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January 15, 2020

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

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Bushfire smoke over Forster Main Beach, one day...

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... and the next. Up there, somewhere, is farther up the North Coast. Smokey Cape, for one.

Look below...

Swims this weekend...

Goooin' up the country

What you can do to help the bushfire zones

Everyone knows by now that the bushfire season in Strãa began this summer in late winter: August, according to some authorities. One report on the ABC tonight referred to bushfires "five months ago". And bushfire season isn't even supposed to kick off till February. By late November-early December, the fires were raging through the NSW North Coast and parts of Queensland; a few weeks later, they were laying waste to the Sarf Coast and eastern Victoria. We were in Forster, on the lower north coast of NSW, in early December, when they were burning around there. All roads north were cut and, for a while, the road south from Forster was, too, with an outbreak on the southern edge of town that lasted, thankfully, only a day or so.

North of us, we watched, bemused, as the smoked billowed for weeks from the hinterland between Nabiac and Taree and the coastal communities from Old Bar, near the mouth of the Manning River, down to Black Head and the Failford Rd. The Failford Rd area, which links the highway north of Nabiac with The Lakes Way and Forster, already had burnt a few weeks earlier. Green shoots were emerging when we went back in early December, still amongst patches of flame and smoke. Then it burnt again.

We’d wake in the mornings, up an’ at ‘em for early morning swims with the Forster Turtles, to find the town shrouded in smoke, the sun a golden ball in the east, the residential towers hiding in the clouds. Prior to the tourist season, over Xmas and New Year, there was an eerie silence about the town, like you were walking through a bombed site. Over days, the ash would line the beach and discolour the sea. To the north and west, even if there was a hint of blue sky above, the landforms disappeared into the smoke.

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Eye of the curl.

Thin

We were back there after Xmas. The height of the tourist season. There were punters in town for their annual hols; there were jet skis roaring around the Wallis Lake estuary and offshore around the shark detection booee; there were famblies stalking the streets at night walking off their dinner. But it was possible to get a restaurant booking, which is pretty much unheard of at this time of year in places like this. The tourists were there, but nowhere near as many of them. We judge the holiday crowd by how easy it is to get a park in the street outside our joint, and there was never a problem this year. Usually, it’s a struggle. The holiday towers, never solidly occupied at the best of times, were largely in darkness, and it can’t all be due to, as our cobber, marathon swimming legend, inventor, and local hotelier, John Koorey, reckons, “because they all go to bed early”.

forest burnt bobin robertson 350Places like Forster suffered over this Xmas period, which is, normally, the time when so many of the businesses around town generate their revenue. And Forster wasn’t even directly burnt, apart from that brief blaze on the edge of town. The fires prompted many usual holiday visitors to these coastal, holiday communities to stay at home this year. It wasn’t just a matter of not wanting to get in the way; it was also a matter of their personal safety. Why would anyone consciously take their families on holidays to a live bushfire zone? And even after the fires have burnt out, these zones remain dangerous with the risk of falling trees and contaminated water. And some of them recover better and more quickly than others. On Twitter during the week, Bruce Robertson posted a pic (see right, pic by Bruce Robertson @barobertson111) of the burnt bush near Bobin, nor'-west of Taree, and where, a month after the fires, still there are no green shoots. As Bruce observed, "The lack of regrowth on the ground is remarkable. No green shoots. Not even tiny little ones. Rain will bring terrible erosion". Small businesses all over the joint are reporting "no revenue at all" this "holiday season", and it is this season that is the reason for their existence.

Whither are we drifting, indeed.

We can help

Pity those communities that also rely on the holiday trade but were directly burnt: your Black Heads and Tallwoods and your Old Bars; your Bermaguis and your Batemans Bays; your Mogos and your Cobargos; your Tathras; your Merimbulas; your Malacootas and your Lakes Entrances.

But don't just pity them. Think about what you can do to help. The cries are going up: Please come and visit. We’re still open. We need your business.

Ocean swimmers can help. Whilst we’re in the peak of the season in the big city, the country ocean swimming season is about to get going: autumn, by when, we’d hope, surely, the fires would have died down and it should be safe to visit those areas, without getting in the way. The last thing those fighting the fires need, after all, is eejit holiday makers blocking the roads.

So, all us ocean swimmers, providing conditions allow, let’s all do our bit to help these regions recover: let’s get out of the cities and our own towns and visit places where fires have laid waste, and help these places recover by giving them our business, and letting them know we care. Make sure that it’s safe to visit before you go. Perhaps contact the awgies and make sure that, for example, there are places to stay and you won’t be getting in the way. Check the local tourist offices. One presumes that, if a scheduled swim is still on, then it’s ok to go.

Here’s a guide to swims in bushfire areas and other regions not too far away –

NSW Sarf
  • Jan 18 – Tathra – Scheduled for this weekend, but already cancelled, sadly. "We cannot guarantee the safety of our volunteers, many of whom are helping victims of the fire, or our visitors," the awgies say on their website... Click here
  • Mar 8 – Broulee – Near the fire damage coast around Batemans Bay and south, this is a swim that we’ve always wanted to do: main event is 1.4km around the rock shelf… Click here 
  • Mar 8 – Wollongong – A bit out of the fire zone, but much closer to the city if you’re strapped for time… Click here 
  • Mar 22 – Gerringong – Already postponed from its original date of January 5 due to bushfires, Gerringong wasn’t burnt, but it was badly affected by smoke and ash. It’s one of our fave swims… Click here 
  • Apr 4 – Mollymook – Like Gerringong, and Broulee, and Tathra, and so many country swims, Mollymook is a stunning beach also with a particularly beautiful informal swim course around the rock shelf…. Click here 
  • Apr 5 – Shellharbour – Also not directly affected by fire, but certainly affected by smoke, and a normally popular holiday area, this, too, is a stunning swim around a rock shelf… Click here 
  • Apr 11 – Nowra Culburra – Easter Sat’dee. We don’t wish to repeat outselves, not too much, anyway, but what a beautiful area this is, and one of the most beautiful swims you’ll do, from Culburra beach around Tilbury Headland into the cove, wending your way through little reefs as you schlepp along… Click here 
NSW North
  • Jan 26 – Ballina – Sheltered swim in a bay off the Richmond River, on the Far North Coast, this swim makes a return after a couple of years not running… Click here 
  • Apr 5 - Coffs Harbour – A long-running event in the Coffs, er, harbour, this year in its first outing under Sawtell surf club… Click here 
  • Apr 5 – Forster – We’re biased, but this is one of the most “epic” events you will ever do: the main event, just over 4km from One Mile Beach, around Bennetts Head into Forster Main Beach. Lots of sea life in this area, and lots of different kinds of water. Everyone should do this swim at least once in their careers… Click here 
  • Apr 12 - Pacific Palms – Easter Sundee, and a tradition for holiday makers spending Easter on the lower north coast. You’ll see punters here whom you will see maybe only once per year. Such clear water, Pacific Palms – Elizabeth Beach – is one of those gems of the North Coast: a north-facing beach, which means its sheltered from all the nasty weather… Click here 
  • Apr 11 – Terrigal – Also not strictly in a fire zone, but, like Wollongong, highly accessible from the city. An Easter Sat’dee swim… Click here
  • May 3 - Byron Bay -- The "State of Origin" of ocean swimming, which punters coming from far and wide, even overseas, to swim the Bay. For our money, the best swims at Byron are the informal swims on Fridee, Sat'dee and Mondee: meet at the surf club deck in tiem for 8am departure for a walk along the beach to The Pass, then swim back, then cuppa... These swims are bigger than most city swims. It oozes ocean swimming culcha… Click here 
  • ? - South West Rocks -- No info about dates for this year (we've just guessed on our calendar, some time in April). We don't hear much from the awgies these days. But the Rocks offers some of the clearest water in which you'll ever swim… Click here 

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The eerie haze of a smoke-filled sky: Forster, early morning swim.

Victoria

Most Victorian country swims have happened by now -- Warrnambool is this weekend; Port Campbell on February 2 -- or they're not in a fire zone. These two weren't burnt, as far as we know, but they're lovely trips in the country

  • Feb 2 – Daylesford – Popular weekend spot, not in the current fire zone, but a regional area handy to the city… Click here
  • Mar 7 – Lake Nagambie… Right up in the country... Click here 
Sar-Strãa

We know of no swims on Kangaroo Island, apart from the informal groups organised by local media titan Stan Gorton. That's reason enough to visit... Click here

Wessna-Strãa
  • Jan 26 - Esperance - Australia Day Swim. Lots of first nearby and we're sure they'd appreciate your support... Click here
  • Apr 11 - Albany - Easter Sat'dee swim -- Another swim where, we're sure, they'd appreciate your support... Click here
  • Apr 12 - Denmark - Easter Sundee -- Some beaches are so remote, so untouched, they emit a siren's call drawing you to them. We've never been to Denmark beach, just west of Albany, but we'd love to go there one day... Click here

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Bushfire relief

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

The beauty of Shark Island

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Organisers of the Shark Island Swim Classic, at Cronulla in Sydney, say...

The 2020 Shark Island Swim will be bigger and better than previous years, you may ask why? In 2019 we had great success with running the swim from Cronulla Park, what we learned from the outdoor festival atmosphere is ‘Ocean Swimmers love the environment’ and being in it! This year we have a very similar set up with a large marquee in the park for information, late registrations, collection of timing bands, caps etc. The Cronulla Cray Nippers will be running a BBQ throughout the morning selling an array of egg and bacon rolls, sausage sandwiches and drinks. There’ll also be an apparel tent selling 2020 T-Shirts, singlets, caps, stubbie holders and 10 litre waterproof dry bags.

The Shark Island Swim is one of the eastern seaboard's great swims, if you want to experience the underwater beauty of Shark Island and its surrounding reefs under the watchful eye of our Cronulla SLSC water safety team, this is the way to do it.

Follow the link to our YouTube channel to watch a ‘Drones eye view’ of the 1km Beach Swim and 2.3km Shark Island Ocean Challenge:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uM-XaUno0zI&t=3s

We also have a Facebook page that we update regularly with information in the lead up to race day:
https://www.facebook.com/sharkislandswim/

Please have a look and follow us for updates.

For online entries, race information, merchandise sales etc please visit:
http://www.sharkislandswim.com.au/

Thank you, the Shark Island Swim Committee and Cronulla SLSC

More info and to enter online... Click here

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Swim Group this week

Meet the Peninsula Ocean Swimmers

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This week's swim group are the Peninsula Ocean Swimmers at Umina, on the NSW Central Coast.

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

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Entries online this weekend...

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Warriewood at the far end, Mona Vale closer, Bongin Bongin Bay in the foreground. It's Glistening Dave's stamping ground.

Warriewood-Mona Vale

Two swims at Mona Vale -- do the new 900m Little Swim, then hop on the free shuttle to Warriewood for the 2.2km back along the beach into Bongin Bongin Bay.

This is a "Family, Friendly Swim", as the organisers style it. The start of the main event can be rambunctious, in the break at Warriewood, but it's usually a short break, and it's not difficult to get out. Then follow the coast to Mona Vale, around the rock shelf -- you may even spy Glistening Dave shooting his snaps as you whiz past (it's Dave's home beach) -- into Bongin Bongin Bay to the finish.

Online entries close at 3pm on Saturday, January 18.

More info and to enter online... Click here
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Tonga - Just 4 spots left

Swim with the whales

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Here's a heads-up: our Tonga oceanswimsafari has only four spots left. We can take only eight swimmers/towel carriers at a time with us to Tonga. This makes this oceanswimsafari especially suitable for small groups, as well as singles and couples. If you'd like to share in this extraordinary experience, contact us quick and smart... Click here

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New goggles - 40 swims in

Selene Swipe, still no probs

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

Our personal usage stands now at 40 swims, and still good vision. From about 29 swims on, we found a little fog creeping into our right lens, but when we swipe our finger gently over the inside of the lens, it goes. We've also found that, if you wash your gogs gently with dishwashing detergent, air dry them, and keep them clean, in their case, this, too, helps enormously, but that's true of all gogs.

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

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

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

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

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

Price increases

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

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 2020 oceanswimsafaris

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Swim with whales in Tonga.

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

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

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A tender scene by la Concha, San Sebastián.

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

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

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

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

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

Controversy Corner...

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

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

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

Swims open to online entry...

Coming soon - Mollymook (Apr 4)

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Advertise...

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

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Results...

For swim results... Click here

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

List your swim group...

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

Check our swim maps...

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

Buy gogs...

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January 8, 2020

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

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Bully: Lording it over the town, but soon it will be nothing.

Look below...

Swims this weekend...

"I just want to go swimming"

Out of the pan, into the fires

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Stan Gorton with swimming cobber.

gorton stan tweet 190901 250For years, we’ve followed on Twitter a swimmer from the Sarth Coast of NSW, Stan Gorton. (That's Stan, above, with a swimming cobber.) To this day, we’ve never met Stan, but that’s how it is with most of the punters whom we follow. Perhaps it’s best that way: probably best that they don’t get to know us.

Stan Gorton's tweet on September 1, marking the last day of the winter swimming season.

In Narooma, Stan Gorton was editor of the local newspaper, the Narooma News. As old hacks ourselves, we felt, ipso facto, an affinity with him. Stan tweeted regularly about life on the coast, and weekly in winter about his winter swimming club, the Narooma Numnutz, a sibling club of the Bermagui Blue Balls. Stan also is a keen fisherperson, and his other half for a while ran a café by the wharf in Tathra. The Far South Coast was Stan’s beat. He was embedded in the community.

Two years ago, as the two big newspaper groups “rationalised” their regional titles – weasel words for “close your local newspapers down, or at least reduce their local staff to near meaningless representations” -- Stan was given the option of retrenchment, or moving to edit a paper somewhere else. So he moved from Narooma, from his home at Mystery Bay, between Narooma and Bermagui, to Kangaroo Island, off the coast of Sar’Strãa, where now he edits – and is the sole hack with -- The Islander Online, Kangaroo Island’s meeja outlet.

As fate has demonstrated over the past few weeks, Stan was out of the frying pan and into the fires.

gorton stan tweet 191119 250We can only imagine what it must have felt like for Stan over the past two weeks, watching from Kangaroo Island as the fires raged through the NSW south coast. But, most probably, Stan didn’t have time for that, because Kangaroo Island has its own fires, just as devastating locally as those back whence he came. Tracking back through Stan’s Twitter feed, we see him starting to talk about Kangaroo Island fires on November 19. Last week, when we referred to the bushfires in this newsletter, we didn’t mention Kangaroo Island, because we thought the fires there had settled down.

Stan's tweet on November 19; his first on the bushfires.

We know now that they hadn’t. We apologise.

We’re talking about Stan now because we reckon it’s interesting, and useful, to learn what ocean swimmers get up to when they’re not skylarking about in the ocean.

After the devastation on Kangaroo Island over the past few days, we contacted Stan this week to check how he was faring. We wouldn’t have been surprised had he been too busy to respond, but he did.

“… mostly monitoring from home (office),” Stan replied, “but venturing out to meetings and fire grounds when roads open or with CFS media.

“Been here almost two years… I live in Kingscote, the main town, right in town centre near the fire station and hospital, so feel safe, kind of.

gorton stan koala 450“The fires have dragged on for almost three weeks now and next couple of days (Stan was writing this on Tuesday this week) look hairy. So much destruction and hurt and yet desperate tourism operators and community leaders urging people to come over even as our water system is compromised and the fires rage.

“Interesting times indeed. I just want to go swimming!”

Stan Gorton's backyard on Kangaroo Island, with neighbour.

The way you must cover these things is not at the fire front – although there needs also to be reporting of “colour” and actuality, which is easier if there is more than just you doing the job by yourself. Much of the key reporting is done from the “control centres”, where incident controllers are able to take an over-arching view of the situation much more broadly than an individual’s eye can see. A good hack blends that with talking to her/his contacts, the people s/he knows on the ground. Stan probably was out of the office today, covering the meeja visit by the Prime Minister. We hope that wasn’t too much of a distraction for him and the fire response authorities.

We can’t tell you any more than that for now. We just hope Stan and his community are ok.

On the telly, we’ve seen terrible devastation of Kangaroo Island and we’ve read about the damage wrought on the island’s tourism industry, and its wildlife. Just now, we read that one of the significant aspects of the incineration of much of the island’s koala population is that the koalas on Kangaroo Island are the last remaining community in Strãa that remains uninfected by chlamydia, which has done terrible damage to koalas elsewhere around the country. Just an example of how the significance of these things often is greater than the obvious.

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Bushfire relief

Some swims are acting as collection points for financial support for bushfire relief. Pt Lonsdale ran a collection last weekend. This weekend, North Bondi, at The Roughwater swim, will be collecting to support surf clubs on the NSW South Coast that have been acting as emergency relief centres (see below). We've heard through the meeja about the effect of the fires on some of them. At Bilgola, swim awgies will be "Banging the Bucket at Billie" asking for gold coin donations to be sent to the Red Cross appeal.

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

The epic of Shark Island

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More info and to enter online... Click here

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Swim Group this week

Meet the SIPS

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This week's swim group is the SIPS - the Shark Island Psycho Swimmers, from Cronulla in Sydney's Sutherland Shire. We always thought the SIPS were just a dozen or so psychos; we're stunned to see there are so many of them. What does it say about the community of the Sutherland Shire? They swim daily from South Cronulla beach, at 6:30 on weekdays and 7:30 on weekends. Some more leisurely SIPS swim at 7:30 on some weekdays, too. You'll see most or all of the SIPS when you do the Shark Island Swim Classic on Sunday, February 2. Now that we have such a category in our swim calendar, we classify Shark Island as an "Epic" swim. We'll be there, and we're very much looking forward to it... Click here

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

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Entries online this weekend...

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Bilgola - One of the most beautiful beaches on the coast.

Bilgola - The Family Swim

Two swims on the Sydney coast's most spectacular beach: 500m and 1.5km. Have a geek at Chris Ivin's video on the Bilgola event page on oceanswims.com... Click here. It really is that stunning. Awgies were very pleased with how this event ran on the corresponding date in 2019, having slipped from December into January.

The main event at Billie is 1.5km, following a polygonal course towards the northern headland, then back south, then back into the middle of the beach. The new, 500m (shorter than 800m in previous years) swim also is a circuit off the beach.

But don't be tricked: If there's a wave on, Billie can be difficult. It's a beautiful beach, but it can be a difficult beach break, with shifting banks, gutters, rips, peaks and shoulders.

Overall, a terrific day out, and a hotbed of ocean swimming culcha.

At Bilgola, awgies will be "Banging the Bucket at Billie", seeking gold coin donations to be sent to the Red Cross bushfire appeal.

Bilgola also is Race 2 in the Pittwater Ocean Swim Series.

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

More info and to enter online... Click here

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The passing parade that is North Bondi.

North Bondi - The Roughwater

Everyone must swim Bondi during the season, and the two North Bondi swims give you the opportunity to swim there twice with Combo entries offering very good value per swim.

Two distances - 2km (10:30am) and 1km (9:15am). You can do one swim or both swims. It's cheaper (per swim) if you do both swims, and it's cheaper, too, if you sign up now for both The Roughwater on Sunday, January 12, and the North Bondi Classic on Sunday, February 9, using the Combo entry option below.

Roll-over entries from last season

North Bondi has had rotten luck with weather and seas over the past two seasons. There are many swimmers whose entries have rolled over from last season to this. If you think you are one of those swimmers, check the roll-over entry lists prior to entering again. Be sure, if you entered The Roughwater last season, your entry rolls over to The Roughwater this season. If you entered the North Bondi Classic last season (Feb 10, 2019), your entry rolls over to the North Bondi Classic this season (Feb 9, 2020). Check both lists, if necessary, so that you are sure of your entry. Here's the link to the roll-over entry list to The Roughwater this Sunday... Click here

Bushfire Fund Raising

North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club is raising funds that will be donated to South Coast surf clubs. During the fires, these Clubs have been used as Emergency Centres providing shelter and first aid. Clubs have also assisted with evacuations and distribution of other aid. All these efforts have depleted their resources and limit their ability to further aid local communities as they recover from the fires. To this end, at The Roughwater on January 12, North Bondi club members will be taking donations from willing Roughwater swim competitors, supporters and the general public. Please bring some extra cash or your credit card and keep a look out for clubbies with donations buckets at the registration desk and other places. Cash is easy for everyone but we will also be set up to take payments by credit card.

Online entries to The Roughwater at North Bondi close at 3pm on Saturday, January 11. oceanswims.com will be there, too, offering View gogs and swim accessories, info about our oceanswimsafaris, and we're on for the chat. Come and say hi-ho.

More info and to enter online... Click here
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Tonga - Just 4 spots left

Swim with the whales

tonga whales humpback 1907 04 600

Here's a heads-up: our Tonga oceanswimsafari has only four spots left. We can take only eight swimmers/towel carriers at a time with us to Tonga. This makes this oceanswimsafari especially suitable for small groups, as well as singles and couples. If you'd like to share in this extraordinary experience, contact us quick and smart... Click here

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New goggles - 39 swims in

Selene Swipe, no fog

Our most popular gog, the View Selene, now has a revolutionary, hi-tech version offering anti-fog capacity that lasts 10 times as long as existing goggles, the makers say. The Selene Swipe has technology in its interior lens coating that allows you to clear fog from the lens simply by "swiping" your finger across it.

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

view 820ASA selene swipe 450We've been wearing our new Swipes for 39 swims so far (at the time of writing) hoping they will fog so that we can try the Swipe technology For the first 25 swims, they refused, stubbornly, to fog. All we did to prepare them was to wet them in the break on entering the water. From swim 26 on, they have begun to fog. But, out the back, beyond the break, when we take them off, dip them in the water again, then rub them lightly around the inside of the lens, they clear instantly and remain clear. This morn, we wet them and rubbed them prior to entering the water. All good. We've also now washed them in detergent, lightly, gently, and dextrously, then just dipped them in prior to donning. We can't be believing it! But 'strew.

This is the third model of the Selene that we've added to our online store, after the regular Selenes and the Mirrored Selenes. We've sold a lot of swipes since we released them a week ago. Stocks available in Australia are severely limited at the moment, but we've bought up almost the entire current supply, especially of the more popular colours.

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

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

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

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2020 oceanswimsafaris

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Controversy Corner...

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

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

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

Swims open to online entry...

Coming soon - Coffs Harbour (Apr 5)

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Advertise...

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

If you're not receiving our emails...

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

Results...

For swim results... Click here

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

List your swim group...

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

Check our swim maps...

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

Buy gogs...

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

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January 2, 2020

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

forster turtles 191230 01 600
Thank you, Thing... It's been a bumptious few days over New Year at Forster.

Look below...

Swims this weekend...

NB: If you're planning on swimming in an event this weekend, particularly in Victoria, best check event websites for updates. Gerringong already is postponed to (March 22). We've asked all Victorian events whether they'll be affected by the bushfires. Port Fairy, Torquay and Sandy Point all report (Wednesday pm) no change to existing arrangements. Pt Lonsdale have not responded. We'll post updates on Twitter (@oceanswims) and Facebook, and on their event pages on oceanswims.com as they come to hand. If you know stuff, please let us know so that we can share the knowledge... Click here

Just a mob of boofheads

Morning swims with Bubbles and Fluffy

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Wensdee: The bumptious break.

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Choosedee: The girls line up, line up, line up...

Out the back, we lolled around in the bumpy swell. “We’ve broken every rule in the book to be out here,” someone said. The others laughed conspiratorially, much as Tom Sawyer would have giggled with Huck Finn. They knew it. We all knew it.

The laydees had had more sense: as they’d attempted to get through the break, and they’d been smashed, they opted for either the Bullring -- our ocean pool -- or the lake. The Bullring is a big, square pool at the eastern end of the beach, sheltering under the bushy Second Head. Because it’s square, sort of, some mugs swim out and back, and some swim across. And sometimes, they meet in the middle. It’s not ideal, particularly since it’s cleaned only once per month.

Neither is the lake ideal. It’s an estuary popular with big fish with dorsal fins and teeth. It’s also not the clearest, certainly not as clear as the beach itself is on most days of the year, which ranges up to absolute crystalline, so clear you can count the grains of sand on the bottom. Who leaves those footprints down there? But on a day like this, the lake is a better option. It offers distance. Whereas we might get a bit over a kilometre off the beach, which is two laps of the beach, but only a few hunnerd metres on a day like this, there’s a solid 2km course available in the lake, 1km from the beach in front of Spicey’s up to the starb’d marker peg, where the channel bifurcates, and 1km back. When the tide is running, which is most of the time, it will be tough one way, and a glide the other, as it was this morn.

The laydees always are much more willing to abandon the beach for the lake than are the boofheads. For some boofheads, only a plague of blueys will force them from the beach for their early morning swim. Which isn’t a bad reason. The laydees, on the other hand, will take into account lesser issues, such as general turbulence, smashing dumpers onto shallowing banks, threats to their long, elegant necks, chocolate-coloured water, weed invasions, the imaginary “threat” of those big fish with dorsal fins and lots of teeth, and various other irrelevancies.

The rulebook

Not for boofheads. This day – New Year’s Day – it was only half a dozen boofheads who made it through the break, just to swim 100 metres westwards towards the breakwall before stopping, lolling about, discussing how foolhardy and brave they were, all in the one breath, and for one of them to remark, “We’ve broken every rule in the book to be out here”.

And so they had. All the rules that aren’t written in stone or on parchment as laws, but which are the rules of commonsense of ocean swimming –

  1. Do not swim in murky water, especially just outside the entrance to an estuary, particularly near the end of the run-out tide. “Big fish” might detect that you’re there, but they cannot see you, so, peckish, for it’s brekker time, they might take a bite, to find out what it is you are. By the time they’ve taken that bite, and they work out very quickly that you’re not what they want, they move on to the next prospect, but it’s a bit late for you. New Year’s Day’s water was milk chocolate brown. Next day, today, it was dark chocolate. What will it be tomorrer, after weeks of howling nor’-easters? Even worse. Not only is it murky: it’s also yucky, and with severe water restrictions, and showers limited to 1 minute, it’s difficult to get all the gunk off you afterwards. The irony today is that these conditions today are the result of weeks of unrelenting onshore winds. But today, the wind is a gentle offshore and, with a bit of swell, conditions, conditions would be perfect, apart from the dark-chocolate water and the weed with speckles of red that look like algae.
  2. Do not swim in conditions like the above in the early morning. To us, it was approaching 8am, but to those big fish, who don’t wear watches (they don’t have wrists), and who are unaware of daylight saving, it’s approaching 7am, which is feeding time.
  3. Do not go out through a dumping surf over a shallowing bank. The laydees know this, and so do the boofheads, but while it raises alarms with the laydees, it presents a challenge to the blokes. None of them would dodge such a break if the others could see them do it. So they brave it, relying on their sense of timing, preferably getting smashed around a bit, to prove their manliness, and skite about it out the back once they’re out. Not for them the cop-out of walking away.

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Forster is a brave town.

  1. 4, really... Do not swim in water known to be infested with big fish-with-dorsal-fins-and-lots-of-teeth. Our water is. Bubbles lives just off the beach. Bubbles is a white shark, just over 2 metres long, who is constantly being detected by the shark booee 300 metres off the beach.

    Before Bubbles was tagged, s/he was caught on a drum line. “The authorities” tagged her/im then dragged her/im a couple of kilometres out to sea. Next day, they caught her/im again, just off the beach. Bubbles lives here. It’s just as much her/is ocean as ours.

    There’s also Fluffy, who is any one of a number of grey nurse sharks that live around Haydens Reef, just off Second Head. During the annual Club to Club swim back in April, the peloton found themselves swimming over Fluffy and all her/is family as they rounded the reef to come into the finish. Next day, the locals swam back out there, for morning tea with them. Grey nurses, like most sharks, are nice sharks. Fluffy is not a problem.

    And neither, as a rule, is Bubbles. Various of our mob, the Forster Turtles, have found themselves swimming with Bubbles, and everyone just mooches about their own business and goes their own way, doing the best they can. A few weeks back, we were one of half a dozen Turtles who ran into Bubbles just behind the break, about 50m off the beach. Not all of us saw her/im. We didn’t but we were nearby the bloke who did. He spotted Bubbles just ahead. Bubbles was quietly and slowly mooching along, wagging her/is tail, and when Turtle Greg came close, s/he took off. S/he perhaps was more alarmed than Greg was.

    The Turtles have even found themselves swimming with bull sharks. One day, the peloton, bobbing around behind the Bullring, set off on an effort of 100 strokes. We were about 75 metres off the beach, just behind the break, and in about 3 metres of water, over the reef, which harbours lots of fish. The water was very sandy that day, my friends, and visibility was poor. About 20 strokes into the effort, Mrs Sparkle, swimming just behind us, grabbed our ankles. We shook her off, figuring she was horsing around. Then she grabbed our ankles again, firmly enough to make us stop. What she had seen, and Ken “Geetar” swimming next to her had seen, but what we had not seen, right underneath her, whichmeans underneath us, oblivious, was a 3 metre bull shark that just glided (glid?) beneath us, mooching along looking for brekker.

    Just now, Mrs Sparkle read to us a post on the Forster Turtles F/book page, from a woman who encountered a bull shark "as long as (her) paddle board)" in the lake right where a sub-peloton of us have been swimming the last few days.

    Looking down from above, Ted, who lives in The Reef building, last year reported looking out his window over the lake towards Look-at-Me Island, 30 metres across from the town, watching a hammerhead shark cruising up and down the lake, veering out around the many swimmers who throng the island at this time of year, and carrying on, then coming back, veering out around the swimmers again. No-one hurt or attacked; plenty oblivious. And Ted's an optometrist.

    That is the good thing about this joint: there are lots of these things out there; we know it; and probably they know all about us: perhaps they are used to us swimming around every morning about this time, and they know we are not their types. Whatever, no swimmer here has ever had a problem with them. Touch wood.
    Indeed, when you think about it – and we appreciate that we may be courting fate here – ocean swimmers generally have not had problems with big fish-with-dorsal-fins-and-lots-of-teeth. There have been lots of sightings, interactions, all the way up and down and around the coast, but along the East Coast, we can think of only two involving swimmers (two tragic incidents, at Clarkes Beach at Byron Bay a few years back, and one at Tathra). The others have involved people with craft: surfboards, skis, boogie boards, that type of thing, although we are also aware of a couple of snorkellers who’ve copped it, one in Hawai’I and another in the West. Is there something about actually being in the ocean that generates a serendipitous relationship between us and whatever is down there, except for blueys? (Blueys aren’t really “down there”: they float.)
    shark smart screenshot 200102 350
    And we are well aware that the situation is different in the West, where there have been several, also tragic incidents in which ocean swimmers have lost their lives. Perhaps there is something else about conditions there that make the local whites more aggressive. On the East Coast, people swim in Great White breeding grounds without incident. What is it that’s different?

    Whatever, all we know is that the Turtles have plenty of sightings, almost interactions, but they’ve had no real problems (touch wood). Some of them having been doing it here for decades without issue. We used to think it was the annual “mullet run” that brought them in, leading up to Easter, but they are, in fact, here all the time.

    What the Turtles would like, here in Forster, is for “the authorities” to include an extra bit of data in the tweets alerting us to shark detections that includes the serial number of the tag that’s been detected. At the moment, as you can see, we’re told only “tagged white shark”, along sometimes with a length estimate. If we had a serial number, we would know whether it is the same fish each time, and we could ascribe names more reliably. We’re sure the sharks would appreciate this, too.

Anyway, all of us boofheads, floating around behind the break, in the milk chocolate water, bumpy sea, dumping surf onto a shallowing bank, moving rips and blankets of weed, we all agreed we had “broken all the rules in the book” to get out there that day. And having done that, we came back in.

Bushfires

This is all a bit of fun. But let’s remember what else is going on around the joint at this time, currently and especially on the NSW South Coast and the Victorian East Coast, which essentially is the same area. Bushfires are no respectors of state borders, which alone makes this a national issue, not one to be left glibly to “the states”. As we worked just now, a News Alert came in on our watch, from the ABC (the ABC really shows its value at times like this, and please remember this whenever you hear a politician proposing cuts to the ABC's budget), reporting the Victorian Premier as saying that fears were held for the safety of 17 people in Victoria’s east. Up here in Forster/Tuncurry, we had our turn at bushfires prior to Xmas. It seems these fires are working their way around our sunburnt country, working us over. There are fires every year, of course, in different places. But we all know that this now is different. Time to get serious. Then another news alert came in from the ABC: The Prime Minister has called a meeting on Monday of the National Security Committee of cabinet to "discuss the long-term response to fires".

We're all watching.

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Swim Group this week

Meet the Wobbegongs

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This week's swim group is the Jervis Bay Wobbegongs, from the NSW South Coast. We hope they are getting through the bushfire crisis ok.

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

Endurance Challenge in the 'Gong

carney endurance challenge pools 600 

Bushfires are raging, and lots is being done to raise support for those involved or affected one way or another. But there’s an interesting event in the Illawarra on January 10, planned prior to the current crisis, which aims to generate support for an earlier crisis, which now is obscured by the latter. The two crises are linked, and both are severe.

carney rede 250The current crisis is the bushfires. The earlier crisis is the drought, which is long-running and felt to be a serious contributor to the fires. In Wollongong, Rede Carney, a teacher in distance education, set out to raise funds to help families who are drought-affected. In distance education, Rede comes into contact with families in the bush.

The event he’s running is initially a trial: a run along Wollongong’s beaches with stops at all the ocean pools along the way for a 500m swim at each. If he does all he plans, he’ll swim a total of 5km (at 10 pools), and run 27.5km.

“We'll be swimming the 10 ocean pools based on the Illawarra, starting from Coalcliff and ending at North Wollongong. It'll be 500m at each pool so 5km swim total and 25.7km running total,” Rede tell us.

“At this stage, it isn't open to the public but I do have some friends doing the event with me. More of a trial run to see how it goes.

“So far, I am the only one completing the entire swim-run event, but I have two teaching friends who are going to just do the swim sections and drive in between.

“As the three of us are teachers we decided to focus on students affected by the drought. I teach at a distance education setting and have some rural students directly affected.”

The official beneficiary is the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal.

While it’s a trial, Rede still aims to raise funds. You can find out more and support… Click here

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Entries online this weekend...

 gerringong swim 01 2014 
Gerringong: Do not be late. You need to register, be briefed, then walk over the headland to the start. They cannot wait for tardy swimmers.

Gerringong - Capt. Christie's wager

STOP PRESS: This event is postponed to Sunday, March 22 due to the bushfires. All entries received to date roll-over to the new date. See event page on oceanswims.com for more info... Click here

This is one of our favourite swims: a lovely, country swim from Gerringong's Boat Harbour around the rock shelf into Werri Beach. It follows the course of a legendary swim by the Captain Christie, a 19th Century sea captain, who bet a crewman that he could swim from Boat Harbour around to Werri. The prize was a bottle of whisky, so all entrants of drinking age now receive a whisky miniature when they complete the course. It's a nice, country, family swim. 

This is a beautiful, 1.8km swim, along the rock shelf and around the point into Werri Beach. A word of warning: do not be late. Registrations close at 9am, and they mean it. This allows time for punters to get around ot Boat Harbour for the start at 10am.

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

More info and to enter online... Click here

Newport pano 01
Swim day at Newport.

Newport - The Family Swim

New Year swim on Sydney's legendary northern beaches. Three distances: 800m and 2km, and now also 400m for swimmers as young as 10.

Newport is one of those beautiful Pittwater beaches at the top of Sydney's northern beaches. It seems every beach up there is trying to outdo each other for beauty and conditions. It's a real surf and a real ocean swim.

Newport also is Race 1 in the Pittwater Ocean Swim Series.

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

More info and to enter online... Click here

yamba04
The long swim at Yamba comes back around this point.

Yamba - Holiday swim on North Coast

A traditional holiday swim on the NSW North Coast, timed to attract the hordes of holidaymakers who flock to the region between Xmas and New Year. Yamba is a stunningly beautiful coastal town, with a narrow strip of beach hugging the base of a vertiginous hill, atop which sits one of the most spectacular pubs on the coast. Make sure you visit the pub: you're sure to run into mugs whom you might only see in passing during the course of your daily life far, far away, or at footy tests, but you'll also get one of the most spectacular views on the coast.

There are two distances on offer plus a Dash for Cash. But you must do at least one of the two main swims in order to qualify for the Dash for Cash.

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

More info and to enter online... Click here
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Tonga - Just 4 spots left

Swim with the whales

tonga whales humpback 1907 04 600

Here's a heads-up: our Tonga oceanswimsafari has only four spots left. We can take only eight swimmers/towel carriers at a time with us to Tonga. This makes this oceanswimsafari especially suitable for small groups, as well as singles and couples. If you'd like to share in this extraordinary experience, contact us quick and smart... Click here

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New goggles - Fog at last

Selene Swipe, no fog

Our most popular gog, the View Selene, now has a revolutionary, hi-tech version offering anti-fog capacity that lasts 10 times as long as existing goggles, the makers say. The Selene Swipe has technology in its interior lens coating that allows you to clear fog from the lens simply by "swiping" your finger across it.

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

view 820ASA selene swipe 450We've been wearing our new Swipes for 30 swims so far (at the time of writing) hoping they will fog so that we can try the Swipe technology For the first 25 swims, they refused, stubbornly, to fog. All we did to prepare them was to wet them in the break on entering the water. From swim 26 on, they have begun to fog. But, out the back, beyond the break, when we take them off, dip them in the water again, then rub them lightly around the inside of the lens, they clear instantly and remain clear. This morn, we wet them and rubbed them prior to entering the water. All good. We can't be believing it! But 'strew.

This is the third model of the Selene that we've added to our online store, after the regular Selenes and the Mirrored Selenes. We've sold a lot of swipes since we released them a week ago. Stocks available in Australia are severely limited at the moment, but we've bought up almost the entire current supply, especially of the more popular colours.

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

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

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

NB: Currently, we've been having problems with the security certificate for our shopping cart. Tech-heads are working on it now. In the meantime, if yu run into problems, and you'd like to order... Click here

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2020 oceanswimsafaris

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Controversy Corner...

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

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

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

Swims open to online entry...

newsletter divider clear bgrd

Advertise...

We email this newsletter to over 38,000 swimmers weekly in season, and less frequently out of season. If you'd like to advertise with us, please give us a yell.. Click here

If you're not receiving our emails...

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

Results...

For swim results... Click here

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

List your swim group...

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

Check our swim maps...

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

Buy gogs...

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

Check our back issues...

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

Subscribe

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

This newsletter...

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

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December 27, 2019

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Emailed to more than 38,000 ocean swimmers
weekly in season.

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Xmas Eve was "the busiest day of the year" for resident snapper Glistening Dave and his Dawnbusters at Mona Vale. This is what they look like. It's terrific to celebrate our culcha with class photos of our informal swim groups. Send us pics of your swim group, and we'll publish them (provided they're publishable -- make sure they're a reasonable size, so we can fiddle with them)... Click here... This image by David Helsham (@glistenrr).

Look below...

Swims this weekend...

Early Morning Swims

Articulating our culcha

mollymook book cover 350One of the characteristics of the vast majority of ocean swimming -- that is has no structure – means that it’s very hard to get a handle on it as “a movement” or a “phenomenon”. It’s all just so absolutely informal. We speak of the informal swim groups that set out each morning from beaches all around the country. These groups constitute the vast majority of our caper. No-one has ever counted them, but we reckon there are many more punters doing the early morning informal swimming combined than take part in formal ocean swim events. But who are they? What are they like? What do they do? How do they vote?

This also is one of the glories of our sport. This early morning movement exists, but it has no form; there is nothing tangible to give it substance – no constitution, no agenda, no central authority, no dominating bullies or blowhards at its heart. It’s ironic, when you think about it, that its “substance”, its beauty, lies in this “insubstance”; this informality. There is little coordination amongst these groups that might articulate the culchural background against which this activity takes place day after day. And make no mistake: this is a culchural phenomenon.

Whilst early morning ocean swimming takes place as happenstance all over the joint, it is a crucially important part of the daily lives, and the well-being, of an enormous number of people, especially silly old farts of the very mature variety, and laydees.

Once in a while

But every now and again, something comes along that articulates what this caper is all about. Glistening Dave’s daily coverage of the Bongin Bongin Dawnbusters is one example of this. We try our very hardest, ourselves, when we locate ourselves every now and again at Forster, on the NSW Lower North Coast, to report this culcha. See this account of the life of one of our fave ocean swimmers, Terry Hudson, who has one of the most colourful back stories of anyone we’ve ever known. Terry, an 'umble, quietly-spoken man now from Tuncurry, had a role in the Khemlani affair -- albeit not of his own doing -- which triggered the downfall of the Whitlam Gummint in 1975… He’s packed quite a bit into his 85 years.

We have no official historians recording and assessing what we get up to. It just happens, and we do it.

Amongst those things that come along every now and again, articulating the culcha of what we all do, down in Mollymook, local identical Ken Banks has laboured for years over a project that came to fruition just prior to Xmas: a hard cover book that records the history, the colour, the pageantry, the idiosyncracies, the tensions, and the culcha of the Mollymook Ocean Swimmers.

There is nothing special about the Mollymook Ocean Swimmers, other than that they are at Mollymook, which is, we can say with authority, one of the most glorious beaches on the Strã’an coast. (Mind you, there are plenty of these.) A morning swim at Mollymook from the corner near the surf club, around the rock shelf to the Golf Course, and back, is one of the most beautiful morning swims you will ever do.

But the early morning swims are not the be all and end all of it. The swimming is merely the catalyst for all the other stuff that goes on around it: the personal interactions, the tensions, the triumphs; the searches for the  perfect cuppa; the formation and dissolution of friendships; the sharing of celebrations and tragedies. If you don't do the swimming, then you have no entree to all the rest.

So as a contribution to articulating our culcha, Ken Banks’s book is invaluable.

There must be more of this kind of thing going on...

What and who else are out there doing this? Let us know... Click here

Ocean Swimming - The Story of the Mollymook Ocean Swimmers (self-published). Enquire with Ken Banks... Click here

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A good investment

The timeless appeal of an ocean pool

carley james 150There's been a lot of attention given to ocean pools of late, some of it brought into focus by Therese Spruhan's book, The Memory Pool. Now, engineer James Carley argues that the ocean pool has not only a cultural significance, but it's also a good community investment. This piece was published in The Conversation on December 20.

James Carley is Principal Engineer, Water Research Laboratory, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of NSW. 

Depending on definitions, the coast of NSW, Australia, has about 70 ocean pools, with most located between Newcastle and Wollongong. South Africa has a comparable number, but the rest of the world has only a handful.

Why are ocean pools not more widespread? It isn’t the cost – our research suggests the public benefits of NSW ocean pools greatly outweigh the investment in building and maintaining them. And these pools do hold a special place in the hearts of the communities that use them.

Architect and artist Nicole Larkin says of ocean pools:

Geographically they are outliers of the built environment poised at the threshold of our nation’s boundary. Anchored to our iconic coastline, they facilitate intimate encounters with the landscape and reflect its importance in our national psyche.

Ocean pools were not the first structures built on the Australian coast. There is a prolific network of Aboriginal fish traps around Australia, with many existing structures dating back thousands of years. Any coastal structures more than 6,000 years old now lie under the sea, as global sea levels have risen 120 metres from 21,000 years ago to 6,000 years ago.

The Bogey Hole in Newcastle is usually claimed to be the first post-European-settlement ocean pool. Convicts built it in 1819.

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Convicts built the Bogey Hole, a pool carved out of the rock shelf, at Newcastle in 1819. Carol/Flickr

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Werri Beach pool at Gerringong. Image from Destination Kiama

Most of the first ocean pools involved local residents or surf lifesavers excavating suitable sections of rock shelves and enhancing them with concrete, with many further iterations until arriving at their present form.

The earliest ocean pools in Sydney’s eastern suburbs date back to the 1880s. Many of the 15 ocean pools on Sydney’s northern beaches were constructed or upgraded as job-creation projects during the 1930s Great Depression. Many Sydney beaches have an ocean pool at each end – some even have more than one.

Why does NSW have so many?

The prevalence of ocean pools in NSW arose from a confluence of many factors – geology, climate, culture and economics.

Geology

The southern two-thirds of the NSW coast generally consists of short to medium-length sandy beaches, nestled between rocky headlands. Where those headlands are sandstone, there is an ideal balance between a material that can be fairly easily excavated, yet is stable over human time scales. These headlands have allowed pools to be sited on a stable foundation where they don’t alter the shape of the surrounding beaches or fill with too much sand.

Ocean pools and magnificent sandstone buildings are two manifestations of Sydney’s moniker “Sandstone City”.

Climate

Mild to hot air temperatures and tolerable to pleasant water temperatures – fed by the East Australian (“Nemo”) Current – are conducive to swimming, bathing and surfing.

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Ocean pools frame our beaches... North Curl Curl ocean pool. Image by Sacha Fenandez 

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South Curl Curl ocean pool. Image by James Carley

Beach and ocean culture

Beach, ocean, swimming and surfing cultures developed in the early 1900s. Despite its pleasures, the ocean can be a dangerous place. Many people drowned in the early days of surf bathing and drownings on unpatrolled beaches continue to this day.
Ocean pools offer the pleasure of saltwater bathing by the beach, free from sharks, large waves and rips. In his poem The Ocean Baths, Les Murray described the experience:

I am not in the sea but the sea’s television.

However, almost all ocean pools have dangerous conditions at times. The Water Research Laboratory at UNSW Sydney has recently applied contemporary coastal engineering techniques for estimating wave overtopping to ocean pools. This work has reconciled the theory with the expert opinions of lifeguards and surf lifesavers for a range of pools.

Economic prosperity

Population centres near the coast, economic prosperity, along with job-creation projects during downturns also drove the construction of ocean pools.

Improved sewage disposal schemes for Sydney in the early 1990s, as well as Newcastle and Wollongong, vastly improved water quality on the beaches, further increasing the attraction of ocean pools and coastal living.

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Black Head pool, which is maintained with fundraising by locals. Image by Trish Cooper.

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The Bull Ring, Forster, so named because some people swim out and back, and some swim across and back and, sometimes, they meet in the middle. Image from Mansfield@theBeach, Forster 

What makes a good ocean pool?

We have polled many users of ocean pools and their opinions are fairly uniform. The best ocean pools have three elements:

  • a lap swimming area (preferably 50 metres long)
  • a separate wading/splash area
  • a space for people to congregate, as these are community gathering places.

For many users, ocean pools complement other ocean activities, rather than replace them. For example, surf lifesavers or surfers often train in them when the ocean is too flat or too dangerous.

Waves washing into pools make for spectacular photos. These can enhance the sense of wildness, the connection with nature, and flush the pool with clean seawater. But waves can also make a pool dangerous and fill the pool with sand, seaweed and sometimes boulders. So a balance is needed.

Pools repay the investment

pool maintenance 250The potential costs of maintenance (cleaning and repairs) have been cited in opposition to new ocean pools. We have surveyed the asset managers for many ocean pools and found annual maintenance costs range from about A$10,000 to A$140,000, with a typical amount of A$80,000.

Pool maintenance typically costs about $80,000 a year. andy@atbondi/Flickr

The aggressive location (the “wild edge”) means most pools are refurbished at intervals of 10 to 20 years. The budgets for this work range from A$200,000 to A$1.5 million.

Pool upgrades have allowed the walls of most pools to be raised over time. This has generally outpaced recent sea level rise, but accelerating rises will require serious redesign or abandonment of many pools. Some may join the ranks of existing “ghost” pools, such as those surrounding the present Dee Why ocean pool (Isa Wye Rockpool) or the headland between Bilgola and Newport. A keen eye can spot these on Google Earth.

Improvements in pump technology and economic prosperity have meant many ocean pools now use pumps to maintain water quality, rather than relying only on wave overtopping. This allows for safer pools.

In the age of “business cases” we recently combined data on beach/pool use with the economic benefits of an aquatic facility visit from studies by the Royal Life Saving Society. This indicates a typical ocean pool has a basic economic benefit of A$2 million a year and a combined economic and health benefit of A$6 million a year. A high-use ocean pool has a basic economic benefit of A$3.5 million a year and a combined benefit of A$10 million a year.

Thus, if physically suitable and environmentally acceptable sites can be found, the economic payback on investment in an ocean pool is rapid. The people of NSW have always loved their ocean pools, so these findings only confirm their status as highly valued community assets.

The author acknowledges the contributions of Ian Coghlan, Chris Drummond, Nicole Larkin, council staff, pool users, lifeguards and volunteer lifesavers.

You can get to know the ocean pools in NSW at oceanpoolsnsw.net.au

The Ocean Baths

by Les Murray

Chinning the bar or Thirties concrete rim
of this ocean baths as the surf flings velleities of spray
brimming the bright screen
I am in not the sea but the sea’s television.

As the one starfish below me quivers up
through a fictive kelp of diffraction, I’m thinking of workers
who made pool-cementing last, neap tide by neap,
right through the Depression,

then went to the war, the one that fathered the Bomb
which relegated war to the lurid antique new nations
of emerging television. All those appalling horizontals
to be made vertical and kept the size of a screen –

I duck out of focus
down shill slub walls in this loud kinking room
that still echoes Fung blunger the swearwords Orh you Kongs
of men on relief for years, trapping ocean in oblongs,

and check out four hard roads tamed to a numinous
joke on it all, through being stood up side-on
and joined at their stone ends by bumper-smokers who could,
just by looking up, see out of relegation –

here the sky, the size of a mirror, the size of a fix
becomes imperative: ”I explode up through it beneath
a whole flowering height of villas and chlorine tiled pools
where some men still swear hard
to keep faith with their fathers
who are obsolete and sacred.

From the Australian Poetry Library

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Entries online this weekend...

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Proclaiming Glenelg

Organisers say -

The Proclamation Classic Swim draws its inspiration from South Australia's 180-year heritage. Taking its name from the Governor's Proclamation on 28 December 1836 that established the colony, the event pits swimmers' skills and endurance against an historical constant, the beautiful waters of 'the Bay'.

The Proclamation Classic gives swimmers three options - one and two-kilometre swims and the challenging five-kilometre event - all of which start, and finish close to the popular Glenelg Jetty.

The swim is organised by the Adelaide Masters Swimming Club and the Glenelg Surf Life Saving Club in association with the Bay Sports Festival.

The Proclamation Classic runs at Glenelg this Saturday, December 28 (it always runs on December 28, whatever day of the week that happens to be). 

Online entries close at noon on Friday, December 27.

More info and to enter online... Click here

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Sulawesi oceanswimsafari

Swim with the Maxi Crab

When we take our oceanswimsafari to Sulawesi, in Indonesia, we stay at Lumba Lumba dive resort, in far northern Sulawesi. The Divemaster at Lumba Lumba, Maxi Tabolong, has discovered a new species of Spider Crab, and now it carries his name officially.

The "Maxi Crab", or Hyastenus Tabolongi, a centimeter in size and is well camouflaged.

We're taking our oceanswimsafari to Sulawesi in late June 2020. It's one of the most interesting places to swim on the planet: the water is gloriously clear, and this part of the world's oceans -- the Celebes Sea -- is known as having the greatest diversity of marine life in the entire Indo-Pacific region. We have four days of swims along magnificant reef, plus a day tour of the highlands in the hills behind the coast, and whitewater rafting. You can dive, if you like. Our resort is famous for its diving and its dive staff.

Find out more and book... Click here

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Tonga - Just 4 spots left

Swim with the whales

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Here's a heads-up: our Tonga oceanswimsafari has only four spots left. We can take only eight swimmers/towel carriers at a time with us to Tonga. This makes this oceanswimsafari especially suitable for small groups, as well as singles and couples. If you're thinking you'd like to share in this extraordinary experience, contact us quick and smart... Click here

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New goggles - The rush continues

Selene Swipe, no fog

Our most popular gog, the View Selene, now has a revolutionary, hi-tech version offering anti-fog capacity that lasts 10 times as long as existing goggles, the makers say. The Selene Swipe has technology in its interior lens coating that allows you to clear fog from the lens simply by "swiping" your finger across it.

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

view 820ASA selene swipe 450We've been wearing our new Swipes for 25 swims so far (at the time of writing) hoping they will fog so that we can try the Swipe technology, but the stubborn things refuse to fog. On our last two swims, there was a bit of fog, which went away instantly we swiped across it.

This is the third model of the Selene that we've added to our online store, after the regular Selenes and the Mirrored Selenes. We've sold a lot of swipes since we released them a week ago. Stocks available in Australia are severely limited at the moment, but we've bought up almost the entire current supply, especially of the more popular colours.

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

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

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

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2020 oceanswimsafaris

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Swim with whales in Tonga.

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

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

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A tender scene by la Concha, San Sebastián.

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

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

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

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

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

Controversy Corner...

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

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

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

Swims open to online entry...

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Advertise...

We email this newsletter to over 38,000 swimmers weekly in season, and less frequently out of season. If you'd like to advertise with us, please give us a yell.. Click here

If you're not receiving our emails...

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

Results...

For swim results... Click here

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

List your swim group...

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

Check our swim maps...

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

Buy gogs...

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

Check our back issues...

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

Subscribe

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

This newsletter...

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

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December 13, 2019

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Emailed to more than 38,000 ocean swimmers
weekly in season.

bongin dawnbusters dhd 191207 600
The Dawnbusters enter the water at Bongin bongin Bay, on Sydney's northern beaches, on a recent relatively smoke-free morn. Image by David Helsham (@glistenrr)

Look below...

Swims this weekend...

Coaching mouth-to-mouth

Pluto Pups at the ocean baths

When we were kids, we all had our safe places; our fun places; places that gave us the experiences that, as we grow older, we feel moulded us into whom we are now. We Strã’ans, and plenty of Kiwis, no doubt – for we are all one -- often included in our back-of-the-mind list of such places our fave recreation areas, such as our beaches, our swimming holes, and our pools. We like to think of ourselves as nations of swimmers, if only because so many of us live right up against water, and the beach, the river, the lake and the pool play such a large part in our lives. Whether that perception is justified is another matter, and one we’re looking forward to hearing more about from Shane Gould, who completed recently her PhD thesis in which she critiques this “identity narrative”. Shane now is turning her thesis into a book.

That said, in life, especially at times in which identity is all, perceptions are far more important than reality, so if we as individuals see ourselves as nations of swimmers, then that’s what we are. It will follow, if the votes are there.

It also follows that our lives revolving around swimming (and by extension surfing and all other nautical activities) form a particularly important part of our personal development. When we wuz kids, for example, we spent all our waking hours when not at school on the stretch of sand from Caves Beach to Hams Beach. We surfed often in the mornings before school, and pretty well always in the afternoons after school. Even if there was no surf, in winter, we’d play touch footy on the beach every day after school, where we were sometimes joined by Sammy Hincks, the 1st grade half-back for Lakes United. Sammy lived across the road from us, up the hill from the beach. We have vivid memories still of our excitement when Mr Cobbin, also across the road, told us that Sammy was about to move in right opposite. These are memories that stay with us till death.

the set poster 300Between 4th form (when we completed our School Certificate) and the start of 5th form, we spent three months solid at the beach, 8am-6pm, every day, save for the mornings for three weeks prior to Xmas when we worked as postpersons and Head Telegram Boy at Swansea Post Office. Over that period, we grew our first beard, and left it on as we commenced 5th form. At Swansea High, others, with patchier coverings, had been ordered to shave when they attempted beards. But at the assembly on the first day back, the school disciplinarian, Frank Phelan, a metalwork/woodwork teacher renowned for copping no shite from anyone, patrolled the ranks, hands clasped behind him as he ambled along, inspecting the troops. When Frank got to us, he stopped. Frank, mind, was the one who’d ordered other lads to shave. Our cobbers either side of us sniggered, supportively. Frank turned his head; he raised and lowered it; he took in what we offered from all possible angles; he took a half a step back, and he said, “That’s a real rooter.” And he walked off, hands clasped behind his back, as if whistling nonchalantly, continuing his patrol. We’re still not sure what “a real rooter” is in the context of a beard, but there you go.

All these things make up our identities. We were known around the district as “the Caves Beach surfer”, although it wasn’t as if there were no other surfers at Caves Beach. Along the Caves-Hams stretch, there were lots of us, although attaching the “Caves Beach” appellation was disparaging, particularly from the source from which it emanated – an unfriendly rival at school who surfed at Nine Mile, across the other side of Swansea Channel. Caves itself was not known for the quality of its board waves. Other beaches offered better breaks, such as Hams, which is why we included the other end of our beach in our ambit. It was a mile from the rocks at Caves to Frenchmans Rock at the other end of Hams, but it was always a mile worth walking.

On the beach, we also were the uncredited technical advisers on mouth-to-mouth resuscitation for “The Set”, a soft-porn movie made on the beach over the summer holiday in 1970. One scene had the hero (Rod Mullinar) administer mouth-to-mouth to the heroine, who wore a crocheted bikini with no lining. We were standing in the crowd watching the filming of the rescue scene, when the director, another bloke called Frank (Brittain, this time, not Phelan, who would never have been involved in a project like this) pointed at us in the crowd, snapped his fingers and said, “You… Show us how to do mouth-to-mouth”. So we knelt down next to the girl with the crocheted bikini-with-no-lining and “administered” mouth-to-mouth, although we administered it the way we did it in surf club training, ie we blew down the side of her cheek rather than engage her inviting, pouting lips, which we weren’t game to try. Then Rod took over. We could never see how mouth-to-mouth administered as full-on tonsil hockey pash could have revived anyone. If anything, Rod’s mouth-to-mouth, tongue implanted firmly down her gullet, would have stopped her breathing, not made her recommence it. Rod was much bigger’n her.

Anyway, these were all experiences that made up our happy place.

Prior to the beach, we also had Newcastle Ocean Baths. We were members of the Newcastle Police Boys Amateur Swimming Club, which rolled off the tongue mellifluously as an anagram across the back of our monochrome tracksuit, NPBASC. We swam with the NPBASC when we lived at Stockton, the workin’ klass suburb across the harbour from Newcastle. This meant solo treks on the ferry across the harbour on Sat’dee morns, then a schlepp up Scott St to the Topper Town (The Top of Town), and down the hill to the baths, where we’d sign up for the free and breast events, initially in D2 grade, but building eventually, as we recall, to an ultimate stint in C.

Newcastle Ocean Baths was a magical place. There was a big, open pool that seemed to be about 100 yards (metres weren’t invented in Strã’a then) long and 50 yards wide. There was a wooden diving board covered in coir matting for grip. There were light poles on concrete plinths in the middle. Along the far end, on weekday afternoons, we sometimes tagged along as a cobber did swim training with an actual coach.

At the northern end of the baths, nestled beneath the bleachers, and behind a narrow boardwalk, which we’d dive beneath when the grown-ups weren’t looking, was the 55-yard competition pool. We’d get there early; we’d find a position on the top of the bleachers; and we’d spend an hour or three sprawled across the top row of seating, watching not the races below us, but the surfers in the Cowrie Hole next door, and we’d dream. One day, we would be surfers. If you’ve seen the movie, Young Einstein, you’ll know the Cowrie Hole. It’s a bay in the rock shelf right next to the baths. It’s where the movie’s surfing scenes were shot.

We had crowded living conditions at that time, so our mornings at the baths were our special space. But that’s not to say the Newcastle Ocean Baths weren’t crowded, too. The sprawling, general purpose pool, especially, would always be full of Novacastellian yoof, interacting. That pool would get so crowded that interaction was inevitable. A few years back, a bloke we’d known as kids was charged with sexual assault after a bit of such interaction. He’d always had difficulty socially. Our cohort bore some responsibility for that, we always felt.

memory pool cover 250We went to the Ocean Baths alone, although we knew plenty of other swimmers in the club (with some of whom we also did judo on Friday nights at the Police Boys Club itself). There was a lot of noise about the races: the shouting and barracking, the marshalling, the counting out of the handicap times, the excitement of place finishes… The sea water was always bracing, and exciting at times when the swell at high tide sent waves crashing over the promenade into the competition pool, which could give you a nice lift in the swim. We don’t recall them ever closing the baths because of intruding swell during the NPBASC Sat’dee meets, not like they do for those pussycats at the Icebergs at Bondi.

And at the end of it, there was a reward.

For us, Newcastle Ocean Baths will always be associated with Pluto Pups, their aroma, and their flavour. What’s a Pluto Pup? Visitors to the Royal Easter Show will know them as Dagwood Dogs. They’re a frankfurt on a stick, dipped heavily in batter, deep fried – in the days when deep frying was in animal fat, not oil, as if a frankfurt needed any more of it -- then dipped generously in a tub of tomato sauce, back when tomato sauce was more tomatoes than sugar. So a morning at the NPBASC would end inevitably with exit through the kiosk for a Pluto Pup, which we’d been scenting all morning, the aroma drawing us like a cartoon dog elevated trance-like by the scent of a bone. We’d munch it slowly, drawing it out (much as today we can draw out a large skim latté for as long as three hours) as we schlepped back up the hill to the Topper Town, then down Scott St to the ferry wharf, heading home to Nan’s place. This was no easy trek, mind you. We barefooted in those days. Too poor for thongs (flip-flops). And in summer, the street between the baths and the ferry wharf would get so hot that Channel 3 News once ran a segment in which they fried an egg on the footpath. It was on one such day that, when we got to the wharf, there were two teenage girls waiting on the steps down to the harbour. They had an alarm clock on the steps; they kept consulting it, for some reason, and they would dip their feet into the cool of the harbour whilst they waited on the ferry. It was that scene, back in 1963, that remains etched in our psyche; that makes the Newcastle Harbour Australia Day Swim Classic one of our fave swims.

These are some of our memories. Now, ocean swimmer and blogger Therese Spruhan has collected a whole lot of memories – 28 including her own — from all kinds of punters in The Memory Pool, effectively a set of short memoirs of Strã’ans and their memories of their fave swimming holes as youngsters. Therese yarned with all those who contributed, then essentially transcribed the conversations so the memories are much as they expressed them.

The Memory Pool makes a noice Xmas present for the special swimmer in your life. Or just buy it for yourself.

The Memory Pool (New South Publishing, part of UNSW Press, 2019), by Therese Spruhan.

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New goggles - The rush continues

Selene Swipe, no fog

Our most popular gog, the View Selene, now has a revolutionary, hi-tech version offering anti-fog capacity that lasts 10 times as long as existing goggles, the makers say. The Selene Swipe has technology in its interior lens coating that allows you to clear fog from the lens simply by "swiping" your finger across it.

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

view 820ASA selene swipe 450We've been wearing our new Swipes for 23 swims so far (at the time of writing) hoping they will fog so that we can try the Swipe technology, but the stubborn things refuse to fog. On our last two swims, there was a bit of fog, which went away instantly we swiped across it.

This is the third model of the Selene that we've added to our online store, after the regular Selenes and the Mirrored Selenes. We've sold a lot of swipes since we released them a week ago. Stocks available in Australia are severely limited at the moment, but we've bought up almost the entire current supply, especially of the more popular colours.

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

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

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

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So this is Xmas...

This will be our last newsletter prior to December 25, so to all of you, have a good Xmas. Remember, Xmas is a celebration of family and friendship. Appreciate those close to you, and enjoy their company. They are what makes life worth living.

Appreciate everyone else, too, even those you don't know. We are all part of our community; we are all one.

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daves calendar 150 shopGlistening Dave's calendar - Only 6 left!

We've had lots of orders for Glistening Dave's oceanswims calendar 2020. Now, Dave has just six copies left. If you want yours, then get your order in quick and smart. As soon as those six are gone, we'll be taking them down from our shopping cart. 

Dave's calendar highlights some of his fave scenes from the previous 12 months. It carries pretty well every swim date, and is a daily inspiration to all ocean swimmers, everywhere.

The absolutely perfect Xmas present for the ocean swimmer, Dave's calendar will be despatched in late November-early December, but best order yours now... Click here

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Entries online this weekend...

Sunday, Mona Vale-Warriewood

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The Chieftain Challenge can be completed by individuals or broken up into legs for up to four competitors -teams of 2, 3 or 4. Changes can be made at any flag point along the route.

This event combines beach running and swimming from Mona Vale basin to Warriewood beach – no shoes required. With a $250 Cash Prize for the first solo male and first solo female across the finish line.

Total swim distance is 1.9km broken into four legs, interspersed with three runs totaling 1.5km ending with a 50m sprint up the beach to the line.

Online entries close at 3pm on Saturday, December 14.

More info and to enter online... Click here
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2020 oceanswimsafaris

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

March 12-16 – Coromandel New Zealand – A long weekend away in one of the most beautiful parts of the temperate Pacific, the Coromandel Peninsula. The feature event is the Cathedral Cove swim, but just being in this stunningly beautiful place is a tonic… Click here

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

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

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

July 20-28, July 27-August 4 – Tonga – Swim with Humpback Whales (above) – One of the most unusual, special experiences you can ever have swimming in the ocean. The humpbacks migrate over winter from Antarctica to Tonga to give birth and generally frolic around. Tonga is one of the few places in the world where we’re allowed to get in the water with the whales (under rules, of course)… Click here

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

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

October 20-25 - Mana Fiji SwimFest - Packages will be ready soon, so watch this space… Click here

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

Controversy Corner...

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

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

We received this feedback from Peter Trefely after last week's newsletter...

To the writer of Ocean Swimmer. I am a swimmer and enjoy the articles but I have difficulty with the idiosyncratic spelling that continually pops up. It seems to be a bit of self indulgence. Maybe people bred in Australia can figure it out but people for whom English is a second language will have no hope. Perhaps you don’t care. You may not be interested in communicating with people born overseas. It would nice if you could use standard spelling so everyone could understand your articles. Or are you purposely excluding “foreigners”. Publish this and see what other people think.

We posted Peter's comment in feedback to last week's newsletter, and that itself generated a deal of feedback on feedback. Controversy indeed. Check it out... Click here... And have your own say... Click here 

Also, Peter Nickless still hopes for reaction to his question: "Are Jammers fair dinkum for ocean swim races?  Like to know what others think."

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

Swims open to online entry...

Coming soon...
  • Mar 9 - Port Noarlunga (SA)

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Advertise...

We email this newsletter to over 38,000 swimmers weekly in season, and less frequently out of season. If you'd like to advertise with us, please give us a yell.. Click here

If you're not receiving our emails...

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

Results...

For swim results... Click here

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

List your swim group...

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

Check our swim maps...

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

Buy gogs...

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

Check our back issues...

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

Subscribe

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

This newsletter...

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

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December 4, 2019

fos scroll blank canvas 350

Emailed to more than 38,000 ocean swimmers
weekly in season.

forster turtles swim 191203 600
Such a simple image, but it says so much about ocean swimming, and the multitudes who take to the sea early each morn to get their fix. The Forster Turtles head out, for a session dominated by the current obsessions of our conditioner and trainer, The Glebe Lout, with closed-fist drill, this day in 200-stroke efforts half with closed fists. The Lout, known to his mum as Noel, told us afterwards he is leading us into "Fitmas" -- getting us "fit for Xmas". Bless him. The day after, today, we did 100-stroke efforts out to the shark booee. The efforts coming back in were faster than the ones going out. Look at the water. We were just discovering on Choosdee that Dr Ekmann had returned overnight, following strong winds on Monday, and the water had dropped to 17.3C. But did we complain? You betcha, we did. Wensdee, it was back up to 19.1. What will tomorrow bring?

Look below...

Swims this weekend...

 

Annals of Flexibility

How are your shoulders right now?

streamline head shoulders 450 vertTry this at home: stand erect, your very best posture, your back supporting your weight rather than allowing it to slouch down on your hips… Then, raise your arms, as straight as you can above your head. Your very straightest. Try to get your arms behind your ears, without bending your head too far forward, and keeping your arms straight. Clasp the hands, folding them one over the other… By this time, you should be doing the perfect streamline.

Swimmers generally can do this; some people can’t. Such as, according to Damir of Berowra, runners.

Try this at home: Random swimmer Mrs Sparkle always wanders around the house practising her very best streamline.

Damir, recently returned to swimming and recovering from a couple of years doing triaffalon, is a very handy swimmer. During his multisport days, he says runners sometimes came to him to ask him how to swim, and he would give them that exercise. Often, he told us, on the grass at Bronte last Sundee, they could get their arms up, but only as far as a diamond shape with their hands just above their heads; nowhere near straight, and nowhere near, Damir reckons, straight enough to show that they might be able to swim.

This exercise, really just a pose, demonstrates shoulder flexibility. Runners often can’t do it because they don’t use their shoulders much in running, and running and bike riding are more likely to leave the body tight unless countered regularly with stretching. Swimmers usually can do it, because they use their shoulders. But many swimmers often can’t do it well, especially as they age.

Damir says that if the runners could not adopt the streamline on land, he would send them away. “Come back when you can do it,” he said he would say to them.

We’ve been talking a bit lately about flexibility, about the need for it in order to swim more easily. We need it in our shoulders, arms, neck and back, and in our hips.

Kick

Another affliction Damir pointed out came from cycling which, we observed to him, left one tight. “Yes,” he said. “Tight hips, which affects your capacity to kick. You can’t kick with tight hips.”

This shouldn’t worry too many blokes, who don’t kick anyway. But that doesn’t mean that they should not possess the capacity to kick; the right to kick, as it were, just as we all should have the right, in principle, to give birth.
Even if you’re not a kicker, the kick comes in handy when you need a sudden surge, such as to get on a wave, or out of a tight spot, such as a melee on a booee.

After riding, he said, it would take stretching and time to return flexibility in order to kick from your hips. A lot of boofhead swimmers, especially those aging ones, and those aging ones who spend their workdays at a desk and a ‘puter, do not have flexible hips, and this compromises their capacity to kick. We’ve heard of swimmers who’ve have hip replacements say how much more flexible they are with their new hips. We’ve even heard a bilateral hip recipient say that he’s never kicked better than after he had his hips replaced.

What is it good for?

Back on the grass at Bronte, Damir lamented that, as a swimmer, he was at a disadvantage in triaffalon. He could swim his very fastest to get the maximum advantage from his strongest leg – his swim – but it would never be enough. A strong swim leg would leave him stuffed for his two weaker legs.

“Triathlon is a sport for runners who can ride a bike,” he said.

And so we see Damir back on the beach, swimming better than ever, too, looking at his results so far this season.

We had this chat at Bronte after musing to ourselves in the pool at Crummy Drummy last week about our shoulders.

Two weeks back, we wrote about flexibility. In the pool last week, we were schlepping along, thinking about politics, and our swimming, about whom was annoying us at the time, and the thought trail led inevitably, as you’d expect, to shoulder flexibility. Stroke is helped enormously by keeping your elbows high on the pull-through, minimising disruption to your streamline. In order to do this, you need flexible shoulders: you need your shoulders to allow your elbow to remain high – above your head – whilst maintaining your streamline.

Shoulders that don’t allow high elbows will force the elbow down, taking the shoulders with it, twisting your upper body, bringing your stroke across to the other side, and absolutely destroying your streamline.

bongin dhd 191203 600
After inventing a new genre of photographic art by specialising in images with poles in the middle of the pitcher, Mona Vale snapper Glistening Dave, ever the trendsetter, now is pioneering another new genre: Best Handrail through the Middle of the Image. It is art. We just can't keep up. Mind you, perhaps this is Dave's way of explaining life: Life is full of barriers, hurdles one must leap in order to survive.

Golf

Phenomena like this fascinate us. It makes us realise that swimming, when broken down into all its component parts – body position, stroke, kick, rhythm, breathing, subliminal co-ordination of all these things -- is more complicated than golf. But there are some core things that can be done independent of actual swimming that makes knitting all these aspects together more comfortably. Flexibility is one of these underlying things.

We knew a retired surf boat rower who did yoga three times a week. Surf boat rowing, like cycling, is one of the most efficient activities for tightening the body, and one of the best ways to stuff your back for the rest of your life. But this bloke was leading a full and active life, all of which he put down to yoga.

Yoga is not the be all and end all, of course. It’s not the only way to become flexible, but it’s a good way to become flexible.

The corollary of becoming more flexible is that your body is more relaxed. It means you sleep better, your stress levels are more manageable, and your health and your resilience should be better overall. We have our own little practices that, in recent times, have helped us with this, a couple of little stretches that we do before bed each evening, as the sun goes down. It’s made a big difference for us. Mind you, we’re still rubbish swimmers. But all things are relative. 

newsletter divider clear bgrdGlistening Dave's oceanswims calendar 2020

Glistening Dave's oceanswims calendar is back by popular demand. Dave took a sabbatical in the last two years (yes, that's two sabbaticals, but Dave is no ordinary artiste), keeping his calendar only for close friends, relos, and some who just asked. But so many have asked, and he has so many regular calendees, that Dave has decided to go public once again.

Dave's calendar highlights some of his fave scenes from the previous 12 months. It carries pretty well every swim date, and is a daily inspiration to all ocean swimmers, everywhere.

The absolutely perfect Xmas present for the ocean swimmer, Dave's calendar will be despatched in late November-early December, but best order yours now... Click here

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Breath management - Where to find it

Last week's item about breath management led to a welter of enquiries to trainer Michaela Werner, who has now advised us of a preferred means of contacting her. To contact Michaela... Click here

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New goggles - The rush continues

Selene Swipe, no fog

Our most popular gog, the View Selene, now has a revolutionary, hi-tech version offering anti-fog capacity that lasts 10 times as long as existing goggles, the makers say. The Selene Swipe has technology in its interior lens coating that allows you to clear fog from the lens simply by "swiping" your finger across it.

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

view 820ASA selene swipe 450We've been wearing our new Swipes for 23 swims so far (at the time of writing) hoping they will fog so that we can try the Swipe technology, but the stubborn things refuse to fog. On our last two swims, there was a bit of fog, which went away instantly we swiped across it.

This is the third model of the Selene that we've added to our online store, after the regular Selenes and the Mirrored Selenes. We've sold a lot of swipes since we released them a week ago. Stocks available in Australia are severely limited at the moment, but we've bought up almost the entire current supply, especially of the more popular colours.

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

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

Find out more and order Selene Swipes... Click here
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An ocean swim every Sunday in January with Pittwater surf clubs

pittwater big swim start 600 

Awgies of the Pittwater Ocean Swim Series say -

Ocean swimmers will be reaching for their goggles with the news that the popular Pittwater Ocean Swim Series will again make a splash in January 2020.

The series will start on Sunday, 5 January, with the Newport Surf club’s Pool to Peak ocean swims. The following Sunday, 12th January, Bilgola will be firing the starting gun for swimmers, and then on Sunday 19 it’s the Mona Vale club’s turn.

The Big Swim, from Palm Beach to Whale Beach will be held on the Australia Day weekend on Sunday 26 January. The other club in the Pittwater Series, Avalon, have set their date for 29 March including the iconic Around The Bends Swim.

According to one of the organisers of the series, John Guthrie, each of the clubs now has shorter swims in addition to the traditional longer swims, ranging from 1.5kms to 3kms. In addition to the Big Swim, Avalon have introduced the ‘Around the Bends’ swim from Newport to Avalon so there are plenty of challenges for the experienced swimmers.

“The idea of the shorter swims is to get more people involved in ocean swimming so that they can gradually graduate to the longer swims. The shorter swims are also used as warm-ups for the longer distance swimmers.

“Each season we have a large contingent of ocean swimmers from other parts of the State as well as Interstate. Swimmers from around the world swell the entry ranks obviously combing ocean swimming in one of the best parts of Australia with a visit to this country” said John.

“Most swimmers bring their partners and friends as support teams and you will see them after each swim at the coffee shops, clubs and hotels. It’s a real boost for the area and we are delighted to have the support of Northern Beaches Council for the series in the form of a grant for the next three seasons.

“The ocean swims are important fund raisers for each surf club and all funds go towards the purchase and maintenance of essential life saving equipment. It’s a win/ win for the local community and the many visitors to Pittwater over the summer season as the beaches are kept safe,” John continued. 

The Pittwater Ocean Swim Series will again be giving swimmers, who complete three of the five swims, the opportunity to win a trip for two to Byron Bay, including air fares, courtesy of Travel View and three nights accommodation at the Bay Royal Apartments in Byron Bay. The prize includes entry for two to the Byron Bay Classic Ocean Swim.

Entries and details for the swims will be via each club’s website or at oceanswims.com

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thre good friends 600

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Entries online this weekend...

Sat'di, North Curly: Swim, biathlon, and Skins

north curl curl from point

There's something for everyone in this event: the Mile swim, the 3 Points Challenge biathlon, and the Skins, pitting the best of each event against each other in a series of dashes. The course of the 3 Points Challenge -- the biathlon that's been at the heart of this event for years now -- also is adjusted to avoid the problems offered by South Curl Curl in even the best of conditions.

North Curl Curl awgies reported today that conditions forecast for Saturday were looking "ideal"... Air temp 19-26, swell 3ft from the south, and water temp 21C.

Online entries close on oceanswims.com at 3pm on Friday, December 6. More info and to enter online... Click here 

Sundi, Stanwell Park: The Big Swim of the South

stanwell 0901

Awgies at Stanwell Park have reinstated "the Big Swim of the South" after an hiatus of three years. It's a journey swim beneath the Illawarra Escarpment worthy of the otherwise clichéd tag of "epic". Best to breathe left; if you breathe only right, you'll miss it all. This is one of the most spectacular swims you will ever do -- 2.3km along the foot of the Illawarra Escarpment.

There will be two Stanwell Park swims this season. This weekend's iteration is the postponed event from March 2019 -- last sesaon -- then there's planned to be the regular running in March 2020. All entries from last March's original date roll-over to this Sunday. Online entries are open again on oceanswims.com untll 3pm this Saturday.

More info and to enter online... Click here
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2020 oceanswimsafaris

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

March 12-16 – Coromandel New Zealand – A long weekend away in one of the most beautiful parts of the temperate Pacific, the Coromandel Peninsula. The feature event is the Cathedral Cove swim, but just being in this stunningly beautiful place is a tonic… Click here

May 12-21, and May 21-31 – French Polynesia -- Swim the Pacific; dine in Paris. That’s about it. Another stunningly beautiful paradise. We’ve already filled two oceanswimsafaris in 2020, although we have a spot now available for a single/twin/double on our first oceanswimsafari, May 12-21, 2020. Otherwise, you could take advantage of our Advance Deposit Scheme to book your place in 2021… Click here

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

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

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

July 20-28, July 27-August 4 – Tonga – Swim with Humpback Whales (above) – One of the most unusual, special experiences you can ever have swimming in the ocean. The humpbacks migrate over winter from Antarctica to Tonga to give birth and generally frolic around. Tonga is one of the few places in the world where we’re allowed to get in the water with the whales (under rules, of course)… Click here

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

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

October 20-25 - Mana Fiji SwimFest - Packages will be ready soon, so watch this space… Click here

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

Controversy Corner...

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

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

(See posts at the end of this newsletter.)

Swims open to online entry...

Coming soon...
  • Mar 8 - Wollongong (NSW)
  • Mar 9 - Port Noarlunga (SA)

newsletter divider clear bgrd

Advertise...

We email this newsletter to over 38,000 swimmers weekly in season, and less frequently out of season. If you'd like to advertise with us, please give us a yell.. Click here

If you're not receiving our emails...

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

Results...

For swim results... Click here

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

List your swim group...

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

Check our swim maps...

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

Buy gogs...

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

Check our back issues...

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

Subscribe

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

This newsletter...

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

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

November 27, 2019

fos scroll blank canvas 350

Emailed to more than 38,000 ocean swimmers
weekly in season.

glistener 191127 600
The good times, Bongin Bongin Bay, this morn. Image by @glistenrr 

Look below...

Swims this weekend...

The Art of Breathing

How are you breathing right now?

Any of us who did the now defunct Tama-Cloey swim in Sydney a few years back may be familiar with the experience of starting a swim in a difficult sea without having had the opportunity to warm up. And warming up isn't just about getting the blood flowing through your muscles; it's also about getting your breathing into gear. The Tama-Cloey swim, the last time it ran -- can't recall the exact year -- made us (os.c) realise how important it is to "warm-up", when each starting wave was caught in a heavy set of fast-breaking waves. We need to know more about our breathing; how to manage it; and how to handle suddenly being pinned below the surface by a set. As Corporal Jones would say, "Don't panic!!!". But as MIchaela Werner would say, it's all about managing your breathing... 

Taking a breath - it’s the very first thing we do when we’re born and the last thing we do before we die. Yet, very few people pay attention to how we breathe in our day to day lives. Simply put, most people take breathing for granted until they find themselves in situation when they’re gasping for air. But when you’re out there trying to negotiate the surf, you cannot ask the ocean to give you a few minute’s break to catch your breath!

The main purpose of breathing is to gain oxygen (O2) from the air and to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the body. The more you can control this process, the more control you’re going to feel when you find yourself under a wave. As you hold your breath, the CO2 raises in your blood - you feel “the urge to breathe”. If you suffer from chronically low levels of CO2 because you’re been shallow breathing most of your life, you can be almost certain that holding your breath, even for 10-20 seconds is going to feel very uncomfortable. When you swim in the ocean, your heart rate is elevated and CO2 raises rapidly, even 2 seconds of being held underwater are going to feel terrifying.

The good news is that you can train all these aspects, specially your CO2 tolerance. There are many types of CO2 training that you can do on land and in the water. The CO2 training will reduce your anxiety and increase your confidence in the ocean.

Even if you've been doing it all your life...

You might have been ocean swimming for 20+ years but you’re still not confident when it comes to negotiating surf. There is so much that you can do to change this. The key element is getting to know your body, preparation and training. Most people don’t spend any time on any of these elements, then wonder why they get out of breath so quickly.

These are the steps you should complete if you want to feel comfortable in the ocean in challenging situations --

  • Learn about your body and how breath influences your psychology and physiology
  • Practise breath-holding exercises on land and in controlled conditions (ocean pool/ swimming pool) with proper safety in place
  • Arrive at the beach early, well rested and hydrated. If you’re not hydrated, your blood can’t transport O2 efficiently.
  • Don’t eat anything at least 2h before getting into the ocean.
  • Stretch your whole body (regularly), especially before an ocean swim
  • Before getting wet, lay on your back and breathe slowly through your nose. Perform a few short (1m) breath-holds with wet towel over your face (to activate the dive reflex which slows down your heart rate).
  • Familiarise yourself with the beach - entry and exit points, rips, currents, wind and swell
  • Have the right equipment for the given conditions. Your 5mm wetsuit might be too thick for swimming in 17C water.

When you’ve completed most or all of these steps, you’ll be feeling ready and in control. If you have more questions than answers, I’d be happy to help you at the Workshop.

As a life long ocean swimmer and a Freediving Instructor, I’ve trained myself and others to dive 30m+ deep, to hold my breath for over 5 minutes and to swim more than 150m on a single breath. I body surf big waves and feel completely comfortable underwater. The Breath-Training Workshop for ocean swimmers is a short introduction to the art of breathing and breath training.

If you feel anxiety or panic when the conditions are more challenging, the good news is that you can increase your confidence in the ocean but it takes work and commitment. Taking the Breath-Training Workshop is the first step in this journey. So don’t your hold your breath for too long…

Michaela Werner is with apneaaustralia. These are some of her breath management workshops coming up -- 

  • Dec 7, Wylies Baths, Coogee
  • Dec 21, Ocean Beach SLSC, Central Coast
  • Jan 18, Wylies Baths, Coogee
  • Jan 19, Wylies Baths, Coogee

PS: This looks like an ad. But it's not paid. We reckon it would be useful for all of us to be able to manage our breathing better: os.c

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Glistening Dave's gift

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oceanswims calendar for 2020

Glistening Dave's oceanswims calendar is back by popular demand. Dave took a sabbatical in the last two years (yes, that's two sabbaticals, but Dave is no ordinary artiste), keeping his calendar only for close friends, relos, and some who just asked. But so many have asked, and he has so many regular calendees, that Dave has decided to go public once again.

Dave's calendar highlights some of his fave scenes from the previous 12 months. It carries pretty well every swim date, and is a daily inspiration to all ocean swimmers, everywhere.

The absolutely perfect Xmas present for the ocean swimmer, Dave's calendar will be despatched in late November-early December, but best order yours now... Click here

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New goggles - The rush continues

Selene Swipe, no fog

Our most popular gog, the View Selene, now has a revolutionary, hi-tech version offering anti-fog capacity that lasts 10 times as long as existing goggles, the makers say. The Selene Swipe has technology in its interior lens coating that allows you to clear fog from the lens simply by "swiping" your finger across it.

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

view 820ASA selene swipe 450We've been wearing our new Swipes for 21 swims so far (at the time of writing) hoping they will fog so that we can try the Swipe technology, but the stubborn things refuse to fog. On our last swim, there was a bit of fog, which went away instantly we swiped across it.

This is the third model of the Selene that we've added to our online store, after the regular Selenes and the Mirrored Selenes. We've sold a lot of swipes since we released them a week ago. Stocks available in Australia are severely limited at the moment, but we've bought up almost the entire current supply, especially of the more popular colours.

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

Selene Swipe comes in Blue (BL), Light Blue (CLB), Lavender (LV), Smoke (SK), Brown (BR).

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

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We all have a story

Lennie goes at 95

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Lennie Kean, in the days when he had both his legs, sets off for an #EarlyMorningSwim with the Forster Turtles. Pic by Michael Combe.

We've talked before about Lennie Kean, a Forster Turtle who died a month or so back. He was 95. For the last few years of his life, Lennie was wheelchair-bound, having lost one of his legs. Occasionally, the Turtles would roll Lennie down the beach in one of those big-wheeled beach wheelchairs because Lennie just wanted to float in the sea for a bit. He couldn't get down there himself any more.

Lennie was a bit of a bush poet later in life. Here's some of his stuff...

Me

I was born in Kempsey in 1924
Moved from Paddo to Marrickville in ‘34
In ’32, I was at the opening of the bridge
And that, my friend, is ridge didge.

There were no helicopters, jets or rockets
And we didn’t have much money in our pockets
The corner shop was where folks would meet
And the local butcher for our meat.
The milkman and the baker
All used horse-drawn carts
And Palmer St was the spot for Tilley Devine’s tarts.

There was the man selling clothes props
And the rabbito, too
One rabbit for 6 pence, 9 pence for two
The hotels would open at 6am
And close of an evening at 6pm.

I know what it is to be young
To have travelled and had lots of fun
So being old is not so sad.

I’ve been good and sometimes bad
I’ve shared love with some wonderful girls
Blondes, brunettes, and others with curls.
I know I am nearing my final days
So no long term planning
Trips away.

LK

forster keen haywood 300Two sides to Lennie: Pic by Kim Haywood.

Russell "8 Toes" Jackson told of the last time he saw Lennie before he died. Lennie was finding it difficult to breathe. It seemed to both the end couldn't be far away. Russell left, and he said goodbye. Lennie opened and closed his fingers a few times, much as little kids do when they're waving. Goodbye.

Russell said he went outside the nursing home, and he bawled.

A couple of weeks back, the Turtles scattered Lennie's ashes off the beach before one of their early morning swims. They gathered around, behind the break, in a circle. Russell said a few words, and the mob got a bit teary.

And Russell read another of Lennie's poems, which he'd written for this day, as you'll see...

When?

I made arrangements today
For the day I pass away
I can’t tell you now
When that will be.
I am hoping about ten years
At around ¼ - 2-3
I have looked at coffins
They all look nice
That is until
They tell you the price

I told the undertaker
I want to be burnt
Even a chaff bag
What would that be worth?
Can’t be done, was his reply.
I tell you, it’s cheaper to live
Than to die.

Jacko will pick up my ashes
And scatter them over the sea
So go to the toilet before you swim.
I don’t want you weeing on me.

Leonard K.

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Entries online this weekend...

Narrabeen: I'm sorry, I'll try that again

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Narrabeen, Saturday

Early season Saturday swim, now in its 9th year. There are two distances, 800m and 1.8km, which means it offers a good entry distance for less experienced swimmers who want to build their experience in the sea. Good opportunity to gain experience in handling beach breaks, too: Narrabeen is a wide open beach with banks, gutters, rips, etc. It's a lot of fun.

This event was postponed due to conditions on the orginally scheduled race day of November 2. Here's hoping for a better day this Sat'dee.

All entries from the original date roll-over to this Saturday.

Online entries to the Narrabeen swim close on oceanswims.com at 3pm on Friday, November 29... Click here

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Cronulla, Sunday

A multi-sport carnival now in its eighth year run by the Bate Bay surf life saving clubs with the suppoort of the local MP and Prime Minister, Scott Morrison. The program includes ocean swims over two distances, this season run from North Cronulla beach. The change in venue from South Cronulla is due to works at the previous venue.

Note the new date: this season, this event switches from November to the first Sunday in December.

Online entries to the Cook Community Classic close on oceanswims.com at 3pm on Saturday, November 30... Click here

The next biggie - Bondi-Bronte, Sunday

bronte beach sculptures by sea

Awgies say -

A classic course in Sydney's eastern suburbs and a definite inclusion on every ocean swimmers bucket list. Starting off at Bondi, following the coast south past the headland at Mark’s Park and Tamarama. The break at the finish at Bronte can be a challenge which makes it even more of an achievement to complete.

The break at Bondi at the start can be difficult, with shifting banks, gutters and rips. It's deceived more than a few backpackers over the years. And the break at the finish at Bronte is never straightforward if there is any kind of swell, which, the organisers say, makes it even more of an achievement to complete.

More info and enter online... Click here

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This 'n that...

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The 10km swimmers at Mana Island, Can Too, Grimsey, and more.

Can Too 10km swimmers raise $65k

The first inaugural Can Too 10km program was completed at Mana Island in October. The pod, who'd trained through winter to get to their 10km capacity, raised $65,000 for cancer research through the program. 

Interesting to hear, too, that the cost of running the 10km squad at Can Too came from funds raised by the Too Cans, the Can Too quintet who swam the English Channel this season past. The Too Cans themselves raised almost $34,000, which means both programs together raised around $100,000.

Valuable stuff. Let's hope it continues.

No Berry, Bridge this season

Here's a long-standing tradition broken: Penrith Swimming Club in Sydney's west have announced they will not be holding the Berry Rickards 5km and the Bridge to Bridge Swim 2.5km this season because the Regatta Centre near Penrith does not have "a suitable date available"... Click here

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How to...

Straits of Gibraltar

Marathon swimming is all the go these days. It takes a special kind of swimmer to commit to the training and the resources to do it. The English Channel is very popular, perhaps more so than it's ever been. So are the crossings around Santa Catalina Island off the southern coast of California. But there are some channel crossings that are lesser known. One such is the Strait of Gibraltar. The water is warmer, it's a bit shorter than many other better known crossings. It gives you the opportunity to swim between Europe and Africa, which is certainly something worth bragging about in the pub. Here's a guide to swimming the Strait of Gibraltar... Click here

 

2020 oceanswimsafaris

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Swim with whales in Tonga.

March 12-16 – Coromandel New Zealand – A long weekend away in one of the most beautiful parts of the temperate Pacific, the Coromandel Peninsula. The feature event is the Cathedral Cove swim, but just being in this stunningly beautiful place is a tonic… Click here

May 12-21, and May 21-31 – French Polynesia -- Swim the Pacific; dine in Paris. That’s about it. Another stunningly beautiful paradise. We’ve already filled two oceanswimsafaris in 2020, although we have a spot now available for a single/twin/double on our first oceanswimsafari, May 12-21, 2020. Otherwise, you could take advantage of our Advance Deposit Scheme to book your place in 2021… Click here

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

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

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A tender scene by la Concha, San Sebastián.

July 20-28, July 27-August 4 – Tonga – Swim with Humpback Whales (above) – One of the most unusual, special experiences you can ever have swimming in the ocean. The humpbacks migrate over winter from Antarctica to Tonga to give birth and generally frolic around. Tonga is one of the few places in the world where we’re allowed to get in the water with the whales (under rules, of course)… Click here

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

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

October 20-25 - Mana Fiji SwimFest - Packages will be ready soon, so watch this space… Click here

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

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Turns Out Swimming in the Sea Is Actually Kind of Bad for You

Stomach bugs, ear aches and more await you in the ocean

Did you know, "Australia's coasts are subject to rubbish, sewage, industrial waste, storm water and dredging"?... Better not go in, then... This piece is from vice.com 

Dunking around in the sea can feel like a rebirth: you emerge virtuous, salty, and oblivious to your existential angst for five beautiful minutes at least.

But people who swim, "bathe" or play water sports in the sea are substantially more likely to get stomach bugs, ear aches and other infections than those who don't, according to a large-scale research analysis by the University of Exeter Medical School.

The analysis found that swimming in the sea doubled the odds of reporting "general ear ailments", with the odds of reporting an earache specifically rising by 77 percent. For gastrointestinal illnesses, the odds increased by 29 percent. Not putting your head under makes no difference, either.

Going by strict inclusion criteria such as scale, researchers drew data from 19 out of a potential 6,919 studies. The studies looked at the links between sea bathing and the incidence of illness in countries including Australia, New Zealand, the US, Denmark, and Norway.

Australia's coasts are subject to rubbish, sewage, industrial waste, storm water and dredging. According to a 2013 study, each square kilometre of our sea surface is contaminated by around 4,000 pieces of "tiny plastics", which are all "loaded with pollutants".

People tend to assume developed nations have cleaner seas, writes Dr Anne Leonard of the University of Exeter Medical School. However, "We think this [data analysis] indicates that pollution is still an issue affecting swimmers in some of the world's richest countries."

Dr Will Gaze, who supervised the research, said: “We don’t want to deter people from going into the sea, which has many health benefits ... However, it is important that people are aware of the risks so they can make informed decisions."

Most people will recover from infections without medical treatment, Gaze added, but they can be more dangerous when contracted by vulnerable people like the very old or young, or people with pre-existing health conditions. "We have come a long way in terms of cleaning up our waters, but our evidence shows there is still work to be done," he said.

Controversy Corner...

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

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

(See posts at the end of this newsletter.)

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Swims open to online entry...

Coming soon...
  • Mar 9 - Port Noarlunga (SA)

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Advertise...

We email this newsletter to over 38,000 swimmers weekly in season, and less frequently out of season. If you'd like to advertise with us, please give us a yell.. Click here

If you're not receiving our emails...

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

Results...

For swim results... Click here

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

List your swim group...

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

Check our swim maps...

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

Buy gogs...

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

Check our back issues...

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

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

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November 20, 2019

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Emailed to more than 38,000 ocean swimmers
weekly in season.

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Barwon Greg disappears down the face of a wave, Forster. 

Look below...

Swims this weekend...

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Annals of Squad

Be flexible, do drill

There are a number of beauties to swimming squad. One is that you get to have a Xmas dinner at the end of the year when squad breaks up. Another is that you get to appreciate all that much more the mornings when you don’t have to get up at 5am for squad. Yet another is that it gives you time to think. Your mobile doesn’t ring; your emails don’t beep at you; no-one can get in your ear when you’re schlepping back and forth doing your laps. You don’t get in trouble for going down to the carpark in bare feet, for example.

There are other benefits, too. You can inch towards what Coach Sandra used to say was the purpose of swim training: to swim faster, with less effort. So much of this depends on you, of course; and, of course, on the quality of your coach.

Some coaches will just put you through a program, perhaps spending a good part of the time when you’re out from the wall on phone calls; perhaps checking the TAB (the betting shop, for the younger ones amongst us… We know one who did exactly this); not noticing when eejits from other lanes cross yours to get out of the pool just when the squad is coming in to turn.

Some coaches will put you through a program, pay attention to your effort, but will say nothing about your stroke, maybe because, when they go to bed that night, they’re still trying to work out what they saw. The best coaches, the real coaches, will put you through a program, pay attention to your effort, assess your stroke, talk to you about it, and perhaps spend a few bonus minutes at the start or end of each session talking to you about your own particular stroke issues.

forster bushfires 191113 450

We spent Bushfire Week in Forster. This is sunset over the lake.

Listen up

Mark our words, everyone needs a good talking to about their stroke. We don’t care who they are or whom you are: The coach who doesn’t do this, who doesn’t notice, who doesn’t understand, is not really coaching at all. You may as well have as your coach some novice fresh off the boat, the depression marks from their backpack just off their shoulders still red and warm, just as happened to us at Crummy Drummy some years ago. So thick was this character’s accent that we had to get him to repeat himself several times to work out what he was saying. “Say it again!” Allegedly, he was speaking English, and we discovered later that he had no coaching qualifications. He was just a kid whom the pool had hired as a swim instructor for little children, whom they sent down to take our squad because they had no real coach that day. We sent him packing.

Mark our words, too: you can talk forever about stroke. It is the world’s most fascinating and engrossing subject, (unless you’re Glistening Dave, who couldn’t give a tinker’s cuss about stroke; he swims on heart).

Stroke is what drill is all about. We love, love, love drill. Coach Sandra also used to say that drill was breaking down the stroke into all its component parts, working on a particular part, then reassembling it again towards a better stroke. Ever since she told us that – for we always did whatever Coach Sandra said, as did everyone in her squads, all of whom counted themselves lucky to be in the lane beneath her – we have loved drill and we have done it even when swimming by ourselves, out of squad.

When we say drill inches you towards a better stroke, in our case we mean it. In 20-odd years of squad as a grown-up, we reckon our stroke has changed by about an inch (2.54cm for the younger amongst us), but our speed remains hardly different. But during squad this morning, about a third of the way down a return lap, we reckon we had an epiphany.

We have been aware for some time that we probably don’t finish off our strokes strongly enough. We go through the movement, but do we finish with a flourish, to give us run as the arm recovers? When we think about it, we can. But the trick with training is to learn all this stuff so that it becomes a natural and an inherent part of your stroke, so that you do it without having to think about it. Anyway, guilt about not finishing off strongly enough all the time flashed across our mind’s eye, just before we passed beneath the water poloism rope almost halfway down the pool. Then we thought, why is this so?

Scatter-brained

It’s extraordinary how the mind leaps from concept to concept, from relativity to relativity, usually quite differently each time to dwell on any particular subject. Anyway, this time, we made an enormous leap from flourish guilt to another image in our mind’s eye, of a photograph we saw many years ago of Josh Santacaterina, about the time Josh was World 25km Champeen. The image was taken from underwater – we may even have taken it ourselves – and Josh was reaching out to grab at the start of a stroke. The thing that struck us about it at the time, at first subliminally then more consciously as it sunk in, was the bend in Josh’s wrist as he reached out to grab. It bent upwards as his hand curled downwards. It occurred to us, one of the big differences between them and us – perhaps the key difference that has stopped us representing Strã’a internationally – is that swimmers like Josh are flexible, whereas we are not.

We got to think not just about our wrist, but about our neck and our shoulders. To be an ocean swimmer, you need to be able to sight without stopping. This means, you need to lift your head long enough to spot the target booee without losing pace or destroying your streamline. How many of us can do that? Usually, we take three or four sights, each time eliminating directions and homing in on where the booee actually is. It’s a trial-and-error sighting.

You also need to be able to reach out in front comfortably so that you can get that grab, which means your shoulders need flex. Most older gits can’t do that. Their shoulders don’t flex enough to reach straight out. They can reach ahead and down, but to reach straight out, they must lift their shoulder, which also means disrupting the streamline, and probably dropping the other shoulder in counter-balance. When we lift our arms “straight up”, we can’t easily get dead straight. Our natural “straight arm” is off the perpendicular by maybe 10 degrees. To get 0 degrees, we really must strain, and if you have to concentrate that much on it, then you’re not relaxed and it’s not natural. And, as we all know, the real key to swimming proper is to be relaxed. That was the other thing that Coach Sandra used to say: to swim faster with less effort meant that you had to be relaxed. 

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This is not Josh Santacaterina. It's an image from the Marian pool's website in Dublin. But you start to get the idea about flexibility in the shoulder and wrist.

Clear the snozz

Another example of flexibility and relaxation is with breathing. We heard a program on the wireless the other night featuring our friend, Coach Charm, who was taking questions from punters on stroke. One punter asked about the need to breathe “into the trough”. Now, everyone knows that the right way to breathe is subliminal: as your trailing arm recovers, and as your leading arm grabs, your upper body rotates, your shoulders come around, and your head comes with them. As your head comes around, you need only an extra little turn, so slight that it’s imperceptible, easy with the shoulders turning anyway, to get your mouth and your snozz around far enough clear of the water to breathe. With momentum through the water, your head leaves a “trough” in its wake, a furrow in the water, which gives you room to breathe in without lifting your head out of the water, and without turning it forcefully or in an exaggerated way. It’s painful to see some swimmers – many swimmers – throwing their heads around to breathe. They must be doing terrible damage to their necks, as well as destroying their streamline. They’re the swimmers who are probably thinking about it too much, because their flexibility is letting them down and they’re not relaxed.

Mind you, some punters really just don't have it. At squad this morn, Coach Christina had us doing backstroke kick with arms outstretched ahead of us, which means over our heads. One of us, a youngish bloke who carries no weight, could not get his hands better than a diamond shape over his head. He simply couldn't do it, he said, because he wasn't flexible enough. Many of the squad kicked as they were riding a bicycle. This, too, is flexibility. The kick comes from the hips and flows through supple legs. Bicycle kicks, with the knees coming out of the water, meant the hips weren't flexible. Kicking, too, is a natural function of the body, done best when not considered at all.

The moral of this story is flexibility. It is: Do yoga.

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daves calendar 250 puffGlistening Dave's gift

oceanswims calendar back for 2020

Glistening Dave's oceanswims calendar is back by popular demand. Dave took a sabbatical in the last two years (that's two sabbaticals), keeping his calendar only for close friends, relos, and some who just asked. But so many have asked, and he has so many regular calendees, that Dave has decided to go public once again.

Dave's calendar highlights some of his fave scenes from the previous 12 months. It carries pretty well every swim date, and is a daily inspiration to all ocean swimmers, everywhere.

The absolutely perfect Xmas present for the ocean swimmer, Dave's calendar will be despatched in late November-early December, but best order yours now... Click here

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New goggles

Selene Swipe, no fog

Our most popular gog, the View Selene, now has a revolutionary, hi-tech version offering anti-fog capacity that lasts 10 times as long as existing goggles, the makers say. The Selene Swipe has technology in its interior lens coating that allows you to clear fog from the lens simply by "swiping" your finger across it.

view 820ASA selene swipe 450We've been wearing our new Swipes for 21 swims so far (at the time of writing) hoping they will fog so that we can try the Swipe technology, but the stubborn things refuse to fog. On our last swim, there was a bit of fog, which went away instantly we swiped across it.

This is the third model of the Selene that we've added to our online store, after the regular Selenes and the Mirrored Selenes. We'll be selling them this Sunday at the Coogee swim in Sydney, too.

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

Selene Swipe comes in Blue (BL), Light Blue (CLB), Lavender (LV), Smoke (SK), Brown (BR).

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

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Entries online this weekend...

The start of the biggies

Two good swims this weekend to which entries are open online on oceanswims.com...

toowoonaerial

Toowoon Bay, Saturday

Family oriented swim on a very protected beach on the NSW Central Coast. Toowoon Bay sits neatly inside a reef bowl, protected by outcrops to the north and the south, so whilst you get some rolling water, the effect of the waves is softened by the reef. It's a very pretty body of water. And it's so family-oriented that this is the only swim that we know of that offers event t-shirts in children's sizes. This is an excellent event for new swimmers wanting experience in the ocean and for younger swimmers and less confident swimmers. And it's good for experienced swimmers, who can get a good, hard 1km or 2km in in relatively friendly water, or a 400m for kids and grown-ups alike. 

Online entries to the Toowoon Bay swim close on oceanswims.com at 3pm on Friday, November 22... Click here

coogee island challenge 2014 01

Wedding Cake, Coogee, Sunday

Sunday is the first of the biggies: it's your chance to swim around Wedding Cake Island off Coogee. This is one of the most spectacular swims on the circuit. Even if you don't do the long swim over 2.4km around the island, the 1km one runs out to the island and you still get very much the feel of it.

Knowing that the water has been a little cool lately, Coogee awgies say -

Coogee Island Challenge, Sunday November 24th from 8:30am.

Online entries close this Saturday. The most efficient, and cheapest way to enter is online at oceanswims.com

Weather is expected to be mild and the water temperature looks to be warming up well above 16 degrees, but an official reading will be taken this Saturday. Temps below 16 will allow wetsuits (and prizes), and below 14, wetsuits are mandatory
Timing bracelets are mandatory for this event. Swimmers who fail to return the timing bracelet, whether competing or not, will be liable to search and rescue costs.

Coogee Surf Life Saving Club reserves the right to alter the course or cancel the event should conditions change before or during the event. There are no reimbursements if the event is cancelled or modified on the day.

Updates on the day will be posted in Facebook https://www.facebook.com/CoogeeIslandChallenge/

You will also get updates through the normal channels from oceanswims.com.

Remember, you can Double Up and enter both Coogee swims at the same time -- the other is their autumn swim on April 5 -- and receive a heavy discount on swim entry, as low as $23.75 for each swim if you do all four events over the two weekends.

Online entries to the Island Challenge at Coogee close on oceanswims.com at 3pm on Saturday, November 23... Click here 

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Postcard from the Pool

Mindfulness, swimming, and good technique (or, money for old rope)

goble sally dinkusSally Goble

Friday morning. The facilitator suggests we practice ‘mindfulness’ to relieve our stresses. Talking to us in a calm, measured tone, they instruct us to concentrate on breathing “Close your eyes and … Breathe…”. “Notice your feet, your legs, your stomach” — and so on. Yes, Yes! I think, impatiently. It’s so bloody fashionable. In this anodyne room, at work, flanked by colleagues, I’m irritated. This does nothing for me.

Two weeks ago. “Bilateral breathing only, Sally, from now on.” Ray, my technique coach, chastises me with a light frown. He looks frustrated by my obstinacy and inability to change. Twenty or more years of bad habits are kicking my ass.

My body has an imaginary line drawn down my middle from the top of my head to my toes. A vertical axis. When swimming, everything to the right of the vertical line — the side where I breathe — is broken. My head rolls too far out of the water when, every four strokes, I breathe; my body rolls to follow my head; my arm swings… and pauses at the catch, and lollops. The left side of my body jerks and spasms in response to pull me back to the centre line. It’s a car crash. I weave my lopsided way down the pool. Attempts to break habits have seemed impossible until now. I have tried hard to bend my body to my will but twenty years of repetition have seared into my brain a way of moving that feels resistant to change. My body and brain defy me. I’m wearied by it.

But Ray looked so stern.

The day after my session with Ray, I’m back in the pool. Right now. I’m starting right now. I promise. From now on I will only breathe bilaterally.

I start swimming and force myself to breathe to the left as well as to the right. From breathing every four strokes I’m now breathing every three. As I breathe to the left side, the other side, —the wrong side — suddenly something clicks! It feels easy to breathe to the left. Easier than the right. WTF?

Excited and impatient, I analyse my stroke down that vertical axis with my mind’s eye — comparing one side to the other. Left is controlled and measured and relaxed, light and easy. Right is a shambles. Still.

As I swim up and down I am completely aware of everything I’m doing, of the order and sequence of every glide, every catch, every pull, every breathe, every recovery, the feel of the water, the length of my stroke, the feelings in my shoulder, the position of my head when I breathe. I deconstruct it. I compare my left side and right side and try to figure out what is right and what is wrong; figure out what to throw out and what to keep. I have no idea. Nothing is symmetrical. And yet, within two sessions, I am swimming about 10 seconds faster per 100m. I feel giddy with excitement. Finally!

I don’t need to be cajoled into counting my exhalations and told to concentrate on my bloody toes by a stranger in a room with my colleagues. Right here, right now, as I swim up and down for hours, concentrating on every movement my wretched asymmetrical body is making, I couldn’t be more ‘mindful’ if I tried. Every second I am aware. Every movement, every sensation, counts. It’s exhausting and brilliant. Thanks Ray.

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forster turtles 191115 01 600
The Forster Turtles swam with sharks last Friday. Here they are, milling about behind the break, trying to decide which way to swim to minimise the risk. They went east, right into a Great White. But we all survived.

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Notes & Queries

Our piece on Bilateralism -- bilateral breathing -- in our last newsletter prompted this response from medlist Kaz Boskovic...

It’s certainly a shortcoming of a lot of pool swimmers trying to compete in the ocean: they have their one side to breathe to and can’t find rhythm in the chop.

Not sure if my two cents is worth much, but the main thing I see with swimmers breathing to their weak side is a loss of coordination through their core and hips. More exaggerated when they tire, too. I think the average punter can drastically improve their "balance" with a small amount of extracurricular core training. The dead bug exercise is fantastic for it...

Wolfgang Brummer asked in our last newsletter - 

Is an ocean pool water colder in the morning than the ocean water outside of the pool?
 
Love to know the scientific answer.
 
Reply from Richard Stewart...

If there is no fresh water entering an ocean or rock pool overnight particularly on a cool or cold evening, the pool cools down by convection.

Other words, the warmest water moves to the surface, is cooled by the air temp and so on during the cool night until the water temp is close to the air temp. BRRR

 

newsletter divider clear bgrd2020 oceanswimsafaris

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

March 12-16 – Coromandel New Zealand – A long weekend away in one of the most beautiful parts of the temperate Pacific, the Coromandel Peninsula. The feature event is the Cathedral Cove swim, but just being in this stunningly beautiful place is a tonic… Click here

May 12-21, and May 21-31 – French Polynesia -- Swim the Pacific; dine in Paris. That’s about it. Another stunningly beautiful paradise. We’ve already filled two oceanswimsafaris in 2020, although we have a spot now available for a single/twin/double on our first oceanswimsafari, May 12-21, 2020. Otherwise, you could take advantage of our Advance Deposit Scheme to book your place in 2021… Click here

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

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

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

July 20-28, July 27-August 4 – Tonga – Swim with Humpback Whales (above) – One of the most unusual, special experiences you can ever have swimming in the ocean. The humpbacks migrate over winter from Antarctica to Tonga to give birth and generally frolic around. Tonga is one of the few places in the world where we’re allowed to get in the water with the whales (under rules, of course)… Click here

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

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

October 20-25 - Mana Fiji SwimFest - Packages will be ready soon, so watch this space… Click here

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

Controversy Corner...

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

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

(See posts at the end of this newsletter.)

Swims open to online entry...

Loading now...
  • Jan 5 - Yamba (NSW)
  • Jan 12 - Bilgola (NSW)
  • Jan 12 - North Bondi (NSW)
  • Feb 9 - North Bondi (NSW)
  • Feb 16 - Malabar (NSW)

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forster turtles 191113 01 600
The engine room, Forster.

Advertise...

We email this newsletter to over 38,000 swimmers weekly in season, and less frequently out of season. If you'd like to advertise with us, please give us a yell.. Click here

If you're not receiving our emails...

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

Results...

For swim results... Click here

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

List your swim group...

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

Buy gogs...

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

Check our back issues...

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

Subscribe

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

This newsletter...

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

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November 8, 2019

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Emailed to more than 38,000 ocean swimmers
weekly in season.


bongin dhd 191106 600
We're still getting used to daylight saving. Image by Glistening Dave @glistenrr... Order Dave's oceanswims calendar 2020 in time for Xmas... Click here

Look below...

Swims this weekend...

The Golden Skill

Bilateralism - You're never too old

glistener french polynesia sharks 600
April, from Glistening Dave's oceanswims calendar 2020. 

So we were chatting with a friend on Twitter who has been teaching herself to breathe bilaterally. She (@SallyGoble) tweeted, inter alia, “Teetering on the edge of a breakthrough after 20 years (& many 100s of miles) of breathing to one side…”

In response to someone tweeting back, she said, “I’ve never been taught properly how to swim… Taught myself. Trying to compensate for getting older (therefore slower, creakier) by investing some time in better stroke…

“I have always been fine swimming breathing every 4 in the sea. Never been a problem. And have always been injury free. But getting old the niggles start and slowing down – so good technique is more essential…

And crucially, “Never said I was too old!”

Ah, yes: “Never said I was too old”!

That’s one of the things that sets Sally apart from many other swimmers. She doesn’t believe that she is so set in her ways, that she is so “old”, that she can’t learn something new, particularly something so fundamentally, even profoundly different from decades of habit, that she can’t have a go. And it seems that she’s getting there.

We will tell any swimmer we’re talking to that they should teach themselves to breathe bilaterally. The most common response is, “I’m too old”. Why? Muscles can’t retain the memory? Can’t be retrained? Won’t allow you to turn your head a particular way? Too stubborn?

The answer generally masks a reluctance to try new things; to do things differently from the way you’ve done them for years, and you’re not going to change for anyone, you silly old duffer. So the answer is the last one: you’re too stubborn.

Golden

Bilateral breathing is handy for any swimmer, but to us ocean swimmers, it’s a Golden Skill, along with such talents as reading a break, body surfing, sighting, swimming in a bumptious peloton, managing cossie rash, finding that pace that you can sustain, and knowing where the vineyards are en route to a country swim. And bilateral breathing is one of those stroke issues that you can teach yourself without the need for intervention by one of those pesky coaches.

Why is it a “golden skill” for ocean swimmers? Because of swell, chop and wind, all those things that those who are strictly pool swimmers know very little about, because they’re cossetted, protected by pool design elements such as wet edges and lane ropes with baffles, and maybe even a lane to themselves. Poor petals. It must be a shock to them to get into real water and have to deal with “the elements”. Let’s not forget, ocean swimming is the original swimming. There were ocean swimmers before public pools were invented (we’ll bet Lord Byron never swam in a 50m Olympic pool, but he still swam across the Hellespont, regularly. Mind you, blokes will do lots of remarkable things if there’s booty on the other side, as did Byron). Ocean swimming is what it’s all about; not this namby pamby stuff that pools encourage.

To swim bilaterally is to have choice as to which side you breathe when the swell, chop and wind are in your face and down your cakehole. Imagine a windy day that’s blown up the chop and it’s from a direction that fills your eyes, nose and mouth each time you roll to breathe. How good to be able to turn your face away and still breathe comfortably. How good, too, to see the return this season of the Stanwell Park Ocean Challenge, which runs from Coalcliff to Stanwell Park along some of the most spectacular coastline in Strã’a, the Illawarra Escarpment, south to north. If you’re a left-breather, you watch the coastline cruise past; if you’re a right-breather, you miss the lot, maybe even including the finish.

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Bilateral breathing is not the only thing that boofheads must be alert to. Image from yourswimlog.com

Us

We were always monolateral breathers, ourselves, but we taught ourselves to breathe bilaterally about 30 years ago. It was during early morning swims at the Phillip Pool in Canberra. Well, there wasn’t much else to do in Canberra in those days, apart from conspire in late night bars. So we had a bit of time to work on it. And there weren’t many swimmers in the Phillip Pool in early mornings, so we had a bit of space.

Whilst we had grown up in the ocean, it wasn’t ocean swimming that prompted us to convert. In Canberra, we were one of those predominately pool swimmers. We did swim in Lake Burley Griffin. Once. We took part in Canberra’s first triaffalon, which was a swim leg in Yarralumla Bay, then a bike twice around the lake, and finally a run along the lake and back. That was a story in itself. Suffice that it took weeks to get the taste of the lake out of our mouths.

This was the lake, after all, which, during heavy rains in winter 1974, washed away a good part of the Queanbeyan cemetery upstream and deposited it all in the lake. They were finding cadavers and parts of cadavers along the river for weeks afterwards. There was a story about a Commonwealth police officer who was walking across the Kings Ave Bridge when he thought he saw a swimmer in difficulty. So he dived in, swam over, and pulled an arm off.

This is by the by. It just happened to be in Canberra that we taught ourselves to bilateralism, but Canberra was a good place to do it.

We taught ourselves to breathe bilaterally because we had a bad back and a bad neck, and we thought bilateral breathing might even us up a bit; strengthen muscles and free up discs that had become used to the one, biased movement since childhood.

The surprise for us was that it wasn’t that hard to learn. It took a bit of time, so you must persist. And you need to relax. As with most new things, the fear of them is enough to prevent them, in that trying new things without some confidence will tense the muscles and make it harder to learn. Your body must be relaxed and it must be as supple as you can make it. Easier said than done for old gits, of course.

We didn’t try with any particular drills or tips. It was awkward, but we gradually grew used to the movement, and the co-ordination followed. But there are some drills that might help.

Boofheads

F’zample, get yourself a kickboard, or a pull booee that you can use as a kick board, and swim single-arm onto the board/booee breathing only to your unnatural side. That way, by breathing constantly to one side, you’re not confusing your body by switching continuously between your natural side and your unnatural side, and there is plenty of time between strokes that you have time to relax and focus on doing the unnatural movement. There is a side benefit to this in that you will have to kick, perhaps more than you normally would (if you’re a boofhead, it’s certainly more than you normally would because boofheads don’t kick at all).

You can achieve a similar effect by swimming full catch-up, ie you leave your leading arm out there in front till the recovering arm catches up with it, whereupon your leading arm pulls through, and your recovering arm stays out in front, becoming your leading arm, until the other arm recovers. This also gives you time to manage the unnatural movement. In this case, you can breathe both sides, bilaterally, with plenty of time to adjust between movements.

It's important to be aware of your head position: the temptation with an unnatural action is to lift your head. If you do this, your feet will drop and you will lose your streamline. The way to keep your head down is to stay relaxed, your neck and shoulders loose.

This is not to say that, once you’ve taught yourself to breathe bilaterally, you need do it all the time. Those who were taught proper as urchins often swim to a constant bilateral breathing rhythm. Mrs Sparkle is one of these. It helps you to maintain an even stroke, which helps with direction as well as body balance and bias.

glistener narrabeen 600
A bit derivative here, from Glistening Dave's oceanswims calendar 2020.

Preach

We rarely swim bilaterally ourselves. We like to get more air, so, especially whilst warming up, we swim two-stroke, breathing every stroke to one side or t’other. We’ll go up the pool breathing right, say, then back breathing left. That way, too, the coach can’t catch your eye and you’re left to swim in peace. But when we want and need to, we can swim three-stroke, or five-stroke, or even seven-stroke, the longer between breaths as the swim goes on and we’re well and truly warmed.

The notable thing to us, too, is that our stroke is profoundly different depending on whether we’re breathing right or left. Indeed, our left arm by itself is different breathing towards the arm than it is breathing away from the arm. Ditto, our right arm.

Dim

We have tried to discuss this with coaches, but we have yet to find one that gets what we mean. They will generally look at your stroke for a few strokes, then turn away to something else, oblivious to the need to compare the strokes from different perspectives, over a bit of time, and different breathing directions, thus to offer training advice intended to assist the stroke to improve. Breathing towards the arm generally means our recovery is wider on that arm than if we are breathing away from it. This is important, especially for us uneducated swimmers, because wide arms, which connote boofheadedness, as well as water poloism, also lead to fishtailing, which means you’re losing your streamline, your shoulders will drop, and your pulling arms will tend to come across your body.

All this reminds us of what we’ve long believed: swimming, when broken into all it’s component phases, is more complicated than golf. But, as our old coach at Sutho, Coach Sandra, used to put it, drill is important because it allows you to isolate each of those different phases, practise their improvement, then put them all back together again in a better stroke. This is why we love drill; we find it fascinating. Breathing is just another component of the stroke. Do not be afraid of it.

Mind you, it hasn’t made us a better swimmer over the years, judging by results. But it does allow us to breathe away from the chop. And it gives us something to proselytise about.

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    There's a link below to confirm your unsubscribe, but be aware that if we need to contact you in relation to swim that you've entered (eg a cancellation/postonement/change in venue), you may still receive an email from us as part of an event-focussed communication.

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    Entries online this weekend...

    Slide along the beaches to Collaroy

    collaroy pano 2011

    Early season swim on Sydney's northern beaches. Collaroy is a revelation. It's an open beach, but it's nestled inside the northern corner of Long Reef headland. The course is a circuit over patches of reef with lots of sea life. It really is a lovely swim.

    And, new this year, a 300m swim for kids aged 8-10.

    Find out more and enter online… Click here

    Narrabeen postponed

    Last Sat'dee's Narrabeen swim was called off due to horrendous sea and wind conditions on swim day. But it's been reschedueld to Saturday, November 30. Online entries have reopened, and carry over to the new date.

    Find out more and enter online… Click here

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    daves calendar 250 puffIt's back!! Glistening Dave's calendar

    Now you'll really know what day it is

    This also is back by popular demand, Glistening Dave's oceanswims calendar. Dave took a sabbatical in the last two years (that's two sabbaticals), keeping his calendar only for close friends, relos, and some who just asked. But so many have asked, and he has so many regular calendees, that Dave has decided to go public once again.

    Dave's calendar highlights some of his fave scenes from the previous 12 months. It carries most swim dates -- as many as we can get at the time of publication -- and is a daily inspiration to all ocean swimmers, everywhere.

    The absolutely perfect Xmas present for the ocean swimmer, Dave's calendar will be despatched early-mid December, but you can order yours now... Click here

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    Notes & Queries

    A couple of questions from random swimmers - 

    From Peter Nickless - 

    Are Jammers fair dinkum for ocean swim races?  Like to know what others think.

    From Wolfgang Brunner - 

    Is an ocean pool water colder in the morning than the ocean water outside of the pool?
     
    Love to know the scientific answer.

    Tell us your answers... Click here

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    Back in Ballina

    Good news re the Shaws Bay swim in Ballina: we hear it will restart this season. We have no details yet, but we've been contacted by an energetic new organiser whom we know to be a solid cove. 

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    2020 oceanswimsafaris

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

    March 12-16 – Coromandel New Zealand – A long weekend away in one of the most beautiful parts of the temperate Pacific, the Coromandel Peninsula. The feature event is the Cathedral Cove swim, but just being in this stunningly beautiful place is a tonic… Click here

    May 12-21, and May 21-31 – French Polynesia -- Swim the Pacific; dine in Paris. That’s about it. Another stunningly beautiful paradise. We’ve already filled two oceanswimsafaris in 2020, although we have a spot now available for a single/twin/double on our first oceanswimsafari, May 12-21, 2020. Otherwise, you could take advantage of our Advance Deposit Scheme to book your place in 2021… Click here

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

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

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

    July 20-28, July 27-August 4 – Tonga – Swim with Humpback Whales (above) – One of the most unusual, special experiences you can ever have swimming in the ocean. The humpbacks migrate over winter from Antarctica to Tonga to give birth and generally frolic around. Tonga is one of the few places in the world where we’re allowed to get in the water with the whales (under rules, of course)… Click here

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

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

    October 20-25 - Mana Fiji SwimFest - Packages will be ready soon, so watch this space… Click here

    October 26-Nov 2 - Yasawas Fiji -  Packages will be ready soon, so watch this space… Click here

    Controversy Corner...

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

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

    (See posts at the end of this newsletter.)

    Swims open to online entry...

    Loading now...
    • Apr 5 - Balmoral (NSW)
    Coming soon...
    • Jan 12 - North Bondi (NSW)
    • Feb 9 - North Bondi (NSW)
    • Feb 16 - Malabar (NSW)

    newsletter divider clear bgrd

    Advertise...

    We email this newsletter to over 38,000 swimmers weekly in season, and less frequently out of season. If you'd like to advertise with us, please give us a yell.. Click here

    If you're not receiving our emails...

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

    Results...

    For swim results... Click here

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

    List your swim group...

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

    Buy gogs...

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

    Check our back issues...

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

    Subscribe

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

    This newsletter...

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

    Share this post

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    October 30, 2019

    fos scroll 300

    Emailed to more than 38,000 ocean swimmers
    weekly in season.


    mana 191019 grab 01 600
    Grabs of a common coach?

    mana 191019 grab 02 600

    Look below...

    Swims this weekend...

    Sun exposure

    It's all about the dose

    We all know -- most of us, anyway -- about the dangers of sun exposure, particularly in our southern hemisphere. But we also know that it's not the sun itself that's the problem; it's how much sun we're exposed to. So how much sun is too much? At what point do we need to be particularly careful and cover up? This is a big issue for ocean swimmers. Here, Anthony Shubitz, a former GP in Sydney's eastern suburbs, tells of his method for answering these questions. (Anthony's story has been reviewed by an oceanswimming dermatologist who describes it as "an excellent blog".)

    sunburn feet 350There are so many myths about skin cancer and Ultraviolet Radiation (UV) exposure. As a person who ocean swims regularly and has had several skin cancers (of both common cancer types) I have made it my business to read widely about how to protect my skin while enjoying being outdoors. I have no conflicts of interest in giving you this info other than wanting to spread hard-earned knowledge widely amongst people who share my passion for the ocean.

    I accept the evidence that sun exposure is the greatest controllable risk factor for most skin cancers, eye cataracts, and premature skin ageing. I don’t have a paranoia about big pharma selling “dangerous” sunscreens. I believe that the proven risks of skin cancer far outweigh unproven harm from sunscreens.

    At the end of the article I share with you a website and an app which have become my bible and give me a sense of sun safety and satisfaction from the knowledge. You should discuss your actions with your GP or your Dermatologist and I encourage you to check they are happy with this article as all our skins are different. In fact, skins are typed from Fitzpatrick Type I (Pale White Skin) to Type VI (Deeply pigmented dark brown to black skin). You should type your skin so you understand your risk – see the “arpansa” website referenced below for the Fitzpatrick types.

    By knowing some basic, easily attainable info, I know the likelihood of my UV dose before I step into the sun. Some of this basic, yet little-known info is summarised as follows:

    1. You can’t tell the strength of UV by how it feels when it hits your skin. Heat is often confused with UV. They are different.
    2. A UV Index (a measure of Ultraviolet Radiation) of 1 or 2 is very low and represents low risk of harm while in peak summer in Sydney it reaches 11, which is rated “extreme” and represents very high risk. Brissy is a bit worse than Sydney. Melbourne is a bit better than Sydney. In June or July Sydney rarely gets above 3, even at its daytime peak.
    3. Generally people are advised to protect themselves in 3 or above.
    4. Time of exposure is crucial as the dose of UV to the skin is a factor of time multiplied by the UV index. So 10 minutes in the sun when the UV index = 10 will give the skin the same amount of UV as 50 minutes in the sun when the UV index = 2.
    5. In summer, on clear days, the UV will be low in the morning, ramp up in the middle of the day and ramp down again towards evening – see the “arpansa” site for specific graphs. If the cloud cover is dense the UV will be much less than predicted but some UV does still get through even dense cloud.

    sunsmart logoMy skin is sensitive and I am outdoors for a period on almost every day so I choose to do the following:

    • I love winter sun and hardly ever use protection in winter unless I’m going to be in the sun for an hour or more.
    • In summer I try and do my swims before the UV index gets to 3 or later in the day when it is again 3 and below. I prefer this as I like to swim without rashies, caps, wetsuits etc as it is simpler and feels more natural. I may still use some sunscreen on sensitive areas like face and neck.
    • In summer in the middle of the day I fully protect myself if I am in the sun or swimming i.e. rashies, boardies, swim cap, sunnies, sunglasses, broad brimmed hat, factor 50+ sunscreen, zinc on lips and nose, umbrella etc.

    In summer, in the middle of the day, I always think about what happens to the spot I’ve missed – the crown of my head (if without a cap even briefly), my nose where I blew my nose and wiped off the sunscreen, the spot on my back that I didn’t reach etc. The penalty for missing a spot when the UV index = 10 is massive compared to when the UV index = 3.

    Sunburn in children appears more likely to cause harm than sunburn in adults so using this info to help kids avoid sunburn may be even more important than us wise oldies applying the knowledge.

    I hope this helps, BUT I encourage you to read further and talk to your doctor.

    Ant 
    Coogee, NSW

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    And it's not just the sun that can do it to you.

    Things to do...

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    This weekend...

    Up the beaches to Narrabeen

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    Now in its 9th year, the Narrabeen swim kicks off the ocean swimming season in Sydney, and in NSW. There are two distances, 800m and 1.8km, which means it offers a good entry distance for less experienced swimmers who want to build their experience in the sea. Good opportunity to gain experience in handling beach breaks, too: Narrabeen is a wide open beach with banks, gutters, rips, etc. It's a lot of fun.

    It's a Sat'dee swim, too, which means Sunday remains clear for your smashed avo in Newtown.

    Find out more and enter online… Click here

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    daves calendar 250 puffIt's back!! Glistening Dave's calendar

    Now you'll really know what day it is

    This also is back by popular demand, Glistening Dave's oceanswims calendar. Dave took a sabbatical in the last two years (tha'ts two sabbaticals), keeping his calendar only for close friends, relos, and some who just asked. But so many have asked, and he has so many regular calendees, that Dave has decided to go public once again.

    Dave's calendar highlights some of his fave scenes from the previous 12 months. It carries most swim dates -- as many as we can get at the time of publication -- and is a daily inspiration to all ocean swimmers, everywhere.

    The absolutely perfect Xmas present for the ocean swimmer, Dave's calendar will be despatched early-mid December, but you can order yours now... Click here

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    Narrabeen-Shelly

    Another Level 10km

    One of the remarkable new entrants to the 2018/19 season in Sydney was the 27km swim from Palm Beach to Manly's Shelly Beach. It's back in season 2019/20, but, this time, the organiser, Tim Garrett at Another Level Performance, is adding a 10km option, starting at Narrabeen and running down to Shelly.

    Swim date is March 28, 2020.

    Find out more... Click here

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    Mana Fiji photo essay...

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    How those who know how to swim do it... Codie Grimsey leads the peloton on an early morning swim, Mana Fiji SwimFest 2019.

    And, below, it's a late afternoon swimmer, just arriven, Mana Island, who couldn't wait to get inner the water.

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    Mana Fiji SwimFest 2019 10km swimmers. And a proud bunch, all.

    Mana in 2019 hosted a large peloton from Can Too, many of whom had set the 10km swim as their goal. This is a sub-pod of them emerging from the ocean following the 5km swim (Pic by Lizzie Crowhurst).

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    mana 191019 warrior 450 vertNew season swim calendar

    We've uploaded most dates of ocean swims around Australia in the new season. Here's a rundown...

    We will decide who comes to this country, and the circumstances in which they will come here.

    • NSW - Most dates loaded, more being added, 11 swims open for online entry, another four coming in the next few days
    • New Zealand - Most dates loaded into dedicated NZ site... Click here
    • Victoria - Some dates loaded, more coming this week
    • Queensland - Most dates loaded, except for those running next winter oop north
    • SA - Dates still to come
    • Tasmania - Dates still to come
    • WA - Most dates loaded

    If you know of a date that we don't have yet, please let us know... Click here

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    2020 oceanswimsafaris

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    A tender scene by la Concha, San Sebastián.

    And already, we are taking bookings for our oceanswimsafaris in 2020. Most packages are online now, and bookings are coming in…

    March 12-16 – Coromandel New Zealand – A long weekend away in one of the most beautiful parts of the temperate Pacific, the Coromandel Peninsula. The feature event is the Cathedral Cove swim, but just being in this stunningly beautiful place is a tonic… Click here

    May 12-21, and May 21-31 – French Polynesia -- Swim the Pacific; dine in Paris. That’s about it. Another stunningly beautiful paradise. We’ve already filled two oceanswimsafaris in 2020, although we have a spot now available for a single/twin/double on our first oceanswimsafari, May 12-21, 2020. Otherwise, you could take advantage of our Advance Deposit Scheme to book your place in 2021… Click here

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

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

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    July 20-28, July 27-August 4 – Tonga – Swim with Humpback Whales (above) – One of the most unusual, special experiences you can ever have swimming in the ocean. The humpbacks migrate over winter from Antarctica to Tonga to give birth and generally frolic around. Tonga is one of the few places in the world where we’re allowed to get in the water with the whales (under rules, of course)… Click here

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

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

    October 20-25 - Mana Fiji SwimFest - Packages will be ready soon, so watch this space… Click here

    October 26-Nov 2 - Yasawas Fiji -  Packages will be ready soon, so watch this space… Click here

    Controversy Corner...

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

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

    (See posts at the end of this newsletter.)

    Swims open to online entry...

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    • Jan 5 - Gerringong (NSW)
    • Jan 25 - Nobbys-Newcastle (NSW)
    • Jan 26 - Newcastle Harbour (NSW)
    • Jan 26 - Palm-Whale (The Big Swim) (NSW)

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    bongin 191028 dhd 600
    Whilst we were beavering away on Mana Island, Glistening Dave was busy recording the early morning swimming culcha at Bongin Bongin Bay. And, yes, there is culcha amongst the Dawnbusters at Bongin Bongin Bay.

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    Results...

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