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March 13, 2019

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Two views of Bongin Bongin Bay, by Mona Vale, two days apart: the first by Jeffrey Quinn (@frontrunnerlea on Instagram), the second by os.c staff snapper, Glistening Dave (@glistenrr).

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This issue...

Swims this weekend...

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Meanwhile, in Cabbage Tree Bay, by Manly... the dusky whalers are back, although, really, they've probably been there all along, but earlymorningswimmers couldn't see them in summer water. This image by Fifi la Stupenda (@fifi_dob on Instagram)

Swim into autumn

Season's most silken phase

It’s the equinox next week. It’s a week away, but it’s relevant to us now. It’s the technical marker for the change of seasons, when the sun crosses the equator on its way north for the coming winter.

The equinox means we really are in autumn. Never mind what the meeja tells you as February turns into March. The first 20 days of March still are summer, according to the Earth. Days already are shorter, but – all those early, early morning swim groups will be entering the water in the dark; breezes tend more towards offshore; crowds thin; skies and water clarify; dusky whalers are evident again in Cabbage Tree Bay. They’ve been there all along, no doubt, but swimmers report seeing them again, now the water is clearer. There’s a crispness creeping into the morning air. Some people think the season’s over. They’ve closed up half the house; sheets over the Chesterfields. But, in NSW, at least, the water remains warm, in the early 20sC, and will be till May or June, maybe even July.

The season ain’t over, see. Time was, the bulk of ocean swimmers regarded season’s end as the end of February. Time was, 20-30 year ago, that there was very little on offer after February. But as the caper has grown, the season has extended, forwards and backwards, as new events seek water, and even some established events seek more propitious dates. We now have a full calendar prior to Xmas in NSW, where the season for formal swims starts at the end of October. Queensland has a few swims throughout winter, of course, because it’s oop north, and warmer, and conditions are better than perhaps they are over summer. That said, there are two events on in S-E Queensland over coming months – Redcliffe and Noosa -- both of which are appealing (see below).

NZ has plenty prior to Xmas, and there remain another eight events on offer through March and April. One of our fave events of the entire season is March 24, on the Coromandel peninsula, the Cathedral Cove swim. We’ll have a peloton of 18 there for this swim as part of our oceanswimsafari to the Coromandel peninsula.

Elsewhere, the joints are quieting. There are another three events to come in Victoria, one in Tassie, three in South Australia – but, like Tasmania, they’ll be done by Sat’dee week – and four in the West running through Easter. As with many Queensland events, Darwin runs in winter when water conditions are more favourable: Fannie Bay is on June 23.

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Disquieting image from Cabbage Tree Bay by Annew Henshaw (@annehenshaw on Instagram), of a shark with fish hook embedded in the pectoral fin. Cabbage Tree Bay is supposed to be a marine reserve, but there's nothing stopping the locals from venturing out.

Busiest

In NSW, April will be the busiest month in terms of numbers of events. There remain 19 events on our books leading up to the Solstice swim at Mona Vale on June 16. In April alone, there are 14 events scheduled.

Those swims generally are not as large in terms of numbers of punters running into the water, but Coogee around Wedding Cake Island pulls over 1,000 on a good day. We reckon Coogee’s April Wedding Cake swim is a much better one than the November iteration because of the possibility of those wonderful autumn conditions. We also reckon that one of the best swims that you can do anywhere, anytime, around the world, is an informal schlepp around Wedding Cake in late autumn-winter, on one of those glorious sunny Sundees with clear skies, gentle breeze, and the sun warming the back. Sydney has those days in winter. Some winter days, you can walk around without a shirt on, so balmy is the weather. And on those informal Wedding Cake swims, in clear water with smooth seas, you can swim as close to the island as you like, unlike formal swim days where the mob is kept to sea by the marker booees.

So, there is lots on. Here are some of our highlights. (We list these with trepidation: if a swim is not listed here, then someone, particularly awgies, will get their noses out of joint. We’re sorry for that, but some swims do stand out. It’s a matter of courses and likely sea conditions, not a measure of awgies’ efforts.)

You may notice that this list, below, is slanted heavily towards country swims. That’s partly because there are lots of country swims on at this time of year, but also because country swims offer something exotice. They also tend to be journey swims rather than circuits, and we’ve long favoured journeys. One swim, in particular – North Steyne on March 31 – combines journey with circuit; it’s a circuit that is a journey, which means, logistically, awgies don’t need to operate two bases at the start and the finish. But the circuit course takes the mob way, away from the beach, through some of the prettiest water in Strã’a.

We offer this list partly also to those who do regard the season as finished, as a guide to highlights that will show them what a triffic time of the year this is in which to swim.

cabbagre tree 1903 fifi 01 450We all swim together in Cabbage Tree Bay (image by @fifi-dob)

Our specials

Here’s our list of highlights, chronologically, so you can plan your autumn –

March 17 – Stanwell Park – The Big Swim of the South, returns this season after an hiatus of two years (awgie burnout). This is one of the most spectacular journeys you will ever do, provided you can breathe left, to appreciate the grandeur of the Illawarra Escarpment towering over you as you head north from Coalcliff to Stanwell Park.

March 24 – Cathedral Cove – This NZ swim is another of the prettiest, most spectacular courses that we’ve ever done, also with hills towering above you as you head north from the beach at Hahei to Cathedral Cove, to run through the arch, then head back to Hahei. Or walk through the bush to the cove, then just swim back. It reminds us of the Costa Brava. We’re taking a mob of 18 to Cathedral Cove this year.

March 31 – North Steyne  – North Steyne is a journey circuit: it runs from North Steyne surf club across the ocean to Cabbage Tree Bay and return. A stunning city swim.

April 6 – Redcliffe, Auckland - In Queensland, Redcliffe is the first formal swim run by the Grimsey Brothers, English Channel record holder Trent, and Codie. Three distances offered, but the significance also is that it’s a swim run in Brisbane. We're pleased to be sponsoring this swim, too: there's a prize to the Mana Fiji SwimFest up to a random draw of all entrants. In Auckland, the harbour swim this year follows a course underneath the bridge. It should be spectacular.

April 7 – Balmoral, Shellharbour – Balmoral is a flatwater harbour swim in Sydney, but it's a pretty beach surrounded by Sydney's ritziest suburbs, and it offers a flat 5km, too. Shellharbour is a short swim (1.2km) on the NSW near south coast, but it’s a beautiful swim, out through the boat harbour and along the rock shelf into the Shellharbour beach, with mini-reefs and sea life all the way. Easy drive from Sydney, too.

April 13 – Mollymook – A bit farther down the coast and a week later, this season, Mollymook is a stunning beach with good water. Main swim runs from one end of the beach to the other. A great example of a country swim in autumn.

April 14 – Avalon, Coogee, Forster – We list them alphabetically to avoid arguments. Some will wonder at Avalon permanently shifting their date from January to mid-April, and with combining their initially two swim dates into one. Avalon is always a beautiful city beach, and the addition of the Around the Bends swim, from Newport, past Bilgola into Avalon, offers an adventure journey. It’s a wonderful course. Coogee is, well… see above. Wedding Cake in autumn. Wow! But the Club to Club at Forster, too: there’s a growing interest in longer swims and, whilst this one presents itself as 3.8km, it’s really more like 4.2. The course from One Mile Beach, around Bennetts Head into Forster Main Beach offers the chance of all kinds of sea life. We know the water at Forster reasonably well these days, and in autum-early winter, it’s at its best.

cabbagre tree 1903 fifi 02 450Fifi_dob is an artist. But you can tell that.

April 20 – Nowra Culburra – One of the great, stunning autumn country swims. Culburra is a famous beach, but rarely visited by city folk. But it’s everything you want in an exotic, country weekend. It’s 1.9km around Tilbury Headland. The water en route is dotted with reefs and swirls and sea life. It’s a beautiful swim.

April 21 – Pacific Palms, Auckland, Denmark– One of those glorious north-facing beaches on the North Coast. Easter Sundee, it’s an easy day out from Sydney, because the traffic going away is finished, and the traffic coming home hasn’t started yet. It’s a bushland swim, in generally crystalline water. In Auckland, the Central Masters end their season with their 10km swim from the eastern bays around Browns Island and back. Denmark? Long way to go for a swim, eh. We fancy swims in remote, country locations, and Denmark, near the sou'-western tip of Wessna-Strã'a, has always sounded and looked remote, country, and exotic, and we'd love to do that swim one day. You can bundle it in over the Easter weekend with Albany, just along the coast.

April 29 – Bondi, Caves Beach, South Curl Curl – The rescheduled Bondi swim runs again, and with all the cancellations and truncations at Bondi this season, this may be your one chance to get in a proper Bondi swim. Caves, up near Newcastle, is our alma mater: 1.6km along the course of the reef from the foot of the Spoon Rocks breakwall into Caves, cliffs and bush-covered hills along the way. We love it. We expect South Curl Curl-Freshwater to run this day, too. We're awaiting confirmation from the awgies.

May 5 – Byron Bay – The State of Origin of ocean swimming. More a weekend than a one-day event.

May 19 – South Head – Not for everyone, 11km from Bondi into Sydney Harbour. Once you’re out, you’re committed.

May 26 – Noosa – Some might say that if you want a Noosa holiday, just go shopping in Double Bay. But Noosa remains one of the most stunning collection of beaches in a National Park on the Strã’an coast. Nowadays, then swims start and finish on Noosa Main Beach, but the long event (3.8km) at least takes you out to Ti Tree Bay, although you get to sample the National Park only from the water.

June 16 – Mona Vale Solstice – Near the official start of winter (June 21, the winter solstice), it’s more often than not a clear, crisp day on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, with water still around the early 20sC.

That should do you for a while.

Who ya gonna call?

Your own emergency

We continue to be amazed at how many swimmers enter swims online, and list themselves as their emergency contact. Do they wonder, if they did get caught up in an emergency at sea, who ya gonna call?

Online entries this weekend...

Big Swim of the South

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Its back: The Big Swim of the South, as the founding awgies liked to call it, along the escarpment from Coalcliff to Stanwell Park. Not this weekend, but prepare for the following Sundee, March 17. This is one of the most spectacular swims you will ever do, particularly if you breathe left, or bilaterally, with the Illawarra Escarpment towering above you. It's a pretty swim, too, with patches of reef and their inhabitants dotting the 2.3km course.

It's also a real ocean swim: both Coalcliff and Stanwell Park are exposed beaches. You will have the swell, if there is any, rolling through you all the way, gently rocking you into a cloud of bliss. Just remember to keep heading towards Bald Hill, off which hang gliders fling themselves with abandon. It's a multi-dimensional place.

Online entries to the Stanwell Park Ocean Challenge close on oceanswims.com at 3pm on Saturday, March 16... Click here

BTW

Copeton dry

The Copeton Waters swim, scheduled for next weekend, will not run this season, according to the event website, due to "climatic conditions". This means, we're told, there's only 12 per cent water in the lake, and that ain't enough to run the swim.

The website says the swim will be back in 2020.

Goggles: Get them now

Solace: Our latest discovery

V825A CBL 250

Our latest discovery gog: the View Solace. The Solace has been around for a year or two, but we've paid proper attention to them only with the ending of the Fully Sick line, which we'd worn for years. We tried the Solace when looking for a replacement.

What we found was a goggle with wide, comfy silicone seal, very wide breadth of vision, clear lens, and good sun protection and filter. Then we realised the price: one of the best gogs we've ever worn, and for $20!

Be aware, we've had a lot of orders for Solace gogs. They won't last at this special price.

Check them out, and all our gogs, accessories, goos, cossies, etc, and order now... Click here

Stocks of our oceanswims cossies are running down. We have only two sizes remaining available in the Gents' cossies (28 and 30), although we have all sizes available in the Laydees' cossies except 10.

To celebrate, we've reduced the cost of the Gents' cossies to only $40. Laydees cossies also have been reduced, now to $75.

Get them now, as they say, whilst stocks last.

We also offer View, the world's best, and best value gogs and swim accessories. We've been using View for years. In fact, we were using View well before they approached us to work with them. That's why we can say how good they are.

Now, with our new shopping cart, you can browse all that we have to offer - View gogs and accessories, oceanswims.com cossies, tow floats, and Cecily's Stinger Suits. Ordering and paying by secure server uses the same process as our online entries, which means it's tried, proven, safe and reliable.

To browse our ocean swimming boutique... Click here

Babewatch

But who are they?

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Over the past eight years, we've become used to seeing the peloton from Babewatch flitting around the beach. Founded in 2011 by the Brothers Goswell (James and Alex), Babewatch started out as a bit of a lark amongst a bunch of lads with Babewatvh scrawled in pink sunscreen across their backs. But it morphed quickly into a self-managed youth group offering direction and swim training while they raised money for charities. The sunscreen scrawl has now become their moniker. While the Goswells have moved on (that happens as you age - James is at business school in 'mer'ca, while Alex still swims on our circuit), Babewatch was taken up by a fresh crowd and continues to do good for young people, both members and non-members, in one way or another.

We offered Babewatch space to tell us what they're about. We hope this will be the first of a series of columns by Babewatch...

Babewatch was founded in 2011 by two brothers and their friends. The team was created with two goals in mind:

  1. increase youth participation in the sport of ocean swimming; and
  2. increase youth participation in community events, including fundraising.

babewatch logo 150Over three summer seasons the team expanded to 80 members and raised $37,000 for various cancer charities. Babewatch won the ‘Charity’ team category at the Cole Classic in 2011, 2012, and 2013.

Babewatch started back up in 2017 by four friends who were involved in the original group. Babewatch is a group of young adults aged 18 – 35 who create a community which promotes healthy bodies and minds through a connection with the ocean.

Babewatch allows individuals to thrive and celebrates a culture of openness and vulnerability. We achieve this through organised swims, discussion groups, social events and fundraising.

We are based in Manly and swim every Tuesday and Friday Morning with the Bold & the Beautiful at 7am and then on Sundays we swim at 9am. We meet near the third tree from the SLSC or just look out for the bright pink swimmers… they are hard to miss.

We wish to reduce social isolation and promote a friendly, inclusive and supportive community. SO, this season we are partnering with One Eighty, a suicide prevention charity founded in Avalon. One Eighty are a Mental Health charity run by young adults for young adults! The organisation’s primary activity is to fund, develop and implement local projects that equip young adults with skills in mental health care. They undertake initiatives including educational programs, mentoring support, and life-skills training. Our fundraising will be used by One Eighty to further help young adults on the Northern Beaches and beyond!!

On Sunday, April 7, head down to Manly and support the Babewatch Crew as we swim as many kilometres as possible in 6 hours! Everyone is welcome to jump in and swim with us. Other initatives will also be occurring throughout the day.

Keep up to date by liking us on facebook @babewatch and following us on Instagram @babewatchcrew or check out our website for more information.

Cya at the beach soon!

Babewatch

Mana Fiji SwimFest

Don't be confused

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We have our packages online now for the Mana Fiji SwimFest, this year from October 15-20. But don't be confused by another swim event happening in Fiji over the southern winter; There are major differences between the two.

Which event you prefer depends on what you're looking for in a Fiji swim experience.

In the "other" event, you're based on the mainland in a busy resort and bussed or ferried out to swim venues each day. You can swim off the beach at your resort, but it's estuarine water... Not like it is on the reef. You stay at busy, ritzy resorts on the mainland, but that ain't the same as staying right on the reef.

In the Mana Fiji SwimFest, you're based on the island, next to the reef, and life is quiet, slow. You're right at the swim location. No diesel fumes or crowded buses from dail;y commutes. And the water! It's correct that, the farther out you go from the mainland, the better the water, and Mana Island has some of the best water in Fiji. And you won't see the sea life that you see off Mana at your busy resort on the mainland, or even in the daily swim locations.

We reckon there really is no comparison. But we would say that. We say it also because we know the difference between the two.

Look for Mana Fiji

In the Mana Fiji SwimFest, there are two swim days: the 10km (solos or 3x3.3km relays) on Thursday, and 5km, 2.5km, and 1km on Saturday. Packages include accommdoation, all meals on Mana Island, ferry transfers and swim entry packages for both swim days. They also include a 30 per cent discount off Mana Island Resort's normal nett rates until July 31.

Plus a whole lot of other fun in Ocean Swimming Stadium, the best spot in the Pacific for an ocean swim (see pic above).

Packages start at $A1,909 pp Twin/Double share and $A2,772 single.

Add the Yasawas on to your visit to the Mana Fiji SwimFest Oct 15-20... Click here

More info... Click here

To book... Click here

Head Above Water

rose 190312 350Next weekend, Head Above Water is running a swimathon in the Collaroy rock pool to raise funds for mental health programs, this time in support of Gotcha4Life, a locally based mental health foundation. The Swimathon runs from 9am Saturday, March 16, through 9am Sunday, March 17. $30 to take part, and you can nominate the time you'd like to swim over that 24 hour period on their website.

Awgies say...

Our Head Above Water 24 Hour Swimathon is just that. A 24-hour swimming event held at the Collaroy Rockpool, starting at 9am* on Saturday, March 16th and finishing at 9am on Sunday, March 17th, 2019.

Swimmers pay an entry fee by registering on our website, headabovewater.com.au and booking their preferred swim time. There will be 4 lanes to cater for all levels of swimming ability. People can choose to swim as few or as many laps as they like, as long as it falls within their allotted time slot.

The registered swimmer can then go on to raise money via their own sponsor page or form a team to raise even more money.

The event will be manned for the duration by a team of professionals who will marshal swimmers in and out of the pool. There will also be an onsite MC to maintain the energy and positivity of the day, as well as catering, merchandise, music and of course, safety, medical and security officials.

Find out more and sign up... Click here

2019 oceanswimsafaris

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The start of the swim around Isla Santa Clara, in the Basque country.

Food and wine, and swimming in the Basque country - San Sebastián (Spain, Aug 21-27, 2019 - bookings open soon) - This oceanswimsafari just keeps getting better and better: we have a week in San Sebastián, one of Europe's most interesting cities, culminating in the swim around the Isla Santa Clara. In 2019, we're adding a day's excursion into French Basque country, too. Packages online now... Click here

Wild swimming, food, adventure, history, and culcha on the Costa Brava - (Spain, Sep 6-14, 2019 - bookings open soon) - One of our most popular oceanswimsafaris, along Catalonia's "wild coast", where the water, the swimming, the food, the wine, the history and the culture all clamour to be the highlight. Packages online now... Click here

The best Blue Lagoon in the Yasawas - One of our most popular oceanswimsafaris, to Fiji's remote Yasawa island group, will follow the Mana Island swims: October 20-28. Packages available now. Add the Yasawas on to your visit to the Mana Fiji SwimFest Oct 15-20... Click here

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Whale sharks off Oslob... Our day excursion during our Philippines oceanswimsafari...

Pristine reef and whale sharks in The Philippines (June 22-29, 2019, Open for bookings) - Come with us on another exotic oceanswimsafari, and swim with whale sharks. Our visit to the island of Negros Oriental includes swims over some of the healthiest, most abundant coral reef that we’ve ever experienced. And that part of the ocean – the top of the Celebes Sea – boasts the greatest marine diversity in the entire Indo-Pacific region. (Our Sulawesi oceanswimsafari, at the southern end of the Celebes Sea, also gives you the chance to experience this.) In The Philippines, our accommodation is 5-star, with food, wines and luxuriance to match. We’ll also go on a day excursion to the neighbouring island of Cebu, where the local fisherfolk offer a chance to swim with whale sharks, which come in each day to feed. Bookings coming in now.

More info and to book… Click here

Swim with whales in Tonga (July 23-Aug 1, open for bookings) – Hot on the heels of an inspiring three weeks in Tonga, with three oceanswimsafaris to swim with humpback whales, we’ve opened bookings to our 2019 Tonga series. Two are full. The middle Tonga oceanswimsafari has four places remaining. Packages are on oceanswimsafaris.com now.

More info and to book… 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...

New - Mollymook (Apr 13), Mona Vale (June 16)

Coming - Terrigal (Apr 20)

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

view selene mirror 05Buy goggles, etc...

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March 6, 2019

In our 20th season as the hub of ocean swimming

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The sun was out at Freshwater last Sundee.

This issue...

Swims this weekend...

Postcard from the Pool

When you're sad, sometimes the sun comes out

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goble sally dinkusSally Goble's blog, Postcards from the Pool
March 2, 2019

It’s been a difficult few weeks. The deaths, too soon, of not one, but two beautiful swimmers. And then an unbelievably sad and desperate time for my very dear friend. Sometimes life seems so breathtakingly cruel. It punches you in the gut.

Through all the tragedy, we go about our daily lives: turn up to work wearing a mask so that nobody knows, drink coffee, nod and smile at the person who opens the door for you. Breathe. Try to eat. Chat when what you really want to do is cry. And swim.

And swim.

Yesterday was shit. Today I went to a place, a lido, where nobody knows me, anonymous and free. It was empty here at first and I could swim with no routine, no plan. Today I swam, gently. I forgot about drills and times and doing the right thing. I just swam and swam and swam and swam. At first my head was full of stuff: was full of grief for all of them and particularly for you — and full to bursting of anger and unfairness, powerlessness and sadness. I tried to push it out but it came back relentlessly. What was the point of swimming, really, I thought?

But then after an hour, there were glimpses of sun and blue sky that twinkled through making patterns of light dance on the floor of the pool, and the things in my head and my heart quietened slightly for a while. Glimpses of relief.

An hour and a half of swimming later, I’d finished. I stopped and took off my goggles and cap. “I’ll leave you in peace now,” I said to the woman who I’d shared a lane with for the last twenty minutes. She looked at me and said “I’ve really enjoyed sharing a lane with you — without explaining it all, you are so inspiring, you swim so strongly.” I smiled wanly: “I was sad when I got in but now I feel a bit better.” She looked at me, smiling warmly: “It’s the power of water — it always makes you feel like that.”

I guess no matter how blue you feel — the water, the fresh air, the sun twinkling, the warmth and kindness of another human being — can give you respite for a while. I’ll swim again tomorrow for sure. And tomorrow, and tomorrow, and the next day.

Sally Goble
Twitter: @sallygoble

Online entries this weekend...

Port Noarlunga

port noarlunga aerial

A public holiday Monday swim in South Australia, over a very pretty course. This is a real community swim run by Noarlunga Masters Swimming Club with the help of the local surf club for logistics and course patrols. Awgies say: "The Port Noarlunga Reef Aquatic Reserve is a popular scuba diving and snorkelling location, with more than 200 marine plant species and over 60 fish species. So if you have time, bring your family and snorkelling gear (just goggles will do), walk to the end of the jetty, step off onto the reef and see the inhabitants for yourself. A small piece of banana will attract them!"

Three distances: 2.5km, 1.5km and 750m.

Online entries to the Port Noarlunga Reef Swim close on oceanswims.com at 5pm CDT on Saturday, March 9... Click here

Big Swim of the South

stanwell 0901

Its back: The Big Swim of the South, as the founding awgies liked to call it, along the escarpment from Coalcliff to Stanwell Park. Not this weekend, but prepare for the following Sundee, March 17. This is one of the most spectacular swims you will ever do, particularly if you breathe left, or bilaterally, with the Illawarra Escarpment towering above you. It's a pretty swim, too, with patches of reef and their inhabitants dotting the 2.3km course.

It's also a real ocean swim: both Coalcliff and Stanwell Park are exposed beaches. You will have the swell, if there is any, rolling through you all the way, gently rocking you into a cloud of bliss. Just remember to keep heading towards Bald Hill, off which hang gliders fling themselves with abandon. It's a multi-dimensional place.

Online entries to the Stanwell Park Ocean Challenge close on oceanswims.com at 3pm on Saturday, March 16... Click here

Freshwater - Our video report

Record numbers on a lovely day out for the fambly

As we stand in the break at swim start time, waiting with our Brownie Starflash-in-a-plastic-bag poised, it strikes us that there is a considerable difference between male, or Boofheads, starting waves, and Laydees starting waves. We like a bit of action at the start; a bit of drama. You get that in spades with the Boofheads, who are always showing off. That's what boys do. But the Laydees' starting waves are demure affairs, not quiet, but civilised, esprit d'corps-ish, a little coquettish, and certainly not dramatic.

This provides us with a dilemma. We don't wish to show more pics of blokes than of ladies, but we do want to show pics that are interesting in some way, not run-of-the-mill. We get a lot more of that with the male posers. But laydees, could you help us out here? Give us a bit of argy-bargy at your starts. Elbows in the ribs; clutching at adjacent swimmers' goggle straps; sly toes in front of their feet; gentle nudges just at the critical time to throw them off balance. We know you're capable of it. At Bondi one year, as the start gun went for a laydees' wave, Mrs Sparkle, on the start line, received an enormous elbow from a "laydee" next to her. It sent her sprawling and she was hobbling around for weeks afterwards from the twisted ankle. She still doesn't know who the offender was.

It also makes us ponder: what's the appropriate collective noun for a Boofheads' starting wave, and what for a Laydees' starting wave? In our social meeja reports on Sunday afternoon, we wondered about a "barge" of boofheads, and a "liberation" of laydees. Thinking about it, and looking at some of these pitchers later, perhaps "a blunder of boofheads" would work better. As for the laydees, Barry "The Lurv God" Lang, one of our biggest fans, who doesn't do races any more but is with us all in spirit at every swim, suggested "Aquafems" for laydees. How about an "emancipation"; or a "mist"; a "waft"?

It's also difficult when the awgies start all the boofheads first, as they did at Freshwater. It means that, if we wait, to be fair, to get a balance in images of laydees starting as with boofheads, and the laydees are all last, then by the time we get to sea ourselves, there'll be very few of anyone available of whom to take pitchers. So we can't wait for all the laydees' waves -- all the laydees "mists"; we have to get to sea. That's why, this week, we have more images of boofheads at the start, but laydees at sea. Please accept our apologies, and thank you for your understanding.

Meanwhile...

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Head dropper but good lad Peter Thiel is trying his very hardest to modify his otherwise immaculate body position at swim starts. See (above, centre of pic), at Freshwater last Sundee, Thiel's head is much more between his arms...

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...But, as the dive goes on (above), the head drops.

No change to one's technique can be fixed in an instant, particularly as one ages. One must work on it; persevere. Neither is Thiel the only swimmer who drops their head in a dive start. See below from Sundee's Laydees waves.. Another immaculate streamline, but...

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The water was clear and warm... It was a relaxed, community type swim with record numbers for this event (689 entrants).

So relaxed, it seemed, that some swimmers had time for a chat.

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One of the few boofheads still available out at sea to have his pitcher taken, "Silent" Norm McIntyre...

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Can Too: Case study

Life changing for Emily

First time Can Too participant Emily Jallat can now finally say that she is an ocean swimmer after completing the Barney Mullins Freshwater ocean swim classic on Sunday. Whilst being thrilled to complete her first swim race, Can Too’s 14-week Learn to Ocean Swim program brought her so much more than just how to complete an ocean race.

“Learning to ocean swim with Can Too has been life changing,” said Emily.

Emily had to postpone her goal and first ocean swim race when the North Bondi Classic was cancelled due to rough conditions last month but the wait was worth it as Sydney put on a lovely sunny day for the Freshwater event. Emily said that the distance was perfect too. Approximately 35 Can Too swimmers joined her for the event.

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The psychologist said that after living overseas in England and France for 20 years learning to ocean swim allowed her to feel connected to her Australian homeland.

“When I lived overseas, I missed the ocean as I’ve always been drawn to its beauty.”

Since arriving home, she saw people ocean swimming, but didn’t know how to, and felt unprepared to join in.

A chain of events occurred which seemed like joining the Can Too Foundation was meant to be. She won a remedial massage and saw the Can Too brochure in the waiting room and thought that could be a good thing to do.

She signed up without knowing anyone or anything about Can Too and had no concept of the magnitude of the program, which trained at Monte College on Wednesdays and Saturday mornings at Manly.

“From the very start I felt like this is where I was meant to be, this is part of me and these are my people, for a long time I was searching for something, especially after living overseas, since being part of Can Too I’ve stopped feeling like I need to be somewhere else.”

She credits the lifechanging results from meeting such diverse and inspiring people.

“I was humbled and in awe of people that you’re training with – and by – your own ability to progress with the things they teach you.”

Every week she would learn something new about swimming, such as following through with your stroke, imagining you have to get money out of your pocket.

“Slowly over time you put it all together and then next thing you know you’re an ocean swimmer.”

And a fundraiser for charity as well.

“Never in a million years would I thought I could fundraise that amount! I was blown away by the genuine emotional and financial support people are willing to give.

“People I hadn’t spoken to for 20 years suddenly sponsored me, it’s so extraordinary how people believe in you, that’s the real life changing bit – feeling a part of something.

“Sometimes you can feel a little bit alone in the world and suddenly through fundraising you realise that you’re not alone all these people are there to help you.”

Emily is looking forward to doing another ocean swim program with Can Too next season and then would like to become a mentor for the Foundation.

Find out more about Can Too... Click here

Goggles: Get them now

Solace: Our latest discovery

V825A CBL 250

Our latest discovery gog: the View Solace. The Solace has been around for a year or two, but we've paid proper attention to them only with the ending of the Fully Sick line, which we'd worn for years. We tried the Solace when looking for a replacement.

What we found was a goggle with wide, comfy silicone seal, very wide breadth of vision, clear lens, and good sun protection and filter. Then we realised the price: one of the best gogs we've ever worn, and for $20!

Be aware, we've had a lot of orders for Solace gogs. They won't last at this special price.

Check them out, and all our gogs, accessories, goos, cossies, etc, and order now... Click here

Stocks of our oceanswims cossies are running down. We have only two sizes remaining available in the Gents' cossies (28 and 30), although we have all sizes available in the Laydees' cossies except 10.

To celebrate, we've reduced the cost of the Gents' cossies to only $40. Laydees cossies also have been reduced, now to $75.

Get them now, as they say, whilst stocks last.

We also offer View, the world's best, and best value gogs and swim accessories. We've been using View for years. In fact, we were using View well before they approached us to work with them. That's why we can say how good they are.

Now, with our new shopping cart, you can browse all that we have to offer - View gogs and accessories, oceanswims.com cossies, tow floats, and Cecily's Stinger Suits. Ordering and paying by secure server uses the same process as our online entries, which means it's tried, proven, safe and reliable.

To browse our ocean swimming boutique... Click here

Mana Fiji SwimFest

Don't be confused

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We have our packages online now for the Mana Fiji SwimFest, this year from October 15-20. But there is another swim event happening in Fiji over the southern winter, and we gather there is some confusion as to which is which.

There are major differences between the two. But, like anything, which one you prefer depends on what you're looking for in a Fiji swim experience.

In the new event, you're based on the mainland in a busy resort and bussed or ferried out to swim venues each day. You can swim off the beach at your resort, but it's estuarine water... Not like it is on the reef.

In the Mana Fiji SwimFest, you're based on the island, next to the reef, and life is quiet, slow. You're right at the swim location. No diesel fumes or crowded buses from dail;y commutes. And the water! It's correct that, the farther out you go from the mainland, the better the water, and Mana Island has some of the best water in Fiji. And you won't see the sea life that you see off Mana at your busy resort on the mainland, or even in the daily swim locations.

We reckon there really is no comparison. But we would say that. We say it also because we know the difference between the two.

Look for Mana Fiji

In the Mana Fiji SwimFest, there are two swim days: the 10km (solos or 3x3.3km relays) on Thursday, and 5km, 2.5km, and 1km on Saturday. Packages include accommdoation, all meals on Mana Island, ferry transfers and swim entry packages for both swim days. They also include a 30 per cent discount off Mana Island Resort's normal nett rates until July 31.

Plus a whole lot of other fun in Ocean Swimming Stadium, the best spot in the Pacific for an ocean swim (see pic above).

Packages start at $A1,909 pp Twin/Double share and $A2,772 single.

Add the Yasawas on to your visit to the Mana Fiji SwimFest Oct 15-20... Click here

More info... Click here

To book... Click here

#EarlyMorningSwim in Forster

Fridee Portfolio

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forster 190302 300 02We told you last week about the Bongin Bongin Dawnbusters doing CPR training. And we mentioned the tourniquet that the Forster Turtles have on hand in case of being bitten by big fish. Now, here it is (right)...

We're entering the best season of the year to swim. And, as if set on a timing mechanism, the water warms. In Forster at the end of last week, as the calendar rolled from February into March, the water temp. was c. 24C. Quoite noice.

Why is autumn the best time to swim? We start to get gentle offshore breezes, which clear the air, smoothe the sea, clarify the water, even out the break. But the water stays warm.

Some silly people think the season is over by now, with the end of February. They've closed up shop till next season. And many swimmers used, habitually, to regard February as the end of their ocean swimming seasons. But, over time, more and more are recognising the beauty of autumn. Did you know: April is our busiest month for swims. We have 10 swims open for online entry in April at this point, with one or two more maybe to come. Many of those swims are not as big (in swimmer numbers) as some of their attention-grabbing rivals in January-February, but many of them are, in many ways, much better experiences for the true ocean swimmer.

This varies. March is often busy, too, but these final months of the season are disrupted each year by the Surf Life Saving Association and their pesky annual champeenships. State champs are held throughout March, and Strã'an titles follow in March or April. That's why the swims in these months switch their dates around. And it's why some weekends are without swims.

For us, autumn and early winter is when Forster is at its best. It's most piquant, too, as the annual mullet run out of Wallis Lake nears and the big fish gather for the fray.

Hence the tourniquet.

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From Forster, #EarlyMorningSwim last Sat'dee...

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Head Above Water

Next weekend, Head Above Water is running a swimathon in the Collaroy rock pool to raise funds for mental health programs, this time in support of Gotcha4Life, a locally based mental health foundation. The Swimathon runs from 9am Saturday, March 16, through 9am Sunday, March 17. $30 to take part, and you can nominate the time you'd like to swim over that 24 hour period on their website.

Awgies say...

Our Head Above Water 24 Hour Swimathon is just that. A 24-hour swimming event held at the Collaroy Rockpool, starting at 9am* on Saturday, March 16th and finishing at 9am on Sunday, March 17th, 2019.

Swimmers pay an entry fee by registering on our website, headabovewater.com.au and booking their preferred swim time. There will be 4 lanes to cater for all levels of swimming ability. People can choose to swim as few or as many laps as they like, as long as it falls within their allotted time slot.

The registered swimmer can then go on to raise money via their own sponsor page or form a team to raise even more money.

The event will be manned for the duration by a team of professionals who will marshal swimmers in and out of the pool. There will also be an onsite MC to maintain the energy and positivity of the day, as well as catering, merchandise, music and of course, safety, medical and security officials.

Find out more and sign up... Click here

2019 oceanswimsafaris

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Whale sharks off Oslob... Our day excursion during our Philippines oceanswimsafari...

Pristine reef and whale sharks in The Philippines (June 22-29, 2019, Open for bookings) - Come with us on another exotic oceanswimsafari, and swim with whale sharks. Our visit to the island of Negros Oriental includes swims over some of the healthiest, most abundant coral reef that we’ve ever experienced. And that part of the ocean – the top of the Celebes Sea – boasts the greatest marine diversity in the entire Indo-Pacific region. (Our Sulawesi oceanswimsafari, at the southern end of the Celebes Sea, also gives you the chance to experience this.) In The Philippines, our accommodation is 5-star, with food, wines and luxuriance to match. We’ll also go on a day excursion to the neighbouring island of Cebu, where the local fisherfolk offer a chance to swim with whale sharks, which come in each day to feed. Bookings coming in now.

More info and to book… Click here

Swim with whales in Tonga (open for bookings) – Hot on the heels of an inspiring three weeks in Tonga, with three oceanswimsafaris to swim with humpback whales, we’ve opened bookings to our 2019 Tonga series. Be aware, with three oceanswimsafaris on offer again next year, two already are full (clever people got in very early to hold places with the oceanswimsafaris Advance Deposit Scheme [oADS]). The middle Tonga oceanswimsafari (July 23-31) has four places remaining. Packages are on oceanswimsafaris.com now.

More info and to book… Click here

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The start of the swim around Isla Santa Clara, in the Basque country.

Food and wine, and swimming in the Basque country - San Sebastián (Spain, Aug 21-27, 2019 - bookings open soon) - This oceanswimsafari just keeps getting better and better: we have a week in San Sebastián, one of Europe's most interesting cities, culminating in the swim around the Isla Santa Clara. In 2019, we're adding a day's excursion into French Basque country, too. Packages online now... Click here

Wild swimming, food, adventure, history, and culcha on the Costa Brava - (Spain, Sep 6-14, 2019 - bookings open soon) - One of our most popular oceanswimsafaris, along Catalonia's "wild coast", where the water, the swimming, the food, the wine, the history and the culture all clamour to be the highlight. Packages online now... Click here

The best Blue Lagoon in the Yasawas - One of our most popular oceanswimsafaris, to Fiji's remote Yasawa island group, will follow the Mana Island swims: October 20-28. Packages available now. Add the Yasawas on to your visit to the Mana Fiji SwimFest Oct 15-20... 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...

New - Coogee (NSW, Apr 14), Avalon (NSW, Apr 14), Pacific Palms (NSW (Apr 21)

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

view selene mirror 05Buy goggles, etc...

Check out the world's best, and best value goggles and swim accessories in the oceanswims boutique... Click here

Check our back issues...

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

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February 27, 2019

In our 20th season as the hub of ocean swimming

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Some mornings, it just all works... Main Beach Forster, last Fridee.

This issue...

Swims this weekend...

Method in the start

Thiel: The method in my head

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Peter Thiel's start at Malabar.

Last week, we discussed the starting style of Peter Thiel, a committed competitor if ever there was one. See above: an extraordinary, prima facie textbook start, but with a worrying tendency to drop his head, raising issues of streamline and personal safety. Following our piece, Thiel responded. His comments provide invaluable insight into the technique of the start in ocean swims. Everyone interested in improving their approach to ocean swims should read this, not to copy Thiel's approach, necessarily, but to become more aware of the issues...

Thanks for the feedback on my dive, and please note that I don't take any comments as being negative – the one thing I know at my age is that I do not know it all, and I am always learning (my coaches (yes, I have more than one!!) share the view that my head is too low). Having said that, I thought I would clarify a few things which are not evident from the photos.

I do pool racing. I do a lot of dive starts as a result of that. Pool starts are, 99 per cent of the time, off blocks which are obviously high off the water and allow a much more efficient entry to the water as it is possible to get your feet above your arms through the air. Off the blocks, the entry angle into the water is much sharper, and the dive is much deeper.

Diving off a run up to the water down a beach is a different thing entirely. Optimally, we run as far as possible in the water, lifting our legs out until we are in water that is deep enough to trip us, at which point, we usually dive. I am tall, and the point where I dive is usually in about two feet (60cm) of water – that is shallow, but not too shallow, providing you take precautions. Note that the take off point for a dive is therefore usually two feet underwater, rather than in a pool off blocks where you are three feet in the air – a difference of about five feet (150cm) in total. Bear in mind, as well, that across summer I do a lot of ins and outs training in the ocean where we practise running across banks, duck diving on shallow banks, etc, and this is something that I have practised over and over again.

When diving into shallow water, it is what happens after we hit the water that is very important to understand, and it is not evident from the photos. Immediately on hitting the water with my arms, I drive them down towards the ocean floor. This does two things – firstly, it provides instant protection for my head and neck, as my hands are the lowest part of my body at that point, meaning that if something unforeseen is actually under the water, it is my hands that hit it first. Secondly, by driving my hands down, it immediately forces my body upwards as it hits the water meaning, unlike a pool dive, these dives are extremely shallow.

In a pool, we get momentum from the fact we are diving in from height. In the ocean, we get momentum from the running start – as a result the speed we hit the water is similar, but the angle of entry and the underwater dynamics are very different.

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Peter Thiel starts at Shelly Beach, in the Cole Classic

In the Cole Classic start (above), we dive from about two feet of depth, but it is a very steep grade into the water from there so, in that start, I was able to dive a lot deeper, do a couple of butterfly kicks and then come up with a lot of momentum. In the Malabar start (top), the grade into he water was a lot flatter meaning that it did not get deep quickly. Also at Malabar, there was an added complication in that there was about 5 feet of sand from the water's edge and then rocks meaning it was not possible to run as far into the water as we usually do.

Lastly, I also want to make it clear that I don't turn up to a race and jump in. Before I race, I spend a lot of time looking at the route I will take off the beach into the water. For surf beaches I check for water depth, underwater obstacles, currents, rips, banks and the shortest route to the first buoy. For non-surf beaches, I check for currents, water depth, and any under-water obstacles. Before the gun goes, I know exactly where I will be on the starting line, what direction I will be running (left or right), how far I will run into the water, where/when/if I am going to dive, and how deep I will be diving. As you know, I often swim the course (or a lot of it) as a warm up so I usually know exactly what lies ahead.

Notwithstanding all of this, I accept that my head is perhaps too low and I will see if I can adjust it and not lose my goggles (yes, they are on tight, and I use the Swedish style, so there is no leaky rubber join). I guess my diving is a bit like an iceberg – there is a hell of a lot going on under the water that is not evident from the surface!

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Peter Thiel starts at North Bondi in 2017.

Peter Thiel

Can Too Hall of Famer passes suddenly

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Mark Ellis (centre, front), at Malabar two weekends back, with fellow Too Cans, John Cadden and Grant Campbell (l-r, rear), and Kim Cook (l, front) and Ellis's partner, Liz Crowhurst (r, front).

We told you last week about Can Tooers Lizzie Crowhurst and her husband, Mark Ellis, who had been planning to swim the English Channel this coming winter as part of the Too Cans, raising funds for Can Too’s support of cancer research. This is despite Mark’s recent bouts with ill health, which have kept him out of the water recently and confined him to a wheelchair when he leaves the house.

Last weekend, Mark collapsed and died suddenly at his Sydney home.

His death has stunned his many friends and supporters.

ellis mark 250Mark Ellis, 54, was a Can Too Hall of Famer, last year raising $25,720 for Royal Rehab’s Return2Sport Program and Can Too by swimming the 11km South Head Roughwater. In 8 1/2 years with Can Too, he raised over $50,000, and was a mentor, team captain and is currently the Centurion for the Balmoral 5km pod. He was a great inspiration to many Can Too swimmers, treading the road all the way from beginner ocean swimmer to leading surf lifesaver.

Mark knew only too well what it’s like living with a disability. After fighting back from catastrophic injuries in his early life which meant he had to learn to walk again, in 2017 he suffered spinal cord damage from surgical intervention following a surf accident which left him a C3 ASIA C Tetraplegic, known as an incomplete quadriplegic.

It was a contrast from his youth, when Mark led a vital physical life, playing for England Schoolboys Rugby, and for the Leicester Tigers.

Mark also was a Royal Marine, a period of his young life which gave him experience and a back-story that few would recognise. His service in Northern Ireland left him with PTSD. In recent years, Mark began recounting his service with friends, in the hope that this would help him to deal with his experiences. He looked after the Canadian team at the Invictus Games in Sydney late last year.

In Sydney, Mark worked in banking with Westpac. Immediately prior to his injury, he was a patrolling member of Manly LSC, captaining Patrol #2.

Mark Ellis left his imprint on life.

Online entries this weekend...

Gang at the 'Gong

 wollongong harbour

A festival of events at Wollongong this Saturday: 2km, 800m, and 400m, and a range of aquathons (swim/runs) -- something for everyone.

Event HQ is in Wollongong boat harbour, a safe, calm body of water offering easy swimming. The longest event is an open water swim from the harbour across to North Wollongong beach.

Online entries to the Wollongong Splash close on oceanswims.com at 3pm on Friday, March 1... Click here

Barney Mullins @ Freshwater

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On Sundee, get down to Freshwater, on Sydney's lower Northern Beaches, for the Barney Mullins Classic, a 1.5km circuit off the beach commemorating the club legend who helped to produce a string of outstanding swimmers and R&R competitors.

You can swim age groups, or in the Mates wave, where friends and families can swim with each other, irrespective of ages.

The event offers $500 to the fastest male and female in the 1.5km Barney Mullins Classic.

Online entries to the Barney Mullins Classic at Freshwater close on oceanswims.com at 3pm on Saturday, March 2... Click here

Dawnbusters in vanguard

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Pic by David Helsham (@glistenrr)

At Forster last week, as we approched the water for our #EarlyMorningSwim, we noticed a package on the sand, just above the high water mark. It looked medical, in some way, although we couldn't quite work out how. Turns out, a Forster Turtle who is a nurse obtained this package from a doctor. It was a tournique kit. It was meant to help us, to be on hand just in case one of us Forster Turtles was bitten by a shark.

A bit extreme, we thought, to ourselves (as many people put it these days), but not really. The Turtles often find themselves sharing their #earlymorningswim with large fish type things. There hasn't been a problerm so far, but you just don't know. There are lots of these things around our area, and one day, one of them might tire of eating boring fish.

There are many exigencies that could rise on the beach each morning to confront the myriad swim groups that dot the coastline. You can't plan for them all, but you can for some of the more obvious ones. Take the Bongin Bongin Dawnbusters (above). With a few of rhem nudging maturity, one of them had the bright idea that they all should have some familiarity with CPR. It's not unknown for early morning swimmers to suffer heart attacks, after all. So, one morning over the weekend, this laydee Dawnbuster organised a fleet of mannekins and ran a CPR session.

Top marks to her.

 Cott to Rott

Got to Rott

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Well another Rottnest Channel Swim has been held. This year without any incident. The event commenced in 1991 and has been held every year since, bar one weather related cancellation in 2007.

Excellent “boating” weather unfolded for this year’s swim. By that I mean it was an almost windless morning, very unseasonal for Perth in February – however for the fastest times an easterly is much preferred – it provides small “lifts” as you head west to Rottnest although it is uncomfortable on the boats which rocks in the breeze.

Although not a record in total numbers again there were over 350 solo swimmers, in recent years, swimming solo to Rottnest has somewhat become a life challenge to many people, a lot of whom do not start as regular swimmers.

In my team were (abov, L to R) Steve Johnson – completed over 15 team swims and me – 1 solo and 25 team swims, a swim colleague we met at the finish line - Rosemary Quinlivan – 4th solo swim, Shane McGurk, 3 times solo swimmer and one of the very early solo swimmers & John Guilfoyle – aged 74 yrs, former president of the Association and Life Member and the only competitor who has swum in the swim every year. We completed the swim in 6 hrs 9 min – a competitive swim.

Other pics include from our boat on the start line – see how calm the sea is, on the course during the swim and some of the support boats lined up in Thompson’s Bay Rottnest for the post swim celebrations.

There are many stories in every swim, starts delayed or cancelled through boat failure, record swims, (note Barbara Pellick completed her 30th crossing this year), disappointment and heroics of those lesser swimmers who put in over 10 hrs in the water to complete the swim.

The event is a major organisation feat – over 3,000 competitors and at least another 1,500 support crew both at both an event level and at a micro team level. There continues to be a steady stream of interstate competitors who are participating in the event and who leave Perth richer the whole experience. It is not a cheap venture in terms of costs, logistics or time but if you are an open water swimmer you cannot but be inspired by participating in this great annual event.

Stephen O'Keefe

Get them now

Last Gents' cossies to sell out

bs cossies both bothStocks of our oceanswims cossies are running down. We have only two sizes remaining available in the Gents' cossies (28 and 30), although we have all sizes available in the Laydees' cossies except 10.

To celebrate, we've reduced the cost of the Gents' cossies to only $40. Laydees cossies also have been reduced, now to $75.

Get them now, as they say, whilst stocks last.

We also offer View, the world's best, and best value gogs and swim accessories. We've been using View for years. In fact, we were using View well before they approached us to work with them. That's why we can say how good they are.

Now, with our new shopping cart, you can browse all that we have to offer - View gogs and accessories, oceanswims.com cossies, tow floats, and Cecily's Stinger Suits. Ordering and paying by secure server uses the same process as our online entries, which means it's tried, proven, safe and reliable.

Here, we have our latest discovery gog: the View Solace. The Solace has been around for a year or two, but we've paid proper attention to them only with the ending of the Fully Sick line, which we'd worn for years. We tried the Solace when looking for a replacement.

What we found was a goggle with wide, comfy silicone seal, very wide breadth of vision, clear lens, and good sun protection and filter. Then we realised the price: one of the best gogs we've ever worn, and for $20!

Check them out, and all our gogs, accessories, goos, cossies, etc, and order now... Click here

Mana Fiji SwimFest

Don't be confused

fiji mana start 1610 01

We have our packages online now for the Mana Fiji SwimFest, this year from October 15-20. But there is another swim event happening in Fiji over the southern winter, and we gather there is some confusion as to which is which.

There are major differences between the two. But, like anything, which one you prefer depends on what you're looking for in a Fiji swim experience.

In the new event, you're based on the mainland in a busy resort and bussed or ferried out to swim venues each day. You can swim off the beach at your resort, but it's estuarine water... Not like it is on the reef.

In the Mana Fiji SwimFest, you're based on the island, next to the reef, and life is quiet, slow. You're right at the swim location. No diesel fumes or crowded buses from dail;y commutes. And the water! It's correct that, the farther out you go from the mainland, the better the water, and Mana Island has some of the best water in Fiji. And you won't see the sea life that you see off Mana at your busy resort on the mainland, or even in the daily swim locations.

We reckon there really is no comparison. But we would say that. We say it also because we know the difference between the two.

Look for Mana Fiji

In the Mana Fiji SwimFest, there are two swim days: the 10km (solos or 3x3.3km relays) on Thursday, and 5km, 2.5km, and 1km on Saturday. Packages include accommdoation, all meals on Mana Island, ferry transfers and swim entry packages for both swim days. They also include a 30 per cent discount off Mana Island Resort's normal nett rates until July 31.

Plus a whole lot of other fun in Ocean Swimming Stadium, the best spot in the Pacific for an ocean swim (see pic above).

Packages start at $A1,909 pp Twin/Double share and $A2,772 single.

Add the Yasawas on to your visit to the Mana Fiji SwimFest Oct 15-20... Click here

More info... Click here

To book... Click here

#EarlyMorningSwim

Portfolio of a Fridee

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It was like the start of autumn at Main Beach at Forster last Fridee.

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Lone swimmer: Johnny Goldfinger.

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2019 oceanswimsafaris

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Whale sharks off Oslob... Our day excursion during our Philippines oceanswimsafari...

Get remote in Sulawesi - Indonesia (June 11-19, 2019 - bookings open now) - In 2019, we're making this our Adventure oceanswimsafari. As well as two swim days, around the Bunaken Islands, we'll also have two dive days. This, in an area known for having the greatest marine biodiversity in the Indo-Pacific region. Lots of ocean swimmers dive as well as swim. To add to the seaborne adventures, we also have two land-based adventures: our Highlands tour, including our visit to "The Extreme Market" (make of that what you will); and 9km of whitewater rafting down the Nimanga River. And the food is sensational at one of the prettiest boutique resorts you will ever experience. If you don't dive, we'll still swim whilst divers are down below.

Our resort on Sulawesi is near the northern tip of this enormous island of surreal shape. It's well away from the area affected recently by tsunami. Indeed, the resort is built high on a steep hill, by the sea, well above the risk area for tsunamis.

More info and to book... Click here

Pristine reef and whale sharks in The Philippines (June 22-29, 2019, Open for bookings) - Come with us on another exotic oceanswimsafari, and swim with whale sharks. Our visit to the island of Negros Oriental includes swims over some of the healthiest, most abundant coral reef that we’ve ever experienced. And that part of the ocean – the top of the Celebes Sea – boasts the greatest marine diversity in the entire Indo-Pacific region. (Our Sulawesi oceanswimsafari, at the southern end of the Celebes Sea, also gives you the chance to experience this.) In The Philippines, our accommodation is 5-star, with food, wines and luxuriance to match. We’ll also go on a day excursion to the neighbouring island of Cebu, where the local fisherfolk offer a chance to swim with whale sharks, which come in each day to feed. Bookings coming in now.

More info and to book… Click here

Swim with whales in Tonga (open for bookings) – Hot on the heels of an inspiring three weeks in Tonga, with three oceanswimsafaris to swim with humpback whales, we’ve opened bookings to our 2019 Tonga series. Be aware, with three oceanswimsafaris on offer again next year, two already are full (clever people got in very early to hold places with the oceanswimsafaris Advance Deposit Scheme [oADS]). The middle Tonga oceanswimsafari (July 23-31) has four places remaining. Packages are on oceanswimsafaris.com now.

More info and to book… Click here

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The start of the swim around Isla Santa Clara, in the Basque country.

Food and wine, and swimming in the Basque country - San Sebastián (Spain, Aug 21-27, 2019 - bookings open soon) - This oceanswimsafari just keeps getting better and better: we have a week in San Sebastián, one of Europe's most interesting cities, culminating in the swim around the Isla Santa Clara. In 2019, we're adding a day's excursion into French Basque country, too. Packages online now... Click here

Wild swimming, food, adventure, history, and culcha on the Costa Brava - (Spain, Sep 6-14, 2019 - bookings open soon) - One of our most popular oceanswimsafaris, along Catalonia's "wild coast", where the water, the swimming, the food, the wine, the history and the culture all clamour to be the highlight. Packages online now... Click here

The best Blue Lagoon in the Yasawas - One of our most popular oceanswimsafaris, to Fiji's remote Yasawa island group, will follow the Mana Island swims: October 20-28. Packages available now. Add the Yasawas on to your visit to the Mana Fiji SwimFest Oct 15-20... 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...

New - Nowra-Culburra (Apr 20), Caves Beach (Apr 28), Bondi (Apr 28) (rescheduled date)

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

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Check out the world's best, and best value goggles and swim accessories in the oceanswims boutique... Click here

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

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February 20, 2019

In our 20th season as the hub of ocean swimming

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Heads down: Peter Thiel, Man of Steel, starts as he means to finish at Malabar last Sundee. And yet... (See below)

This issue...

Swims this weekend...

Personal story: Ella Foote

‘People say I am fearless. But that's rubbish. I am human’

By Natalie Morris

From metro.uk
February7 12, 2019

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Pics: Ella Foote/Metro.co.uk

Women have long been indoctrinated with the idea that you have to look a certain way in order to be fit. It’s everywhere. Adverts, social media, TV shows – the only women who get to be strong, healthy and love their bodies are size 6 Instagram models, clad head-to-toe in lycra with intimidating abs and an inexplicable thigh gap. It teaches us over and over again that this is the ideal female form. And anything that doesn’t fit the mould is wrong, even shameful. The world of fitness and women’s sport is crying out for more diverse representation. Women of all ages, sizes, races and abilities can be strong, fit and unbelievably inspirational.

But we never get to see them. A huge study by Sport England found that 75 per cent of women say fear of judgement puts them off being active. And 40 per cent of women over the age of 16 aren’t meeting the recommended levels of weekly fitness. So it’s more important than ever for women to reclaim the narrative and celebrate their inner strength. Regardless of what they look like. This series aims to redefine what it means to be a strong woman. We will meet some of the incredible ladies who are challenging accepted norms every single day. This week we meet Ella Foote, an outdoor swimmer who braves the cold year-round and couldn’t care less how you think she looks in a swimming costume.

Your relationship with fitness

At school, fitness and exercise was something either compulsory or not enjoyable. The exercise I enjoyed most was the kind where I didn’t notice I was getting in shape when I did it. Spending hours on my bike with my mates, dancing, heading to the ice rink to meet boys, evenings at the roller disco and Saturdays at the swimming pool. When I left university, I didn’t really know how to keep in shape. I hated the gym. Around 2007, I asked myself – what sport do I really enjoy doing when it doesn’t feel like effort? The answer was swimming. Ploughing up and down the pool wasn’t fun though, swimming in the sea – now that is what brought me joy.

I found a mile sea swim challenge raising money for the British Heart Foundation and set my sights on it. I went to the pool to train. I was covering a mile no problem, but, when it came to the event, my weak breaststroke wasn’t enough and I didn’t finish the mile. The tide was against me and I had to walk to the finish. I was so embarrassed. So I went back to the pool, had a couple of lessons to improve my front crawl and then practised it.

The following summer I conquered the mile sea swim. It felt fantastic, I wanted to do more. I didn’t live near the sea, I started to seek rivers and lakes locally to get my outdoor swimming fix. I was(n't) interested in wetsuits or speed. I wanted to feel the water. I met strangers in riverside car parks, I swam in lakes with eels swimming beneath me and weeds stroking my legs. It was a combination of love and fear. I was hooked.

I started to learn I was a pretty hardy swimmer, could handle the cold well and my stubborn nature spurred me on to finish a swim despite my fleshy and wobbly figure. I had always hated my body – consistently striving to be thinner – but in the water I loved it. By the end of 2012, I had completed many more short distance open water swims and an English Channel relay swim. In 2014, I set myself the task to swim the Dart 10k and also completed the Thames Marathon swim of 14k from Henley bridge to Marlow. Today, I swim all year-round, rain, shine or snow.

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What challenges have you faced?

In 2015, the annual Active People survey found that almost half a million women in England have given up swimming in the past decade amid fears about how they look in a swimsuit. I am consistently asked about my relationship with my body and wearing a swimsuit. I don’t think men are asked this question or women who are thinner. Swimming is the kind of sport where you can’t actually judge a person’s fitness by what they look like. You can be a strong and decent distance swimmer and be overweight. I am overweight, I don’t look ‘sexy’ in a swimsuit. I have had to learn not to care what people think of what I look like in my cossie, because I know my body is strong in the water. It breaks my heart when I hear women put themselves down, not go for a swim for fear of what their body looks like in a swimming costume. Many women have said to me, “I love swimming, but can’t face putting a swimsuit on – I don’t know how you do it.”

Another barrier is that brands, particularly outdoor brands, don’t do plus-size clothing. I realise it is an investment in time and money to explore bigger clothing ranges, but often the biggest barrier into exercise is failing at the first hurdle and not being able to find something comfortable to wear. I often walk across hills and up mountains for a good swim spot, it is impossible to find decent, confidence boosting clothing that supports my body and is practical. I’m often forced to wear men’s clothing.

Why do you think of yourself as a strong woman?

People often say I am fearless. But that is rubbish. I am human, I am often afraid. The difference is I do it anyway. I can’t ever look back and know I didn’t do something because I was afraid. I will get into rivers, lakes, ponds and seas. I look marine creatures in the eye underwater and let the weeds brush against my skin. I peer off into deep dark shelves in the seabed, not knowing what is down there. I have swum across channels and leapt off rocks. I have scared myself, I have gasped in fear of not knowing what just touched my leg. The trade-off is I am having the time of my life. I have met the most inspiring, kind and wonderful people. Listened to stories, become a story. Swum in the most stunning parts of the UK and parts of Europe. I am not afraid to do it alone, because there isn’t someone willing to hold my hand, or be at the end of the finishing line or rescue me when it goes wrong. I live in the faith that, on the whole, people are good and it will be alright in the end.

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What about role models – what do we need to see more of?

In the media, there are no women like me. Across social media, there are lots of amazing women breaking down the barriers, challenging ideas and doing it anyway. You have to really seek them out. I am not a bigger woman who is overweight and proud. I would like to be in better shape, for my health and strength. Not for any other reason. I realise images of me in my swimsuit aren’t going to sell swimsuits to the masses, but it might sell more swimsuits to more women who have been afraid to swim for fear of what they look like. I often get messages on through my social media thanking me for inspiring them to get back in the water. You don’t have to be thin or athletic looking to be strong. But you do to sell products.

I don’t think women are scared to be perceived as strong. The fear comes from not ever being able to crack or be seen as anything but strong. Once you are seen as a strong person, it is hard to admit when you feel like marshmallow. There are still women who I meet, even some of my friends, who ask for help when they are capable and strong enough to do things themselves. While there is no shame in asking for help, it is still a perception that we are more attractive when we play the needy, girly and cute card.

While many men love strong women, there are a great number who don’t. While they might say they do, they like nothing more than to be a rescuer. My exercise isn’t just a way to keep mentally and physically fit, it is also a passion and joy. To be immersed in nature, feel the pull of the water down your body as you glide down a river or along a coast. A mix of fear of all you can’t see below you and joy from all you can see above. The pins and needles of winter swimming, red prickled skin. Mud between your toes and anxiety of how far the end point is. Not knowing, but knowing your body is good and strong. There is no greater feeling.

Heads up, or heads down?

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Ageless brief Peter Thiel is an example to every swimmer who wishes to be competitive in his attitude and commitment to racing. That commitment starts at the start, and finishes only when he finishes. We got this pic (above) of Peter at the Cole Classic @ Manly on February 3. It's a stunning pose, although Pete doesn't "pose". His racing is his purpose. But we were disquieted by it, as we were of the earlier image of Peter starting at Malabar last Sundee (see pic at the top of this newsletter, if you haven't already). Have another look at Thiel starting at North Bondi a few seasons back...

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Peter Thiel shows an almost perfect streamline in his dive, and we all know that the streamline is the optimal body position to get through the water with minimum resistance. It's what we all strive for in our swimming. But we worry...

Note Thiel's head: it's low, below the arms. Two things occur to us: being so far below the arms, it will create resistance as soon as it hits the water. This will place pressure on the neck and force a wall of water ahead of him which will slow his forward progress. We worry particularly about Pete's head and neck being so exposed to impact in shallow water. The Cole start, above, at Shelly Beach, is in shallow water, although the bottom is quite clear of obstacles and hazards. Not so at Malabar, where there is a rocky bottom close in, although the high tide offered some protection. Never mind, rocks or no, if you hit your head on the bottom, you're in trouble. These pics make us wince.

We spoke to Thiel about this afterwards: we said, "Pete, we worry about your head being so low". He says he has to keep his chin on his chest to protect his gogs. Quite. We all must do that, otherwise the gogs come flying off as soon as you hit the water. But can you keep your chin down without lowering the head below the protection of the arms? Stand up and try it yourself: pull the chin back to the neck/chest, but keep your head between your arms. Depending on your body, it should be possible, and we would argue it is safer and more streamlined.

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The other extreme at Malabar: Perhaps aquaplaning is the safest, most efficient way at the start.

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To our mind, Lochie Hinds has it pretty well right: note the streamline, but note, too, the head between the arms. And note, parenthetically, the chap next to Lochie, and his head position. Kiddies, if you're practising your starts, we'd suggest you emulate Thiel's commitment and overall streamline, but Hinds's streamline and head.

(Apologies, Pete. We mean this in the most generous possible way.)

Last week in Controversy Corner

Nanny state?

From Carolyn Kearney...

I figured that the cancellation of last Sunday’s North Bondi swims was consideration for those poor lifesavers who would have had to try to sit out there in place on their boards for over an hour at a time. Because there was no real ‘out the back’ for them to sit in peace watching over us slower crawlers and newbies. It was a fairly bumpy swell out past Ben Buckler and beyond! Plus, don’t forget these races are for everyone, not just those who can handle such rough conditions.

From Rhett Sampson...

I'm a member of North Bondi and ran the Sunday surf race for several years. We were all disappointed not to be able to run the Classic last Sunday. As you have said, we have to cater for the weakest swimmers and everyone agrees it was way too big for them. The surf race is different as we are dealing with known levels of competence and it's run under SLSA club rules and safety. Which gave me the idea of adding a "bronze medallion holders" category. In conditions like last Sunday, organisers could limit starters to bronzies only. They would know levels of competence and at least some of the keener swimmers would get a swim. We were all out surfing anyway! Wondering what people think about this?

To which we asked...

Interesting suggestion, Rhett. Would you restrict it to Bronze holders with current proficiency? Bronze in surf or pool? I know swimmers who can handle those conditions but don’t have that formal qual. Could we accommodate them?

And Rhett replied...

That's the problem you need some sort of criteria and unfortunately SLSA and LSA are the only accredited universal ones. Opportunity for an enterprising swim coach/school! Think LSA (pool) would be mostly OK although I know a few pool swimmers who would have struggled out there on Sunday. Even a few SLSA bronzes! I think quite a few swimmers would be bronzes. Maybe Spot or someone could get a surf accreditation program going for the rest? I'll suggest it next time I see him. Heading off for a surf now it's back up again! ?

From Ian Mackey...

I was further up the coast at Avoca competing at the Masters Branch Championships on the same day and the surf there was also large & quite challenging. Just around the corner at MacMasters Beach ( my home club ) the beach was closed due to rough conditions & it was no worse than Avoca.

I didn’t feel in danger in the surf swim however you had to keep your wits about you. The large sets were breaking in line with the swim cans out the back & swimming back in was a bit hairy!

I am glad the organisers didn’t cancel our carnival as it became easier as the tide came in.

I think ocean swims are a bit different to surf carnivals as many ocean swimmers are not overly confident in the waves & for the water patrol guys there are a lot more people to keep an eye on. For this reason I can understand the decision made at North Bondi but obviously sympathise also with the out of pocket competitors!

Maybe these out of pocket ocean swimmers should join the masters surf ranks – both complement each other.

From Mark Rosen...

We have become a country obsessed with safety, driven by a fear of too many lawyers lurking in the background scaring the awgies and safety crew. You only need to brandish the word 'Safety' and you can get away with any outlandish decision.

We need to peel off the cotton wool and open our eyes to the real risks of being alive and living life to the full. It was a Bad & Cowardly decision at North Bondi last weekend.

From Russell Wilson...

I’m not sure but I think my first open water race was in 1977, near the 90 mile beach in southern Victoria. Wetsuits weren’t even invented for swimming. Only the girls wore caps, and lycra was only for the fasties. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I have swum and also played water polo, done Surf Lifesaving, etc, forever. But, with wife, 4 kids and a business to run, training is a quick 2-3 times per week coupla k’s, and footy training with No 2 son's local AFL club.

It used to get me a little upset that I went from top 20 in my age to top 30 etc. Then an accident happened. Dislocated my elbow. So, cutting off the sleeve off an old wettie, but considerable swelling and pain, I couldn’t imagine not swimming in a few swims. So…… I didn’t want my arm knocked etc, so went in last. And…. Just swam along. Ignoring the peleton. And a whole new world popped up. I took in the surrounds, and amazing what’s out there. And another thing happened, as I was a reasonable swimmer, I went past people, so the competitive juices got a workout. And an even better thing happened, one day, there was a little old lady, in the grand masters, and with a bit of chop/wind etc, and she wasn’t looking good to finish. I did the gentlemanly thing, said I would swim with her. I received a smile that was worth a fortune. At the end, I was thanked by the whole family.

So mojo is a myth. To borrow JFK….”THINK NOT WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUSELF, BUT WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR FELLOW SWIMMER”. And as the famous AFL coach Tom Hafey used to say “ you can rest for a very long time”. I know that a number of swims have 400m swims, for the kids, but I can see 400m swims for the over 80’s!!

Keep swimming, never give up, enjoy every day, and look around, you’ll be amazed at what is out there….

Scallywag

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Our cobber, Killer, one of the most colourful people we know, and certainly one of the naughtiest, turned up at the 3 Points Challenge at North Curl Curl c. 2007 looking like this. He'd had it printed on his person before he'd left home in Mur'bah. Killer stayed in a motel in Manly overnight and, when he woke, he found his banner printed on the sheets. That's a real fan.


Staff snapper Glistening Dave unearthed it this week, going through his records. (Pic by David Helsham.)

Malabar from below

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Around the booee

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Flyer.

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Cott to Rott this Sat'dee

Perhaps the event of the Strã'an ocean swimming season -- maybe even the world's -- is this Sat'dee in Perth: the Rottnest Channel Swim. We believe it is the biggest ocean swim in the world, in terms of swimmers, distance, logistics, all that stuff. There are larger swims in enclosed water -- lakes, etc -- but no bigger in the ocean, we believe. Plenty of mugs will be there from all over the country, and no doubt from overseas, too. One such mug will be Lizzie Crowhurst, author of the best-selling faux-Ladybird guide, How to Ocean Swim. Lizzie is swimming Rotto in a team for CanToo (see below).

Here's Lizzie's preview...Click here

Online entries this weekend...

Blue water at Bondi, we hope

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A festival of events at Bondi this Sunday: two swims, a beach run, and a Nipper challenge. Something for every member of the family.

But be aware, at this point, conditions on Sunday are not looking good. Swell is forecast at the moment to be c. 4m on Sunday morn, from the east, which means it will come pretty well straight in to the middle of Bondi. As well, wind is predicted at the moment to be rather stiff from the sou'-east, after a peak over Sat'dee night of 40.6kmh. Organisers will make a call on Friday as to whether this event goes ahead and whether it mght be cancelled for 2019 or postponed. Trouble is, at this stage of the season, there aren't many possible alternative dates available, given everything else that's going on. If we were you, we'd hold off entering till we hear more on Friday. In the meantime, you can keep an eye on conditions too through any number of websites and apps.

Two swim distances on offer at Bondi: 1km and 2.1km, and there's a 4km beach run, and a Nipper Challenge, like an ironman.

Online entries to the Bondi Bluewater Challenge close on oceanswims.com at 3pm on Saturday, February 23... Click here

Palm Beach to Shelly

There's new marathon swim being held on March 30 from Palm Beach on Sydney's northern beaches to Shelly Beach, just by Manly. It's called, Another Level Marathon Swim 26km.

The organiser came to us at the outset to let you all know about it, but then we didn't hear from him for two weeks. Apparently, now he's happy to keep it quiet. "I'm up and running and have 26 people already," awgie Tim Garrett told us earlier this month. "Expecting to get more than 30 people.

"I'm happy to keep it small this year to iron out problems and ensure all safety aspects are ok. Happy to stay small this year and grow incrementally each year."

We'd love to tell you more, but Garrett does not respond much to our emails, although he made the initial contact. He hasn't even told us his website address... Click here

This swim is not for the impecunious: $350 for a solo entry, $650 for duos, and $1,200 for a quad team. You need to provide your own boat and paddler. There are 18 entrants on the Progress entries list so far... Click here

They Can Swim, Too

Goals achieved at last

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A school of Can Too swimmers reached their ocean swim goal at the Murray Rose Malabar Magic Swim on Sunday.

Some first-time ocean swimmers were thrilled to finally say they ‘can too ocean swim’ after their official goal event, the North Bondi Classic, was cancelled due to rough conditions the week before.

Michelle Moore (above) was one of the first time Can Tooers who before joining Can Too was terrified to swim in the ocean.

“I never thought I’d be able to do a 1km ocean swim as swimming was my downfall, I could only breaststroke” said Michelle.

cantoo logo 150That all changed since she completed a 14-week learn to ocean swim program with the Can Too Foundation, which raises money for cancer research and prevention. She swam on Sunday for her friend Joshua Dodds.
Joshua loved the water, he was a keen swimmer and boat skipper, and he tragically passed away as a 24-year-old from Leukemia, a type of blood cancer, in 2013.

Michelle raised $3,800 for Can Too which funds Australian cancer researchers, including Dr Najoua Lalaoui whose work has led to the filing of international patents for new cancer drugs targeting leukemia.

On Sunday the 32-year-old completed the one-kilometre Murray Rose Malabar Magic Swim along with almost 600 other swimmers on the day.

“I never thought I’d be able to do a 1km ocean swim doing freestyle the whole way. Dedicating my swim to Josh kept me going on a weekly basis when I wanted to give up and through the whole swim journey today I thought about him.”

And beyond

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Can Tooers bound for Rotto and the English Channel... (rear, l-r), John Cadden and Grant Campbell, and (front, l-r), Kim Cook, Mark Ellis, and Lizzie Crowhurst.

Other Can Too devotees who raced the Malabar Magic Swim event were there to support people with disabilities as well, as the Malabar swim raises money for the Rainbow Club which teaches children with disabilities to swim.

Can Too Beyond participant Lizzie Crowhurst, who completed both the 1km and 2.5km swims on Sunday is inspired to ocean swim by her husband Mark Ellis.

Mark Ellis knows too well what it’s like to live with a disability. He was a Royal Marine with permanent leg injuries and acquired a spinal cord injury from a tragic surf accident and surgical intervention which resulted in him having to learn to walk again. He is a C3 ASIA C Tetraplegic, known as an incomplete quadriplegic.

Liz says that she swims around 12-14kms a week to train for a Can Too Beyond program to swim the English Channel, not for herself, but for Mark.

“Certainly, it’s not something I would contemplate without him and his courage," Lizzie says. "There is something about ruthless misfortune that makes us realise how strong we really are and inspires us to live the life that we might not have tomorrow.

“If Mark refuses to be defined by his disability, why should the rest of us be confined by being only average swimmers? Ordinary people can do extraordinary things.”

Like many of the swimmers at Malabar on Sunday, Mark Ellis is not letting his disability hold him back. Rather, he has set his sights on goals that most able-bodied people would baulk at.

With his fellow Can Too friends Kim Cook, John Cadden, Grant Campbell, wife Lizzie, and Glenda Hunter-Brittain, they’re training to swim the icy waters of the English Channel, 33.7kms at the shortest distance, to raise money for the Can Too Foundation... Click here

Last year, Mark raised $25,720 for Royal Rehab’s Return2Sport Program and Can Too by swimming the 11km South Head Roughwater.

Unfortunately, due to an infection, a complication from his injuries Mark was unable to swim at Malabar on Sunday, but he cheered on his teammates, Kim, John, Grant, and Lizzie. The infection will see him on shore watching their next goal --- the 19.7km Rottnest Channel Swim next Saturday in Perth (see Lizzie's blob, above). Mark says he can’t wait to get back in the ocean to train for the Balmoral 5km Swim in April, and for the English Channel swim in September. 

Find out more about Can Too... Click here

Emma Brown
Can Too

Get them now

Last Gents' cossies to sell out

bs cossies both bothStocks of our oceanswims cossies are running down. We have only two sizes remaining available in the Gents' cossies (28 and 30), although we have all sizes available in the Laydees' cossies except 10.

To celebrate, we've reduced the cost of the Gents' cossies to only $40. Laydees cossies also have been reduced, now to $75.

Get them now, as they say, whilst stocks last.

We also offer View, the world's best, and best value gogs and swim accessories. We've been using View for years. In fact, we were using View well before they approached us to work with them. That's why we can say how good they are.

Now, with our new shopping cart, you can browse all that we have to offer - View gogs and accessories, oceanswims.com cossies, tow floats, and Cecily's Stinger Suits. Ordering and paying by secure server uses the same process as our online entries, which means it's tried, proven, safe and reliable.

Here, we have our latest discovery gog: the View Solace. The Solace has been around for a year or two, but we've paid proper attention to them only with the ending of the Fully Sick line, which we'd worn for years. We tried the Solace when looking for a replacement.

What we found was a goggle with wide, comfy silicone seal, very wide breadth of vision, clear lens, and good sun protection and filter. Then we realised the price: one of the best gogs we've ever worn, and for $20!

Check them out, and all our gogs, accessories, goos, cossies, etc, and order now... Click here

oss 1770, May 2019

Busy week around the Great Barrier Reef

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We got Lady Musgrave Island on the most perfect day when we visited last October.

Packages are selling on our first inaugural oceanswimsafari to the Fraser Coast, the Discovery Coast, and the Great Barrier Reef May 25-June 1

And we have terrific news for all those who come with us: we'll be leading the 1770-Agnes Water leg of this oceanswimsafari with one of the world's most accomplished open water swimmers, Penny Palfrey, and her partner, Chris, who are residents of the Town of 1770.

It will be a seven-night oceanswimsafari, starting with a weekend in Hervey Bay, day trips to Fraser Island and the two great gems of the southern Great Barrier Reef, Lady Elliott Island and Lady Musgrave Island, and four days on the Discovery Coast around the twin towns of Agnes Water and 1770.

This is a week of informal swims -- several of them on the Great Barrier Reef -- and adventures in a part of the world that most of us would never get to otherwise. If you do only one holiday this year, then this is it.

More info and to book... Click here

Mana Fiji packages online now...

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We have our packages online now for the Mana Fiji SwimFest, this year from October 15-20. There are two swim days: the 10km (solos or 3x3.3km relays) on Thursday, and 5km, 2.5km, and 1km on Saturday. Packages include accommdoation, all meals on Mana Island, ferry transfers and swim entry packages for both swim days. They also include a 30 per cent discount off Mana Island Resort's normal nett rates until July 31.

Plus a whole lot of other fun in Ocean Swimming Stadium, the best spot in the Pacific for an ocean swim (see pic above).

Packages start at $A1,909 pp Twin/Double share and $A2,772 single.

Add the Yasawas on to your visit to the Mana Fiji SwimFest Oct 15-20... Click here

More info... Click here

To book... Click here

2019 oceanswimsafaris

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Whale sharks off Oslob... Our day excursion during our Philippines oceanswimsafari...

Get remote in Sulawesi - Indonesia (June 11-19, 2019 - bookings open now) - In 2019, we're making this our Adventure oceanswimsafari. As well as two swim days, around the Bunaken Islands, we'll also have two dive days. This, in an area known for having the greatest marine biodiversity in the Indo-Pacific region. Lots of ocean swimmers dive as well as swim. To add to the seaborne adventures, we also have two land-based adventures: our Highlands tour, including our visit to "The Extreme Market" (make of that what you will); and 9km of whitewater rafting down the Nimanga River. And the food is sensational at one of the prettiest boutique resorts you will ever experience. If you don't dive, we'll still swim whilst divers are down below.

Our resort on Sulawesi is near the northern tip of this enormous island of surreal shape. It's well away from the area affected recently by tsunami. Indeed, the resort is built high on a steep hill, by the sea, well above the risk area for tsunamis.

More info and to book... Click here

Pristine reef and whale sharks in The Philippines (June 22-29, 2019, Open for bookings) - Come with us on another exotic oceanswimsafari, and swim with whale sharks. Our visit to the island of Negros Oriental includes swims over some of the healthiest, most abundant coral reef that we’ve ever experienced. And that part of the ocean – the top of the Celebes Sea – boasts the greatest marine diversity in the entire Indo-Pacific region. (Our Sulawesi oceanswimsafari, at the southern end of the Celebes Sea, also gives you the chance to experience this.) In The Philippines, our accommodation is 5-star, with food, wines and luxuriance to match. We’ll also go on a day excursion to the neighbouring island of Cebu, where the local fisherfolk offer a chance to swim with whale sharks, which come in each day to feed. Bookings coming in now.

More info and to book… Click here

Swim with whales in Tonga (open for bookings) – Hot on the heels of an inspiring three weeks in Tonga, with three oceanswimsafaris to swim with humpback whales, we’ve opened bookings to our 2019 Tonga series. Be aware, with three oceanswimsafaris on offer again next year, two already are full (clever people got in very early to hold places with the oceanswimsafaris Advance Deposit Scheme [oADS]). The middle Tonga oceanswimsafari (July 23-31) has four places remaining. Packages are on oceanswimsafaris.com now.

More info and to book… Click here

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The start of the swim around Isla Santa Clara, in the Basque country.

Food and wine, and swimming in the Basque country - San Sebastián (Spain, Aug 21-27, 2019 - bookings open soon) - This oceanswimsafari just keeps getting better and better: we have a week in San Sebastián, one of Europe's most interesting cities, culminating in the swim around the Isla Santa Clara. In 2019, we're adding a day's excursion into French Basque country, too. Packages online now... Click here

Wild swimming, food, adventure, history, and culcha on the Costa Brava - (Spain, Sep 6-14, 2019 - bookings open soon) - One of our most popular oceanswimsafaris, along Catalonia's "wild coast", where the water, the swimming, the food, the wine, the history and the culture all clamour to be the highlight. Packages online now... Click here

The best Blue Lagoon in the Yasawas - One of our most popular oceanswimsafaris, to Fiji's remote Yasawa island group, will follow the Mana Island swims: October 20-28. Packages available now. Add the Yasawas on to your visit to the Mana Fiji SwimFest Oct 15-20... 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.)

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

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February 13, 2019

Our 20th season as the hub of ocean swimming

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Look down the barrel: #EarlyMorningSwim at Forster last week.

This issue...

Swims this weekend...

Circle of life

The Yeah, Nah syndrome: is that wrong?

One of our cobbers tells us, “I’ve lost my mojo”.

We don’t see this cobber on the beach for formal swims as much as we used to, on account of this missing “mojo”.

We’ve never been quite sure what “mojo” or “a mojo” is. We’ve always taken it to be a catch-all term for “I don’t feel like it right now”, something useful in the bedroom, perhaps. If you’re not quite sure what’s wrong, maybe you’ve “lost your mojo”. If eventually, you feel like it again, you’ve “got your mojo back”.

In any case, our cobber just doesn’t feel like doing formal swims any more. This means, they’re not that interested in turning up week in, week out, paying $40 to swim around a course that they could swim around at any time by themselves, or with a peloton of like-minded cobbers, for free. Also because they’ve already done pretty well every course on offer around their particular joint many times over.

We’re seeing this condition increasingly amongst veteran ocean swimmers. The bloggist, Angela van Boxtel, wrote, almost apologetically, after the Cole Classic @ Manly – a swim she did not do, for the first time since she’s been an ocean swimmer – that she wasn’t fussed about it.

“This year I decided the challenge had gone,” Angela wrote. “What else is there to explore? Paying $60 for a swim? Nahh couldn't bother. Especially after figures that during the 5km swims over the last years I hardly seen any water safety or no water safety at all. I could as well swum that course just by myself as what's the difference?”

Another cobber was doing 90-minute squads twice a week, over 4km per session. "I've had a bad shoulder," she says. "I love challenging myself over a session, but then it takes me two days to recover and a trip to the physio. Where's the value in that for me? For my body and my bank account?"

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Head down: Laydee swimmer near the first turning booee, Cole Classic @ Manly.

Just do it

For our part, we used to take the attitude that, if there’s a swim on, you do it. Because it’s there. And awgies should be supported. And if you don’t do it, because you couldn’t be arsed, then awgies themselves might not be arsed. If they’ve gone to the effort to put it on, then we’re obliged to do it. We felt.

No longer. Two years ago, we got to the end of an eight-month season and realised that we’d hardly swum a full course all year. There is another reason for this, but. We take pitchers, to show you, and often by the time we’ve finished taking those pitchers at the start of a swim, everyone’s gone, and we’re so far behind that there’s little point then schlepping around the course to capture images of the empty sea. So we might go out to the final turning booee and get them coming back, but we wouldn’t do the entire course.

We recall the Dawny swim at Balmain two seasons back: after we’d “snapped” the mob entering the water and starting, we saw that we were so far behind that we would end up swimming the entire course alone. So, instead, we decided we’d head across towards Cockatoo Island to “the final turning booee”, and wait for the mob to catch up to us, “snapping” them again as they headed back to the finish. We figured we might have 15 minutes to wait. And, in one of the perceived “sharkiest” parts of the upper reaches of Sydney Harbour, it would be ok because there’d be plenty of water safety craft about.

Big call

And wrong. We found ourselves bob-bob-bobbing around in what seemed like the loneliest part of the harbour, by ourselves, for more than half an hour, before the mob came back. In that time, there were no water safety craft, motorised or paddled – they were with the mob, weren’t they! – and we were absolutely alone. Alone. In the middle of the bull shark-infested Sydney Harbour. With no escorts; no accompaniment; no protection; no safety; no idea; and no way out. We don’t mind saying, we have never been scareder in our lives.

The “Mojo question” is a function of what some might see as the “yeah, nah” stage of a career as an ocean swimmer.

Is that wrong?

We’ve seen countless new ocean swimmers who quickly become obsessed with the caper. They are there every week, whatever the conditions, and they are relentlessly enthusiastic. We’ve seen them start to write books about it. After a while, their enthusiasm ebbs. They’re still there, most weeks, but they’re not quite as perky. Then, one day, you realise that you haven’t seen them in quite a while. Something might have brought them to mind, something to remind you that they weren’t around any more. Every now and again, there’s a ghost from the past… Eg, last week, we received an email from The Park Wino, a good cobber who would do every swim, week in, week out, then relax in the park with his girlfriend and a bottle of wine. Then suddenly we didn’t see The Park Wino any more. It was about the time of the GFC, and he had other distractions, such as margin calls, but one moment he’s there; the next moment, he ain’t there. But it was nice to know that The Park Wino remains on our mailing list and he still reads this stuff. (BTW, we don’t see him also because he and his missus have found a spot on the North Coast that they reckon is their version of Forster.)

There’s Barry “The Lurv God” Lang, ditto, week in, week out, a truckie who spent his weekdays driving loads to Coles supermarkets around the state. Lurv God was a fan of oceanswims.com – perhaps our only ever self-confessed “fan” – well before he owned a ‘puter. He used to annoy his neighbour to go online to read our stuff. Then, during a trip to Byron Bay to do the swim there in early May, probably more than 10 years back, Lurv God bought a scratchie; and he won $10,000. He handed the winnings over, in toto, to Margaret, the Royal Grandmother, his long-suffering spouse, with the request that she should buy a ‘puter for themselves, so he wouldn’t have to keep annoying the neighbour. Which she did. Lurv God says it cost exactly $10,000. He used it as the centerpiece of “a shrine” – as he put it -- to himself at home, where he put on the wall all the pics of himself at swims, and hung his participation medals. We don’t see Lurv God much any more. He, too, has other distractions. But, every now and again, we see something from him on Fbook, or somewhere like that, that maintains the contact and we know he is still watching. It doesn’t matter how long we go without seeing the Lurv God or The Park Wino, we always know that, on the increasingly rare occasions on which we actually have contact with them, either in real time or cyberly, we are still cobbers who enjoy and appreciate each other’s company, and we value each other’s opinions, rubbish as they might be.

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Dalí: Forster, last week.

Culcha

We've watched the slowest swimmers in the world slog around a 3km course, and get out with the world's biggest grin on their faces. We've watched swimmers dive under a shore break, mistime the dive, land on pure sand, and flap about arms and legs, like a bloated baby turtle, as the wave crashes down on top of them, then float off to sea as if that's textbook way of getting through the break.

Which brings us to the real value of ocean swimming. Irrespective of the actual swims, the real value is the culcha deriving from the interaction of like-minded eccentrics and idiosyncratics who inhabit our world. The real value is the yarning and skiting, and the excuses and the stories about the kicks in the face – or somewhere more sensitive – from breaststrokers on the way around a booee; of being dumped in the break on the way back in; of being sent out at the start into the biggest set of the day; the mutual celebrations of a cobber’s daughter’s eisteddfod certificate; or finally completing their HSC and getting a job – at last they’re off their backsides and doing something, eh!; of the first date with that boy doing Biology I; of discovering, through the post-swim interactions around the fruit table on the beach or in nearby cafés, that the experiences you’ve had parallel the experiences of your cobbers. And how they deal with them gives you ideas as to how you can deal with yours. Of the camaraderie of discovering that you both know someone who lives in a town far, far away. The bonding and the recognition of mutuality of interests.

You don’t need to do formal swims to experience all this, but it helps. You get it, too, with your regular #earlymorningswim group, but these groups are narrow and localised, and the familiarity tends to dilute the daily discoveries. The beauty of the mob at the Sundee swim is that they’re from all over, from places that you’d otherwise never visit, from backgrounds that you’d never normally mix with. Take Lurv God again: he was a crewcutted, clean cut teetotaler with a zipper down his chest. We used to put him next to a swimmer of similar age, with longer hair, bigger chest, also with a zipper down his chest, and we’d dare people to pick which one was the truckie, and which the medico. Unless you knew, it was difficult to tell. They talk about golf being the great leveler, but few hobbies could be as leveling as ocean swimming, with everyone getting around only in their budgys.

And all this is what keeps us all coming back: the experience on a Sat’dee or a Sundee, tomorrer or yestee, is more than just the swim: it’s that each iteration of the same swim, and what goes with it, is another crystal in the kaleidoscope of one’s life. And we know what’s in a kaleidoscope: we’ve pulled apart one of Mr Slott’s from down on Caves Beach Rd. Mr Slott used to make kaleidoscopes as an hobby. Oh, that life was so straightforward.

See you on the beach.

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Triptych: Forster, last week.

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Nanny state?

We received this email this morning from Fin Crawford...

Just wondering if you have been getting much feedback back, comments and what your thoughts/take is on the number of cancellations this swim season?

Wedding Cake 1 (Nov 25) – just as our 50 to 60 years old wave was about to head off it was announced that it was too dangerous out the back of the island – even though
there were already a few hundred swimmers out back of the island! Sure, the southerly had arrived and was starting to pick up, but I’ve swum the Coogee Challenge in tougher conditions than that. Remember a few years back when one of the cans ended up in the middle of the island? We all knew the southerly was coming; it was forecast to arrive @ around 10 – 11AM, so why not get the whole event started a little earlier and shortening the gaps between the waves?

Thank goodness I did the 1km that day, so at least I got wet.

North Bondi Rough Water (Jan 13) – 1km cancelled – 2km cancelled. The officials then decided on the intriguing idea of a 1.2km swim! Surely, if you can have a 1.2km swim then you could have had the 1km swim as well? Or, even better, have the 1km and then do 2 laps of the 1km course to make a 2km swim, or at least close to a 2km swim? That day, the swell was a wimpy 2-3ft SE chop.

North Bondi Classic last Sunday (Feb 10) ………. a real clanger of a decision! MagicSeaweed said it was a 4 to 6ft swell ……. I think 6ft was stretching it a bit.

When the swims should and could have been held there was a gentle SSW crossshore/offshore breeze blowing which was grooming the course nicely. Most oceanswimmers dream of womping a wave in from out the back and beaching it and this was the day to do it. But, alas, the Fun Police, The Nanny State & OH & S all banded together to shut it all down. A real shame. At least I had a great bodysurf between the flags & everyone was trying to fathom why it had been canned. We would have all preferred to be doing the 2km swim.

Obviously, swimmers' safety is the main priority. Every time we enter the water there is a risk. I don’t believe that the risks were heightened enough to cancel any of the above swims, especially considering the number of support crew and craft that line the course these days. Certainly, if the organisers of these swims had been officiating at the 5 Beaches Swim, held in a sizeable and lumpy NE swell, it would have got the kybosh as well. To the best of my knowledge all entrants made it home to their loved ones that day.

Would really like to hear your and others thoughts on this subject.

Judging by the forecast, and that it is well protected, it is hard to see the Murray Rose Malabar Magic being canned this Sunday. Fingers crossed!

Thanks to all @ oceanswims for doing such a great job.

Finlay Crawford

os.c: It's a pleasure, Fin.

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Our little mate: The Morgan Ryan shark, Forster.

And whilst we're here...

About North Bondi...

And we should say, the North Bondi cancellation last Sundee was, we are advised, a call by the council lifeguards who have authority over Bondi beach. Your "Bondi Lifeguards". It was not a call by the club. We've had a lot of feedback over social meeja and by email from punters aggrieved by the decision and, like Fin, wondering what the problem was with the surf at North Bondi. We watched that break for several hours, and we agree with the call made on the day: there were a lot of heavy sets coming through; the swell was bigger darn sarth that it was oop north; there was a large rip in the middle of the finish area, which moved backwards and forwards along the beach throughout the morning; there was a strong side sweep; the flags were up -- thus, the beach was open -- but the flagged area was barely 15 metres. These conditions presented considerable issues for many swimmers. As well, your "Bondi Lifeguards", and your lifesavers, are the ones who have to pull out of the water punters who, for one reason or another, get into trouble, even if only in their own heads. They also are the ones who have to send water safety staff out in those conditions. There are myriad factors at play.

The most disappointed punters at any beach when a swim is called off are the awgies, who have put in a lot of work, and spent a lot of money, just to get to swim day. The last thing they want is that their swim does not go ahead.

So what do you all think?

Send us your thoughts and we'll publish them in Controversy Corner, in the online iteration of this newsletter... Click here

Hawai'i winners from North Bondi

Whilst the North Bondi Classic was cancelled last Sundee (see above), the club did later conduct the draw from swimmers who entered both North Bondi events this season for a male and a female winner of trips to Hawai'i. The winners were Donna Lodge and Glenn Clark.

Online entries this weekend...

Murray Rose's swim @ Malabar

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Malabar this Sunday, and one of the two major swims over the season that does not have logistics at their beck and call (the other being Balmoral Swim for Cancer on April 7). The Rainbow Club gets good support from North Bondi SLSC and its members in running this event in Long Bay. North Bondi was Murray Rose's surf club, and it's their way of paying tribute to him.

The beauty of Long Bay is that it is a long bay and, whilst you're swimming in the ocean, the bay ameliorates any swell. Depending on swell direction, you can get some that reaches the head of the bay, but very little, so you won't have issues such as the swell that led to the cancellation of the North Bondi Classic last Sunday (see above).

Two distances on offer: 1km and 2.5km, and there's a teams classification to help you raise funds for the Rainbow Club which exists to teach children with disabilities to swim. The Rainbow Club was Murray Rose's charity.

Online entries to the Murray Rose Malabar Magic close on oceanswims.com at 3pm on Saturday, February 16... Click here

War on plastic at Malabar

Awgies at the Murray Rose Malabar Magic are running a campaign to reduce the use of plastic and plastic waste by encouraging swimmers to bring their own water bottles to fill at stations at the beach on swim day. Alternatively, swimmers can buy an event water bottle to fill and then reuse.

The initiative avoids the use of single-use plastic or treated paper cups for post-swim water, many of which end up as rubbish.

Magic awgies say, "In an effort to support our environment, we will provide filling stations and encourage all swimmers to purchase a Malabar Magic Water bottle or bring your own to refill."

You can order your water bottle for $5 each as you enter online, and collect it on race day.

They Can Swim, Too

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Mum and daughter, (l-r) Elena and Melissa Rhodes, fronted at North Bondi last Sundee.

Whilst it was a shame that the North Bondi Classic was cancelled due to rough conditions on Sunday, as this was a goal event for the charity Can Too Foundation, that set back won’t stop them diving into ocean swimming again this month.

The Bondi Bluewater Challenge on Sunday 24 February was chosen by Can Too to be a reunion swim for the participants to make sure they still have the opportunity to demonstrate the ocean swimming skills they’ve learn in the program, to support each other to reach their swim goal and show their sponsors that they Can Too complete a swim at Sydney’s most iconic beach.

cantoo logo 150The cancellation is a reminder that the ocean is an unpredictable, powerful and sometimes dangerous force which makes ocean swimming such an achievement.

However, Can Tooers swim for more than their own achievement but to give a better chance to those affected by cancer by funding lifesaving Australian cancer research and prevention. The Foundation is on track to raise $750,000 training 650 people to ocean swim this season.

First time Can Tooer, Melissa Rhodes, said that she chose to swim for the charity, despite being scared to swim in deep water beforehand, after seeing two of her loved ones have a longer and better quality of life from taking part in cancer research clinical trials.

“Completing ocean swims is a testament to the journey my family members had with cancer, and each swim becomes a symbol of hope, a feeling of moving forward, and gives meaning to one of life’s most challenging moments, when your parents’ prognosis is terminal,” says Melissa.

She was inspired by Can Too’s Founder, Annie Crawford, who says that learning to ocean swim is just like life in general: the training allows you to build resilience through learning skills, and building mental toughness and physical fitness so you can overcome challenges.

If you want to learn to ocean swim and raise money for cancer research whilst being supported with mentors, team captains, coaches and water safety, there are limited spaces available in the Balmoral 1km and Balmoral 5km Can Too programs starting this month. (The Balmoral Swim for Cancer is on Sunday, April 7.)

Find out more... Click here

Emma Brown
Can Too

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Catalyst for culcha: Forster.

Our culcha

Tom Clague is part of a band that plays in the genre, "Shoegaze". No, we hadn't heard of it, either. Tom says, "This is a little number I improvised, after a morning swim with the B&B (Bold & Beautiful @ Manly) back in 2015. The track itself has since been played on UK radio, with the album it comes from being warmly received around the world. It's a bit arty (do we have many swimmers who also appreciate the genre "shoegaze"), but well I suppose part of the appeal of ocean swimming it takes all sorts, so give it a listen"... Click here

And, Tom says, there’s some writing about the swim that inspired the song, and the rest of the album here... Click here

This is what the website, allmusic.com, says about Shoegaze...

"Shoegaze is a genre of late '80s and early '90s British indie rock, named after the bands' motionless performing style, where they stood on stage and stared at the floor while they played.

But shoegaze wasn't about visuals -- it was about pure sound. The sound of the music was overwhelmingly loud, with long, droning riffs, waves of distortion, and cascades of feedback. Vocals and melodies disappeared into the walls of guitars, creating a wash of sound where no instrument was distinguishable from the other.

Most shoegaze groups worked off the template My Bloody Valentine established with their early EPs and their first full-length album, Isn't Anything, but Dinosaur Jr., the Jesus & Mary Chain, and the Cocteau Twins were also major influences. Bands that followed -- most notably Ride, Lush, Chapterhouse, and the Boo Radleys -- added their own stylistic flourishes. Ride veered close to '60s psychedelia, while Lush alternated between straight pop and the dream pop of the Cocteau Twins.

Almost none of the shoegazers were dynamic performers or interesting interviews, which prevented them from breaking through into the crucial U.S. market. In 1992 -- after the groups had dominated the British music press and indie charts for about three years -- the shoegaze groups were swept aside by the twin tides of American grunge and Suede, the band to initiate the wave of Britpop that ruled British music during the mid-'90s. Some shoegazers broke up within a few years (Chapterhouse, Ride), while other groups -- such as the Boo Radleys and Lush -- evolved with the times and were able to sustain careers into the late '90s."

Get your goggles now

V825A CBL 250We're having a good run of orders through our new shopping cart.

We offer View, the world's best, and best value gogs and swim accessories. We've been using View for years. In fact, we were using View well before they approached us to work with them. That's why we can say how good they are.

Now, with our new shopping cart, you can browse all that we have to offer - View gogs and accessories, oceanswims.com cossies, tow floats, and Cecily's Stinger Suits. Ordering and paying by secure server uses the same process as our online entries, which means it's tried, proven, safe and reliable.

Here, we have our latest discovery gog: the View Solace. The Solace has been around for a year or two, but we've paid proper attention to them only with the ending of the Fully Sick line, which we'd worn for years. We tried the Solace when looking for a replacement.

What we found was a goggle with wide, comfy silicone seal, very wide breadth of vision, clear lens, and good sun protection and filter. Then we realised the price: one of the best gogs we've ever worn, and for $20!

Check them out, and all our gogs, accessories, goos, cossies, etc, and order now... Click here

oss 1770, May 2019

Busy week around the Great Barrier Reef

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We got Lady Musgrave Island on the most perfect day when we visited last October.

Packages are selling on our first inaugural oceanswimsafari to the Fraser Coast, the Discovery Coast, and the Great Barrier Reef May 25-June 1

And we have terrific news for all those who come with us: we'll be leading the 1770-Agnes Water leg of this oceanswimsafari with one of the world's most accomplished open water swimmers, Penny Palfrey, and her partner, Chris, who are residents of the Town of 1770.

It will be a seven-night oceanswimsafari, starting with a weekend in Hervey Bay, day trips to Fraser Island and the two great gems of the southern Great Barrier Reef, Lady Elliott Island and Lady Musgrave Island, and four days on the Discovery Coast around the twin towns of Agnes Water and 1770.

This is a week of informal swims -- several of them on the Great Barrier Reef -- and adventures in a part of the world that most of us would never get to otherwise. If you do only one holiday this year, then this is it.

More info and to book... Click here

Mana Fiji packages online now...

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We have our packages online now for the Mana Fiji SwimFest, this year from October 15-20. There are two swim days: the 10km (solos or 3x3.3km relays) on Thursday, and 5km, 2.5km, and 1km on Saturday. Packages include accommdoation, all meals on Mana Island, ferry transfers and swim entry packages for both swim days. They also include a 30 per cent discount off Mana Island Resort's normal nett rates until July 31.

Plus a whole lot of other fun in Ocean Swimming Stadium, the best spot in the Pacific for an ocean swim (see pic above).

Packages start at $A1,909 pp Twin/Double share and $A2,772 single.

Add the Yasawas on to your visit to the Mana Fiji SwimFest Oct 15-20... Click here

More info... Click here

To book... Click here

2019 oceanswimsafaris

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Whale sharks off Oslob... Our day excursion during our Philippines oceanswimsafari...

Get remote in Sulawesi - Indonesia (June 11-19, 2019 - bookings open now) - In 2019, we're making this our Adventure oceanswimsafari. As well as two swim days, around the Bunaken Islands, we'll also have two dive days. This, in an area known for having the greatest marine biodiversity in the Indo-Pacific region. Lots of ocean swimmers dive as well as swim. To add to the seaborne adventures, we also have two land-based adventures: our Highlands tour, including our visit to "The Extreme Market" (make of that what you will); and 9km of whitewater rafting down the Nimanga River. And the food is sensational at one of the prettiest boutique resorts you will ever experience. If you don't dive, we'll still swim whilst divers are down below.

Our resort on Sulawesi is near the northern tip of this enormous island of surreal shape. It's well away from the area affected recently by tsunami. Indeed, the resort is built high on a steep hill, by the sea, well above the risk area for tsunamis.

More info and to book... Click here

Pristine reef and whale sharks in The Philippines (June 22-29, 2019, Open for bookings) - Come with us on another exotic oceanswimsafari, and swim with whale sharks. Our visit to the island of Negros Oriental includes swims over some of the healthiest, most abundant coral reef that we’ve ever experienced. And that part of the ocean – the top of the Celebes Sea – boasts the greatest marine diversity in the entire Indo-Pacific region. (Our Sulawesi oceanswimsafari, at the southern end of the Celebes Sea, also gives you the chance to experience this.) In The Philippines, our accommodation is 5-star, with food, wines and luxuriance to match. We’ll also go on a day excursion to the neighbouring island of Cebu, where the local fisherfolk offer a chance to swim with whale sharks, which come in each day to feed. Bookings coming in now.

More info and to book… Click here

Swim with whales in Tonga (open for bookings) – Hot on the heels of an inspiring three weeks in Tonga, with three oceanswimsafaris to swim with humpback whales, we’ve opened bookings to our 2019 Tonga series. Be aware, with three oceanswimsafaris on offer again next year, two already are full (clever people got in very early to hold places with the oceanswimsafaris Advance Deposit Scheme [oADS]). The middle Tonga oceanswimsafari (July 23-31) has four places remaining. Packages are on oceanswimsafaris.com now.

More info and to book… Click here

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The start of the swim around Isla Santa Clara, in the Basque country.

Food and wine, and swimming in the Basque country - San Sebastián (Spain, Aug 21-27, 2019 - bookings open soon) - This oceanswimsafari just keeps getting better and better: we have a week in San Sebastián, one of Europe's most interesting cities, culminating in the swim around the Isla Santa Clara. In 2019, we're adding a day's excursion into French Basque country, too. Packages online now... Click here

Wild swimming, food, adventure, history, and culcha on the Costa Brava - (Spain, Sep 6-14, 2019 - bookings open soon) - One of our most popular oceanswimsafaris, along Catalonia's "wild coast", where the water, the swimming, the food, the wine, the history and the culture all clamour to be the highlight. Packages online now... Click here

The best Blue Lagoon in the Yasawas - One of our most popular oceanswimsafaris, to Fiji's remote Yasawa island group, will follow the Mana Island swims: October 20-28. Packages available now. Add the Yasawas on to your visit to the Mana Fiji SwimFest Oct 15-20... 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...

New... North Steyne (Mar 31)

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

view selene mirror 05Buy goggles, etc...

Check out the world's best, and best value goggles and swim accessories in the oceanswims 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

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February 6, 2019

Our 20th season as the hub of ocean swimming

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A fun day for all, evidently, at last Sundee's Cole Classic @ Manly.

This issue...

Swims this weekend...

Paradise on the North Coast

By law, it never rains till after sundown

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Forster Turtles, like all good turtles, head to sea.

We spend a bit of time at Forster, on the lower north coast of NSW. On the tag attached to Mrs Sparkle’s keys to the joint that we have here, it says simply, “Paradise”.

On one day last year, about the corresponding time as now, we were driving up here amid some of that really hot weather when the temp on the highway was in the early 40s (C). When we turned off the highway, just north of Nabiac, the temp was 42. By the time we arrived in Forster 20 minutes later, it was 27 and there was a gentle sea breeze blowing. That gives you some insight into why we call it “Paradise”.

Forster is Strã’a’s version of the Gulf Coast in the US: it’s our Redneck Riviera: accessible and affordable. Lots of ordinary families trace the happiest times of their childhoods to here, to family holidays spent gamboling in the sea or the lake. There’s hardly a family on the east coast that doesn’t have happy memories of Forster. On the way up here this time, we ran into our cousin, Deb, whom we haven’t seen in years. We told her we were going to Forster, which triggered a rapture from her about the “Bella Vista Motel”, which her family had made their holiday home during her childhood. The “Bella Vista” is one street over from our place. Our joint, a modest unit, lies half-way between the beach and the lake: we’re three minutes walk from Forster Main Beach; and we’re three minutes’ walk from Wallis Lake. (We buy oysters from the grower.) Forster’s main town sits on a sandspit between the two. A low bridge with two humps for water traffic straddles the entrance to the lake for a kilometre between Forster and Tuncurry. It’s that positioning which locals argue makes it “Paradise”: Forster, they reckon, has the most equable climate in Strã’a: it’s the cooling of the sea on one side, and the enormous Great Lakes on the other, that makes the climate so even, they say.

There is another important factor that contributes to Paradise: it’s that Forster Main Beach is one of those gems of the Strã’an east coast: it’s a north-facing beach. That means that our beach, where we swim, each morn we’re in town, is protected from the worst of the elements; from the extremes. Your heavy southerly swells are a good-sized wave by the time they curve around Bennetts Head into Main Beach. Your southerly buster is our offshore breeze. We get offshore breezes here whilst most others are still pining for them. At the same time, a black nor’-easter hits this place about the head, but our place, three minutes in from the beach, sits behind Forster’s Second Head (a little headland with remnant native bush), and behind a three-storey unit block (it’s the twin of our own), so we don’t feel the black bit at our place; we feel just a bit of a breeze. To us, those winds that score the beach and salt-etch the windows of flash, exposed homes along the shore are just enough to keep the mossies in check.

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A boy kick by a Forster Turtle.

This holiday period has been a big one for black nor’-easters. They’ve blown hard, pretty well incessantly throughout December and January. To top it off, the heavy rains late last year have taken until now to filter through the lakes. Today has been the first day of that characteristic Forster sea: crystalline, gentle, a liberal scattering of sea life about – Who treads all those footsteps on the sandy bottom? -- hardly a breath of breeze in the early morning, and on this day, water of a pleasurable 22.3C. This morn, we had a Port Jackson shark sitting on the bottom behind the break, a host of little stingarees nestled into the corrugations, and a shovel-nosed ray/shark mooching about beneath us. No sign of Fluffy today, although the Marine Rescue boat caused a flurry of interest by mooring on the shark booee, 300 metres offshore, with a black head (so it seemed to us) a’ bob-bob-bobbing around it for most of the early morn.

We swim up here each morn we’re in town with our cobbers, the Forster Turtles. Indeed, we are paid-up members of the Turtles, and of the Forster Surf Life Saving Club. We swim each day at 7:30. Our time is regulated by Terry Hudson, formerly Gough Whitlam’s Sydney driver, who trots (not quite the right word for Terry these days) into the change rooms at 7:28, signalling to the rest of us, gathering and chatting around the front of the surf club, that it’s time to move. Yesterday, Terry wasn’t there, and it was 7:31 before someone realised that we were late.

Terry was back today, however. We change; and we make The Long March down the beach to the break. Our drill master is Noel Maybury, known fondly in his playing days for the Balmain Tigers as “The Glebe Lout”. Noel reliably puts us through some kind of workout, so that we’re not heading out there each morning just to swim up and down the beach. If Noel’s not there (and he’s never there on Sat’dees, for that’s a racing day), then we might be a bit lost for direction. But we’ve written about this before, and we know you’ve all committed all it to memory.

This morn, when we arrived at the beach after our three-minute walk, Noel, binoculars nestled beneath his brow, was studying the Marine Rescue boat and the bob-bob-bobbing black head around the shark booee, and it must have inspired him. For instead of running us either west towards the breakwall, or east towards the Bull Ring, Noel sent us straight out to sea. Not very far out to sea, but far enough to give some distance to a morning swim of ins-and-outs: once behind the break, he said, “Right, another 70 strokes straight out”. Which we did (we always do what Noel says). Then, it was “120 strokes straight back in… and for the first 40 strokes… (he paused a little)… put in some effort”. Noel has his idiom for effort. We haven’t heard him use this one before. Normally, it’s “… and put in”, or “… make it lively”… or “… make it smart”. Sometimes the “put in” is spat, which is directional emphasis in itself. Perhaps he was looking for something to freshen up his day, hence “put in some effort”.

Then it was “120 strokes, straight back out”. After which, “three 40s back in… the first 10, no breathing… and smart!” And he built the no-breathing bit over each run back in, so eventually we had 18 strokes no breathing.

We’ve written about these hypoxic sets before, too. But what got us this time was the “smart”. The secret to comfy hypoxic is relaxation. But relaxation is not as simple when you’re also doing them “smart”.

We did this a few times, eventually building up to a total of a kilometre in this morn’s swim. Not that far, but not too bad, especially with the break up in effort and set.

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What made this morning’s swim so special, however, was the water. After six weeks of incessant nor’-easters – and, whereas nor’-easters normally come in late morning, these were blowing constantly, all day and all night – and a nor’-easter overnight, we woke today to… calm. Walking our three minutes up to the beach, we kept expecting to run into the wind at any moment. But we didn’t. It wasn’t still; but the breeze was so gentle that it barely ruffled the sea. Sitting here now, five hours later, it’s barely stronger.

It’s also been the first morning of crystalline water since those heavy rains: watching the shovel-nosed ray/shark mooching around the bottom, it’s as if there’s nothing between us and it, the water is so clear.
And, according to Barwon Greg’s watch, which is our localised version of the BoM, the water was 22.3C.

We weren’t here last week, but Greg tells us the water dropped to 16C one day last week, but it’s popped back up again. All through the black nor’-easter period, it’s been early 20s; high teens at least. Greg is a fisher fellow who goes outside regularly. Last week, on the day the water at Main Beach was 16, Greg says 5-6km out it was 22, and even close in off Bennetts Head, it still was 21.

But 22.3 is near perfect, especially when the water is so clear, so benign, so gentle, so welcoming. Swimming in water like that is like cloaking yourself in flowers, without the scent, or the spikey bits that you get on stems. We stay in the break for a bit after the others have come in, us and Mrs Sparkle. We take pitchers of the waves and the water whilst Mrs Sparkle recalls her late dad, Bill, and her one-legged Uncle Idris, who taught her to body surf at Nobbys in Newcastle when she was a little one. They’d be proud of her now.

Even better: with those incessant, good-for-nothing (as some refer to them) northerlies, one would expect, normally, those pirates of the sea, those men o’war, the bluebottle, to blight the beach. We’ve watched them blighting down south, but we have had, in Paradise, nary a one. Each morn, we’d scour the beach looking for them, for blueys stranded along the watermark are a warning of what we can expect in the sea. Over Xmas-NY, we had one or two – indeed, we copped a sting ourselves last week, but we brushed it off as hardly a worry. It wafted along our forearm as we schlepped along behind the break, but it was almost gentle, as bluey blights go. Unlike our annual sting last year – probably 12 months ago exactly – when we were laid up till mid-afternoon, the sting was so debilitating. Mrs Sparkle had to get some steroid ointment for us from the apothecary. So, few blueys (touch wood), and little punch in them. This morning, patrolling the beach prior to Terry heading into the change room, we didn’t see a single one.

Bizarre. The corollary of the north-facing beach is that it cops the nor’-easter and, thus, the blueys that the onshore breezes bring in. But Forster is Paradise, where by law it doesn’t rain till after sundown…

forster turtles 190206 600 05

Now we sit, on our balcony, surrounded by eucalypts, a jacaranda, two pink-flowering gums, melaleuca, floor-covering palms, and grass. We work on the balcony till the sun comes over, usually early afternoon. Rainbow lorikeets feed on the gum nuts. A bit after 8 each evening, an armada of fruit bats crosses Forster towards Tuncurry. Two of them call in, like clockwork, to the same pink-flowering gums. Maggies, and a currawong named Uncle Roger hang about and, when we’re not here, Uncle Roger leaves his mark on our railing and our deck. But we take the furniture in when we’re not here, so it’s not too much of a bother.

And that’s Paradise.

Online entries this weekend...

Classic @ North Bondi

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The second of the two North Bondi swims this Sunday, and your chance to win a trip to Hawai'i, open to anyone who has done both North Bondi swims this season.

Two distances: 2km and 1km. The start and finish area is relatively benign, in the corner at the eastern end of Bondi Beach, but the course takes you on a Cooks tour of one of the world's most iconic beaches.

You have to swim Bondi at least once each season. Not just for the swimming, but for the passing parade that is Bondi.

We'll be at North Bondi with our shop, offering the world's best and best value gogs and sundry swim accessories. Come by if only for a chat.

Online entries close at 3pm this Saturday, on oceanswims.com.

More info and to enter...Click here

Our culcha

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We've known Fiona Edmonds Dobrijevich pretty well since the time we set up oceanswims.com in late 1999. Fifi was one of the first northside swimmers who befriended us, an otherwise friendless southside swimmer, when we began to attend ocean swims outside our own comfort zone, which is those days was the Sutherland Shire and Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. Fifi also is an artist who has done a lot of work involving her experiences in the sea. Frinstance, many years ago, Fifi was swimming the length of Curl Curl Beach one morning when she found herself being shadowed by a bronze whaler shark. They eyeballed each other for a while, then Fifi lit out for the shore. From that time on, much of her work included sharks. We get that.

Later today, Fiona opens a new exhibition, Oceanic Bodies, at the Northern Beaches Council Creative Space at North Curl Curl. The show is open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-4pm.

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Peter "Man of Steel" Thiel does a near textbook start in the 1km at the Cole Classic @ Manly last Sundee.

oss 1770, May 2019

Busy week around the Great Barrier Reef

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We got Lady Musgrave Island on the most perfect day when we visited last October.

Packages are selling on our first inaugural oceanswimsafari to the Fraser Coast, the Discovery Coast, and the Great Barrier Reef May 25-June 1

And we have terrific news for all those who come with us: we'll be leading the 1770-Agnes Water leg of this oceanswimsafari with one of the world's most accomplished open water swimmers, Penny Palfrey, and her partner, Chris, who are residents of the Town of 1770.

It will be a seven-night oceanswimsafari, starting with a weekend in Hervey Bay, day trips to Fraser Island and the two great gems of the southern Great Barrier Reef, Lady Elliott Island and Lady Musgrave Island, and four days on the Discovery Coast around the twin towns of Agnes Water and 1770.

This is a week of informal swims -- several of them on the Great Barrier Reef -- and adventures in a part of the world that most of us would never get to otherwise. If you do only one holiday this year, then this is it.

More info and to book... Click here

Mana Fiji packages online now...

fiji mana start 1610 01

We have our packages online now for the Mana Fiji SwimFest, this year from October 15-20. There are two swim days: the 10km (solos or 3x3.3km relays) on Thursday, and 5km, 2.5km, and 1km on Saturday. Packages include accommdoation, all meals on Mana Island, ferry transfers and swim entry packages for both swim days. They also include a 30 per cent discount off Mana Island Resort's normal nett rates until July 31.

Plus a whole lot of other fun in Ocean Swimming Stadium, the best spot in the Pacific for an ocean swim (see pic above).

Packages start at $A1,909 pp Twin/Double share and $A2,772 single.

Add the Yasawas on to your visit to the Mana Fiji SwimFest Oct 15-20... Click here

More info... Click here

To book... Click here

2019 oceanswimsafaris

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Whale sharks off Oslob... Our day excursion during our Philippines oceanswimsafari...

Get remote in Sulawesi - Indonesia (June 11-19, 2019 - bookings open now) - In 2019, we're making this our Adventure oceanswimsafari. As well as two swim days, around the Bunaken Islands, we'll also have two dive days. This, in an area known for having the greatest marine biodiversity in the Indo-Pacific region. Lots of ocean swimmers dive as well as swim. To add to the seaborne adventures, we also have two land-based adventures: our Highlands tour, including our visit to "The Extreme Market" (make of that what you will); and 9km of whitewater rafting down the Nimanga River. And the food is sensational at one of the prettiest boutique resorts you will ever experience. If you don't dive, we'll still swim whilst divers are down below.

Our resort on Sulawesi is near the northern tip of this enormous island of surreal shape. It's well away from the area affected recently by tsunami. Indeed, the resort is built high on a steep hill, by the sea, well above the risk area for tsunamis.

More info and to book... Click here

Pristine reef and whale sharks in The Philippines (June 22-29, 2019, Open for bookings) - Come with us on another exotic oceanswimsafari, and swim with whale sharks. Our visit to the island of Negros Oriental includes swims over some of the healthiest, most abundant coral reef that we’ve ever experienced. And that part of the ocean – the top of the Celebes Sea – boasts the greatest marine diversity in the entire Indo-Pacific region. (Our Sulawesi oceanswimsafari, at the southern end of the Celebes Sea, also gives you the chance to experience this.) In The Philippines, our accommodation is 5-star, with food, wines and luxuriance to match. We’ll also go on a day excursion to the neighbouring island of Cebu, where the local fisherfolk offer a chance to swim with whale sharks, which come in each day to feed. Bookings coming in now.

More info and to book… Click here

Swim with whales in Tonga (open for bookings) – Hot on the heels of an inspiring three weeks in Tonga, with three oceanswimsafaris to swim with humpback whales, we’ve opened bookings to our 2019 Tonga series. Be aware, with three oceanswimsafaris on offer again next year, two already are full (clever people got in very early to hold places with the oceanswimsafaris Advance Deposit Scheme [oADS]). The middle Tonga oceanswimsafari (July 23-31) has four places remaining. Packages are on oceanswimsafaris.com now.

More info and to book… Click here

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The start of the swim around Isla Santa Clara, in the Basque country.

Food and wine, and swimming in the Basque country - San Sebastián (Spain, Aug 21-27, 2019 - bookings open soon) - This oceanswimsafari just keeps getting better and better: we have a week in San Sebastián, one of Europe's most interesting cities, culminating in the swim around the Isla Santa Clara. In 2019, we're adding a day's excursion into French Basque country, too. Packages online now... Click here

Wild swimming, food, adventure, history, and culcha on the Costa Brava - (Spain, Sep 6-14, 2019 - bookings open soon) - One of our most popular oceanswimsafaris, along Catalonia's "wild coast", where the water, the swimming, the food, the wine, the history and the culture all clamour to be the highlight. Packages online now... Click here

The best Blue Lagoon in the Yasawas - One of our most popular oceanswimsafaris, to Fiji's remote Yasawa island group, will follow the Mana Island swims: October 20-28. Packages available now. Add the Yasawas on to your visit to the Mana Fiji SwimFest Oct 15-20... 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 up... North Steyne (Mar 31), Palm Beach-Shelly Beach (Mar 30), Caves Beach (Apr 27)

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Laydees' wave at the Cole @ Manly last Sunday.

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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

view selene mirror 05Buy goggles, etc...

Check out the world's best, and best value goggles and swim accessories in the oceanswims 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

Share this post

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January 30, 2019

Now in our 20th season as the hub of ocean swimming

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This is what happens when a few swimmers together stop at a booee to sight. They form a wall, and following swimmers crash into them. Before you know it, you get this melée. One laydee swimmer wrote on Twitter: "Photo on right cracks me up. Bewildered looks, person gazing at sea floor, another at sky, person facing wrong way, bit of a chinwag beside the buoy. Bout 3 actually swimming". We saw this happen (the pic is ours) at The Big Swim (Palm-Whale) last Sundee: it was three swimmers who suddenly stopped adjacent to the booee and started to look around, perhaps for the next booee. But they formed a wall, unwittingly. It's not a good move to do that when you have a hundred or more swimmers following closely behind. Moral: Never stop on the turning booee.

This issue...

Swims this weekend...

What is winning?

More to swimming than an alloy medal

A laydee swimmer came to us this week, by email, to check her entry to the North Bondi Classic on Sundee week, Feb 10. She thought she’d entered both North Bondi swims, but wasn’t sure. Was she entered, she asked? She sent us her confirmation email, which we deciphered for her. We had an exchange of emails, told her she was all tickety-boo, and she said, “Thanks - let's see if I can better my last effort and come 5th last this time”.

It reminded us of an incident in our childhoods, after a kid fatter and slower than us had joined our class, rendering us no longer the perennially last kid in the Stockton Infants School sprints. One Sundee morn, leaning out of the upper deck window of Sid Fogg’s bus taking all the famblies to the Stockton Bowling Club annual picnic at Croudace Bay, then parked in the queue for the Newcastle punt, we yelled to our great uncle, who was one of the awgies, “Hey, Uncle Eric, (we) only come second last now”. Troll-like, Uncle Eric grunted, and turned away. He was like that. Uncle Eric was the family grump, such that, at his wake, his widow, the generous and boisterous Aunty Win, said to the room, "Please refer to me as The Beneficiary”.

Anyway, we thought, getting back to our laydee swimmer, if your benchmark for success is coming better than 5th last, then that’s got this caper the wrong way around.

We suspect there are punters out there who push this superficial view, that, to be successful, you have to win. Or you have to keep advancing up the rankings. That the measure of your success is the decile in which you finish. That it’s how many others you beat. It’s like punters who get out of the water after a swim and brag, “We beat Tony Abbott”. Love, everyone beats Tony Abbott. Accomplished triaffalete he may be for his age, but, like many of his ilk (tri… etcs), Tony ain’t a swimmer. We give him credit for this, however: he turns up, and he swims, in swims that are not in his electorate. And he wears, proudly, his Queenscliff surf club cossies, despite the smarty-pants meeja bagging him for them. Evidently, Tony enjoys ocean swimming. Evidently, he knows something that we know; something that we wish to impress upon this laydee swimmer.

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More melée.

Trope

It’s a lazy trope that participation is what counts. It does, but it’s more than that. Apart from “winning”, there are other benchmarks that should be applied to determine personal success. There are other measures; other standards; other dimensions to what we do. Throwing the arms over each weekend and trotting up the beach in order of finishing simply is the physical manifestation of it, although there are swimmers who achieve their success, believe it or not, by running past slower runners on the way up the beach, after having been outswum. Shame on them. There are, too, metaphysical, spiritual dimensions that should be acknowledged. “Winning”, after all, is applying someone else’s standard to our personal efforts. Winning is all about success in the eyes of other people. There really is no reason to apply someone else’s standard, objective as it may appear, to measure your personal success.

There must be a meaning to ocean swimming other than the simple and simplistic, facile measure of where you finish in the rankings, which is the ultimate futile exercise in relativities. Relativities are like statistics: they can be made to mean anything you like. Where you finish depends on who else turns up on the day; it depends on things like whether the starter sets your wave off into a dumping set on a shallow bank. It depends on how much the tide and the currents, and the break, are different for your wave than they were for the winner’s wave. Did the winner have the advantage of a rip to get out, but the rip wasn’t operating when you started? "Winning" is affected by many things quite apart from your own personal effort or skill.

Where you finish in the rankings need be no valid measure of your success, or your improvement. Our cobber, retired ocean swimmer, Barry “The Lurv God” Lang, used to measure his performance, quite privately, by comparing it to double the winner’s time. In similar vein, we calculate, in results, the Dezzie, which is the ratio of each swimmer’s time to that day’s winner. ("Dezzie" is Deke Zimmerman, who used to win all the races on the Sydney circuit.) Your Dezzie supposedly measures your improvement or your deterioration. But that’s relative, too. It’s a whimsical measure, for if the “best” swimmer doesn’t turn up one day, because s/he is busy (maybe the Swans are playing an early game at home that day), then its validity as a measure, compared to the previous few weeks, when s/he did turn up, is diminished.

We said to our correspondent, “Don’t let (rankings) be your only benchmark, (Laydee)”. We referred her to the Dezzie, such as it is, and to another addition to our results this season, the pace/km or /100m, for they also are, to some extent, benchmarks.

But there’s more: the real measure of success in ocean swimming, we reckon, is less prosaic; it’s more metaphysical and spiritual, and very personal.

Everyone knows that swimming, as all exercise, is therapeutic. If you’re feeling down, and troubled, and you need a helping hand, often you’ll feel better after exercise. Those in the know will talk about endorphins, or something like that. Our exercise, though, is a bit different to others; more complex, in that we put ourselves out there on the frontier, not too far from home, sure, but on the frontier, nonetheless. If anyone doubts that, ask them whether they are prepared to swim outside the shark net; around a high point with waves crashing at its base with no way of getting out to safety other than ploughing on; allowing yourself to be sucked to sea through a rip surrounded by surging dumpers on shallowing banks; putting to sea knowing there are blueys out there and you’re taking your chances that you won’t be one of those who are stung; rolling around in swells that put you on the 3rd floor balcony one moment, and in the basement the next, and back again. It goes on. All these conditions enrich the therapeutic benefit of the exercise itself, because they all lead to a sense of personal achievement in conquering conditions over which one has no control. All one can do is hope to survive through them. Running, say, is not the same as that.

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And this is what happens when you dive under a wave with your mouth open and take a gobful of water. You have then to get rid of it. Moral: If you dive under a wave, keep your gob shut. Another one from The Big Swim last Sundee.

Something for all of us

They all contribute to a sense of achievement, and thus they bolster your spirit; your sense of self-worth. The experiences grow you personally. After doing that swim, you know you’re capable of more than you thought you were at the start. Did you learn something out there about yourself? About your skill, your inner and physical strength, your resilience; your determination; your mental strength; your character. All you “inexperienced” punters who worry about your “inability to handle the surf”, how do you feel when you’ve gone out through a difficult break, swum around a monstrous headland, and come back in again safely through an equally threatening break?

We pride ourselves, at oceanswims.com, on paying no attention to “winners”. That’s what we boast, but it’s not strictly true. Some of our best friends are winners, and we respect their efforts and their success. But all this is relative, too. Every person has a story and comes from a different background, tempting as it is to stereotype them, and everyone’s story includes myriad elements that affect their capacity to handle themselves at sea, such as whether they were taught proper (how to swim) as kids. You can pick the swimmers who were, and they carry an advantage over most of us for the rest of their lives. For the rest of us, it’s much more of an effort just to get around the course. So, relative to capacity, the schleppers are bigger winners than the swimmers who were taught proper. Potentially, their sense of achievement is greater, because they are coming from a lower base, expectatorily. It’s no accident that most of the whingeing you hear on the beach after a swim is about prizes. These people are “the usual suspects”. For the vast majority, however, prizes never come into it. It’s just not on their horizon. Their victory is in finishing and adding the experience to their personal story; stitches in their tapestry.

There is something else that conditions their sense of achievement: that is the spiritual growth that they derive from doing something that they never thought they could; from beating the surf and the sea. “Spiritual” growth is nothing to do with god or God, or anyone’s deity. It’s all to do with how you feel about your own place in the world and your capacity for dealing with it. How competent you feel as a person. It is intensely but subtly personal. It’s a much better prize than an alloy medal.

Sage as we are, we said to our laydee swimmer, “Of course, the most important benchmark is, did you enjoy it out there? If you did, then you won.”

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There were lots of CanToo swimmers at The Big Swim, and in The Little Big Swim. These are goal swims for them.

Speaking of which...

A small step for one woman…

cantoo logo 150I have been an ocean swimmer for a long time, even before Tim Winton and Paul Ellercamp made it fashionable. My long suffering wife, Liz, and assorted other family members have stood on the beach in every sort of condition and watched my fellow enthusiasts and I throw ourselves into all manner of bays, oceans and surf.

Liz often said that she’d love to do it as well but the deep ocean and surf just scared her too much, a familiar refrain from many. Regardless of my reassurances that lesser swimmers than her did it all the time with no problems, I could not coax her into joining. Well that changed this year. She joined CanToo with my daughter Kate.

CanToo is a charity devoted to two ultra worthy causes, first and foremost, raising money for cancer research but secondly teaching and supporting people to get involved in sport, in this case, ocean swimming. You may have wondered who those strange orange and black clad swimmers high fiving and hugging each other at the end of ocean swims are... well, that’s the CanToo clan.

As part of the two way street, which is CanToo’s great model, our family has been on a fundraising campaign to raise money for cancer research…….CanToo ocean swimmers have raised more than $700,000 this year! My two laydees have been training in the pool during the week and practicing in the surf at Mona Vale on Saturday mornings, all under the watchful guidance and care of super friendly and competent CanToo captains, coaches and mentors.

On Sunday at Palm Beach, Liz and Kate competed in The Little Big Swim and The Big Swim respectively. They both finished. This time it was me at the finish line proudly cheering them in. Twelve months ago, finishing an ocean swim for Liz would have been as likely as walking on the moon. Well done CanToo! Two more inductees into the salty, generous culture of ocean swimming.

Michael McLellan

Find out more about CanToo... Click here

Our culcha

In last week's newsletter, we appealed to all of you lot who paint, write, take photograrphs, build sculpchas, etc, about ocean swimming, or just about the sea, to send them in to us so that we can show everyone else what you're getting up to. Quick as a flash, we received an email from Sian Faber, from Bondi, including a range of her artworks. Here is one of them...

faber sian swimmers 600

oss 1770, May 2019

Busy week around the Great Barrier Reef

lady musgrave 1810 600 02
We got Lady Musgrave Island on the most perfect day when we visited last October.

We have our packages ready for our first inaugural oceanswimsafari to the Fraser Coast, the Discovery Coast, and the Great Barrier Reef in late May.

And we have terrific news for all those who come with us: we'll be leading the 1770-Agnes Water leg of this oceanswimsafari with one of the world's most accomplished open water swimmers, Penny Palfrey, and her partner, Chris, who are residents of the Town of 1770.

It will be a seven-night oceanswimsafari, from May 25-June 1, starting with a weekend in Hervey Bay, day trips to Fraser Island and the two great gems of the southern Great Barrier Reef, Lady Elliott Island and Lady Musgrave Island, and four days on the Discovery Coast around the twin towns of Agnes Water and 1770.

There is no formal swim event as part of this oceanswimsafari: it's a week of informal swims -- several of them on the Great Barrier Reef -- and adventures in a part of the world that most of us would never get to otherwise. If you do only one holiday this year, then this is it.

More info and to book... Click here

malabar banner 19 600

War on plastic at Malabar

Awgies at the Murray Rose Malabar Magic on February 17 are running a campaign to reduce the use of plastic and plastic waste by encouraging swimmers to bring their own water bottles to fill at stations at the beach on swim day. Alternatively, swimmers can buy an event water bottle to fill and then reuse.

The initiative avoids the use of single-use plastic or treated paper cups for post-swim water, many of which end up as rubbish.

Magic awgies say, "In an effort to support our environment, we will provide filling stations and encourage all swimmers to purchase a Malabar Magic Water bottle or bring your own to refill."

The Murray Rose Malabar Magic is one of two swims on the local calendar that don't have the structural backing of a surf club to provide logistics and water safety for the event, although the event traditionally gets strong support from members of North Bondi SLSC, which was the late Murray Rose's club. The swim is organised by the Rainbow Club, a charity which teaches kids with a disability to swim. The Rainbow Club was Murray Rose's charity.

Find out more and enter the Magic... Click here

Mana Fiji packages online now...

fiji mana start 1610 01

We have our packages online now for the Mana Fiji SwimFest, this year from October 15-20. There are two swim days: the 10km (solos or 3x3.3km relays) on Thursday, and 5km, 2.5km, and 1km on Saturday. Packages include accommdoation, all meals on Mana Island, ferry transfers and swim entry packages for both swim days. They also include a 30 per cent discount off Mana Island Resort's normal nett rates until July 31.

Plus a whole lot of other fun in Ocean Swimming Stadium, the best spot in the Pacific for an ocean swim (see pic above).

Packages start at $A1,909 pp Twin/Double share and $A2,772 single.

Add the Yasawas on to your visit to the Mana Fiji SwimFest Oct 15-20... Click here

More info... Click here

To book... Click here

Swim if you dare

100 x 100 in the Western Districts

sheely john oval 250Warrnambool Masters swimmers are hosting a 100 x 100 carnival on Sunday, March 3. The event raises funds to support the club's activities, and the Archie Graham Community Centre.

The event is limited to 50 swimmers, each of whom will swim 100 x 100m, which equals 10km. So whilst it's not, perhaps, for everybody, there are plenty who would get a lot out of it whilst supporting good causes.

And, you will get to swim with this person...

Look up Warrnambool Masters Swimming Club on Facebook to find out more.

2019 oceanswimsafaris

philippines whale sharks 600
Whale sharks off Oslob... Our day excursion during our Philippines oceanswimsafari...

Get remote in Sulawesi - Indonesia (June 11-19, 2019 - bookings open now) - In 2019, we're making this our Adventure oceanswimsafari. As well as two swim days, around the Bunaken Islands, we'll also have two dive days. This, in an area known for having the greatest marine biodiversity in the Indo-Pacific region. Lots of ocean swimmers dive as well as swim. To add to the seaborne adventures, we also have two land-based adventures: our Highlands tour, including our visit to "The Extreme Market" (make of that what you will); and 9km of whitewater rafting down the Nimanga River. And the food is sensational at one of the prettiest boutique resorts you will ever experience. If you don't dive, we'll still swim whilst divers are down below.

Our resort on Sulawesi is near the northern tip of this enormous island of surreal shape. It's well away from the area affected recently by tsunami. Indeed, the resort is built high on a steep hill, by the sea, well above the risk area for tsunamis.

More info and to book... Click here

Pristine reef and whale sharks in The Philippines (June 22-29, 2019, Open for bookings) - Come with us on another exotic oceanswimsafari, and swim with whale sharks. Our visit to the island of Negros Oriental includes swims over some of the healthiest, most abundant coral reef that we’ve ever experienced. And that part of the ocean – the top of the Celebes Sea – boasts the greatest marine diversity in the entire Indo-Pacific region. (Our Sulawesi oceanswimsafari, at the southern end of the Celebes Sea, also gives you the chance to experience this.) In The Philippines, our accommodation is 5-star, with food, wines and luxuriance to match. We’ll also go on a day excursion to the neighbouring island of Cebu, where the local fisherfolk offer a chance to swim with whale sharks, which come in each day to feed. Bookings coming in now.

More info and to book… Click here

Swim with whales in Tonga (open for bookings) – Hot on the heels of an inspiring three weeks in Tonga, with three oceanswimsafaris to swim with humpback whales, we’ve opened bookings to our 2019 Tonga series. Be aware, with three oceanswimsafaris on offer again next year, two already are full (clever people got in very early to hold places with the oceanswimsafaris Advance Deposit Scheme [oADS]). The middle Tonga oceanswimsafari (July 23-31) has four places remaining. Packages are on oceanswimsafaris.com now.

More info and to book… Click here

san sebastian la concha swim 16
The start of the swim around Isla Santa Clara, in the Basque country.

Food and wine, and swimming in the Basque country - San Sebastián (Spain, Aug 21-27, 2019 - bookings open soon) - This oceanswimsafari just keeps getting better and better: we have a week in San Sebastián, one of Europe's most interesting cities, culminating in the swim around the Isla Santa Clara. In 2019, we're adding a day's excursion into French Basque country, too. Packages online now... Click here

Wild swimming, food, adventure, history, and culcha on the Costa Brava - (Spain, Sep 6-14, 2019 - bookings open soon) - One of our most popular oceanswimsafaris, along Catalonia's "wild coast", where the water, the swimming, the food, the wine, the history and the culture all clamour to be the highlight. Packages online now... Click here

The best Blue Lagoon in the Yasawas - One of our most popular oceanswimsafaris, to Fiji's remote Yasawa island group, will follow the Mana Island swims: October 20-28. Packages available now. Add the Yasawas on to your visit to the Mana Fiji SwimFest Oct 15-20... Click here

Swimmer's shoulder

What to do about it #10

Recently, we ran a piece by physiotherapist Jerome Murphy on swimmer’s shoulder. Jerry explained the condition, and now here’s the 10th and final in a series of videos of exercises that afflicted swimmers can use to treat it. Any swimmer can use these exercises, mind you. You don’t need already to be a sufferer. If you use them before symptoms emerge, then maybe they never will emerge.

We’ll run videos each newsletter for as long as it takes to exhaust them…

In the meantime, if you'd like to get all of these videos in one place, you'll find them on our YouTube channel... Click here

You get a say in which ones...

Urban rivers may get a clean up

Some will criticise this for political content, but it is of interest to swimmers, because swimmers are interested in water quality...

Federal Opposition Environment spokesperson, Tony Burke, has announced a program by a new government in Canberra to clean up urban rivers. Burke says the Oppostion will commit $200m to the program, and they're offering ordinary punters the opportunity to nominate which rivers should receive the attention.

Burke says, "Labor has always protected our remote and magnificent heritage sites. But nature doesn’t have to be a long way from where many people live.

For too long we’ve treated our urban rivers as waste dumps and storm water drains. We need to make them look and work like rivers again.

I’ve seen this work on the Cooks River. Trapping pollution, revegetating river banks and even intercepting water and cleaning it through wetlands has meant we’ve started to turn the corner on Australia’s most polluted river.

It’s a classic case of build it and they will come. The birds, butterflies and fish all start to return even if they haven’t been seen locally for ages.

Our rivers are meant to be the local shopping centre for nature, not a tip for shopping trollies and plastics.

This program, together with the work on environmental laws, means Labor’s commitment to the environment will reach all the way to our cities and regional centres. Nature should never live too far away."

Find out more and nominate a river for attention... Click here

Controversy Corner...

What do you reckon about any of this stuff?

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

(See posts at the end of this newsletter.)

Swims open to online entry...

New...

Coming up... Palm Beach-Shelly Beach (Mar 30), Caves Beach (Apr 27)

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

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January 23, 2019

Now in our 20th season as the hub of ocean swimming

bongin 190123 dhd 600
The ocean really is an enigmatic place. It can be serene, majestic, dangerous, turbulent, mysterious, glorious, wild, truculent, irritating, romantic, threatening, sometimes all at once. This, from Sydney's Bongin Bongin Bay this morn from oceanswims.com staff snapper, David Helsham (@glistenrr).

This issue...

Swims this weekend...

Swimming Through Winter

Swimming as stress management

Kirrilee Bracht has a recurring dream, or some kind of image in her mind, of being caught at the bottom of a deep hole. She shouts for help, but when people come to help, no matter what she tries, she still can’t get out... she’s stuck in that hole.

“So here I still am, still in the hole, no clothes, no idea when I’ll get out or if I can ever return to my life…”

More learned punters than us would read stuff into that dream, or vision, but for Kirrilee, swimming through winter is her metaphor, physically and metaphysically, for dealing with the stress that might have led to it.

Swimming is excellent therapy for emotional stress. So is writing about it.

bracht kirrilee 190106 300Kirrilee Bracht on the boat ramp at Gerringong, about to swim to Werri Beach.

From the NSW Southern Tablelands, Kirrilee Bracht, a wife and mother of three, swam through last winter in a river and on beaches on the South Coast. She writes about her swims in her blog, Swimming Through Winter, and now she’s self-published a book about them, in which she weaves her swimming through tales from her life.

“Basically, it is how open water swimming got me through a rough patch,” Kirrilee told us.

Swimming on the winter solstice: “On the darkest day of the year, it’s the lowest of low tides, the greyest of grey skies, the coldest of cold water. The reeds emit the pungent smell of low tide and the colour of the water is black.

I can see the oyster covered rocks. Today they’re not hidden away. Today they’re not a lurking danger, instead they’re a spectacular arrangement of shapes and colours. Maybe they’re just usually misunderstood.

I can’t do freestyle for more than ten strokes at a time, it’s too cold for my head to be submerged. I need to switch from freestyle to backstroke, breaststroke, and then around again.

It’s bleak, but on this short day, I appreciate the stillness. The air is soft, the surface of the water is smooth, it’s calm, it’s quiet. It’s the bottom of the pit but it brings with it the knowledge that tomorrow, the voyage towards a different season will begin.”

Fog

Some of Kirrilee’s book is very internal, very personal – you almost feel as if you should not be imposing by reading it -- because it deals with emotions. Many writers would not have the courage to tell us some of the stuff that Kirrilee does, other than through a proxy character in a work of “fiction”. Some of it is basic and utilitarian: “I think the water is cloudy but it turns out I just need new goggles”.

bracht kirrilee swimming through winter cover 250Swimming Through Winter is an autobiographical work that’s not just tales from the river. It’s about growing up; the awkwardness of adolescence; coming of age; getting serious about life; loss; memories and tradition; where you’ve come from and where you’re going; dealing with the rubbish that life throws at you. What it might lack in professional polish, it makes up for in raw honesty. It's actually much more than just "getting through a rough patch": it's also Kirrilee Bracht's legacy to her kids.

“For my children’s children,” Kirrilee Bracht writes on the title page, “because I would have loved to read my grandmother’s story.”

She’s not alone in that. But for all of us who keep telling ourselves that we have a book in us, very few actually go on and write it. Then, too late, all those stories we wanted to tell our kids, there’s no time left. Kirrilee Bracht has dealt with that.

A maritime race

There’s lots of writing and other art produced about swimming, and its relationship to life, but much of it remains private.

Our old boss, Brian Johns, former publisher of Penguin Books, said to us once, “It’s remarkable that, for a nation surrounded by water, there’s been very little written about our relationship with the sea.”

Quite. Our culture is articulated by our art, written, painted, sung, photograrphed, spoken, whatever. Let us know about your work, and we’ll let others know, too.

Read Kirrilee Bracht’s blog, Swimming Through Winter, and follow Kirrilee on Instagram @swimmingthroughwinter and on Facebook

You can buy Swimming Through Winter as a hard copy (paperback) or as an eBook for $A15 if you’re in Australia, or $25 internationally. See the blog link above.

If you have something to contribute... Click here

This week's podcast...

Blueys: No wee, but keep it hot

The lowdown on being stung by blueys, irukandji, and more, from Associate Professor Jamie Seymour, of James Cook University. Via ocean swimming scientist Marc West... Click here

(But we're still none the wiser on why they [blueys] are there when they are there.)

oss 1770, May 2019

Busy week around the Great Barrier Reef

lady musgrave 1810 600 02
We got Lady Musgrave Island on the most perfect day when we visited last October.

We have our packages ready for our first inaugural oceanswimsafari to the Fraser Coast, the Discovery Coast, and the Great Barrier Reef in late May.

And we have terrific news for all those who come with us: we'll be leading the 1770-Agnes Water leg of this oceanswimsafari with one of the world's most accomplished open water swimmers, Penny Palfrey, and her partner, Chris, who are residents of the Town of 1770.

It will be a seven-night oceanswimsafari, from May 25-June 1, starting with a weekend in Hervey Bay, day trips to Fraser Island and the two great gems of the southern Great Barrier Reef, Lady Elliott Island and Lady Musgrave Island, and four days on the Discovery Coast around the twin towns of Agnes Water and 1770, where it is said that Cook first set foot on local soil when he beached the Endeavour for repairs.

The program is -

  • Saturday, May 25 - Gather in Hervey Bay
  • Sunday, May 26 - Day tour of Fraser Island (from Hervey Bay)
  • Monday, May 27 - Day trip to Lady Elliott Island, with drift swimming along the reef (manta rays?) (fly on to Agnes Water)
  • Tuesday, May 28 - Agnes Water - Morning swim, area tour, Paperbark Forest Walk, butterfly forest walk from Cooks Monument to 1770 Headland to watch the sun set with drinks.
  • Wednesday, May 29 - Day tour to Lady Musgrave Island, island ecotour, reef swimming, maybe visits to nearby cays
  • Thursday, May 30 - Morning swim, optional tours
  • Friday, May 31 - Paradise Tour by LARC along the 30km beach to Bustard Head
  • Saturday, June 1 - Transfer to Gladstone airport for homeward journeys

This oceanswimsafari includes very high standard accommodation, all programmed transfers and is packed with adventures in places you'd probably otherwise never get to visit.

Inclusions -

  • Two nights resort accommodation, Hervey Bay (with breakfast)
  • Five nights resort accommodation, Agnes Water
  • Premium day tour to Fraser Island
  • Flights and day tour, Lady Elliott Island
  • Day tour to Lady Musgrave Island
  • LARC Tour to Bustard Head, Town of 1770
  • Local tour, Agnes Water-1770
  • Sunset drinks, 1770 Headland
  • Morning swims where possible
  • Airport transfers, Hervey Bay, Agnes Water-Gladstone
  • Programmed transfers, Hervey Bay, Agnes Water, 1770

Packages start at $3,395 pp Twin/Double share and $4,388 single

Note: Flights to Hervey Bay and return from Gladstone are not included.

More info... Click here

To book... Click here

Mana Fiji packages online now...

fiji mana start 1610 01

We have our packages online now for the Mana Fiji SwimFest, this year from October 15-20. There are two swim days: the 10km (solos or 3x3.3km relays) on Thursday, and 5km, 2.5km, and 1km on Saturday. Packages include accommdoation, all meals on Mana Island, ferry transfers and swim entry packages for both swim days. They also include a 30 per cent discount off Mana Island Resort's normal nett rates until July 31.

Plus a whole lot of other fun in Ocean Swimming Stadium, the best spot in the Pacific for an ocean swim (see pic above).

Packages start at $A1,909 pp Twin/Double share and $A2,772 single.

Add the Yasawas on to your visit to the Mana Fiji SwimFest Oct 15-20... Click here

More info... Click here

To book... Click here

This weekend

Enter for this weekend on oceanswims.com...

newcastle harbour 1001
Kids at play, doing what we always wanted to do as kids, in Newcastle Harbour. (Pic by David Helsham @glistenrr)

Newcastle Harbour - Our fave Australia Day swim: one or two laps of Newcastle Harbour, by which we grew up in our youngest days. The water might be coloured, but that doesn't mean it's not ok.

Online entries close on oceanswims.com at 3pm on Friday, Jan 25... Click here

Palm Beach-Whale Beach (The Big Swim) - Really is a big swim: main event is 2.8km around Little Head from Palm Beach to Whale Beach. But it's not just the distance that makes it big: it's a mind swim, with a couple of false heads on the way from Palm Beach to the headland that sit there to fool you into thinking you're almost there, only to break your heart when you find you're not.

Now also a 1km Little Big Swim at Palm Beach to get you going.

Online entries close on oceanswims.com at 3pm on Saturday, Jan 26... Click here

Nobbys-Newcastle - The other great Newcastle swim, 2km from the shadow of Nobbys headland around the rock shelf, past Young Einstein surfing in Cowrie Hole, the Newcastle Ocean Baths with it's memories of Pluto Pups and matie sauce, and into Newcastle Beach. This is a terrific course. Newcastle is unique, in that it's one of Strã'a's biggest cities, and its CBD is built on the beach, filling a peninsula between the beach and the harbour. It's a specacular coastline of built and natural environment.

Online entries close on oceanswims.com at 3pm on Saturday, Jan 26... Click here

2019 oceanswimsafaris

philippines whale sharks 600
Whale sharks off Oslob... Our day excursion during our Philippines oceanswimsafari...

Get remote in Sulawesi - Indonesia (June 11-19, 2019 - bookings open now) - In 2019, we're making this our Adventure oceanswimsafari. As well as two swim days, around the Bunaken Islands, we'll also have two dive days. This, in an area known for having the greatest marine biodiversity in the Indo-Pacific region. Lots of ocean swimmers dive as well as swim. To add to the seaborne adventures, we also have two land-based adventures: our Highlands tour, including our visit to "The Extreme Market" (make of that what you will); and 9km of whitewater rafting down the Nimanga River. And the food is sensational at one of the prettiest boutique resorts you will ever experience. If you don't dive, we'll still swim whilst divers are down below.

Our resort on Sulawesi is near the northern tip of this enormous island of surreal shape. It's well away from the area affected recently by tsunami. Indeed, the resort is built high on a steep hill, by the sea, well above the risk area for tsunamis.

More info and to book... Click here

Pristine reef and whale sharks in The Philippines (June 22-29, 2019, Open for bookings) - Come with us on another exotic oceanswimsafari, and swim with whale sharks. Our visit to the island of Negros Oriental includes swims over some of the healthiest, most abundant coral reef that we’ve ever experienced. And that part of the ocean – the top of the Celebes Sea – boasts the greatest marine diversity in the entire Indo-Pacific region. (Our Sulawesi oceanswimsafari, at the southern end of the Celebes Sea, also gives you the chance to experience this.) In The Philippines, our accommodation is 5-star, with food, wines and luxuriance to match. We’ll also go on a day excursion to the neighbouring island of Cebu, where the local fisherfolk offer a chance to swim with whale sharks, which come in each day to feed. Bookings coming in now.

More info and to book… Click here

Swim with whales in Tonga (open for bookings) – Hot on the heels of an inspiring three weeks in Tonga, with three oceanswimsafaris to swim with humpback whales, we’ve opened bookings to our 2019 Tonga series. Be aware, with three oceanswimsafaris on offer again next year, two already are full (clever people got in very early to hold places with the oceanswimsafaris Advance Deposit Scheme [oADS]). The middle Tonga oceanswimsafari (July 23-31) has four places remaining. Packages are on oceanswimsafaris.com now.

More info and to book… Click here

san sebastian la concha swim 16
The start of the swim around Isla Santa Clara, in the Basque country.

Food and wine, and swimming in the Basque country - San Sebastián (Spain, Aug 21-27, 2019 - bookings open soon) - This oceanswimsafari just keeps getting better and better: we have a week in San Sebastián, one of Europe's most interesting cities, culminating in the swim around the Isla Santa Clara. In 2019, we're adding a day's excursion into French Basque country, too. Packages online now... Click here

Wild swimming, food, adventure, history, and culcha on the Costa Brava - (Spain, Sep 6-14, 2019 - bookings open soon) - One of our most popular oceanswimsafaris, along Catalonia's "wild coast", where the water, the swimming, the food, the wine, the history and the culture all clamour to be the highlight. Packages online now... Click here

The best Blue Lagoon in the Yasawas - One of our most popular oceanswimsafaris, to Fiji's remote Yasawa island group, will follow the Mana Island swims: October 20-28. Packages available now. Add the Yasawas on to your visit to the Mana Fiji SwimFest Oct 15-20... Click here

Advance booking

Secure your place in any of these oceanswimsafaris whilst package details are finalised with an advance booking: $500 per head, fully refundable when the package is released if you don't wish to proceed. In the meantime, your place is secure... Click here

Stock up for NY

New shopping cart a hit

view solace v825a BL 450There's a little issue with our new shopping cart that might make it difficult to order for some users: it seems that sometimes, from phones, the cart is not updating when an item is selected. Our tech-heads are working on it. In the meantime, if you have problems in making your selections, best to try from a desktop. Sorry about that. We're at the cutting edge, you see.

That said, we're having a good run of orders through our new shopping cart.

We offer View, the world's best, and best value gogs and swim accessories. We've been using View for years. In fact, we were using View well before they approached us to work with them. That's why we can say how good they are.

Now, with our new shopping cart, you can browse all that we have to offer - View gogs and accessories, oceanswims.com cossies, tow floats, and Cecily's Stinger Suits. Ordering and paying by secure server uses the same process as our online entries, which means it's tried, proven, safe and reliable.

Here, we have our latest discovery gog: the View Solace. The Solace has been around for a year or two, but we've paid proper attention to them only with the ending of the Fully Sick line, which we'd worn for years. We tried the Solace when looking for a replacement.

What we found was a goggle with wide, comfy silicone seal, very wide breadth of vision, clear lens, and good sun protection and filter. Then we realised the price: one of the best gogs we've ever worn, and for $20!

Check them out, and all our gogs, accessories, goos, cossies, etc, and order now... Click here

Swimmer's shoulder

What to do about it #9

Recently, we ran a piece by physiotherapist Jerome Murphy on swimmer’s shoulder. Jerry explained the condition, and now here’s the 9th in a series of videos of exercises that afflicted swimmers can use to treat it. Any swimmer can use these exercises, mind you. You don’t need already to be a sufferer. If you use them before symptoms emerge, then maybe they never will emerge.

We’ll run videos each newsletter for as long as it takes to exhaust them…

In the meantime, if you'd like to get all of these videos in one place, you'll find them on our YouTube channel... Click here

Words in your ear

About your online entry...

Checking your entry...

We get emails from punters who say their email confirmation did not arrive after they entered an event online. They want to know, "Are we entered?" Well, you can check that yourself. There is advice on each and every event page about what to do if you run into problems whilst entering, or if you're unsure whether your entry succeeded. The advice is under the heading, "Enter here... Please read this first..." But do they? No. Most problems can be resolved simply if you read this advice. Please do.

Emails from us...

This may sound silly, coming in an email, but if you're expecting an email from us, perhaps this newsletter, or an entry confirmation, but it doesn't turn up, then check your Spam and Trash folders. It's hard to believe, but some silly ISPs, particularly people such as Gmail and Hotmail, sometimes treat our emails as spam or trash and divert them accordingly. So if it doesn't turn up, check there first. You could also add us to a whitelist. That should help, too.

Your Emergency contact...

Event organisers need an emergency contact for you, just in case something happens... We hope it doesn't and, to date, it's happened only rarely. There was the bloke who finished the swim, didn't hand his timing chip in, then went home, sat down and watched the cricket on tv. In the meantime, awgies thought he was still at sea and launched a search. They even called out the rescue helicopter.

But it's remarkable how many swimmers enter themselves as their emergency contact: their name and their phone number. In the case above, that would have worked. But that's even more rare than instances of needing to make an emergency contact in the first place.

It's possible that some entrants don't have anyone else they can list as an emergency contact, and we wish to acknowledge them, particularly at Xmas. But the majority do. We should not have to go into how silly it is to list yourself as your own emergency contact. But just imagine what would happen if something occurred that required awgies to make contact with a supporting other on your behalf. How would the phone call go?

We'll leave it to your imagination.

If you run into problems whilst entering online...

If you read the event page for your selected swim, you will find advice about what to do if your attempt to enter online appears to go awry. What to do if you don't receive your confirmation email; what if the payment process appears to hang and you don't know whether your payment went through; what if you made an error, you chose the wrong event, or spelt your email incorrectly, or entered yourself as an F, not an M, etc, etc. What if you have an accident prior to swim day, or your boss sends you interstate and you can't get to the swim...

Not many punters run into problems whilst entering online, but most of the representations we receive from people who run into this issue are or can be answered with the use of that advice. It's there for all to see. Look under the sub-heading, Please read this, on every event page.

Entries of swimmers under 18...

We have to be especially careful that entries of swimmers under the age of 18 are with parental consent.

We require that entries of U18 swimmers are accompanied by the parent's full name and mobile phone, keyed in to the emergency contact fields of the online entry form. Also, U18 entries must use the parent's email address, not that of the U18 swimmer.

We check all entries ourselves, and if we find that U18 entries don't comply with these rules -- which are spelt out clearly on each and every event page -- we will not accept an entry until these deficiencies are rectified.

Changes to entries...

We are happy to amend entries and otherwise manage them -- perhaps switch you between swims if your availability changes, etc-- but we will deal only with the entrants themselves, not with "mates", or someone you met in the pub on Fridee night. The way we assure ourselves that we are dealing with the entrants -- the principals -- is that our contact with you must be through the email account that you used in your entry. If you use a different email account, we will not act on your request until your requesyt comes from the original email account.

Controversy Corner...

What do you reckon about any of this stuff?

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

(See posts at the end of this newsletter.)

Swims open to online entry...

New... Shellharbour (Apr 7)

Coming up... Palm Beach-Shelly Beach (Mar 30), Caves Beach (Apr 27)

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

Subscribe

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

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January 16, 2019

Now in our 20th season as the hub of ocean swimming

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A bit of gloriousness as dawn breaks over Garden Island, Sydney, from #EarlyMorningSquad at Boy Charlton Pool. Is that S/Him keeping an eye on us? (Pic posted on Twitter by Marty Filipowski @MartySwims)

This issue...

Swims this weekend...

Blown out at Bondi

Rough Water at the Roughwater

Swimmer dies during Pier to Pub

From The Age of Melbourne: A 65-year-old Beeac man has died during the Lorne Pier to Pub open water swimming race... Click here

For video of the Pier to Pub, check @NewsHeli on Twitter... Click here

This week's podcast...

We think we're starting to understand what all this slow business is on the telly lately. Slow train across the Nullabor, slow boat to Darwin, slow canal boat, etc. "With the fast pace of life," says the promo on BBC Radio 4, "slowing down can feel like an impossible task. Writer and priest Malcolm Doney explores how applying the brakes even slightly can improve our wellbeing."... Click here

IMSHOF inductions in Melbourne

The International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame is holding its annual induction ceremony this year in Melbourne, over the weekend of March 8-10. Punters attending will get plenty of swims and, it appears from the program, plenty of socialising. The formal ceremony is on Saturday evening, March 9. "We have a full weekend planned," says IMSHOF executive committee member Melissa Cunningham. "BBQ on Friday night, participation in the Mentone 10km on Saturday morning, the induction ceremony in the evening and an IMSHOF tradition of a morning after swim at Brighton Beach."

More info... Click here

This weekend...

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The Dawnbusters will be well clear of the finishing area in Bongin Bongin Bay when the Warriewood-Mona Vale Swim gets going this Sundee. (Pic by David Helsham @glistenrr)

Warriewood-Mona Vale (NSW) -

Now two swims at Mona Vale -- do the new 900m Little Swim at Mona Vale, 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 event is named for late Mona Vale club stalwart, Don Jenkin, who helped raise this swim to the standing it has today.

The Warriewood-Mona Vale is Event 3 in the Pittwater Ocean Swim Series.

Online entries close on oceanswims.com at 3pm on Saturday, Jan 19... Click here

oss 1770

Program looks busy around the Great Barrier Reef

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We got Lady Musgrave Island on the most perfect day when we visited last October.

We've just about finalised our program for our new oceanswimsafari to the central Queensland coast from Hervey Bay and the Great Barrier Reef to the towns of 1770 and Agnes Water.

It will be an seven-night oceanswimsafari, from May 25-June 1, starting with a weekend in Hervey Bay, including a day trip to Fraser Island, the world's largest sand island. We'll head from there to Lady Elliott Island, home of whales and manta rays, then on to the twin towns of Agnes Water and 1770, about the only spot on the Queensland coast inside the reef that receives a wave. We'll also visit Lady Musgrave Island, swim along some of the most beautiful coast in Australia, and head off 30km along the beach to Bustard Head in a LARC (like an army duck).

We're tying up a few final details now, so we expect to have packages ready in a week or two.

More info and to register your interest... Click here

2019 oceanswimsafaris

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Whale sharks off Oslob... Our day excursion during our Philippines oceanswimsafari...

Get remote in Sulawesi - Indonesia (June 11-19, 2019 - bookings open now) - In 2019, we're making this our Adventure oceanswimsafari. As well as two swim days, around the Bunaken Islands, we'll also have two dive days. This, in an area known for having the greatest marine biodiversity in the Indo-Pacific region. Lots of ocean swimmers dive as well as swim. To add to the seaborne adventures, we also have two land-based adventures: our Highlands tour, including our visit to "The Extreme Market" (make of that what you will); and 9km of whitewater rafting down the Nimanga River. And the food is sensational at one of the prettiest boutique resorts you will ever experience. If you don't dive, we'll still swim whilst divers are down below.

Our resort on Sulawesi is near the northern tip of this enormous island of surreal shape. It's well away from the area affected recently by tsunami. Indeed, the resort is built high on a steep hill, by the sea, well above the risk area for tsunamis.

More info and to book... Click here

Pristine reef and whale sharks in The Philippines (June 22-29, 2019, Open for bookings) - Come with us on another exotic oceanswimsafari, and swim with whale sharks. Our visit to the island of Negros Oriental includes swims over some of the healthiest, most abundant coral reef that we’ve ever experienced. And that part of the ocean – the top of the Celebes Sea – boasts the greatest marine diversity in the entire Indo-Pacific region. (Our Sulawesi oceanswimsafari, at the southern end of the Celebes Sea, also gives you the chance to experience this.) In The Philippines, our accommodation is 5-star, with food, wines and luxuriance to match. We’ll also go on a day excursion to the neighbouring island of Cebu, where the local fisherfolk offer a chance to swim with whale sharks, which come in each day to feed. Bookings coming in now.

More info and to book… Click here

Swim with whales in Tonga (open for bookings) – Hot on the heels of an inspiring three weeks in Tonga, with three oceanswimsafaris to swim with humpback whales, we’ve opened bookings to our 2019 Tonga series. Be aware, with three oceanswimsafaris on offer again next year, two already are full (clever people got in very early to hold places with the oceanswimsafaris Advance Deposit Scheme [oADS]). The middle Tonga oceanswimsafari (July 23-31) has four places remaining. Packages are on oceanswimsafaris.com now.

More info and to book… Click here

san sebastian la concha swim 16
The start of the swim around Isla Santa Clara, in the Basque country.

Food and wine, and swimming in the Basque country - San Sebastián (Spain, Aug 21-27, 2019 - bookings open soon) - This oceanswimsafari just keeps getting better and better: we have a week in San Sebastián, one of Europe's most interesting cities, culminating in the swim around the Isla Santa Clara. In 2019, we're adding a day's excursion into French Basque country, too. Packages online now... Click here

Wild swimming, food, adventure, history, and culcha on the Costa Brava - (Spain, Sep 6-14, 2019 - bookings open soon) - One of our most popular oceanswimsafaris, along Catalonia's "wild coast", where the water, the swimming, the food, the wine, the history and the culture all clamour to be the highlight. Packages online now... Click here

Mana Fiji SwimFest - We're assembling packages now for the Mana Fiji SwimFest 2019, October 15-20. Mana Island Resort is offering swimmers a 30 per cent discount off normal net rates for bookings by July 31. We'll have the packages ready in the next day or so. The Mana Fiji SwimFest includes two days of competitive swims, a 10km solo or 3 x relay on Thursday, and 5km, 2.5km, and 1km on Saturday. Plus a whole lot of other fun in Ocean Swimming Stadium, perhaps the best spot in the Pacific for an ocean swim. More info and to book... Click here

Yasawas oceanswimsafari - One of our most popular oceanswimsafaris, to Fiji's remote Yasawa island group, will follow the Mana Island swims: October 20-28. Packages available now... Click here

Advance booking

Secure your place in any of these oceanswimsafaris whilst package details are finalised with an advance booking: $500 per head, fully refundable when the package is released if you don't wish to proceed. In the meantime, your place is secure... Click here

Stock up for NY

New shopping cart a hit

view solace v825a BL 450There's a little issue with our new shopping cart that might make it difficult to order for some users: it seems that sometimes, from phones, the cart is not updating when an item is selected. Our tech-heads are working on it. In the meantime, if you have problems in making your selections, best to try from a desktop. Sorry about that. We're at the cutting edge, you see.

That said, we're having a good run of orders through our new shopping cart.

We offer View, the world's best, and best value gogs and swim accessories. We've been using View for years. In fact, we were using View well before they approached us to work with them. That's why we can say how good they are.

Now, with our new shopping cart, you can browse all that we have to offer - View gogs and accessories, oceanswims.com cossies, tow floats, and Cecily's Stinger Suits. Ordering and paying by secure server uses the same process as our online entries, which means it's tried, proven, safe and reliable.

Here, we have our latest discovery gog: the View Solace. The Solace has been around for a year or two, but we've paid proper attention to them only with the ending of the Fully Sick line, which we'd worn for years. We tried the Solace when looking for a replacement.

What we found was a goggle with wide, comfy silicone seal, very wide breadth of vision, clear lens, and good sun protection and filter. Then we realised the price: one of the best gogs we've ever worn, and for $20!

Check them out, and all our gogs, accessories, goos, cossies, etc, and order now... Click here

Swimmer's shoulder

What to do about it #8

Recently, we ran a piece by physiotherapist Jerome Murphy on swimmer’s shoulder. Jerry explained the condition, and now here’s the 8th in a series of videos of exercises that afflicted swimmers can use to treat it. Any swimmer can use these exercises, mind you. You don’t need already to be a sufferer. If you use them before symptoms emerge, then maybe they never will emerge.

We’ll run videos each newsletter for as long as it takes to exhaust them…

In the meantime, if you'd like to get all of these videos in one place, you'll find them on our YouTube channel... Click here

Words in your ear

About your online entry...

Checking your entry...

We get emails from punters who say their email confirmation did not arrive after they entered an event online. They want to know, "Are we entered?" Well, you can check that yourself. There is advice on each and every event page about what to do if you run into problems whilst entering, or if you're unsure whether your entry succeeded. The advice is under the heading, "Enter here... Please read this first..." But do they? No. Most problems can be resolved simply if you read this advice. Please do.

Emails from us...

This may sound silly, coming in an email, but if you're expecting an email from us, perhaps this newsletter, or an entry confirmation, but it doesn't turn up, then check your Spam and Trash folders. It's hard to believe, but some silly ISPs, particularly people such as Gmail and Hotmail, sometimes treat our emails as spam or trash and divert them accordingly. So if it doesn't turn up, check there first. You could also add us to a whitelist. That should help, too.

Your Emergency contact...

Event organisers need an emergency contact for you, just in case something happens... We hope it doesn't and, to date, it's happened only rarely. There was the bloke who finished the swim, didn't hand his timing chip in, then went home, sat down and watched the cricket on tv. In the meantime, awgies thought he was still at sea and launched a search. They even called out the rescue helicopter.

But it's remarkable how many swimmers enter themselves as their emergency contact: their name and their phone number. In the case above, that would have worked. But that's even more rare than instances of needing to make an emergency contact in the first place.

It's possible that some entrants don't have anyone else they can list as an emergency contact, and we wish to acknowledge them, particularly at Xmas. But the majority do. We should not have to go into how silly it is to list yourself as your own emergency contact. But just imagine what would happen if something occurred that required awgies to make contact with a supporting other on your behalf. How would the phone call go?

We'll leave it to your imagination.

If you run into problems whilst entering online...

If you read the event page for your selected swim, you will find advice about what to do if your attempt to enter online appears to go awry. What to do if you don't receive your confirmation email; what if the payment process appears to hang and you don't know whether your payment went through; what if you made an error, you chose the wrong event, or spelt your email incorrectly, or entered yourself as an F, not an M, etc, etc. What if you have an accident prior to swim day, or your boss sends you interstate and you can't get to the swim...

Not many punters run into problems whilst entering online, but most of the representations we receive from people who run into this issue are or can be answered with the use of that advice. It's there for all to see. Look under the sub-heading, Please read this, on every event page.

Entries of swimmers under 18...

We have to be especially careful that entries of swimmers under the age of 18 are with parental consent.

We require that entries of U18 swimmers are accompanied by the parent's full name and mobile phone, keyed in to the emergency contact fields of the online entry form. Also, U18 entries must use the parent's email address, not that of the U18 swimmer.

We check all entries ourselves, and if we find that U18 entries don't comply with these rules -- which are spelt out clearly on each and every event page -- we will not accept an entry until these deficiencies are rectified.

Changes to entries...

We are happy to amend entries and otherwise manage them -- perhaps switch you between swims if your availability changes, etc-- but we will deal only with the entrants themselves, not with "mates", or someone you met in the pub on Fridee night. The way we assure ourselves that we are dealing with the entrants -- the principals -- is that our contact with you must be through the email account that you used in your entry. If you use a different email account, we will not act on your request until your requesyt comes from the original email account.

Controversy Corner...

What do you reckon about any of this stuff?

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

(See posts at the end of this newsletter.)

Swims open to online entry...

New...

Coming up...

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

Subscribe

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

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

January 9, 2019

Now in our 20th season as the hub of ocean swimming

bongin dhd 190109 600
Bongin Bongin Bay this morn. (Pic by David Helsham @glistenrr)

This issue...

Swims this weekend...

First time in the surf

Ralf breaks duck at the Christie

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The entire point of the Capt. Christie Classic at Gerringong is to get a free nip o'whusky. Mrs Sparkle, Ralf Boek, and Neil "Remora" Warren got theirs.

Driving along the Grand Parade past Botany Bay early Sundee morn, we were struck by the intensity of the sou’-easter blowing whitecaps across the water. No swim could run in these conditions, we thought, necessarily to ourselves. It was so fierce that we bated our breath, expecting at any moment a call from Mitch Payne, Gerringong awgie, or John Guthrie, his peer at Newport, announcing some kind of decision or other. We’d received already an email from Jim Dougherty at Yamba announcing a course change, due to swell, but that event, way oop north, was not affected by the rubbish weather that we saw along the bay.

Half way to the ‘gong, we’d heard nothing, so we called Payne ourselves. How were conditions, we prompted him. “Near perfect”, he said. Our breath certainly bated. There was a gentle breeze blowing from the sou’-west, smooth seas, and only a slight swell, also from the sarth. “Near perfect conditions”, said Payne.

We were surprised, but he’s there and we have to take him at his word. We arrived at Gerringong, at the surf clubhouse at Werri Beach, to find that Payne was not a fibber. He didn’t say that the air was cool, or that there might have been rain about, but he probably didn’t need to. We knew that. We’d been looking at the sky and the weather all the way from Sydney. There was indeed a slight sou’-east swell on a rising tide, and a gentle sou’-wester, and we all know what that means, don’t we… All together: No blueys!

Indeed, just as onshore breezes blow blueys onto beaches, so offshore breezes blow them away again. The breeze at the ‘gong was not bluebottle-bearing. The sea was not bluebottle-bobbing. It was bluebottle-free. We wish we could say the same about Queensland at the moment, for if you take the meeja at its word, the entire state and thousands of beachgoers are under siege not just from thousands of blueys, but from thousands of giant blueys, bigger’n your hand, of a type seen only every 10-30 years, and with tentacles and a sting to match. Meeja hysteria about sharks, and now also blueys, is alarming, such that one lady wrote to us this week asking what precautions awgies at Bilgola were taking to protect swimmers this weekend fro, blueys. We told her about the Queensland connection.

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"Ordinary", was @manifold12's assessment of conditions at Newport on Sundee.

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"Not warm yet", said @jokelitt of Newport. Doesn't actually look too bad to us.

Back on Sundee, the view from the ‘gong of Newport, up on the northern beaches, was bleak. “Very ordinary conditions for the swim today at Newport,” tweeted @manifold12, although if you looked at the pic accompanying the tweet, it didn’t look too bad at all. Certainly not blown out. “I don’t think the southerly has brought the warmer water yet – definitely colder that Victoria,” tweeted @jokelitt. Neither pic suggested the misery of our view early of Botany Bay. Mind you, Botany Bay is a bit like that. Even on a nice day, it looks miserable. All flat, bland, ordinary and boring. No wonder Phillip wouldn’t stay there.

Back at the ‘gong, we shivered. Conditions looked terrific, but we’d neglected to prepare. We’d brought only a t-shirt and short pants as well as our cossies and gogs. This is a swim where you must travel from registration/finish to the start, so you leave your car either at the finish or the start. Either way, in those conditions, you could freeze. The air was cool. Much cooler than the water, it turned out.

We love going to Gerringong. The swim is named for 19th Century sea captain who bet a crewmen that he could swim from the ‘gong’s Boat Harbour around the rock shelf into Werri Beach. The prize was a bottle of whusky, so the Gerringong awgies provide all finishers with a miniature whisky in commemoration of Captain Christie.

It’s a pretty swim and also a dramatic swim. The swell rolls across as you swim along the shelf, then it bounces back at you. It was gentle this day, but the backwash from the rocks still provided a bit of up and down. A bit of how’s your captain. But with the ground swell behind you, it pushed one along. It was rather glorious. The following swell, especially, because it offers that magnificent sensation of lift rolling through your body. You’re swimming along, minding your own business, and you feel the swell pick up your feet, then roll along your legs, through your midriff, your torso, up towards your noggin. When you feel its first lift, you stretch that little bit longer out in front of you, and you can ride the swell, just momentarily, and pick up maybe half a length on someone who isn’t as familiar with how to take advantage of it.

Such as Ralf Boek. Ralf is a 6’ 5” German (165cm to the youngsters), a lean, stringy, Berliner, who arrived in Strã’a the day before, Sat’dee, for a week’s work. We know Ralf because he came to Tonga with us last year to swim with humpback whales. Ralf spends a lot of time swanning around the world on adventure holidays. Last November, he did a ski holiday in Antarctica. Who knew this stuff went on?

Swimming with whales around the Vava’U archipelago is not quite the same as swimming in swell along the rock shelf at the ‘gong, however, and the swell, especially the backwash, had Ralf flummoxed. Ralf had never swum in an ocean swim race before; indeed, he had never before swum in swell, not to mention backwash.

We caught up with Ralf shortly after the first booee off the boat ramp at Boat Harbour. Like most Germans, Ralf was breaststroking. He is not a bad freestyler, but the swell and the backwash induced an element of uncertainty, perhaps anxiety, so his freestyle was interspersed with breast against a backdrop of short, sharp breaths. “I’m having trouble finding my rhythm,” Ralf said to us. We thought we knew pretty well what his issue was, so we stayed with him. Had we left Ralf alone, he might have been pulled out of the water by a diligent water safety laddie. We stayed with him to protect him from this, and to provide a continuous target for him to get him through the 1.8km course.

As it happened, the water safety staff were excellently supportive. They stayed with Ralf throughout, one of them on the beach side, and us on the ocean side. Ralf would have got there anyway, but we like to think that the escorts helped him relax and get there more comfortably.

Into the break, the water clarified as the depth receded; you could count the individual grains of sand. A set rolled through, right over Ralf, rolling him around a bit, but he was home by then. It was the first time Ralf had swum in surf. It wasn’t a big wave but, having seen Yrpeans playing around in shore breaks for the first time in their lives, we have also seen how they can get themselves into trouble. But Ralf was good by then; the shortness of breath was replaced with smiles. He even tried to catch a few broken waves as they rolled through. The light, offshore breeze kept the break even and gentle.

We love the Gerringong swim. It’s a modest swim run by a modest surf club with an enormous community spirit. The course might be modest in length, but it’s dramatic in nature and aspect. We rate it in our calendar as one of our “epic” swims.

We used to love the Gerringong swim for the fish auction, too. The morning of the swim, there is a body surfing competition, and the local fishing club runs a fishing competition, the catch from which they used to auction from the back of a flatbed truck parked on the lawn of the surf club. The local surf shop used to run a fashion parade.

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Cool at the 'gong, but the water was fine.

The flatbed truck is still there for the presos, conducted by a surf club identical called Skid. We’re told Skid is called Skid because he used to dress like he was straight off Skid Row. He might be fashionably challenged, but Skid loves a chat. “He probably is someone you could call a ‘raconteur’,”, whispered Gerringong’s Mark Booth to us as Skid’s pre-swim briefing stretched into its 48th minute (slight exaggeration, but you get the drift). The fish auction died a few years back due to changing health regulations. The fashion parade just is no more, but the surf shop gives away heaps of vouchers as prizes.

The Gerringong swim occupies a special place in our psyches because it was one of the first “not obvious” or “obscure” swims that we placed on our calendar when we started oceanswims.com 20 years ago. We’d heard there was a swim at Gerringong, so we drove down there one day, family in tow, the three oceanswims.com urchins with their noses making greasy prints on the car windows, as the weather drizzled down outside, a day as bleak on its face as last Sundee. Outside the surf club 20 years ago, we found Mark Booth, whom we mentioned earlier. Booth was putting away the rubber ducky after a day’s patrols. We accosted him about the swim, found the basic details, made our contact, put the swim on our calendar then totaling 17 swims in NSW.

We reminisced about it again last Sundee, as we do every time we do the Christie, which is an event that speaks to the true nature of ocean swimming: its informality, its community spirit, its humility, its egalitarian character; its emphasis on taking part rather than just winning (everyone gets a whusky). It reminds us of the first Newport swim, many years ago (can’t remember how many) when, during the presos there, then, a cobber whispered in our ear, a la Boothy during Skid’s briefing at Gerringong, “This is what surf carnivals were like 20 years ago”. Indeed.

Aaarggh! We’re getting carried away. Try it for yourself next time.

This week's podcast...

Plenty of ocean swimmers are old gits or fragrant gentleladies, so here's an interesting podcast on a subject close to many of their hearts: it's all about hypertension, from BBC Radio 4's Inside Health... Click here

This weekend...

We have online entries open to two swims this weekend...

bilgola pano 0110

Bilgola (NSW) - A new date for the Billy Swim, as it slips into January, into the slot vacated by Avalon's move to April. Two swims on the Sydney coast's most spectacular beach: 500m and 1.5km. Have a geek at the course preview (on the event page on oceanswims.com) shot by Chris Ivin with his drone. It really is that stunning.

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, with shifting banks, gutters, rips, peaks and shoulders.

Overall, a terrific day out, and a hotbed of ocean swimming culcha. There's usually an excellent fruit spread afterwards, under the marquee, and Billy's barbie

The Bilgola swim is Swim 2 in the Pittwater Ocean Swim Series.

Online entries close on oceanswims.com at 3pm on Saturday, Jan 12... Click here

north bondi 03 pano

North Bondi (NSW) - The first of the two North Bondi classics. 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 and 1km. 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 14, and the North Bondi Classic on Sunday, February 11, using the Combo entry option. North Bondi offers a Back of the Pack wave for swimmers who'd prefer to avoid the hurley burley of conventional age group waves.

A warning: we've had a curious run of online entries in the last couple of days to the North Bondi Classic on February 10. Perhaps those entries really are intended for the Classic, but with The Roughwater this Sunday, we hope they're not in error. Please check the online list of progress entries to ensure that your entry is as you wish.

Online entries close on oceanswims.com at 3pm on Saturday, Jan 5... Click here

Stock up for NY

New shopping cart a hit

view solace v825a BL 450There's a little issue with our new shopping cart that might make it difficult to order for some users: it seems that sometimes, from phones, the cart is not updating when an item is selected. Our tech-heads are working on it. In the meantime, if you have problems in making your selections, best to try from a desktop. Sorry about that. We're at the cutting edge, you see.

That said, we're having a good run of orders through our new shopping cart.

We offer View, the world's best, and best value gogs and swim accessories. We've been using View for years. In fact, we were using View well before they approached us to work with them. That's why we can say how good they are.

Now, with our new shopping cart, you can browse all that we have to offer - View gogs and accessories, oceanswims.com cossies, tow floats, and Cecily's Stinger Suits. Ordering and paying by secure server uses the same process as our online entries, which means it's tried, proven, safe and reliable.

Here, we have our latest discovery gog: the View Solace. The Solace has been around for a year or two, but we've paid proper attention to them only with the ending of the Fully Sick line, which we'd worn for years. We tried the Solace when looking for a replacement.

What we found was a goggle with wide, comfy silicone seal, very wide breadth of vision, clear lens, and good sun protection and filter. Then we realised the price: one of the best gogs we've ever worn, and for $20!

Check them out, and all our gogs, accessories, goos, cossies, etc, and order now... Click here

Swimmer's shoulder

What to do about it #7

Recently, we ran a piece by physiotherapist Jerome Murphy on swimmer’s shoulder. Jerry explained the condition, and now here’s the 7th in a series of videos of exercises that afflicted swimmers can use to treat it. Any swimmer can use these exercises, mind you. You don’t need already to be a sufferer. If you use them before symptoms emerge, then maybe they never will emerge.

We’ll run videos each newsletter for as long as it takes to exhaust them…

Words in your ear

About your online entry...

Checking your entry...

We get emails from punters who say their email confirmation did not arrive after they entered an event online. They want to know, "Are we entered?" Well, you can check that yourself. There is advice on each and every event page about what to do if you run into problems whilst entering, or if you're unsure whether your entry succeeded. The advice is under the heading, "Enter here... Please read this first..." But do they? No. Most problems can be resolved simply if you read this advice. Please do.

hibiscus mbank 190108 osc 350Something in @sparkleocean"s garden. She grew it; we're showing it to you. Isn't nature wonderful.

Emails from us...

This may sound silly, coming in an email, but if you're expecting an email from us, perhaps this newsletter, or an entry confirmation, but it doesn't turn up, then check your Spam and Trash folders. It's hard to believe, but some silly ISPs, particularly people such as Gmail and Hotmail, sometimes treat our emails as spam or trash and divert them accordingly. So if it doesn't turn up, check there first. You could also add us to a whitelist. That should help, too.

Your Emergency contact...

Event organisers need an emergency contact for you, just in case something happens... We hope it doesn't and, to date, it's happened only rarely. There was the bloke who finished the swim, didn't hand his timing chip in, then went home, sat down and watched the cricket on tv. In the meantime, awgies thought he was still at sea and launched a search. They even called out the rescue helicopter.

But it's remarkable how many swimmers enter themselves as their emergency contact: their name and their phone number. In the case above, that would have worked. But that's even more rare than instances of needing to make an emergency contact in the first place.

It's possible that some entrants don't have anyone else they can list as an emergency contact, and we wish to acknowledge them, particularly at Xmas. But the majority do. We should not have to go into how silly it is to list yourself as your own emergency contact. But just imagine what would happen if something occurred that required awgies to make contact with a supporting other on your behalf. How would the phone call go?

We'll leave it to your imagination.

If you run into problems whilst entering online...

If you read the event page for your selected swim, you will find advice about what to do if your attempt to enter online appears to go awry. What to do if you don't receive your confirmation email; what if the payment process appears to hang and you don't know whether your payment went through; what if you made an error, you chose the wrong event, or spelt your email incorrectly, or entered yourself as an F, not an M, etc, etc. What if you have an accident prior to swim day, or your boss sends you interstate and you can't get to the swim...

Not many punters run into problems whilst entering online, but most of the representations we receive from people who run into this issue are or can be answered with the use of that advice. It's there for all to see. Look under the sub-heading, Please read this, on every event page.

Entries of swimmers under 18...

We have to be especially careful that entries of swimmers under the age of 18 are with parental consent.

We require that entries of U18 swimmers are accompanied by the parent's full name and mobile phone, keyed in to the emergency contact fields of the online entry form. Also, U18 entries must use the parent's email address, not that of the U18 swimmer.

We check all entries ourselves, and if we find that U18 entries don't comply with these rules -- which are spelt out clearly on each and every event page -- we will not accept an entry until these deficiencies are rectified.

Changes to entries...

We are happy to amend entries and otherwise manage them -- perhaps switch you between swims if your availability changes, etc-- but we will deal only with the entrants themselves, not with "mates", or someone you met in the pub on Fridee night. The way we assure ourselves that we are dealing with the entrants -- the principals -- is that our contact with you must be through the email account that you used in your entry. If you use a different email account, we will not act on your request until your requesyt comes from the original email account.

sulawesi 151115 600
Swimming over the reef in Sulawesi. It's special.

Calling all ocean swimming divers

Are you an ocean swimmer who dives? There are plenty of you out there. We've turned our Sulawesi oceanswimsafari, in Indonesia in June, into a Dive/Swim oceanswimsafari, with two days of swims (two per day), two days of dives, plus a couple of land-based adventure excursions (including whitewater rafting). Northern Sulawesi is at the centre of marine diversity in the Indo-Pacific region, so it makes sense, to us, to give you the chance to do both. If you don't wish to dive, you can still swim whilst others drop down. All in all, it's a rounded week of maritime adventure. That's swimming in Sulawesi, above... See below for more info...

Our resort on Sulawesi is near the northern tip of this enormous island of surreal shape. It's well away from the area affected recently by tsunami. Indeed, the resort is built high on a steep hill, by the sea, well above the risk area for tsunamis.

Our first inaugural Philippines oceanswimsafari, in late June, also offers a diving focus for those who would like that. As well as our swim days, we're offering a choice of add-on packages included in the overall price: one of these packages gives you more diving; another another lets you indulge yourself with massages in the spa at our resort; another focuses on yoga; or you can learn to cook the Filipino way in the resort kitchen. More info below...

2019 oceanswimsafaris

Pristinity in the Coromandel NZ (March 21-25, 2019 - Open for bookings) – We had a triffic time on our first oceanswimsafari to the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand, and we’re going back there in March 2019. This is one of the most beautiful parts of the world that you’ll ever visit. The centerpiece is the Cathedral Cove swim, either 4km or 2km. We’ll also visit Hot Water Beach, where the thermal springs bubble up through the beach at low tide, and we dig our own spa baths in the sand. Other local swims and bush walks make this a special oceanswimsafari. The ghost of Pavarotti sighs through the hills in this extraordinarily beautiful place.

This oceanswimsafari now is full. But have a look at what can happen in the break at Hahei Beach, where we'll be swimming in March... Click here

More info for 2020… Click here

Swim the Pacific, Dine in Paris - Tahiti/Moorea (April 4-11, 2019 - Full for 2019, but please enquire about 2020) – A place that’s long occupied a romantic, mysterious place in our psyches, ever since Marlon Brando kicked Trevor Howard off the Bounty. But Tahiti and Moorea are more than just idyllic Pacific Islands. With their French colonial heritage, they’re also excellent places for food. You can swim the Pacific during the day, and “dine in Paris in the evening…” Bookings are full for 2019, but hold your place with an advance deposit on 2020.

This oceanswimsafari now is full for 2019. More info and to book for 2020… Click here

Great Barrier Reef 1770 - We're assembling our program and package now for our first inaugural oceanswimsafari to toe Town of 1770, Agnes Water and the Great Barrier Reef, to run May 25-31, 2019. This will include excursions to two of the reefs great little known islands - Lady Elliott and Lady Musgrave. We've received the final details that we needed to include in our package, and we're working on that now. Won't be long. We'll email all those who've expressed interest first, then we'll release it more broadly. We've had phenomenal nterest in this oceanswimsafari.

More info and to reserve your spot… Click here

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Whale sharks off Oslob... Our day excursion during our Philippines oceanswimsafari...

Get remote in Sulawesi - Indonesia (June 11-19, 2019 - bookings open now) - In 2019, we're making this our Adventure oceanswimsafari. As well as two swim days, around the Bunaken Islands, we'll also have two dive days. This, in an area known for having the greatest marine biodiversity in the Indo-Pacific region. Lots of ocean swimmers dive as well as swim. To add to the seaborne adventures, we also have two land-based adventures: our Highlands tour, including our visit to "The Extreme Market" (make of that what you will); and 9km of whitewater rafting down the Nimanga River. And the food is sensational at one of the prettiest boutique resorts you will ever experience. If you don't dive, we'll still swim whilst divers are down below.

Our resort on Sulawesi is near the northern tip of this enormous island of surreal shape. It's well away from the area affected recently by tsunami. Indeed, the resort is built high on a steep hill, by the sea, well above the risk area for tsunamis.

More info and to book... Click here

Pristine reef and whale sharks in The Philippines (June 22-29, 2019, Open for bookings) - Come with us on another exotic oceanswimsafari, and swim with whale sharks. Our visit to the island of Negros Oriental includes swims over some of the healthiest, most abundant coral reef that we’ve ever experienced. And that part of the ocean – the top of the Celebes Sea – boasts the greatest marine diversity in the entire Indo-Pacific region. (Our Sulawesi oceanswimsafari, at the southern end of the Celebes Sea, also gives you the chance to experience this.) In The Philippines, our accommodation is 5-star, with food, wines and luxuriance to match. We’ll also go on a day excursion to the neighbouring island of Cebu, where the local fisherfolk offer a chance to swim with whale sharks, which come in each day to feed. Bookings coming in now.

More info and to book… Click here

Swim with whales in Tonga (open for bookings) – Hot on the heels of an inspiring three weeks in Tonga, with three oceanswimsafaris to swim with humpback whales, we’ve opened bookings to our 2019 Tonga series. Be aware, with three oceanswimsafaris on offer again next year, two already are full (clever people got in very early to hold places with the oceanswimsafaris Advance Deposit Scheme [oADS]). The middle Tonga oceanswimsafari (July 23-31) has four places remaining. Packages are on oceanswimsafaris.com now.

More info and to book… Click here

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The start of the swim around Isla Santa Clara, in the Basque country.

Food and wine, and swimming in the Basque country - San Sebastián (Spain, Aug 21-27, 2019 - bookings open soon) - This oceanswimsafari just keeps getting better and better: we have a week in San Sebastián, one of Europe's most interesting cities, culminating in the swim around the Isla Santa Clara. In 2019, we're adding a day's excursion into French Basque country, too. Packages online now... Click here

Wild swimming, food, adventure, history, and culcha on the Costa Brava - (Spain, Sep 6-14, 2019 - bookings open soon) - One of our most popular oceanswimsafaris, along Catalonia's "wild coast", where the water, the swimming, the food, the wine, the history and the culture all clamour to be the highlight. Packages online now... Click here

Mana Fiji SwimFest - Dates have just been confirmed: October 15-20, 2019. 10km solo or 3 x relay on the Thursday; 5km, 2.5km, 1km on the Sat'dee.

Yasawas oceanswimsafari - One of our most popular oceanswimsafaris, to Fiji's remote Yasawa island group, will follow the Mana Island swims: October 20-28. Packages available now... Click here

Advance booking

Secure your place in any of these oceanswimsafaris whilst package details are finalised with an advance booking: $500 per head, fully refundable when the package is released if you don't wish to proceed. In the meantime, your place is secure... Click here

Controversy Corner...

What do you reckon about any of this stuff?

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

(See posts at the end of this newsletter.)

Swims open to online entry...

New...

Coming up... Freshwater (Mar 3)

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