young bucks, perhaps.

Kelso, a retired diplomat, is a regular on the Sydney ocean swimming circuit. Unlike many northside swimmers, John knows where the Sydney Harbour Bridge is, and how to cross it, and makes regular appearances in the Eastern Suburbs as well as along the Northern Beaches. He does 3km three times a week at Manly pool in between weekend swims. But the remarkable thing about him, quite apart from the fact that he beats most youngsters, not just those in his age group, is that John Kelso is 87.

How many 87-year-olds do you know out on the ocean swimming circuit each weekend? How many nonogenarians do you know who will go out in any surf, who starts modestly but who beats most back to the beach? How many boofheads do you know, of any age, who swim week in, week out, without goggles?

One day, we will write a more complete story about John Kelso. When we say, "Everyone has a story", Kelso is the one who proves it. Suffice for now, we run his pic, we run it on our home page, and we just tease you with these basic facts.

Next time you see John on the beach, remember, he is not just any codger getting in your way. You're more likely to be gettiing in Kelso's way, but he won't complain about it.

But we want to know what you think. Do you know anyone whom, you reckon, ranks up there, perhaps higher on the kudotic scale, than John Kelso? Who's a better story, then?

Tell us, send us an email... Click here

san sebastian oss swim 1608 17 
You know it's season's end in San Sebastián when the local authorities take the swim pontoons out of the bay. So, while they're still there, you have to make the most of them, like Stephen Burns.

Your New Year's resolution...

... to go on an exotic adventure with oceanswimsafaris.com

We have packages available now for Sulawesi (June, package cost from $A2,700 pp, twin/double share), Costa Brava in Spain (September, from $A3,375), and San Sebastián (also Spain, in August, from $A2,465).

In Vanuatu, we'll be offering a five-night package in Port Vila followed by a three-night stay in Santo, Vanuatu's adventure island. Do either or both. We'll have prices up in the next few days.

We're offering a new oceanswimsafari to swim with Manta rays in Fiji's Yasawa islands in July. Prices up also in the next few days.

Not long after that, we'll have packages up for the Mana Fiji SwimFest and/or Yasawas oceanswimsafari (October).

We will be offering the Northern Sporades islands in Greece (September) for small groups.

We expect Heron Island to be ready in the New Year.

Go to oceanswimsafaris.com for more info and to book... Click here

Our oceanswimsafaris in 2017 –

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

Interesting fact...

In season 2015/16, oceanswims.com raised $355,929 for swim organisers -- mainly surf life saving clubs -- through accepting online entries on their behalf.

This is a real figure, not something hypothecated from a fantasy

yamba04The bay at Yamba. The pub above the beach has perhaps the most spectacular view on the coast.

Xmas-NY swims

In some places... er, in one place, there is a glut of swims over the holiday break. We speak of Victoria, where there are four swims between Boxing Day and the day after New Year's Day (Pt Leo, Anglesea, Port Fairy, and Pt Lonsdale). There are also two swims over the break in Tasmania (Hobart and Port Sorell), two swims in Wessna Strãa (Mullaloo and Albany), one in South Australia (Glenelg) and one in NSW (Yamba). The preponderance in Victoria is due to local surf clubs taking advantage of the hordes of Melbournians who flock to the coast either side of Port Phillip Bay over the holiday period. There are also a string of swims in New Zealand clustered around the top of the South island (Nelson) and holiday districts outside Auckland (Whangamata and Mt Maunganui).

We're taking entries online for...

In Adelaide, the Proclamation Classic at Glenelg on Wednesday, December 28. Distances of 5km, 2km, and 1km. Bear in mind, this is a business day, but it is the Xmas-NY week so perhaps employers will be understanding when you wop it... Click here

In NSW, you can "recover" from NY at Yamba on Monday, January 2. Do either or both of 2km and 700m. And if you do at least one of those swims, you qualify for the Dash for Cash... Click here

Find out more from our calendar... Click here

Our swim calendar

Our home page on oceanswims.com holds a list of Featured Swims that awgies have asked us to feature more prominently. But for our full calendar of swims across Strãa, New Zealand, the Pacific and some more, go to Swims/Calendar on oceanswims.com... Or click here

When you go to our calendar, you can search swims by location, by swim type (from various kinds), by type of water, type of venue, whether there's another discipline involved, whether you can enter with a team or just by yourself, and much more.

queenscliff 161218 tweet 07
Swimmer, Queenscliff. See our report... Click here

Controversy Corner...

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

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

Glistening Dave's ocean swims calendar 2017

Order now for New Year

calendar dhd 17 banner 250Glistening Dave has been beating a path between his home and the little red postbox at the corner of his street to stick calendars in for late ordering punters still keen to know what day it will be on January 1. There's still time to order yours.

Dave's ocean swims calendar 2017 includes every swim date we can find in Strãa, along with many in New Zealand and the Pacific, and a few more besides that we deem worthwhile. Pin it on your notice board at work, behind the door in the loo, on the wall in the kitchen, in your home office, your men's shed out the back, your sewing and knitting room, the wall in your hallway, so that you can check swim dates each time you leave home or return. Stick it on your garage door to remind you where you're going when you get in the car. Or get multiples and mount one in each of those places, so that you're constantly surrounded by images of ocean swimming. Or Dave's perceptions of them, anyway.

Order yours now... Click here

Another one bites the foam

News of another swim that's bitten the foam, gone belly-up in the whitewater. This time, it's the Newcastle Harbour Swim Classic on Strãa Day. The swim was cancelled last season amid the furore that gripped Novacastellians over Bruce, the "Great White Shark", perhaps the most exciting meeja frenzy to grip Newcastle since the Pasha Bulker hove up onto Nobbys Beach (we can poke fun of Newcastle because we are Novacastellians ourselves. It's like making fun of surf boat rowers, considerably easier targets whom everyone teases, but we can because we were one). Now, we understand the the awgies of the Newcastle swim, Stockton SLSC, have decided that the swim "has run its course".

This means we have lost both Newcastle and Sydney Strãa Day swims, with the demise earlier of the Sydney iteration due to the lack of a sponsor under its new ownership. We have let the Newcastle people know about the demise of the Sydney swim, which should mean that, if Newcastle still ran, it might pull swimmers from Sydney. We recall being stunned one day we arrived at Queens Wharf in Newcastle to find a sub-peloton of the best open water swimmers in the world mooching around on the dock waiting for swim start. The reason, they told us, was that Newcastle used to off $1,000 prizemoney, which good young swimmers need to feed their coaches. But that was a few years back.

There is an event in Wollongong on Strãa Day, but it's an aquathon, which means you get a short swim then you have to run. A lot of swimmers don't like running.

Swims open to online entry...

New entries here... Black Head (Jan 15)

In the works... Balmoral (Apr 2), Caves Beach (Apr 23)

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The real and original home of ocean swimming since 1999

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