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December 14, 2016

bilgola swim 161211 600 feet
Every now and again, you find an image that makes you wonder what really is going on. Everyone seems fixated on the bottom here, but some of them are just looking at it, while someone else is getting stuck right into it. We hope they found what they were looking for. This was Bilgola last Sundee... See our report... Click here

Swims this weekend...

Mystery of the bluebottle-bearing breeze

What stinger is that?

Everyone has a life quest. It might be to become rich. Or to become a world famous actor. It might be to become a best-selling author. Or, as Norman Gunston had it, to have "a fabulously well-paid cigarette commercial", just like John Laws. Norman pursued his dream and eventually he got his cigarette commercial, although we wonder how many fags he sold for Dukes, which was, as you might say, a short-lived brand. Serves 'em right.

But Norman is inspiration to those who doggedly pursue their dream: eventually, it will come. Maybe.

We have a dream, too. It is to understand the bluebottle. We don't want to know why they exist. Good heavens, we know enough about the world to realise that there are some things that we cannot possibly hope to understand; some things that we must just accept are there, or simply are by the good grace of some almighty, who has placed them there – blueys, we mean – in her/is infinite mercy.
Blueys. Bluebottles. Not why are they there, but why are they there when they are there?

carybdea marsupialisYou might find this a silly question. Everyone we ask, including some you might regard as "experts", tell us the same thing: "Oh," they say, as if revealing a hidden truth hitherto known only to them, "they come in on the nor'-easters".

Carybdea marsupialis

Oh. We should have known. The nor'-easters bring them in to shore from some mystical sea just offshore, where they bob around on the water waiting for a nor'-eastser to blow. It's not just nor'-easters, by the way. Any onshore breeze will bring them in. It's just that a sou'-easter will bring a particular bluey to shore at a different place to that by a nor'-easter.

But sea-breezes, onshore breezes, blow all summer long. They're our prevailing wind in the warmer months. When we were kids at Caves Beach, we used to think we could set our watches by the nor'easter coming in at 10:30am daily (nowadays 11:30 with daylight saving). Yet, sometimes, when an onshore breeze blows, we don't get blueys on the beach, while at other times we do. Something must be causing them to be there, bobbing ararnd offshore, available, waiting for a nor'-easter or a sou'-easter to blow them in. Why are they there sometimes and not at other times? Why are they there in swarms sometimes but at other times they are there in dribs and drabs? Why? It's not good enough to simply accept they are there and that the wind brings them in. Why are they there sometimes but not at other times, irrespective of the breeze. The answer, my friends, is... Yes, yes, we know what you're going to say...

The best response we've been able to get to date has been to do with the food cycle: as there is more food available for blueys, then more blueys will be there. Or as predators of blueys diminish, then blueys themselves will proliferate. Two sides of the same line.

Bluey moon

In Hawai'i, the awgies of the Waikiki Roughwater swim reckon they can predict (forecast, anticipate?) the arrival of stingers by the moon phases. A few years back, they brought their swim forward two days to avoid them. But while they may have been spot on with their stingers, we don't know that the same can apply to bluebottles.

No-one has ever been able to tell us. So our quest goes on.

medusa sting oscThis week, we thought we might be able to get an answer at last. There's a new app (for the iPhone and iPad) which aims to be a universal guide to jellyfish, which is what a bluey is. It's called The Jellyfish App, and you can find it on the App Store or directly through its website... Click here

Our "Medusa" encounter, 2012

his eponymous app sets out to be an encyclopaedia of jellyfish: What's there, where, when, how to recognise them, whether it's a nasty stinger, and how nasty, and how to treat its stings. Quite useful objectives. You can get a basic version free, but that comes with ads and lacks some interactivity features. The commercial version, which retails for $A2.99, carries no ads and includes a feature by which you can upload a pic of a stinger (assuming you can't find it on the app's database), and send it in to be identified by the app's founder, Lisa-Ann Gershwin, a Tasmanian academic.

Handy

This could be a tremendously useful resource. However, it's new, and there will always be teething issues with new things. For example, when we keyed in "bluebottle", the search returned nothing. Later, we discovered that blueys are listed as "blue bottles", not "bluebottles". When we looked up jimbles, purple people eaters, and blueys, and we hit the "Location" button – which is supposed to be a graphic representation of a particular creature's presence -- it turned up a map of Strãa with Sydney and Melbourne marked. But nothing else. It had a blue bit, which was the ocean. But nothing in it.

This is not the case with all stingers. Others bring up maps with shaded circles indicating their spread.

You can look up stingers using common names or scientific names, although unless you know the scientific name, it can be difficult to find them. When we went to Yrp a few years back, for example, we were stung by what the locals call a "Medusa", which can plague the Riviera beaches over high summer. This particular "Medusa" gave us a scar that remains on our necks four years later. But keying in "Medusa" to The Jellyfish App returns nothing relevant. Medusa seems to be a generic name for stingers over there. We went instead to jellyrisk.eu and we found (by looking at the pitchers) what we thought could have been the critter than got us. We got its scientific name from jellyrisk.eu, and we keyed it in to The Jellyfish App.

Curiously, when you key in the entire scientific name of the one that caught our eye, carybdea marsupialis, the search returns nothing. But if you key in just the first part of the name, it returns five stingers, including one with the full name as we keyed it in. But, with the screen on both the iPad and the iPhone obscured by the keyboard used to key in the name, there is only a small window to scroll through and click on the one you want. As ours appeared to be the last on the list, we could scroll up, get it partially in the screen, but not enough to click on it and bring up its info. And as soon as you take your finger off the screen to "click", it springs back down behind the keyboard.

So we're none the wiser on that one.

Issues like this can be sorted out over time. For now, it's worth a look and, in the spirit of crowd-sourcing, you can help to build the database and suggest improvements.

Go to The Jellyfish App... 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.

Budgys for Xmas

budgy smuggler sailor stripes

budgeysmugglerlogo150Budgy Smuggler create 100% Australian made swimwear.

Available for Men, Women and Kids - it's the perfect stocking filler this Christmas!

Shop at... www.budgysmuggler.com.au

Swims this weekend...

Pre-Xmas-Xmas-NY swims

A glut of swims around the NSW metropolitan area this weekend, but not much in most other places. As always, check the weather and surf conditions prior to making your own decision whether to enter.

See the dotpoints above for all swims we have in our calendar, but we're taking entries for...

Queenscliff - Swim for Saxon

The Swim for Saxon remembers Saxon Bird, the young lifesaver who lost his life in dangerous seas at the Australian Surf Life Saving Champeenships on the Gold Coast in 2011. Two distances on offer: 2km and 1km. Best do them both.

Queenscliff is a lovely, open beach at the northern end of the Steyne beaches at Manly. Online entries close at 3pm on Sat'dee, December 17... Click here

Wollongong - Basin2Beach

In the Illawarra, three distances on offer in this early season carnival of swims based in Wollongong Boat Harbour: 2km (zig-zagging across to North Wollongong beach), 800m and 350m for younger swimmers. The harbour offers a good location for younger and newer swimmers with its protection from the elements. But if you'd like something more seafarin', then do the 2km. Online entries close at noon on Saturday... Click here

Over Xmas-NY

Of the swims for which we're taking online entries -

In Adelaide, you can do 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

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

Otherwise, Victorians holidaying on the peninsula or along the Surf Coast are spoilt with choice from Pt Leo (Boxing Day), Anglesea on December 28, Pt Lonsdale and Port Fairy on January 2.

In the West, there's Mullalloo on Tuesday, December 27 and Albany on January 2.

Find out more from our calendar... Click here

Tough road to hoe

From The Times (2/12/16):

Jellyfish stings, equipment failure, choppy seas and an unappetising diet of military rations are enough to contend with when trying to become the first person to swim across the Atlantic. Ben Hooper is also having to dispute claims that his attempt is not quite what it seems.

Mr Hooper, 38, has been fighting his way through clumps of lice-infested seaweed and acres of floating rubbish while being churned about as though he is in a washing machine. Currents have left him struggling to make any progress at all. At times his support boat Big Blue has been travelling at less than one knot.

In two and a half weeks, Ben Hooper, a former policeman from Cheltenham, has covered 67 miles of the 1,835 nautical-mile crossing from Dakar in Senegal to Natal in Brazil. Currents have left him struggling to make any progress at all...

Thanks to the Marathon Swimmers Forum for this lead (@marathon_swimrs)

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.

recap bar graph 161214

ReCap update

Here's the cap return rate from the 4 swims Recap has attended so far (Collaroy, Balmain, Coogee, Bilgola). The labels represent the number collected and in brackets is the number handed out.

I was going to attempt some humour and write about the generations, but I'll leave that except to say good on the Baby Boomers for leading the charts so far.

There is noise in the data, and I had to make some assumptions, so we'll revisit this at the end of the season. Having someone stand by the bins helps, and if there are multiple swims on one day, we've had a better return rate from the long swim than the short one.

Marc West

Find out more - visit ReCap's Facebook page... Click here

Controversy Corner...

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

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

Glistening Dave's ocean swims calendar 2017

Order now for Xmas

calendar dhd 17 banner 250First orders of Glistening Dave's ocean swims calendar 2017 was sent to the mailhouse today, which means those who'd ordered by last Friday should receive their calendars in the next few days. If you're one of them, make sure your delivery address is safe, secure, and easy to access for Postman Pat. Later orders will be included in the next mail-out, again in time for Xmas delivery.

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

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

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

All I want for Xmas...

... is an exotic adventure with oceanswimsafaris.com

Xmas is barely a week away, and we know what punters like to do over Xmas: They like to sift through their holiday options for the coming year and choose an exotic location for an adventure.

We have packages available now for Sulawesi (June), Costa Brava in Spain (September), and we will have them online in the next few days also for San Sebastián (also Spain, in August), Vanuatu – Port Vila and Santo (May-June), and a new oceanswimsafari to swim with Manta rays in Fiji's Yasawa islands (July).

Not long after that, we'll have packages up for the Mana Fiji SwimFest and/or Yasawas oceanswimsafari (October). We had them available to Tonga, too, but we have filled all three oceanswimsafaris there (July-August).

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 TBC)
  • 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) 

New, postponed swims

Another new swim in Sydney this season: at North Curl Curl on February 25, the "Pacific Championships" of the Global Swim Series. Two distances on offer: 3.8km, which takes you almost to Freshwater point and back, and 1.5km, in the bay at Curly. Online entries will be open in the next day or so... Click here

Nobbys-Newcastle was postponed from last Sat'dee on lifeguard's advice, but has been rescheduled now for Sunday, January 22. Online entries have been re-opened, and all existing entries roll-over to the new date... Click here

I ocean swim, therefore...

bs cossies both bothWith the help of our cobbers from budgysmuggler.com.au, we've released our very own oceanswims cossies. We haven't put commercial markers on them too heavily because we respect your right not to be a walking billboard. But observing punters will be in no doubt about whom you are: An Ocean Swimmer, ie "I ocean swim, therefore I am".

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

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

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

Swims open to online entry...

New entries here... North Curl Curl (Feb 25), Mollymook (Apr 8)

In the works... Balmoral (Apr 2)

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December 7, 2016

north curl curl 161203 tweet 06
Have you ever wondered what it is that separates you from really good swimmers? One thing is flexibility. See above, boofhead good swimmer rounding last booee at North Curl Curl, over-rotated and bending to get around the booee without losing speed. Try that, and it may help. Then again, give us a call for advice on a good physio afterwards.

Swims this weekend...

To eat or not to eat

Fat is just part of the question

This advice was written by sports dietician Chloe Mcleod with runners in mind, but we figure there's much in this for all of us mugs, too. The story is taken from the newsletter of Balmain Sports Medicine

Your alarm is set, you've laid out your clothes ready for the morning. You are looking forward to the fresh crisp air and getting your morning run in. What a great way to start the day! But do you need to fuel up beforehand? And if so, what should you have?

When not to eat

If you are planning a swift, 3-5km run first thing in the morning, there is probably no need to eat anything beforehand. Your body is likely to have plenty of stored energy (from the night before) to use and it's also a way to encourage fat burn, so you aren't burning what you've just had for breakfast!

There is more research showing benefits of training in a fasted state. The mantra goes "train low, compete high". This means including some fasted sessions, so if you are training for a longer event, your body can use fat as a fuel source more effectively.

However, some sessions do need to be done "fed", as avoiding a meal beforehand can actually blunt the body's ability to use carbohydrate as a fuel source. Some athletes specifically include fasted sessions and fed sessions into their training regime to maximise these results.

bondi bronte 161204 600 01
Well may he cackle, this exuberant, sunburnt ranga, and his cobbers behind, evidently enjoying the start at Bondi on Sundee, unaware of what lay ahead. According to one of their mothers, who spoke to us on Twitter, they weren't so jolly a little later after being stung by blueys en route to Bronte. Can't have been too bad, however. "He played ultimate frisbee for two hours last night so reckon he's recovered just fine," said Blue Mountains mum Vivienne Cichero. So, listen up all you mugs: the therapy for blueys is "ultimate frisbee", whatever that is.

When to eat

There are a few times it is recommended to eat something prior to your morning run.

The most obvious one is if you are heading out for the long haul. What is "long", you might ask? Research shows that for exercise lasting less than 60-90 minutes (depending on how well trained you are!), participating in a fasted state is ok. However, for a longer jaunt, fuelling up before hand is a great plan. If you are new to running, having something small before a shorter run may help as well.

smoothie bananas The quantity of food you require will also differ depending on how long it is before you plan on starting your morning jog, and how far you plan on running. If you are wanting to leave in the next 30 minutes or less, something rich in carbohydrates that will digest quite quickly is recommended, whereas if you have longer, something that will fill you up, that is not too high in fat or fibre and is rich in carbohydrate is suggested.

My top pre-run breakfast options would have to be -

  • Banana
  • Honey toast
  • Weet Bix and milk
  • Fruit and yoghurt
  • Smoothie (check out my banana and peanut butter smoothie recipe below!)
  • Coffee (short black with one of the above options, or a milky one)

If you are training for a race, I'd recommend that you do some practice runs with what you plan on having for breakfast beforehand. Trying something new on race day is a recipe for disaster!

When it comes to eating or not eating before your run, it depends on how much time you have, how long you plan on going for and what you hope to get out of the session. Take home? Including a mix of both fasted and fed training will allow you to get the most out of your morning run!

Banana and Peanut Butter Smoothie

5 minutes preparation time

Ingredients

  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp LSA

Method

  1. Place all ingredients in blender and pulse on high until well combined and smooth.
  2. Serve in a tall glass and enjoy.

Serves 1

Note: Use a frozen banana if desired to make the smoothie extra thick. 

Chloe Mcleod
From the newsletter of Balmain Sports Medicine

north curl curl 161203 600 02
The moment of impact: rounding the booee at North Curl Curl, the leading swimmer kicks the following swimmer in the head. Doubtless unintentional, both were twisting to get around in a mini-melee of their own contriving.

Swims this weekend...

Pre-Xmas glut in some parts

A glut of swims around the NSW metropolitan area this weekend, but not much in most other places. As always, check the weather and surf conditions prior to making your decision whether to enter.

See the dotpoints above for all swims we have in our calendar, but we're taking entries for...

Nobbys-Newcastle

nobbys pashaDo you remember Bruce? S/he was a noah, a man-in-a-grey-suit, a shark that was terrorising the punters of Newcastle a couple of years back. Spotted here, spotted there... all along the Novacastellian coast, Bruce forced many out of the water, and the cancellation of both this swim and the Newcastle Harbour Swim Classic two years back. At the same time, Bruce had a colleague, a "great white" that somehow became "trapped" in Lake Macquarie, by both the narrow lake's entrance through Swansea Channel and by fish nets reportedly caught around its girth. Bruce's cobber in turn led to the cancellation of one of the longest running swims in Strãa, Across Lake Macquarie from Coal Point to Belmont.

After a year of fear around the Hunter, the organiser of Nobbys-Newcastle, Lee Howes, a gifted glass artist, bunged her swim on again in the face of considerable local opposition, and guess what happened? Nothing. Apart from the swim running well. It is one of the prettiest swims you will do along the coast: from Nobbys Beach beneath the lighthouse, around the rock shelf, past Cowrie Hole and the Newcastle Ocean Baths, the historic scent of its pluto pups dripping in tomato sauce wafting spectrally over the waves crashing onto the rocks, and on into Newcastle Beach. It really is a lovely swim. And it's on this Sat'dee

Online entries close 3pm Friday, December 9... Click here

5 Beaches - Coogee-Bondi

When the Coogee-Bondi swim last ran a few years back, it had been one of the fastest growing events on the calendar, heralding a push that's gathered momentum over the intervening period towards middle distance events and beyond. While still small in terms of numbers, compared with icon events such as The Big Swim, the Cole, Bondi-Bronte, North Bondi and Coogee in Sydney, the swimmers increasingly are seeking out longer distances. Next weekend, the Vladswim at Balmoral runs again with distances up to 10km, and a few weeks back, we had record numbers on Mana Island in Fiji for their 10km event. At the same time, the English Channel has become the new black. So punters should welcome the rssurection this Sat'dee of Coogee-Bondi in the guise of the 5 Beaches Swim, by Eastern Suburbs coach and Olympian, Neil Rogers.

Named 5 Beaches because it spans five beaches -- we shouldn't have had to tell you that -- it holds the potential to become one of the biggest events on the Sydney calendar. Why? Becasue of it's classical course along some of the nation's most spectacular urban coastline, and because, at 4.5km, it is "doable" for regular Sundee swimmers used to 2km, and a stepping stone to longer distances, such as Mana and the South Head Roughwater in May.

Online entries close 3pm Friday, December 9... Click here

bilgola pano 0110

Billie on the Northern Beaches

Then we come to Sunday, and one of our longtime fave swims on the Northern Beaches at Bilgola. We have a soft spot for Billie, regarding ourselves as complicit in saving it from extinction a few years back.

Bilgola is one of the prettiest of beaches along one of the prettiest coastlines, particularly urban coastlines in the world. This is not hyperbole. Two distances on offer: 800m and 1.5km. Do both and get 2.3km all up on the Sundee. You'll need that leading into Xmas.

Online entries close 3pm Saturday, December 10... Click here

recap 161207ReCap at Billie

ReCap will be at Bilgola to collect your unwanted and/or used swim caps. Look for the sign near the finishing area and near the oceanswims.com tent on the beach.

ReCap announced this week it had secured, through Inner West Council in Sydney, another beneficiary of the caps, a school in WA for disadvantaged pupils. 

Of the caps shown at right, ReCap says, "They don't look many when stacked in this nice ordered fashion, but that's 540 caps - 60 brought in from home and an astounding 480 caps from the Coogee Island Challenge... It's a 50%+ return rate. That's the most collected from a single swim so far this summer, meaning we've collected over 1000 caps at 3 swims".

ReCap is oorganised by rank-and-file ocean swimmer and mathematician, Marc West. You can chat with Marc about his cause on Sundee at Billie.

Find out more: visit ReCap's Facebook page... Click here

Controversy Corner...

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

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

Glistening Dave's ocean swims calendar 2017

Order now for Xmas

calendar dhd 17 banner 250Glistening Dave's ocean swims calendar 2017 is with the printers, expected back by the weekend for delivery of initial orders next week. If you haven't already ordered yours, do so now so that you will be amongst the first batch sent out in plenty of time for Xmas.

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

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

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

Our Xmas special

Selenes so sick, they're almost gone

view selene mirror 05We've said it before and we'll warn you again: we've had an enormous response to our Xmas Special featuring the new mirrored Selene goggles bundled with the Selene non-mirrored. There've been so many orders that two colours of the mirrored Selenes are sold out, and the third colour won't be far behind. Now, of the mirrored Selenes, there is only the Lavender/Pink (LVP) model still available. We've asked View for more, but we don't expect them until well into the New Year.

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

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

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

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

Order yours now... Click here

Tasmanian ocean swims

The first round of the Tasmanian Ocean Swim Series ran last weekend. To see how it went, check the series on their Facebook page... Click here

sulawesi 151115 teaser

Tonga sells out, come with us to...

oceanswimsafaris 2017

After reporting on availability on our oceanswimsafaris to Tonga in July-August 2017, those spaces now have closed up. But you still can come with us to Vanuatu, Sulawesi, Spain, Fiji and Heron Island again next November.

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

Dates of our oceanswimsafaris in 2017 –

  • Vanuatu - Port Vila (May 24-29)
  • Vanuatu - Santo (May 29-June 3 TBC)
  • Sulawesi (Indonesia, June 11-19) - 3 spots left
  • Yasawas Fiji - Swim with Manta rays (July 16-23 Dates TBC) (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 - Dates TBC)
  • Yasawas Fiji (Oct 16-23)
  • Mana Fiji (Oct 24-29)
  • Heron Island (Nov 4-8) 

I ocean swim, therefore...

bs cossies both bothWith the help of our cobbers from budgysmuggler.com.au, we've released our very own oceanswims cossies. We haven't put commercial markers on them too heavily because we respect your right not to be a walking billboard. But observing punters will be in no doubt about whom you are: An Ocean Swimmer, ie "I ocean swim, therefore I am".

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

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

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

Tell us about your swim group

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

The vast bulk of ocean swimming takes place not in formal races on the weekend. It happens in the myriad informal swim groups that meet on beaches, at pools, in lakes, rivers, dams, ponds and billabongs all around Strãa, New Zealand and the South Pacific, every day. Locals know their groups, but what if you're travelling? You're in an unfamiliar place, you'd like a swim, but where? With whom?

oceanswims.com aims to offer the most comprehensive list of informal swim groups and locations in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. Wherever you are, you should never be without a suggestion of where to swim and with whom. We've received already submissions from swim groups from as far afield as Scotland and Hong Kong. We expect to have the first online in the next week or so.

oceanswims.com lists swim groups free of charge. Just complete the short form we've posted on our website and click the Submit button. You'll get a copy of your info straightbackatcha, and we'll slot it into our listings. Look under Swims on oceanswims.com, or... Click here

bondi bronte 161204 600 02
It was a relatively calm day at Bondi-Bronte on Sundee, but even on a calm day, Bronte can be a trap. See here, the surging shore swell: just metres from "dry" sand, you have swells of a metre and more and water you can't stand up stably.

Swims open to online entry...

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

New entries here... Yamba (Jan 2), Bondi (Feb 26), Shellharbour (Apr 9)

Coming soon... Mollymook (Apr 8)

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November 30, 2016

coogee swim 161127 01
The start at Coogee.

Swims this weekend...

Swell time makes island a challenge

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

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

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

coogee swim 161127 06
Turmoil.

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

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

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

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

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

coogee swim 161127 09

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

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

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

Glenn Muir

Swims this weekend...

Refreshing the bucket-list

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

tweed killer 0802vertWarning, warning!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Classics keep coming

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

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

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

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

For the bucket-list...

Waikiki Beach

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

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

Find out more... Click here

The stuff of dreams

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

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

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

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

Controversy Corner...

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

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

Glistening Dave's ocean swims calendar 2017

Order now for Xmas

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

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

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

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

Our Xmas special

Selenes so sick, they're almost gone

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

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

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

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

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

Order yours now... Click here

Tonga closes up

oceanswimsafaris 2017

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

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

Dates of our oceanswimsafaris in 2017 –

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

I ocean swim, therefore...

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

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

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

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

Tell us about your swim group

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

The vast bulk of ocean swimming takes place not in formal races on the weekend. It happens in the myriad informal swim groups that meet on beaches, at pools, in lakes, rivers, dams, ponds and billabongs all around Strãa, New Zealand and the South Pacific, every day. Locals know their groups, but what if you're travelling? You're in an unfamiliar place, you'd like a swim, but where? With whom?

oceanswims.com aims to offer the most comprehensive list of informal swim groups and locations in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. Wherever you are, you should never be without a suggestion of where to swim and with whom. We've received already submissions from swim groups from as far afield as Scotland and Hong Kong. We expect to have the first online in the next week or so.

oceanswims.com lists swim groups free of charge. Just complete the short form we've posted on our website and click the Submit button. You'll get a copy of your info straightbackatcha, and we'll slot it into our listings. Look under Swims on oceanswims.com, or... Click here

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

Swims open to online entry...

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

Coming soon... Plenty more.

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November 24, 2016

mana fiji swimmer 1610
Mana Island, Fiji

Swims this weekend...

Swim or...

Some years ago, we ran the website for an event in San Francisco, the Alcatraz Challenge, the tagline for which was, Swim or Die, inspired, no doubt, by the many fruitless attempts to escape from Alcatraz. Many tried to escape from Alcatraz, but only one may have succeeded: he was never found.

The tagline was a bit of fun on the part of the awgies, who also stipulated, perhaps unkindly, "No anal triathletes".

The only problem was that, one day in the Alcatraz Challenge, someone did die.

The first we knew was when we received an urgent email asking us to take down the tagline from the website: "Get it down, quick", they said. No more "Swim or die".

In those days, prior to content management systems for websites, the master pages for this site were stored on our 'puter at home, whereas we were at our real job elsewhere. So we were at distance from the pages and it was not possible for us to simply take down the tagline. We had to call Mrs Sparkle, at home at the time, and guide her through it over the telephone, much like Steve McCroskey talking Ted Striker through his landing in Flying High.

The tagline was in the form of a graphic, not text. So we had to guide her, over the phone, through the folders in the back-end of the Alcatraz Challenge website till she found the offending graphic, then deleted it. This left a hole in most of the site's pages, but it was better than continuing the offence of leaving the tagline live after someone had actually died during the swim.

This is not to trivialise that swimmer's death. Rather, it highlights that life, with all its responsibilities and activities, goes on despite death.

Coogee-pano
Coogee: the season's first classic, this Sundee.

That'd be good

We had another friend, a well-known swimmer from Sydney's north side, who was epileptic, who had a seizure during a swim and died in the water. He wasn't found until quite some time later, by which time it was way too late. At his wake, this chap's doctor, in a eulogy, told how the fellow had suffered an earlier seizure during a squad session at a local pool. As it happened, the doctor himself had been following the fellow in the lane, got to him quickly, helped him out of the pool and looked after him so that he survived.

Afterwards, the doctor said, he gave his patient and friend a good talking to. "I said to him, 'If you're not careful, the next time this happens you and I won't be sitting here talking about it. Instead, there'll be a bunch of us standing around talking about what a good bloke you were'.

"And he said, 'That'd be good!'."

And that's exactly what happened.

We heard of another fellow suffering a seizure and passing away during an informal morning swim at Manly earlier this year.

Cohort

These things happen, of course. Death is part of life. Given the median age of ocean swimmers, especially, perhaps the only reason why it doesn't happen more often is that we are, as a cohort, reasonably active and relatively fit and healthy.

But it's inevitable that incidents will occur.

smith bruce 02As one did again last Saturday at Mt Maunganui during Race 1 of the NZ Ocean Swim Series. This time, it was Bruce Smith, another swimmer whom we knew. Bruce appears to have suffered a seizure part way through the 2.6km main swim at Mt Maunganui. When he was found, attempts were made to revive him but they were unsuccessful.

Bruce Smith, in front.

Bruce won the inaugural NZ fine ocean swimmers' series in 2015. His prize was a trip to take part in the Mana Fiji SwimFest in October last year. With him to Fiji, Bruce brought his wife, Carol, his son, Adrian, and his grandson, Jasper. So we knew not just Bruce, but we also know a good part of his family. You can meet an individual and you can get to know something about them reasonably quickly. But you get to know a lot more about them, about their character, when you meet them with their family. You see more of their dimensions, even if briefly, but it builds a more complete picture of them than the single dimensional impression you develop on meeting someone individually.

We learnt enough about Bruce, who was 68 when he died, to discern that he was a salt-of-the-earth type of person, an extremely experienced swimmer – he'd been doing it all his life – and a pretty good swimmer, too. You don't get to win the fine ocean swimmers' series unless you are a handy swimmer, and a more than regular swimmer.
Bruce was a fixture in NZ ocean and Masters swimming. From Auckland, our cobber, Wayne Annan, says Bruce Smith was "matsmith bruce 01e to most of the swimming community in Auckland, both ocean and pool...

"Bruce was a regular place-getter or winner of his age group, giving many young bucks a lesson in how to swim fast.

"He would also join others in social swims and contribute to the banter out at the yellow buoys or white stick. His smile was always welcoming and his willingness to pitch in and give a hand will be specially missed by many of us who enjoyed Bruce's companionship and company on the beach...

"Bruce will live in our memories whenever we enter the water."

Bruce Smith leaves Carol, three kids, three grandchildren, and two siblings.

Irony

It's glib to say that Bruce died doing what he loved. He did love his swimming, but it's hardly comparable to set his swimming on a par with life and death. It's also true to say that it's our swimming that helps to keep us alive, and alive in a much more robust way than, er... well, than otherwise might be the manner.

We all have to go sometime, and no time is preferable to another. The tragedy is that any of us have to go, often before we're ready, before we've finished doing whatever it is we do, and cruelly ironic when it's prompted by something that kept us so alive.

fine ocean swimmers' series

Speaking of the fine ocean swimmers series both in NZ and in NSW, we need to tell you that we won't be running either series in season 2016/17. We lost a key sponsor during last season, peremptorily, and it left us with hefty costs to honour prizes to which we were already committed. We hope to bring both series back in subsequent years.

Swims this weekend

One swim in the West this weekend, at Coogee on Sat'dee, and two swims in NSW, Toowoon Bay also on Sat'dee, before the first of the season's classics, the spring Island Challenge, around Wedding Cake Island at Coogee.

Coogee in the West is Round 5 of the WA Swimming Open Water Series. They keep adding more and more rounds to this series each year. We wonder where there's room for non-series swims to breathe.

Buttercups on parade

toowoon lincoln val
Pic: Peter Clark, News Local

In the east, Toowoon Bay is a family-oriented event in what is generally a sheltered, easy bay on the NSW Central Coast. Three distances at Toowoon: 2km, 1km and 400m, including a special division of the 400m for younger kids.

Toowoon Bay is the home of the Buttercups, a posey of laydees who swim in the bay each morning. A senior Buttercup is Val Lincoln, who we first met in 2003 in Vanuatu, where the Buttercups took her for her 80th birthday. Do the maths. Val, now 92, is swimming this Sat'dee. That's Val, above. She still swims with the Buttercups twice a week, and she still does pool training. And, Val is vision and hearing impaired.

More info and enter online by 3pm Friday, Nov 25... Click here

Your piece of Wedding Cake

On Sunday, the first of the season classics, around Wedding Cake Island at Coogee in Sydney's eastern suburbs. We've said this before and we will keep saying it: if you consider yourself an ocean swimmer, then you must do Coogee. The swim around the island is one of the great experiences of this caper. Coogee does it twice a season now, too: also in April, in autumn. They offer a Double-Up entry deal by which you can do these swims for as little as $22.50 per swim (if you do both 1km and 2.4km swims on both days, November and April).

More info and enter online by 3pm Sat'dee, Nov 26... Click here

Cancellations

Some may be wondering where the Tweed River Swim -- the Killer Swim -- is this weekend. It's nowhere. The Murwillumbah Brass Monkeys, who ran this swim to aid the Fingal Heads Surf Life Saving Club, felt unable to continue with the event and withdrew as organisers. Last we heard, no-one had entered the breach.

Also cancelled for this season, the Fingal Mile at Fingal Beach by Port Stephens, just north of Newcastle. With so many storms in recent times, so many beaches in Newcastle have lost much of their sand that the Hunter Branch of Surf Life Saving has relocated six surf carnivals to Fingal between January and March. The Fingal awgies felt they could not burden their volunteers with another event, so the Fingal Mile is "deferred" for season 2016/17. We look forward to its return, if only because we wish to catch up with our old cobber, Mick Mad Eyes, formerly of Randwick, Clovelly and Bronte, who we've learnt lives now at Shoal Bay, next to Fingal Beach.

Also gone is the Australia Day Swim on Sydney Harbour, from Man o' War Steps. This event changed ownership about a year ago, and the new owners say they have not been able to find new sponsors.

Similar story for The Bloody Big Swim, between Frankston and Mornington in Victoria. They need awgies and, in their absence, this swim, too, is cancelled for this season.

Inuit snow gogglesMurray Cox on gogs...

Apparently "goggle" is from the Middle English "gogelen", meaning "to squint", and it was the Inuits who first made goggles out of "caribou antler, wood, and shell... cord of caribou sinew... long thin slit to see through".

Olympic swimmers were not wear goggles until 1976. They still weren't common in 1980 but everyone was wearing them by 1984.

Controversy Corner...

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

Glistening Dave's ocean swims calendar 2017

Order now for Xmas

calendar dhd 17 banner 250Xmas is looming, and so is 2017. So it’s time to order your ocean swims calendar for the New Year from our staff snapper, Glistening Dave.

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

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

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

Our Xmas special!

Selenes go fully sick

view selene mirror 05We've beem deluged with orders for our Xmas Special.

Mrs Sparkle’s fave goggle, the View Selene, has been reinvented with mirrored lenses. They’re very groovy and offer an extra mirror protection from the sun’s glare.

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

Designed originally for laydees, we probably sell more to blokes these days. We’ve long loved the View Fully Sicks, which also offer a mirrored lens, and now the same look and glare protection is available in the Selenes.

They come in three colour combinations – Pearl Black/Blue, Aquamarine Ice Blue/Yellow (with a glitter frame), and Lavender/Pink.

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

Order yours now... Click here

Re-Cap at swims this season

Cap Amnesty at Coogee

dawny balmain recapRe-Cap will be at Coogee on Sunday to collect your unwanted swim caps. Look for them near the oceanswims.com tent on the beach.

At a rough estimate, around 20,000 swimming caps are handed out at NSW ocean swims each summer. Some may be reused, but the overwhelming majority are used only once, kept in the bottom of a swimming bag for the summer, then thrown out. This seems like a needless waste, as well as creating unnecessary landfill.

Novacastrian quasi-royalty, Michael Fox, travelled all the way to Balmain last Sundee to deposit his life's story in old swim caps with Re-Cap. You could jettison your past life, too, by donating at Coogee this Sunday.

Accordingly, Re-cap aims to find sources for reusing and repurposing swimming caps, and will be collecting over summer at Sydney ocean swims. The first beneficiary is Swim Viet Nam, a charity based in Central Viet Nam which provides free swimming and water safety lessons to children and trains local adults as swimming teachers.

We're talking to some other charities and beneficiaries at the moment, and in the past have given to artists and local pools, so stay tuned!

If you would like to receive some caps, or if you have a whole stack that you would like to give away, get in touch!

There is currently no way to recycle caps (that I -- Marc West -- know of) hence the focus on reuse and repurpose. However, maybe it is not too far away - wetsuit recycling is now available in various places (http://ripcurlplanet.com/rip-curl-rubber-the-environment.html), and you can recycle all sorts of plastics and rubber if you are willing to make the effort - there's a gap in the market for an entrepreneurial ocean swimmer...

Marc West

Spot opens up for Tonga

Oceanswimsafaris 2017

We've had a cancellation on our first oceanswimsafari to Tonga from July 25-August 2, 2017, which means there now are two spots available on that tour, as well as one spot remaining on our second Tonga trip from August 1-9.

Let us know quickly if you'd lke to come along with us. We've been inundated with interest for Tonga in 2017, which is why we're running three oceanswimsafaris there this coming year.

We've posted package details for two of our oceanswimsafaris in 2017 on our sibling site, oceanswimsafaris.com. You can find details for both Sulawesi (June 11-19) and for Tonga (three oceanswimsafaris between July 25 and August 16). We have a few spots still available on our Sulawesi tour, and three spots available on Tonga. We've been inundated with interest for both oceanswimsafaris.com.

Dates of our oceanswimsafaris in 2017 –

  • Vanuatu - Port Vila (May 24-29)
  • Vanuatu - Santo (May 31-June 5 Dates TBC)
  • Sulawesi (Indonesia, June 11-19) - 4 spots left
  • Yasawas Fiji - Swim with Manta rays (July 16-23) (New oceanswimsafari!)
  • Tonga 1 - Swim with Whales 1 (July 25-Aug 2) - 2 spots left
  • Tonga 2 - Swim with Whales 2 (Aug 1-9) - 1 spot left
  • 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 TBC)
  • Yasawas Fiji (Oct 16-23)
  • Mana Fiji (Oct 24-29)
  • Heron Island (Nov 4-8) 

I ocean swim, therefore...

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

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

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

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

Tell us about your swim group

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

The vast bulk of ocean swimming takes place not in formal races on the weekend. It happens in the myriad informal swim groups that meet on beaches, at pools, in lakes, rivers, dams, ponds and billabongs all around Strãa, New Zealand and the South Pacific, every day. Locals know their groups, but what if you're travelling? You're in an unfamiliar place, you'd like a swim, but where? With whom?

oceanswims.com aims to offer the most comprehensive list of informal swim groups and locations in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. Wherever you are, you should never be without a suggestion of where to swim and with whom. We've received already submissions from swim groups from as far afield as Scotland and Hong Kong. We expect to have the first online in the next week or so.

oceanswims.com lists swim groups free of charge. Just complete the short form we've posted on our website and click the Submit button. You'll get a copy of your info straightbackatcha, and we'll slot it into our listings. Look under Swims on oceanswims.com, or... Click here

dawny balmain lizzie simmsLizzi Simms had her own message for the men in grey suits at the Dawny swim at Balmain last Sundee... Check our report... Click here

Get swim ready at Newport

A message from the awgies of the Newport Pool to Peak Swim...

Newport Surf Club will be conducting an ocean swim training session at Newport Beach on Saturday 26 November 2016 from 7.30am in association with our Pool to Peak Ocean Swims which as you know will be on Sunday 8 January 2017.

The ocean swim training session is intended for swimmers who are thinking of trying ocean swimming for the first time as well as those who would like to pick up a few tips.

We will be covering:

  • Training for an ocean swim
  • Preparation for the day of the swim
  • Observing surf conditions before you swim
  • How to get out through the break (Practical if conditions allow)
  • Finishing a swim.

We will be emphasising the fun aspect as well as safety.

More info, contact John Guthrie... Click here

Swims open to online entry...

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

Coming soon... Plenty more.

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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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November 17, 2016

sulawesi salute 1607
Any time, any place is just right for the ocean swimmers' salute. In this case, it's bobbing ararnd in the Celebes Sea off northern Sulawesi.

Swims this weekend...

The never-ending controversy

Collaroy last Sundee saw something unusual: the starter sent the codgers off first.

"It was terrific," said retired Herald compositor Norm McIntyre. "I had clear water all the way around."

"Why can't the other swims do this?"

Norm's clear water might have been as much to do with the five-minute gaps between waves as with the wave order.

But he was not joined by all in their enthusiasm.

Voracious Can-Tooer Anna Lewis, designer of the groovy Can-Too cossies (as distinct from the official cossies), reported afterwards that she'd been run over.

"My swim in the 800m was marred by an incredibly rough group of '40-something' blokes," said Anna later, in an 'ave a chat contribution that you can see at the bottom of our report page.

"I'm pretty used to swimming in a pack and am not fussed when I get the occasional bump and scratch, but rarely have I swum in a race and been hit and thumped so hard as Collaroy on Sunday.

"On two occasions, I was hit on the head so hard that my goggles came off, and at one point the bloke swimming beside me said, 'Oh, I didn't see you there. I was in my own world'.

"Please, please," pleaded Anna, "is it possible to send off the blokes a couple of minutes before the ladies or vice versa?"

sulawesi dawn 1607
The pristinity of dawn, Sulawesi.

You will never get universal agreement on the ideal starting order in an ocean swim. Some punters want youngies and fasties first; others, like Norm, appreciated the chance to swim with others, instead of being stranded at the back of the pack with other hackers like himself. Some want laydees separated from boofheads, but others have told us the toughest wave they've ever swum in was laydees-only.

About the only thing on which you get some semblance of universal agreement is the practice of some swims - we can think of Lorne and Byron Bay – who send off the rank-and-file, then hold back at the end before sending starting the "Ayleet", as Malcolm Turnbull calls them. At both those events, mug punters can get their fumbling and thrashing over with and generally be on the beach to see those come through who actually know what they're doing.

We'll never forget the sight at Byron a few years back of a tubby, cherubic 50+ boofhead, waddling and wobbling over the corrugations in the break, hearing the crowd roar and turning to see Ky Hurst hurtling out of the break behind him. He broke into a trot, desperate, no doubt, to get bragging rights at the pub afterwards if he could beat Ky over the line.

There is something special about ocean swimming, that eejits like us can swim alongside the best in the world. It was wonderful that that bloke had the opportunity to race Ky to the line. That doesn't happen in every sport indeed, in most sports.

That said, it's novel and special that we can be on the beach to watch the good swimmers do it.

But it doesn't resolve the problem of starting orders.

tonga peloton 160816
Along the Big Bay in Tonga.

A few months back, we published a suggestion from a laydee punter who, as we recall, preferred to remain incognito. It was that start waves should be based on speed, with entrants nominating a time when they enter with waves organised to group swimmers of comparable times together. That way, swimmers of comparable speed could swim together without testosterone-fuelled swim Nazis riding over the top of them, and without being kicked in the face by breaststrokers blocking the course in front of them.

There could be something in it, although we couldn't imagine much worse than swimming in a peloton where no-one could get away from anyone else.

Controversy Corner...

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

Ocean swims calendar 2017

Order now

calendar dhd 17 banner 250Xmas is looming, and so is 2017. So it’s time to order your ocean swims calendar for the New Year from our staff snapper, Glistening Dave.

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

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

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

Selenes go mirrored

A special for Xmas

view selene mirror 05We’re celebrating. Mrs Sparkle’s fave goggle, the View Selene, has been reinvented with mirrored lenses. They’re very groovy and offer an extra mirror protection from the sun’s glare.

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

Designed originally for laydees, we probably sell more to blokes these days. We’ve long loved the View Fully Sicks, which also offer a mirrored lens, and now the same look and glare protection is available in the Selenes.

They come in three colour combinations – Pearl Black/Blue, Aquamarine Ice Blue/Yellow (with a glitter frame), and Lavender/Pink.

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

Order yours now... Click here

Re-Cap at swims this season

Cap Amnesty at Dawny

swim capsAt a rough estimate, around 20,000 swimming caps are handed out at NSW ocean swims each summer. Some may be reused, but the overwhelming majority are used only once, kept in the bottom of a swimming bag for the summer, then thrown out. This seems like a needless waste, as well as creating unnecessary landfill.

Accordingly, Re-cap aims to find sources for reusing and repurposing swimming caps, and will be collecting over summer at Sydney ocean swims. The first beneficiary is Swim Viet Nam, a charity based in Central Viet Nam which provides free swimming and water safety lessons to children and trains local adults as swimming teachers.

We're talking to some other charities and beneficiaries at the moment, and in the past have given to artists and local pools, so stay tuned!

If you would like to receive some caps, or if you have a whole stack that you would like to give away, get in touch!

Re-Cap collected at Collaroy last Sunday, and will be at Dawny this coming Sunday. At Collaroy, Re-Cap collected 136 caps of 329 handed out at registration. Most responsive age group was the 50+ with 44 per cent of distributed caps returned, proving that some Baby Boomers do care.

Look for the bins on the boardwalk at Dawny on Sunday.

There is currently no way to recycle caps (that I know of) hence the focus on reuse and repurpose. However, maybe it is not too far away - wetsuit recycling is now available in various places (http://ripcurlplanet.com/rip-curl-rubber-the-environment.html), and you can recycle all sorts of plastics and rubber if you are willing to make the effort - there's a gap in the market for an entrepreneurial ocean swimmer...

Marc West

Oceanswimsafaris 2017

sulawesi dolphin 1607
Joined by a cobber in Sulawesi.

We've posted package details for two of our oceanswimsafaris in 2017 on our sibling site, oceanswimsafaris.com. You can find details for both Sulawesi (June 11-19) and for Tonga (three oceanswimsafaris between July 25 and August 16). We have a few spots still available on our Sulawesi tour, and three spots available on Tonga. We've been inundated with interest for both oceanswimsafaris.com.

Dates of our oceanswimsafaris in 2017 –

  • Vanuatu - Port Vila (May 24-29)
  • Vanuatu - Santo (May 31-June 5 Dates TBC)
  • Sulawesi (Indonesia, June 11-19) - 4 spots left
  • Yasawas Fiji - Swim with Manta rays (July 16-23) (New oceanswimsafari!)
  • Tonga - Swim with Whales 1 (July 25-Aug 2) - 2 spots left
  • Tonga - Swim with Whales 2 (Aug 1-9) - 1 spot left
  • Tonga - 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 TBC)
  • Yasawas Fiji (Oct 16-23)
  • Mana Fiji (Oct 24-29)
  • Heron Island (Nov 4-8) 

Tell us about your swim group

The vast bulk of ocean swimming takes place not in formal races on the weekend. It happens in the myriad informal swim groups that meet on beaches, at pools, in lakes, rivers, dams, ponds and billabongs all around Strãa, New Zealand and the South Pacific, every day. Locals know their groups, but what if you're travelling? You're in an unfamiliar place, you'd like a swim, but where? With whom?

oceanswims.com aims to offer the most comprehensive list of informal swim groups and locations in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. Wherever you are, you should never be without a suggestion of where to swim and with whom. We've received already submissions from swim groups from as far afield as Scotland and Hong Kong. We expect to have the first online in the next week or so.

oceanswims.com lists swim groups free of charge. Just complete the short form we've posted on our website and click the Submit button. You'll get a copy of your info straightbackatcha, and we'll slot it into our listings. Look under Swims on oceanswims.com, or... Click here

collaroy osc 161113 600
Hi-de-hi from an ocean swimmer at Collaroy last Sundee.. For our report... Click here

Get swim ready at Newport

A message from the awgies of the Newport Pool to Peak Swim...

Newport Surf Club will be conducting an ocean swim training session at Newport Beach on Saturday 26 November 2016 from 7.30am in association with our Pool to Peak Ocean Swims which as you know will be on Sunday 8 January 2017.

The ocean swim training session is intended for swimmers who are thinking of trying ocean swimming for the first time as well as those who would like to pick up a few tips.

We will be covering:

  • Training for an ocean swim
  • Preparation for the day of the swim
  • Observing surf conditions before you swim
  • How to get out through the break (Practical if conditions allow)
  • Finishing a swim.

We will be emphasising the fun aspect as well as safety.

More info, contact John Guthrie... Click here

Swims open to online entry...

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

Coming soon... Plenty.

Subscribe/Unsubscribe

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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November 10, 2016

heron island great barrier reef swim 1611 01
A day after delivering a good talking to
on Goggle Respect, we find this outside a room on Heron Island during the Great Barrier Reef Swim. And, to top it all off, they're View Selenes! Don't know why we bother.

Swims this weekend...

Sunday, November 13Collaroy (e), Watsons Bay (NSW), Busselton, Lake Leschenaultia (WA)

This damn shoulder

By Tim Devlin

Physiotherapist with Balmain Sports Medicine

With spring upon us, the weather (slowly) warming up, the great Australian tradition of outdoor swimming means people are flocking to notch down their laps staring at the black line. It is about this time of year we will start to see a few patients complaining of niggly shoulders from all those laps.

“Swimmer’s shoulder” is an umbrella term referencing a variety of biomechanical and pathological conditions that cause discomfort when swimming. It is common and expected given the amount of shoulder elevation occurring every stroke. In competitive swimmers the incidence is measured as at least 40%, some reports as high as 90%. The shear repetitive nature alone drives this pain – in a typical swimmer’s training load you may expect approximately 15-20,000 individual arm elevations per week.

swimmers shoulder 1

The key for swimming is that the training volume and intensity are unlikely to change, so it is important to look at technical and biomechanical aspects of the movement that can affect this pain. Predisposing factor + mileage = injury!

Restrictions in range of movement are a significant factor that can drive shoulder pain. A certain amount of movement is required in the shoulder girdle alone, but joint stiffness elsewhere, particularly in the trunk and hip will also impact shoulder load.

swimmers shoulder 2Core control also forms a key role in minimising shoulder pain, but not just in the sense of abdominal load. When referencing the “core” in swimming, we are including scapular control as a major focus. A strong scapula and associated shoulder muscles provides a solid foundation on which the shoulder can then produce work. Hip strength also comes into play; technically proficient swimmers will typically propel themselves primarily from the hip, withthe shoulder only acting as a way of applying this force through the water.

Rotator cuff injuries are associated with this poor “core” control, but may also be as a result of direct imbalances within different parts of the rotator cuff itself. Individual variations in joint laxity and ligaments also will affect the stability of the joint. Sometimes, this laxity can develop secondary to technical errors in their own right.

A variety of technical errors may also drive shoulder pain. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Crossing midline on hand entry
  • Crossing midline/wide during pull phase
  • Late breath
  • Insufficient thoracic rotation
  • Degree elbow flexion during pull related to event
  • Poor timing of hip rotation
  • Timing in all strokes

It is also important to note that everyone is different in the pool; no swimmer has perfect technique. If you feel the onset of pain with swimming, it is important to get onto this quickly to not limit your ability to continue training long term. Come and have a chat to our Physiotherapy team and we can clarify any joint restrictions and/or muscle imbalances that may be associated with your current pain and injury.

This article appeared first in the email newsletter of Balmain Sports Medicine of November 6, 2016

Ocean swims calendar 2017

Order now

calendar dhd 17 banner 250Xmas is looming, and so is 2017. So it’s time to order your ocean swims calendar for the New Year from our staff snapper, Glistening Dave.

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

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

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

Selenes go mirrored

A special for Xmas

view selene mirror 05We’re celebrating. Mrs Sparkle’s fave goggle, the View Selene, has been reinvented with mirrored lenses. They’re very groovy and offer an extra mirror protection from the sun’s glare.

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

Designed originally for laydees, we probably sell more to blokes these days. We’ve long loved the View Fully Sicks, which also offer a mirrored lens, and now the same look and glare protection is available in the Selenes.

They come in three colour combinations – Pearl Black/Blue, Aquamarine Ice Blue/Yellow (with a glitter frame), and Lavender/Pink.

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

Order yours now... Click here

mana fiji swims 1610 22 34Oceanswimsafaris 2017

Dates of our oceanswimsafaris in 2017 –

  • Vanuatu - Port Vila (May 24-29)
  • Vanuatu - Santo (May 31-June 5 Dates TBC)
  • Sulawesi (Indonesia, June 11-19)
  • Yasawas Fiji - Swim with Manta rays (July 16-23) (New oceanswimsafari!)
  • Tonga - Swim with Whales 1 (July 25-Aug 2)
  • Tonga - Swim with Whales 2 (Aug 1-9)
  • Tonga - 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 TBC)
  • Yasawas Fiji (Oct 16-23)
  • Mana Fiji (Oct 24-29) (see pic at right... Mug punter swims Mana three weeks back)
  • Heron Island (Nov 4-8) 

Tell us about your swim group

The vast bulk of ocean swimming takes place not in formal races on the weekend. It happens in the myriad informal swim groups that meet on beaches, at pools, in lakes, rivers, dams, ponds and billabongs all around Strãa, New Zealand and the South Pacific, every day. Locals know their groups, but what if you're travelling? You're in an unfamiliar place, you'd like a swim, but where? With whom?

oceanswims.com aims to offer the most comprehensive list of informal swim groups and locations in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. Wherever you are, you should never be without a suggestion of where to swim and with whom. We've received already submissions from swim groups from as far afield as Scotland and Hong Kong. We expect to have the first online in the next week or so.

oceanswims.com lists swim groups free of charge. Just complete the short form we've posted on our website and click the Submit button. You'll get a copy of your info straightbackatcha, and we'll slot it into our listings. Look under Swims on oceanswims.com, or... Click here

recycled caps dress

One of the perennial issues ocean swimmers face is, What to do with old swim caps. Well, you can make a dress from them... Otherwise, watch for our early season Cap Amnesty, coming before Xmas at a Sydney swim. We'll have details, we hope, in our next newsletter.

Swims open to online entry

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

Coming soon... Glenelg (Dec 28), Gerringong (Jan 8), South Maroubra (Feb 5)

Subscribe/Unsubscribe

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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October 27, 2016

telegraph swimming 

What's the point?

So we were trawling through Twitter, working hard, a few days back and we came across a report in the London meeja that reckoned that swimming for most punters is a complete waste of time. There's this doctor, see, and he was telling a conference that most swimmers efforts are pointless because they can't swim properly and have rubbish technique. And, they succumb too readily to vending machines selling rubbish food.

That narrows it to most of us.

"Dr Dane Vishnubala, the GP physical exercise champion for Public Health England, said many people who are sent to the pool to get in shape simply splash around using a 'doggy paddle hybrid' and pass the time chatting with friends", reported The Telegraph of London (see for yourself... Click here)

While the health benefits for people with a sound technique are tangible, those who are less able would be better off going for a run, a walk, or taking dancing classes, the doctor said.

Even worse, the Tele reported, "A trip to the local leisure centre risks yielding a 'net calorie gain', other GPs warned the conference, because of the prominence of money-making vending machines in the foyers."

This contribution, no doubt well intended, provoked a bit of a response. Perhaps this chappie was talking in the context of pure physical fitness, in which case he probably has a point. But the point of swimming, we reckon, is much more than getting fit and losing weight. Hey, if our main purpose was getting fit and losing weight, we'd be runners. Running strips the flabby bits off you much more quickly than schlepping up and down a pool. Sure, good technique is a big help to faster swimming, but if good technique was an entry level qualification, then less than two per cent of us would be doing it. The point isn't always faster swimming: the point is more enjoyable swimming. Coach Sandra used to say, "The point of training is to swim faster with less effort."

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Peloton searches for whales in Tonga.

It also ignores the other benefits of swimming that apply irrespective of skill. We allude to the mental benefits. The great joy of swimming, we reckon, is that culcha: the chatting and yarning, the boasting and the retelling of experiences, sometimes swimming-related but many times not, that takes place as part of the overall swimming effort. The swim is simply the precursor to the culcha. The swim grants you entrée to the culcha. If you don't swim first, you're not entitled to the culcha. The swim sets you up, endorphins running through your body, irrespective of whether you drop your shoulder or cross your hands on entry, or twist your body or cross-over your legs in the kick, for the joy of the shared culchural experience that follows, generally over a cuppa at the beach café.

That's where the real benefits kick in. You can go to the beach or to the pool feeling down, but you emerge again two hours later feeling triffic. That's partly a function of the swimming, partly a function of the culchural interaction, and overall a function of the combination of the two.

These benefits are not exclusive to smarty-pants lane nazis who've swum with Olympic-level coaches as kids. They are available to all of us, irrespective of technique, body shape, age or wealth. That's what Dr Vishnubala is missing. (Mind you, all we have to go on is a newspaper report of his comments. But we have to trust the meeja, don't we.)

But what do you think? Use the comments function at the bottom to tell us... Let's get a yarn going...

burleigh1302

Burleigh this weekend

End of October this weekend, and one of the big ones in Queensland is running on Sunday, at Burleigh Heads, one of Strãa's truly iconic beaches. This is one of the few Queensland swims that's run by a surf life saving club, as distinct from a private organiser. It deserves the support of swimmers everywhere.

Two distances on offer at Burleigh: 1km and 2km. There's an elite division in both offering prizemoney. Event t-shirt comes with entry.

Online entries to the Burleigh Heads swims close at noon on Sat'dee, October 29. Enter now... Click here

Last chance to enter – Shire Ocean Swim 

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Pic: Mark Evans

A message from the organisers of the Shire Ocean Swim...

10 days to go! Join Rio Olympians Keesja Gofers and Lea Yanitsas as they dive in for one of the first swims of the season with the Shire Ocean Swim presented by the Daily Telegraph at Cronulla. Starting and finishing outside Elouera Surf Club the Shire Ocean Swim has something for all abilities with a 1km and 2km distance on offer. Back of the pack start groups means you can swim with family and friends if you are out for a fun day and there are age category groups for those looking to give it a serious nudge. So grab your family, friends, colleagues and enter now to receive your free event singlet.

Tell us about your swim group

The vast bulk of ocean swimming takes place not in formal races on the weekend. It happens in the myriad informal swim groups that meet on beaches, at pools, in lakes, rivers, dams, ponds and billabongs all around Strãa, New Zealand and the South Pacific, every day. Locals know their groups, but what if you're travelling? You're in an unfamiliar place, you'd like a swim, but where? With whom?

oceanswims.com aims to offer the most comprehensive list of informal swim groups and locations in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. Wherever you are, you should never be without a suggestion of where to swim and with whom.

oceanswims.com lists swim groups free of charge. Just complete the short form we've posted on our website and click the Submit button. You'll get a copy of your info straightbackatcha, and we'll slot it into our listings. Look under Swims on oceanswims.com, or... Click here

Sulawesi 2017 oceanswimsafari packages released

We're your next adventure

sulawesi swimmers jump from boatWe've released travel packages to our oceanswimsafari on Sulawesi, in northern Indonesia, next June. Our cobber, Glistening Dave, came with us on our first inaugural Sulawesi oceanswimsafari in July 2016. He was so taken with the place that he published a book about it... Click here 

oceanswimsafarists have fun in Sulawesi, July, 2016

It was, without doubt, one of the best oceanswimsafaris we've done: we've never done such a trip before where the perfection of the water, the weather, the food, and the frills came into confluence so well.

Be warned: we've already sold half the available spots on our Sulawesi oceanswimsafari in June, 2017, so if you're interested, get in now... Click here

Dates of our oceanswimsafaris in 2017 –

  • Vanuatu - Port Vila (May 24-29 Dates TBC)
  • Vanuatu - Santo (May 31-June 5 Dates TBC)
  • Sulawesi (Indonesia, June 11-19)
  • Tonga - Swim with Whales 1 (July 25-Aug 2) - 4 spots available
  • Tonga - Swim with Whales 2 (Aug 1-9) - 2 spots available
  • Tonga - Swim with Whales 3 (Aug 8-16) - Sold out!
  • San Sebastián (Spain, Aug 23-29)
  • Costa Brava (Spain, Aug 31-Sep 8)
  • Greece (Sep 12-21 TBC)
  • Yasawas Fiji (Oct 16-23)
  • Mana Fiji (Oct 24-29)
  • Heron Island (Nov 4-8 TBC)

We've had a lot of interest in our oceanswimsafaris in 2017, so we have set up a system by which you can secure your spot on your favoured oceanswimsafari with a refundable deposit. Then, when we finalise the tour costs, you will have a week to decide whether to proceed or pull out. We've taken quite a few deposits already for Tonga, Sulawesi, the Costa Brava and Mana Island.

If you'd like to take advantage of this opportunity, send us a (no obligation) Enquiry form... Click here

 mana fiji swims 1610 15 10k
Sofia Jenson nears the end of the 10km swim at Mana Island in Fiji. After 10km, look at the stroke.

Caveat swimmer

As ocean swimming grows, so it becomes more attractive to more commercially-driven operators. We like to think that ocean swimmers are insightful enough to spot the commercial from the authentic, but some may slip through.

There are two recently arrived websites, for example, that hold themselves out as being the centre of the ocean swimming community. They purport to offer a calendar and swim entry online. Most of their calendar material appears to be taken from oceanswims.com, and when you click the Registration buttons, the links bring you through to oceanswims.com. It seems to us that they're intent on pretending that they're us. One of them even claims to have raised over $400,000 for surf life saving clubs last season, by virtue of attracting entries to ocean swims. This from a website that takes no entries itself. Pepi and Rotten ol' Herbie taught us as youngsters that this kind of talk is a lie.

Show us your mailing list

The common thread through all of this is the quest to build mailing lists. Commercial success relies to a large extent these days on the size of your mailing list. Ocean swimmers would be aware that whenever they interact with a commercial group, they will be added to a mailing list. One of these website, in pretending to offer entries to swims, actually clicks through to oceanswims.com, but on the way it attempts to harvest your email address. Be aware, you don't have to provide your email address in order to proceed. You can skip the email field, choose Skip and just go through.

Perhaps we should be flattered when others pretend to be us. Bear in mind, though, that they are just that: pretenders.

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Ollie Signorini was one of the talent in our oceanswimsafaris clinic on Mana Island. It's a chance for rank-and-file punters to see how it should be done.

Swims open to online entry

The season hasn't even opened, but already we have entries online open to a string of new season swims...

Coming soon... Coogee-Bondi (5 Beaches Swim, Dec 10), North Bondi (Jan 8 & Feb 12)

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Big mob Big swim

 big swim 160131 osc 15 600

So we've been interested to see the numbers at swims this season. Mostly, they've been down. A couple of swims have pulled slightly more than last season, but generally the numbers have waned.

Why? Perhaps the novelty has worn off. Ocean swimming has been "The Next Big Thing", but it's been "The Next Big Thing" for a couple of years now, and nothing stays "The Next Big Thing" these days for more than a minute or two, these days.

Is it sharks that are putting people off? There's been concern on the NSW North Coast, particularly, and it will be interesting to see the numbers at Byron Bay in May, which follows not only a spate of incidents involving sharks but also two years of the last three when the Byron swim has been cancelled on race day. With no policy to acknowledge the punters who'd paid their $65 to enter. We've heard no word of the new Ballina swim, which ran inaugurally last season but so far nothing this season. Although, having done a quick Google just now, we see it's scheduled for April 10. Ballina has felt the shark issue, especially, as has Byron.

But sharks have not been a particular concern farther south, around Sydney. The fever has subsided in Newcastle, after Bruce's raids last season and random sightings in Lake Macquarie -- although, sadly, there's been no sign this season of Stra'a's second longest running open water swim, Across Lake Macquarie, which cancelled last year well ahead of swim day as a result. What a tragedy should it be gone forever. As well as running almost 60 years -- second only to Magnetic Island in Townsville by our reckoning -- Across the Lake was remarkable because it still involved one of its founders, Cliff Marsh, a bit of a legend of surf lifesaving. These days, Cliff's role has been warning of razor fish and firing the starting gun. But he's there, over 50 years on. We recall him in the hall at Caves Beach the day we won our Bronze Medallion in 1968.

Whatever the cause, numbers have been depressed.

Until The Big Swim.

We took 1,897 entries to The Big Swim in 2010, when it was just one swim - 2.8km around Little Head from Palm Beach to Whale Beach. Since then, its numbers have dropped, its recent nadir last season when The Big Swim pulled 1,311 punters, albeit over two swims, with the addition of The Little Big Swim in 2014. The results show 1,453 finishers this past weekend, although taking into account the considerably more who entered the numbers were clearly over 1,500.

A good result.

But it made us realise, punters may be more discriminating these days, with so many swims on offer. They can pick and choose and not feel they're missing out. But they'll turn out for a good swim. And it was a good swim, in some of the best conditions in years: a swell over just over a metre, brilliantly clear sky, and -- this is the best bit -- a gentle offshore breeze. And you know what an offshore breeze does, don't you? It smoothes the sea. And, it blows the blueys away. We did hear of one swimmer being stung, but that was it.

Little wonder there was a buoyant mood on the beach afterwards. This is why we do ocean swims.

Glistening Dave was at The Big Swim

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Others were there, too

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Results...

For full results... Click here

Tell us about your swim...

Leave your two bobs' worth below...

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