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January 2, 2019

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

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The lip, Forster Main Beach.

This issue...

Swims this weekend...

Putting in, leaving nothing in the tank

Heart and soul of ocean swimming

Not many Turtles went into the sea this morning. There’s been a brisk nor’-easter blowing for the past week and, each morning, the Turtles approach the water expecting to find the waterline lined with bluebottles. People think the onshore breeze brings them in, you see, and with a week or more straight of not just an onshore wind, but a stiff one, you have to think it’s only a matter of time… Not only that, but Gallic Garry had a look at an east-facing beach near Forster yesterday and he reckoned it was “covered in them”. Garry’s theory is that you need a southerly to blow them up the coast, then the nor’-easter will bring them into Forster Main Beach, which faces north. But if that’s the case, why aren’t they all blown in to beaches farther south before they even get this far? And from where do the blueys that blow into beaches farther north come from? We’re not sure we agree with him.

Blueys are the bane of our existence, even more so than sharks. The sharks here (touch wood) are friendly: Fluffy, a resident nurse off the reef, and Whitey, a tagged white that turns up most mornings on the Shark Smart app. A few months back, the shark boat found Whitey caught on a drum line (boo, hiss…). He tagged him/her, and dragged him/her a couple of kilometres out to sea. Next morning, they found him/her again just off the beach. Whitey lives around these parts. It’s his/her home. Who are we to drive him/her from his/her home? That kind of practice should have gone out with European settlement, and it wasn’t right then.

Fluffy and Whitey receive visits from many cobbers and relos, especially in the lead up to the mullet run around Easter. These cobbers and relos cross species and families: the 3m bull, for example, that we swam over barely 50m off the beach early last year; the other bull that tried to go Nurse Gina on the sand bar in the lake. Gina was wearing one of those anklets that are supposed to deter sharks, but it seems that they attract them first, to deter them when they get too close. One morning, a sub-peloton of Turtles – including us – was swimming past Crocodile Rock towards the breakwall when we swam over two sharks, but they were relative tiddlers: each maybe a couple of metres long. Younger nurses, perhaps. Over some periods, hardly a day goes by without some kind of interaction or sighting.

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Forster Main Beach this morn. So you get the drift.

Just the other day, the Turtles were sitting under the surf club verandah enjoying their post-swim cuppa – the culcha of the early morning swim – when the daily helicopter came past looking for sharks. It usually circles main beach once before heading on up the coast past Tuncurry. But when it circles more than twice, then three times, then four times… five… six… Then it drops down low over the Bullring (our ocean pool), and it sounds its alarm, then you know it’s spotted something, usually in the spot where we’ve just been swimming.

It was Lenny’s 95th birthday yesterday. On his birthday, a few of the Turtles rolled Lenny – who has one and a half legs – down to the water in an access chair, so he can float in the sea for a bit. A year ago, the helicopter found an untagged white shark just behind the break, in the middle of the beach, precisely where Lenny had been floating just half an hour before.

Never mind. With all the shark activity around this joint, there’s never been – as far as we know – an attack on an ocean swimmer on Forster Main Beach or anywhere in the area. We co-exist. Not the same with ski paddlers and board riders, although the ski paddler incident was at Black Head, just north, and the board rider was a few kilometres south. Touch wood, as we say.

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The mischievous Russell Jackson (l) and Noel Maybury, still at his playing weight.

The Forster Turtles swim every morning at 7:30am at Forster Main Beach. You’re all welcome. At holiday time, we get quite a few visitors. But we are no different to the myriad other swim groups around the coastline. Pretty well every beach in proximity to urban development has a morning swim group. We’ve started a directory to them… Click here… so that all of you can see how you can get a morning swim when you’re away from home. Our list is relatively short right now, since it’s new, but we are building it. These groups are the real heart of ocean swimming. They epitomise the culcha, you see: the informality, the lack of regulation, the absence of pressure to swim distance or speed, the openness to strangers, the entrée to the culcha afterwards over the cuppa by the beach, which is therapy in itself

All groups need direction, of course, however informal. In our case, we have two leaders: we have a godfather, our spiritual leader, and we have our playmaker, our general in the sea. Without them, we would be… well, we’d find someone else. But it wouldn’t be the same.

Our spiritual leader is Russell Jackson, now wiry and 80, and regressing rapidly into childhood as he matures. Russell got the local lady swimmers together some years back to form the nucleus of the Turtles. He trains them at 6am both in the Bullring and in the break off Main Beach. (The Bullring, at the eastern end of Main Beach, is called The Bullring because it’s as wide as it is long. Some types swim their laps longitudinally, and some swim them laterally. Sometimes, they meet in the middle.)

Russell occupies the chair by the surf club door in the mornings, and the clothes peg in the far corner in the mens’ change rooms. He runs the raffle on Sat’dees and Sundees -- $2 to enter, prize a bottle of wine, although we’ve never seen anyone win the wine. Never mind, we usually turn up forgetting the $2 and aren’t eligible anyway.

Our Playmaker is Noel Maybury, like Russell from Tiger territory in Sydney. Noel actually was a Tiger: he played hooker with the Balmain Tigers in the 70s, also appearing, in 1978, for City Firsts. Now in his 60s, Noel, a ranga, still is probably not much more than his playing weight. He rides to the beach each morning (on a pushbike), and he’s been known to do silly things like put his back out whilst doing chin-ups. He’s very neat with a carefully groomed moustache, and combs his hair in front of the mirror, in the manner of gents from the inner west when the inner west was authentic working class. They make movies about people like Russell and  Noel.

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Quadriptych as the lip comes over, Forster Main Beach...

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Noel runs the Turtles in the water much as, you could imagine, his conditioning coach did at Leichhardt Oval in the ‘70s. He’ll warm us up with a swim to, say, “the pole” – a flag pole c. 250m down the beach towards the breakwall – or the other way to the vent on the end of the Bullring. Then we’ll come back: “seven 40s”, he might say. “First one, last 10 strokes, no breathing”. Then the second 40, it will be, “First 10 strokes, no breathing”. The secret to hypoxic sets like this is to relax. Worst approach is to “hurry” through them to get them done, because this escalates the oxygen demand. Noel knows this, but he doesn’t tell us. Something has to be left for us to learn ourselves.

Another day, he’ll say, “Six 50s... Every second one, put in!” And the "put in" is almost spat, for emphasis. He means it.

“Put in” is an expression once common around the sporting clubs of traditional Strã’a, when training was all about trying hard, before science and tertiary qualifications poked their nosy beaks into professional sports, and when first grade footballers all had real jobs as well as playing contracts. It means, “try quite hard", or "put in a good effort”. Sometimes, Noel will tell us to “put in”. Other times, he’ll say, “Smart”, or “Quick”, or “Lively”, or, and this is the best one, “Leave nothing in the tank”. Earlier this week, he left us flummoxed when he said, “Put in and make it lively”. Which do we do? All of them mean pretty much the same thing, distinguished only by nuance. But which nuance?

Unlike most of us, Noel actually knows a bit about physical fitness. He makes us work a bit, he provides variety, he has a watchful eye over the less confident Turtles, and you can tell that, whilst all this is completely voluntary, Noel understands the concept of duty of care, both legally and socially. Noel provides structure and direction to our sessions: no two early morning swims are the same; we never know – perhaps neither does Noel – what we’re going to do till we get out behind the break. It also means that we don’t just go out there and wallow around behind the break, hacking up and down directionlessly, filling in the time before ordering our cuppas. Breaking the sessions into sets means we work at harder swimming in a reasonable fashion, for our ages, offering variety, improvement, the ability to change pace when we need to, and the opportunity to “put in” as much as we wish. Every day, the set is different. Every day, you’ll swim over a different Turtle when you lose your own direction without lane ropes and lines on the bottom. This morning, we swam over Leanne. She was very slippery and soft. Some Turtles “put in” the entire session; some will add a half a lap of the beach to the Bullring and back after Noel has ended the day’s session, just because they want a bit more; others go out behind the break, dip up and down a bit, and come back in. Everyone finds their own métier.

We are a myriad bunch. The Turtles include everyone and anyone from medical photographers through real estate agents, Gough Whitlam’s driver, nurses, builders, roustabouts, cleaners, fisherfolk, hacks, hairdressers, teachers, truckies (Russell), wharfies (Noel), CFOs of major corporations, pastoralists, shoe salesmen, teachers, developers, and many more. We are always struck, when we come in from our swim, by how many Turtles already are showered, changed and sitting down in front of the surf club waiting for their cuppas to arrive from our fave café, Beach Bums.

Whatever, there is no compulsion to do anything other than get a bit of exercise, some therapy, and a good old chinwag over a coffee. That’s what makes it beautiful. And it goes on all over the joint. That is why the “early morning swim” is the heart and soul of ocean swimming.

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We all wonder what turtles do when and if they survive that struggle into the sea. Well, here's what they do...

Something for all of us...

Which gives us an idea: when we’re in Forster, we tweet, Insta and F/book under the hashtag of “#earlymorningswim”. We’re always, all of us, watching things like water temp, seas, blueys, water quality, etc. So if all these early morning swim groups posted daily reports – today’s water at Forster Main Beach was murky (still recovering from heavy rain of two weeks back), 20.3C, with a few drying out blueys on the high tide mark but nothing in the water, etc – then we could all keep up with what’s going on. Up here in Forster, we watch @glistenrr for news of Bongin Bongin Bay, and #bondilaps for Bondi. @essron tweets re Bar Beach in Newcastle (hashtagless). @PlatOcean tweets about Dumaresq Dam on the Northern Tablelands, and @Bundogs tells us about Victoria’s Western Districts. There will be a lot more of this going on, we’re sure. And we’re sure we’d all like to know more about what’s going on all around the joint.

This weekend...

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

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

A warning: registration on swim day closes at 9am. If you are not there by 9am, you miss out. Awgies must close by then to allow all swimmers to be briefed then to get around to Boat Harbour in time for the start at 10am.

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

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Newport (NSW) - A new distance added to the Pool to Peak swim this season: a 400m swim for younger swimmers. This makes it a more complete event for families. Three distances in all, so there should be something for everyone: 800m and 2km, and now also 400m for swimmers as young as 10.

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

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

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Yamba (NSW) -

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

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

Stock up for NY

New shopping cart a hit

view solace v825a BL 450We've had 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 #6

Recently, we ran a piece by physiotherapist Jerome Murphy on swimmer’s shoulder. Jerry explained the condition, and now here’s the third 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...

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 we accept bona fide and genuine entries to ocean swims, that we deal with principals -- not mates or someone you meet in a pub on a Friday night -- and that the entries of swimmers under the age of 18 must be with parental consent.

On the first, we are happy to amend entries and otherwise manage them -- perhaps switch you between swims if your availability changes -- but we will deal only with the entrants themselves. The way we assure ourselves that we are dealing with the entrants 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 ask you to use the appropriate one before we can act on your request.

On entries of U18 swimmers, we require that these entries all be accompanied by the parent's full name and mobile phone, keyed in to the emergency contact fields of the online entry form. Also, these 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 on each event page -- we will chase them up to have these problems rectified. If they are not rectified, these entries will not be accepted.

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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... Port Noarlunga (SA, Mar 11), Forster (NSW, Apr 14)

Coming up...

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December 21, 2018

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

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The Almighty, whoever they are, smiles on ocean swimmers. Pic from Bongin Bongin Bay by David Helsham (@glistenrr)

This issue...

Swims over Xmas...

More on chlorine pools

It's the free radicals, stupid...

hail elliott 181220 450We copped a bit of flak following our last issue over our splash on the health effects of chlorine in pools. One chap said we were anti-vaccers. Another said we’d drive parents to take their kids to McDonalds rather than the pool. Mind you, we’d have thought that any parents who’d take that option probably wouldn’t have their kids at the pool in the first place.

It hailed in Sydney on Thurs. How bad was it? Jo-Anne Elliott (@jokelitt) posted this pic on Twitter to help you work it out...

But we were also struck by how many anecdotal reports we received from punters who’d suffered similar effects to those we described in our piece.

One coach told us of an 11-year-old whom he took, some years ago, to a national champs interstate, where the boy set a string of national records. But returning, the lad suffered so badly from respiratory problems that he had to stop swimming for two months. When he recovered and returned to the pool, the problems recurred, and did so every time he attempted to come back. Eventually, the lad retired. One of his records still stands, the coach says.

Another fellow wrote to us: “I suffer from severe sneezing after a splash. Can be in the change room or even next day. A local 25m indoor training centre with the low roof became too much for my partner to bear when a 7-8am (session) rendered me a teary mess at dinner. Zyrtec gets me by and I am sure dust gives me a workout but I have heard of others who ‘melt into a puddle on the floor too’.”

Another said, “The chlorine article is highly relevant to me. (Mrs Sparkle's) symptom's: are they a lingering ie months of inflamation of the upper respiratory system? And when you try to sprint exercise, ie swim as quickly as you can or cycle up a very steep hill, you can't get enough air to complete the task and then have to stop to recover your breath?

I have had this since winter and wonder if I’m in the same boat(as the other chlorine affected swimmers).”

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Before... Peter Hancock (@platocean) swims each morning in Dumaresq Dam, near Armidale on the NSW Northern Tablelands. This is how it was when Peter turned up for his morning swim on Wensdee... He wrote on Twitter: "Foggy early, but cleared to a fine morning. Water temp 24.5c - a big jump from 2 days ago. Very pleasant to swim in! Caught the final clamour of the night heron Christmas party before they retreated to their roost tree for the day." Then it cleared...

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In our case, after swimming in one particular pool, we would spend the day sneezing and wheezing, but the day after, the symptoms left us. To recap Mrs Sparkle, she retired from teaching little children to swim at the same pool because of the respiratory effects she felt. She even found herself depilatated: she lost the hair on her legs and arms.

This is an issue about which we would all do well to know more. (Mind you, one of our respondents last week questioned why we were talking about pools when all he was interested in was ocean swimming. To which we argue that many ocean swimmers also swim in pools, particularly those, like us, who live too far from the beach to swim in the ocean daily.)

As it happens, in the ranks of the squad we train with now, we have a chemist. The day after last week’s story, we had our squad Xmas dinner, so we all had a chinwag swapping stories similar to those above. That’s where we heard the coach’s story.

With a chemist in the group, there were lots of references to ions and free radicals and things like that, much of which goes over our heads. 30,000 feet. We were never much good at science once they got away from "Air" and "Water" and into the periodic table.  The bottom line, though, was that the respiratory issues could be caused by the chlorine, by the type of chlorine, and/or by the impurities in the chlorine, and how each of them react with both the water and the air around the pool.

The chemist pointed out that every bulk-produced chemical will contain impurities, perhaps 10-30 per cent in extreme cases. It’s not easy to say what those impurities might be without analysing every batch. They would be different impurities from different manufacturers, and they would be different if the chlorine was produced for industrial use as distinct from, say, public pool (personal or public health) use. In these days of austerity and agglomeration (council amalgamations, say), it would not be surprising to find a larger council, or group of councils banding together to buy supplies, such as pool chemicals, in greater bulk and from cheaper suppliers. After all, the bigger the gummint, the further removed they are from the rank and file, and the less concern they have for individuals. Local councils, especially, continuously come under pressure from their states – local government in Strã’a is a creature of the states, after all – to reduce costs. Who’s to say that they don’t switch to cheaper suppliers offering industrial chlorine with different or greater impurities?

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This is why mug punters swim in the sea each morning. Pic from Bongin Bongin Bay by David Helsham (@glistenrr)

All this is to say that there are myriad confounding factors at play in the water in our pools. It’s not just water, salt, wee, and the occasional blind mullet.

We don’t know what regulations or standards apply to pool chemicals. What we do know is that this is an issue, and it would be good to know more about it. And if the health authorities do know more about it, where can we find out what they know?

Another respondent to last week’s piece, Michael Kreplins, wrote, “In reference to chlorine exposure...

It's Xmas...

xmas swim berlin 450We wish you all a joyful, relaxing Xmas. Enjoy your families and your friends, don't indulge to the point of deep regret, and return in 2019 rejuvenated... From all of us (both of us, Suanne and Paul) at oceanswims.com.

Here (right) are members of Berlin Seals taking a dip in the Orankesee Lake (Pic from abc.net.au). Yes, we know we've run this pic before, but it's become our fave Xmas pic. It captures everything there is to say about Xmas, now that it has morphed into a celebration of family and friends in our diverse, ecumenical, multitheist society. There is a spirited movement of Xmas swims in Yrp, although most of them tend to be tea bags, not real swims. Never mind. It still takes... er, inner strength to go into the water in Europe in winter.

We'll leave you alone now, till the New Year. See you on the beach.

Online entries coming up...

glenelg beach 02 600

Glenelg, Proclamation Classic - Fri, Dec 28 - Yes, this is a Friday, a South Australian swim run to coincide with the state's day: Proclamation Day. Three distances on offer: 1km, 2km, and 5km. You must select one; you can't do multis.

Online entries to the proclamation Classic close at noon (CDT) on Boxing Day, Wednesday,  December 26... Click here

Stock up for Xmas

New shopping cart a hit

view solace v825a BL 450We've had a good run of orders through our new shopping cart. A couple of little teething issues at the start, but we trust we have found and fixed them all now.

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 #5

Recently, we ran a piece by physiotherapist Jerome Murphy on swimmer’s shoulder. Jerry explained the condition, and now here’s the third 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...

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 we accept bona fide and genuine entries to ocean swims, that we deal with principals -- not mates or someone you meet in a pub on a Friday night -- and that the entries of swimmers under the age of 18 must be with parental consent.

On the first, we are happy to amend entries and otherwise manage them -- perhaps switch you between swims if your availability changes -- but we will deal only with the entrants themselves. The way we assure ourselves that we are dealing with the entrants 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 ask you to use the appropriate one before we can act on your request.

On entries of U18 swimmers, we require that these entries all be accompanied by the parent's full name and mobile phone, keyed in to the emergency contact fields of the online entry form. Also, these 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 on each event page -- we will chase them up to have these problems rectified. If they are not rectified, these entries will not be accepted.

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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.

Just today, we were sent this link to a video of what can happen in the break at Hahei Beach, where we'll be swimming in March. It's worth a look... Click here

More info and to book… 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.

More info and to book… 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

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 coming soon.

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. More details and packages coming soon.

Yasawas oceanswimsafari - One of our most popular oceanswimsafaris, to Fiji's remote Yasawa island group, will follow the Mana Island swims: October 20-28. More details coming soon.

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...

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

 

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December 12, 2018

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

de mestre brewer sydney harbour swim 600
We told you last week about the shoulder-to-shoulder, 900m match race between John de Mestre and Graeme Brewer in Sydney Harbou?. The day after we published, de Mestre sent us this pic of the pair immediately after the race. Which one won the  multiple swims over successive days, oceanswimsafarists get lots of opportunity to refine their technique in entering the water.

This issue...

Swims this weekend

Don't wish to alarm you, but be aware

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the pool...

A few issues back, we ran a story about the health effects of urine in swimming pools. The bottom line was that the urine excreted into pools by swimmers, either inadvertently – such as by sweating – or otherwise, as it were, can have a serious effect on the health of all swimmers using the pool. This helped to explain to us why we always had respiratory problems after doing early morning squad at a particular indoor pool on Sydney’s lower north shore.

Our report that day included the para: “Ahead of the London 2012 Olympics, the US swimmer, Ryan Lochte, said: “I think there’s just something about getting into chlorine water that you just automatically go,” and his team-mate, Michael Phelps, agreed it was acceptable behaviour. “I think everybody pees in the pool,” he said. “Chlorine kills it, so it’s not bad.”

But is it “not bad”? Is chlorine our saviour, or our enemy?

We have come into possession of a wad of information, found by Mrs Sparkle, who researched the subject when she was teaching little children to swim in the same indoor pool on Sydney’s north side where we had done squad some years back, after which we invariably suffered from respiratory problems. This research helped Mrs Sparkle to decide, after suffering continuously from respiratory problems whilst she followed that calling, that she had had enough of being a swimming teacher.

We publish this information here with apprehension: we don't wish to seem scare-mongering or hysterical. But this is a relevant issue for swimmers and we seek to broaden awareness of it, and discussion.

The research, which you can access… Click here… summarises knowledge about the health effects of chlorinated swimming pools. In boiled down summary, it says –

  1. Chlorine pools are damaging to swimmers’ health;
  2. Indoor chlorine pools are even more damaging;
  3. Squaddies suffer from health effects the more with greater frequency and intensity of swimming in chlorinated pools, some to the point of chronic illness that prevents them from competing;
  4. Chlorine pools increase the likelihood of some cancers, can worsen asthma and other respiratory illnesses, and can even damage your teeth; and
  5. Pools with an ozone-based systems are safer than those with chlorine-based systems.

The expanded summarised knowledge says this –

  • Exercising competitive swimmers absorb toxic levels of chlorine products in the course of a training session.
  • Training two or more times a day will not allow the toxins to be completely cleared from the body in most swimmers.
  • Children inhale more air per unit of body weight than mature persons, and have less developed immune and defence systems.
  • Young children absorb relatively greater amounts of toxins than older swimmers and, therefore, are at greater risk.
  • In hyper-chlorinated pools, even dental enamel can be eroded because of the increased acidity in training.
  • Exercise intensity and number of sessions increase the toxic concentrations in competitive swimmers.
  • Greater toxin absorption occurs through the skin than through breathing. However, the breathing action alone is sufficient to cause hypersensitivity and "asthma-like" respiratory conditions in at least some swimmers. The percentage of asthma-like symptoms in swimmers that is attributable to exposure to chlorinated hydrocarbons versus being unrelated to chlorine exposure is presently unknown. This is an area clearly deserving of further research.
  • Overchlorination is particularly hazardous to the health of swimmers.
  • Exposure to swimming pool water increases the likelihood of some cancers.

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Idyllic, yes? But there's stuff going on in the background, beneath, of which you need to be aware.

This research, on the website of San Diego State University in the US, pulls together papers into different aspects of swimming pool health as it’s affected by chlorine. The different papers deal with and argue -

Children develop asthma in chlorinated pools

Regular attendance at chlorinated pools by young children is associated with an… increase in the risk of developing asthma, especially in association with other risk factors… increased exposure of children to chlorine products in indoor pools might be an important cause of the rising incidence of childhood asthma and allergic diseases in industrialised countries.

Swimming in indoor pools accelerates the concentration of chlorination contaminants in swimmers

Training for swimming in a poorly ventilated indoor swimming pool has the potential to cause illness through breathing undesirable concentrations of mainly chloroform.

Chlorine absorption in swimmers is greatest through the skin

This study demonstrates a greater importance of transdermal (via the skin) uptake of chlorinated hydrocarbons compared to the respiratory route. This indicates that improved ventilation alone will not have a major impact on exposure to these materials because it is being immersed in the liquid that is the greatest threat. In contrast, ozonation allows markedly reduced levels of chlorine in the pool water.

Exercising increases the toxicity of a “safe” chlorinated pool

Even though chlorine concentrations in a pool environment are at acceptable "safe" levels, it is exercising that produces abnormal levels of exposure to this toxin. There has not been sufficient research to even begin understanding the health effects of this repetitive exposure.

Chlorine-related concentrations in the body is related to the amount of exercise

Implication - Exercising in a chlorinated pool increases the levels of assimilation of chlorine-related gases. The greater the amount of exercise, the greater the concentrations. Thus, hard training swimmers are at greater risk than more sedentary pool attendants and coaches. It takes at least one night for absorbed substances to be removed. If insufficient time exists between training sessions the possibility of toxic build-up is real.

Young swimmers are at greatest health risk

The toxic effects of chlorine products in swimmers training in indoor pools are greater in younger than older swimmers. Young swimmers are therefore at a greater health risk.

Chlorinator tablets pose health risks

Chlorinator tablets are of such a concentration that acute exposure to them is hazardous.

Dental enamel erodes in competitive swimmers in chlorinated pools

Overchlorinated pools that produce excessively elevated levels of acidity can contribute to dental enamel erosion in competitive swimmers. Individuals who frequent pools less are less likely to be threatened.

Bronchospasm in competitive swimmers

Swimming is worse on bronchospasm than other endurance sports, a paradox since swimming is supposed to promote health. The facility/exercise setting is the cause. Because of swimming pool environments, competitive swimming could be bad for one's health!

pool swim lessons kids 400Competitive swimmers in high-chlorine pools have more respiratory problems

Competitive swimmers exposed to chlorine concentrations in pool water face a higher risk of respiratory problems irrespective of their history.

Swimming pool water increases exposure to carcinogenic toxins

There are potential genotoxic effects of exposure to disinfection by-products from swimming pools. The positive health effects gained by swimming could be increased by reducing the potential health risks of the traditional chlorine disinfection processes of pool water.

Pool water increases lung permeability

A slight increase in serum CC16, a marker of lung epithelium permeability [an increase in the likelihood that toxins could enter through the lungs], was detected in healthy adults after swimming in an indoor chlorinated pool. Exercise and disinfection by-products exposure explained this association, without involving inflammatory mechanisms.

Pool water contains many dangerous substances

This study discovered many new disinfection by-products not identified previously in swimming pool or drinking water and found that swimming pool waters are as mutagenic as typical drinking waters. [The greater exposure to swimming pool water in serious competitive swimmers could increase these toxins to dangerous levels. That is what separates swimming from drinking water.]

Risk markers of bladder cancer could be increased in pools

Polymorphisms in key metabolising enzymes modified the disinfection by-products-associated bladder cancer risk. The consistency of these findings with experimental observations… strengthens the hypothesis that disinfection by-products cause bladder cancer and suggests possible mechanisms as well as the classes of compounds likely to be implicated. [The greater exposure of serious competitive swimmers to these modifications is the reason for training in chlorinated pools being deemed dangerous.]

Asthma and respiratory problems in swimmers are associated with health and family histories

Asthma, allergy, family history of both asthma and allergy, and airways infections are significant risk factors for respiratory symptoms in swimming. No association with environmental factors was observed. Screening of respiratory health is recommended for swimmers with asthma and a family history of asthma.

Discussion points

Regulatory agencies have standards for PASSIVE air in enclosed swimming pools. At least that was the case the Carlile Organisation experienced at Narrabeen several years ago when many of its top swimmers were ill. The supervising staff did all the environmental testing and the air was deemed to be safe and within published guidelines. Even after the declaration that the air was "good" swimmers remained ill particularly with upper respiratory problems.

However, according to the above research, an exercising athlete increases the toxicity of the chlorinated pool atmosphere by 700%! That should be a high-level health risk! Safety accrediting agencies need to upgrade their standards to be reflected in active alveolar air, not passive environmental air.

People in swimming over the past decade have become alarmed at the high proportion of training swimmers who are diagnosed/treated asthmatics. However, "swimming asthma" might well be hypersensitivity to chloroform and the other gases as explained in the abstract and not truly asthma. It now appears that some cancer-risks are more likely because of increased exposures to chlorinated pools.

This merely summarises one body of research, and a collection of research. We don’t claim that the knowledge here is the be all and end all. But it’s a subject on which those of us who swim in pools should be informed. Take this as a starter.

For the full collection of research papers… Click here

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Bongin Bongin Bay, along the beach to Warriewood... Image by David Helsham (@glistenrr)

Online entries this weekend...

Mona Vale Warriewood - Sunday, Dec 16 - A swim event with a difference, Warriewood SLSC combines a series of swims and beach runs to get you (and maybe a team mate) from Bongin Bongin Bay to Warriewood. It's a beautiful beach and a stunning backdrop.

Online entries to the Chieftain Challenge close at 3pm on Saturday, December 15... Click here

Stock up for Xmas

New shopping cart is Go!

view solace v825a BL 450At last! It's taken a while (around a year) but our new shopping cart is open for business. Just in time for you to stock up for Xmas with all those stocking fillers that you know your loved ones -- not to mention you, yourself -- want.

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 #4

Recently, we ran a piece by physiotherapist Jerome Murphy on swimmer’s shoulder. Jerry explained the condition, and now here’s the third 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...

Your Emergency contact...

Event organisers need an emergency contact for you, just in case something happens... We hope it doesn't, and it's happened only rarely to date.

But it's remarkable how many swimmers enter themselves as their emergency contact: their name and their phone number.

It's possible that some entrants don't have anyone else they can list as an emergency contact, 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 we accept bona fide and genuine entries to ocean swims, that we deal with principals -- not mates or someone you meet in a pub on a Friday night -- and that the entries of swimmers under the age of 18 must be with parental consent.

On the first, we are happy to amend entries and otherwise manage them -- perhaps switch you between swims if your availability changes -- but we will deal only with the entrants themselves. The way we assure ourselves that we are dealing with the entrants 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 ask you to use the appropriate one before we can act on your request.

On entries of U18 swimmers, we require that these entries all be accompanied by the parent's full name and mobile phone, keyed in to the emergency contact fields of the online entry form. Also, these 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 on each event page -- we will chase them up to have these problems rectified. If they are not rectified, these entries will not be accepted.

sulawesi reef 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. Bookings open now.

More info and to book… 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.

More info and to book… 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 had hoped to have our package finalised by now, but a few details are proving harder to firm up that we'd expected. Won't be long.

More info and to reserve your spot… Click here

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 coming soon.

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. More details and packages coming soon.

Yasawas oceanswimsafari - One of our most popular oceanswimsafaris, to Fiji's remote Yasawa island group, will follow the Mana Island swims: October 20-28. More details coming soon.

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... Bondi (Feb 24)

Coming up... Stanwell Park (Mar 17)

Subscribe

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December 5, 2018

In our 20th season as the hub of ocean swimming

sulawesi dives 600
With multiple swims over successive days, oceanswimsafarists get lots of opportunity to refine their technique in entering the water. These, over the reefs in Sulawesi.

This issue...

Swims this weekend

Stroke and body type

What makes the better swimmer?

brewer graeme 250Below is a story from The New York Times about a study looking into body types of athletes at high performance levels in different sports. The study found that swimming is different from other sports in that body shape and type appeared to be consistent amongst athletes at all distances, unlike, say, running, in which the greater the distance, the more whippet-like the athlete.

He's a big rig, is Graeme Brewer.

A few years back, when The Sydney Harbour Swim Classic used to run in early March each season, awgie Adam Wilson used to bung on a "celebrity" race as a promo in the lead-up to the morning's swims. We had an early lesson in body type and stroke technique watching one of those celebrity races.

On one such occasion, Adam had us in a boat following the celebrity race in from Fort Denison to Man 'o War Steps, calling the race, like Ken Howard, via a radio microphone. All the way through the race, two swimmers swam shoulder to shoulder, literally touching and pushing (not deliberately), closely, such was the intimacy of the contest. One was Graeme Brewer, about 600cm tall and huuuge and muscley and enormous, looking still at his racing weight when he swam in the Olympics at Moscow in 1980. Brewer has a long, loping, powerful stroke, and he surges through the water like a surfaced submarine.

de mestre john daly sean et un 450On Brewer's shoulder was John de Mestre, a slip of a lad, a couple of years younger than Brewer, slight, baby-faced, with a windmill stroke with a rating that seemed double Brewer's. de Mestre looks about 3/4 Brewer's height, and carries little bulk on his torso or his arms.

John de Mestre (centre), with Sean Daly (right) and cobber.

But all the way from Fort Denison to the Steps, they swam together, de Mestre's windmill stroke thrashing away -- with perfect technique, mind -- next to Brewer's powerful lope (also perfect technique). de Mestre's stroke rating looked about twice that of Brewer's, although that could be time fuzzing the memory. The point remains, though.

So who do you think won?

They swam shoulder to shoulder, neither giving a cm, till the steps at the end, where de Mestre, proverbially whippet-like, seemed to jump out of the water, up the steps and across the line first. At that point, body type made the difference in agility, running and climbing, when it had made no dent in swimming.

One would have expected that, with such a difference in stroke and body type, the distance might have suited Brewer more than de Mestre, but no. Fitness comes into it, the more so as you age, but both were very fit -- and still are. Certainly, stroke or body type on this occasion was not a separator.

How Body Type May Determine Runners’ and Swimmers’ Destinies

By Gretchen Reynolds

From The New York Times, August 14, 2018

In competitive running, body type is destiny: If you’re a sprinter powering yourself over a short stretch of track, you better pack a lot of muscle onto your frame. But all that bulk is too much to carry through longer-distance endurance races, which favor more of a whippet type.

Swimmers, though, somehow seem to escape that endurance/speed/size trade-off, according to a new study published in July in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, which for the first time closely examines the morphology of a large group of world-class swimmers and runners. Its findings provide evidence that while there is a body type associated with success in each sport’s various distances, in swimming that body type is consistently the same.

For the research, three anthropologists with an interest in human physical performance gathered publicly available biometric data about the male and female swimmers and runners at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. The information included each athlete’s height, weight and competitive events. (The researchers focused on freestyle swimming races, for the sake of simplicity.) The scientists used that info to calculate each athlete’s body mass index; differences between the B.M.I.s presumably would indicate differences in musculature, because competitors at their level do not carry much fat.

The resulting graphs plotting B.M.I.s and events looked quite different by sport. In running, B.M.I.s dropped precipitously as event distances increased. Two-hundred-meter runners were considerably more massive than marathoners. But there was no similar drop among swimmers. Those contesting the 50-meter freestyle shared a similar body mass with those swimming the two-hour, 10,000-meter open-water marathon.

This relationship held true whether the swimmers were tall or short, male or female, although, not surprisingly, the typical B.M.I. for male and female swimmers differed. Among male Olympic swimmers, B.M.I.s hovered around 23, whatever their event length. (That B.M.I. would be considered “normal weight” for nonathletes, but those tabulations are based on people who are not mostly muscle.) Female Olympic swimmers had a B.M.I. of around 21.

What these figures suggest, most obviously, is that top swimmers, unlike runners, do not necessarily need to be slight to race long, says Michael Steiper, a professor of anthropology at Hunter College, who conducted the study with the master’s student Christian Gagnon and the evolutionary anthropologist Herman Pontzer, who are now at Boston University and Duke University, respectively. “For runners, there is a cost to carrying extra mass over long distances,” Steiper says. “For swimmers, there is less cost to having more muscle mass.”

But the study’s broader subtext suggests that a short, well-muscled fireplug could out touch a lean six-foot swimmer in any distance, if both share a similar B.M.I., which happens to be about 23 for men and 21 for women. Swim events, in other words, can welcome wildly different athletes — an inspiring possibility for many of us. 

 shark point view 600

Online entries this weekend...

5 Beaches, Coogee-Bondi - Saturday, Dec 8 - One of the iconic swims on the Strã'an oceanswimming calendar, every swimmer would like to swim from Coogee to Bondi. It's a spectacular swim, past some of the most dramatic coastline, particularly in built up areas. You will not forget swimming around Shark Point, or past Thommo's, or south-north around Mackenzies. This swim is privately run by Olympic and surf swimming legend, Neil Rogers, the Phil Liggett of ocean swimming. It's an exercise, running a swim like this without the automatic back-up of a surf life saving club, which helps to explain why it's a more expensive swim to enter than your regular Sunday morning jaunts. This one is an epic. And it's Saturday morning. Weekend planned: swim from Coogee to Bondi, then go Xmas shopping.

Online entries to Coogee-Bondi close at 3pm on Friday, December 7... Click here

Swimmer's shoulder

What to do about it #3

Recently, we ran a piece by physiotherapist Jerome Murphy on swimmer’s shoulder. Jerry explained the condition, and now here’s the third 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…

 

A couple of words in your ear...

About your online entry...

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.

About entries of swimmers under 18...

We have to be especially careful that we accept bona fide and genuine entries to ocean swims, that we deal with principals -- not mates or someone you meet in a pub on a Friday night -- and that the entries of swimmers under the age of 18 must be with parental consent.

On the first, we are happy to amend entries and otherwise manage them -- perhaps switch you between swims if your availability changes -- but we will deal only with the entrants themselves. The way we assure ourselves that we are dealing with the entrants 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 ask you to use the appropriate one before we can act on your request.

On entries of U18 swimmers, we require that these entries all be accompanied by the parent's full name and mobile phone, keyed in to the emergency contact fields of the online entry form. Also, these 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 on each event page -- we will chase them up to have these problems rectified. If they are not rectified, these entries will not be accepted.

sulawesi reef 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 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. Bookings open now.

More info and to book… 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.

More info and to book… 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. More details coming soon.

More info and to reserve your spot… Click here

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.

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 160830 slippery dip
Our San Sebastián oceanswimsafari is not all heavy swimming and seriousness. We play, too.

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 coming soon.

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 coming soon.

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. More details and packages coming soon.

Yasawas oceanswimsafari - One of our most popular oceanswimsafaris, to Fiji's remote Yasawa island group, will follow the Mana Island swims: October 20-28. More details coming soon.

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...

Coming up... Stanwell Park (Mar 17)

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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November 28, 2018

Our 20th season as the hub of ocean swimming

coogee 181125 sharp edge 600
It may not look so difficult, but Coogee is renowned for its sharp edge. Sunday's was very sharp. (Pic posted on Coogee Island Challenge Facebook page)

This issue...

Swims this weekend

Coogee explains itself

It's all about the message

A few years ago, at Stanwell Park, awgies called the swim just before start time in view of the seas. There was a lumbering groundswell, not too big, but Stanwell – and its starting beach, Coalcliff, a little sarth – are exposed, open beaches and any reasonable swell threatens mayhem in the gutters and around and on the many banks. Etched in one’s mind’s eye is the sight of a bloke from the South Coast of NSW haranguing head awgie Andrew Perrin, over the call. “I do swims every week. I could have swum that. It wasn’t a problem,” said the haranguer, rather disingenuously since we’d never seen or heard of him before that. He didn’t appear in any season’s tallies that we could find. He was cranky because he’d paid entries for him and his more fragrant half, and he was about to lose both.

But never mind. The cranky man’s argument to Perrin was that awgies had over-reacted to conditions that most, if not all, swimmers could handle. Why can’t you let us swim if we want to? It's the lot of awgies that they are on a hiding to nothing in running their swims. Whatever decision they make, someone will argue with it.

We have another image etched into our psyche. Even further back, c. 2001, we recall North Steyne. There was a 2m swell dropping onto the bank in a dropping tide. But it was a glorious, archetypical autumn day: clear sky, a crystalline baby blue; and a gentle offshore breeze, which meant the swell was even. It was actually a breathtakingly beautiful day, and what some – such as us – would regard as the perfect conditions for ocean swimming. Every now and again – actually, regularly – a set would come through to dump on the bank, each time into shallower water.

The gun went. And half to two-thirds of the field either could not get out or did not try. We remember small groups of punters milling around on the edge and on the bank chatting, rather than heading off through the swell.

These were ocean swimming conditions at their best, to some of us, but to this majority, they weren’t even trying it.

What that told us was that many ocean swimmers are not comfortable in real swell. Many have their hearts in their mouths at the start when there’s wave on, even more so when they’re bobbing around in the ocean behind the break on the way back in, trying to discern which way in poses less threat to their necks. (Memo punters: If you’re bobbing around so behind the break, such as on a finishing beach at which you have not had the opportunity to check the break beforehand, watch for where the breaking wave churns up the sand most, and be very careful if you go there. Better still, don’t go there, certainly not when a set is rolling through.)

Most will have a go, brim full of either derring do or irresponsibility. But many don’t like it. We know highly experienced swimmers who actually handle breaks very well, but who are traumatised with fear when facing a break of any size. We know of some who take one look at a beach and, if there’s any sort of broken wave, immediately take to fear. Silly, but there you go. We’re all complicated.

Awgies must take all this into account when running their swim. Many will accept whatever call an awgie makes, knowing it is in their best interests, and of the event and its staff overall. Some will always complain.

coogee 181125 edge 600
The Coogee edge rears up and dumps. (Pic posted on Coogee Island Challenge Facebook page)

Segue now to Coogee, last Sundee, where awgies had to contend with a low water temp (by all accounts, 16.5C on race day, but it had threatened to be lower), and a swell that rose as the day wore on. Many people think of Coogee as a benign beach where there’s rarely a wave. They think this because Wedding Cake Island blocks most of the swell, which is true. But it’s not true that Coogee is benign. We’ve seen Coogee in an enormous swell, and it was frightening.

We go back, for this memory, to 1974, during a surf carnival. We were rowing surfboats in those days with Bronte. They were the days before IRBs – rubber duckies – and surf carnivals had Duty Boats, which were surfboats crewed by codgers sent out to sit behind the swimming booees for the duration of the carnival, with an official aboard, to act as judge on those swimming booees. The Duty Boat often was out there for most of the day, and it was not uncommon for them to take refreshments with them, such as an esky full of grog. It was a long, hard day out there. The sweep of the Duty Boat – the one who stands up the back and steers and barks orders – on this day was a Coogee identical named Sticks. We think he was called Sticks because he had the most unathletic, unfit looking body of anyone we have ever seen, certainly in a surf boat. Sticks had a belly, was lilly white – a strawberry blond ranga, perhaps -- and had no discernible tone to his arms or legs. But that’s boat sweeps for you. They are a different breed, like helicopter pilots.

But Sticks was a renowned sweep. And in that day’s swell, you needed competent sweeps. Despite the barrier of Wedding Cake, the swell hitting the beach was 2-3 metres at times, maybe more, and it was rolling in from a distance, which is unusual for Coogee, where normally it just rears up out of nowhere and crashes onto the beach. Coogee’s can be a ferocious edge. On the upside, there was water under it on the break on this day, so out there where the waves started to break, it rolled, not dumped. But it was big.

Anyway, Judith Durham had just sung and the Duty Boat headed in after their long, hard day opening and closing the lid of the esky. So they heaved, as it were, on their oars, and Sticks put them on to the biggest wave of the day. It was huge. It was a monster. And as it was at the end of the day, everyone was on the beach to watch.

On the beach, we saw the wave coming, and everyone mutters, “Is he going to put them onto that?” Some sweeps also are wont to hold their crews back from particularly big waves. But not Sticks, with his crew of codgers and an official bouncing around with nothing to hold on to. He brought them down it. And as the boat accelerated down the face – the wave seemed as high as the boat was long, but memory plays tricks as it recedes into the past – we could see that Sticks had only one hand on the sweep oar. In his other hand, he held a can of beer. Hardly surprising that the boat got to the bottom of the wave and, absolutely out of control, did a magnificent, graceful left hand turn, of which Nat Young would have been proud. Sideways on, the boat took the full force of the breaking whitewater, which picked it up and spun it over on its longitudinal axis, it’s ageing crew tossed about like bits of fluff. When it came up again, there was no-one in the boat except for Sticks, still holding on one-handed, but by this time to the quarter bar – the bar across the back which the sweep uses for traction – his other hand held aloft, can of beer intact. Did he spill a drop? We reckon not. A roar erupted from the beach.

We tell you that story to illustrate our point that Coogee can get a big wave, and it often gets difficult waves, particularly on the edge. The island does not protect it absolute. Indeed, Coogee in a couple of respects can be the most difficult beach in Sydney. When the swell gets up, it swirls around the island, breaking way out and generating currents that are difficult for many, if not most swimmers, to withstand. On the beach, the lack of consistent swell breaking far out – perhaps due to the rock shelves at either end of the beach – results in a sharp edge, which can be v. nasty even with a small wave. Obvs. the higher the swell, the nastier the edge. We’ve seen punters almost break their necks on edges much smaller and more benign at both Coogee and other beaches. To top it all off, whilst the water off the beach and inside the island appears “smooth” from shore, it is anything but. Our take is that the swell and the chop become caught inside the island, bouncing around the island, back off the beach, and between the rock shelves at each end, so that the water from the beach to the island is some of the bumpiest in Sydney. No two strokes are the same.

We tell you all this to point out that Coogee is not the benign break that it appears from the beach, and that it’s a very difficult beach to handle by the professional lifeguards and by the volunteer lifesavers on weekends. Added to that, last weekend, the water temp was down – the by-now regular Ekman effect, which draws colder water from the depths as the warmer surface water is pushed out to sea by the onshore wind – and on Sat’dee arvo awgies didn’t know whether they’d be dealing with 16-17C, or sub-15C.

Sagely, awgies issued a warning the afternoon prior to the swim on Sunday: as the water temp was “below 17 degrees… it is recommended that all participants consider wearing a wetsuit for the swim.

“Should the temperature drop below 15 degrees wetsuits will be mandatory.”

They also said: “Should conditions warrant mandatory wetsuits, a change in the course or, in an extreme case, cancellation then a notice will be published by 7am on the Coogee Surf Life Saving Club website and Facebook page”.

Irrespective of whether one agrees with that position, at least they seemed to have made themselves clear. At that point, whilst anyone who watches weather and surf reports would know there is a bit of swell around, their concern was water temp, not swell.

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Most punters don't own wetties; the start at Coogee. (Pic posted on Coogee Island Challenge Facebook page)

Come Sunday, water temp was judged, apparently, to be a non-issue. At 7:31am, awgies posted on their Facebook page: “Due to current water temperature the Coogee Island Challenge policy which we are bound by, we strongly recommend wetsuits be worn today. All competitors are eligible for prizes whether wearing wetsuit or not”.

Note that they did not say what the temp was, although that had been a crucial marker the day before. You could interpolate that the water temp was higher than 15C, but it would have been better had this been explicit, not implicit. We emailed them to ask. But we got no response, despite that awgies had promised us on Saturday afternoon that they would send us their decision. We posted on social meeja, too, asking the water temp. No reply. Eventually, Mrs Sparkle received a reply from a Coogee member to say temp was 16.5C.

Not within the “mandatory” range, but we had to press the issue repeatedly to get a response, and even then it was not an official response. The promised official communication to us on race day never came.

But why should it come to us? We’re just another mug on the beach, after all.

Well, we’re a little bit different, in that, like it or not, we are one of the main conduits between awgies and swimmers. When swim conditions require swim day bulletins, swimmers come to us for information. If a swim is cancelled, say, and those who’ve entered online receive a text, it usually comes from oceanswims.com. We tweet information; it goes on our StalkerBook page; and we can post it on the event page. So there is a reasonable expectation that information about conditions and changes might come through us. Indeed, in the past – even the week before this swim – Coogee awgies have sent us messages that they want on-passed to swimmers (witness the information in last week’s newsletter about water bottles).

This time, we got nothing. Despite many attempts.

In the end, the shorter swims took place, but the longer swim, around the island, was abandoned part way through and replaced with a shorter swim inside the island. Some 2.4km swimmers went around the island; others stayed inside. They were two different races. There is some suggestion that the line was drawn by age, but this could have been simply a matter of who was remaining when the decision was made to truncate.

Some have said on Fbook that, while the water was cold, the issue was the swell around the island, the currents, and the sharp dump on the edge as the tide and swell rose. Awgies had to make a call, and they did. Others say (see below) that the back of the island was fine; it was the edge that mattered. What this shows is the range of opinion that awgies must cut through to make their own judgements.

Apparently, awgies copped mouthfuls from some punters over these late changes. One swimmer said to us, “Coogee spin club took over from Coogee surf club”. Another said, "I walked away, it was getting heated, I don’t like confrontation before swimming, it’s important to be focused and relaxed... I feared for the race when they moved the checkered buoy mid-way through the starting waves. The shore break was the only risk, so shortening the race for the older groups made no difference."

Another said to us: "I was happy enough with the reasoning... We have had waves breaking behind the island many times... as well as low temps. I went home not having swum because I was getting sunburnt and dehydrated standing on the beach waiting for an announcement. I knew that I would be grumpy and not enjoy the race... I bear no ill-will towards the organisers and will be back next year".

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Benign at Coogee in the early morn. (Pic posted on Coogee Island Challenge Facebook page)

For us, we would not argue with the awgies’ decision, not least because we were not at Coogee. Our policy generally is that we do not second-guess awgies. They have responsibility, and they know the conditions on their own beach. They also have responsibility for their own water safety staff. We certainly are not better at telling an awgie what they should be doping than they are themselves.

Awgies as a rule act in good faith with the welfare in mind of their paying punters, and of the staff whom they send out into the sea often for hours at a time to try to make the course as safe as possible for us all. This, too, is where the cold comes in. It’s ok for a swimmer ploughing through the sea in cold water, for they generate their own heat. A water safety laddie or lassie, on the other hand, spends much of their time static, not generating warmth, in that cold water. That is a significant OH&S issue, and awgies must manage that risk. Us punters sometimes overlook that issue.

On Tuesday evening, the Coogee preso, Matt Fernandez, himself a swimmer, published on the Island Challenge Facebook page a statement responding to criticism. That statement appears below.

We will not comment on what the Fernandez statement says; nor will be interpret it (read it for yourself below). But we will comment on the process: it’s all about communication. We were not at Coogee so we can’t say or comment on what may have been communicated to swimmers on the beach. We were watching on social meeja (we’re overseas right now, visiting our son, oceanswims.com Jr A, where he lives in Canada, where, as we write, it is snowing outside). Most swimmers get their info from social meeja, especially early on swim morn, and we can say that, on social meeja, there was very little communicated, despite attempts by us to communicate with the awgies, and despite their unfulfilled commitment to communicate with us (we should not have had to chase them in the first place). The question they, themselves, had raised in the first place, was never answered directly. Now Fernandez has issued a statement, and we congratulate him on it. But communication in the first place could have saved any trouble now. If you leave a vacuum, motivated people will fill it with their own version of events.

Coogee’s are not the first awgies to be in this situation, and neither is it the first time that Coogee themselves have been here.

This is the same for awgies anywhere. They must communicate with their paying public, but too often they don't.

The paying public must be treated with respect. They must be told what is going on, not in an obfuscatory way, but candidly and forthrightly. If punters feel they are being taken seriously, and they are being respected, then they will accept decisions that awgies must take from time to time. Have a look at Canberra these days and see the parallel.

Someone in the awgie group -- every awgie group -- should be put in charge of communications, so that information is passed in a timely and lucid manner. Honestly; not as spin. This is in the awgies’ interest as well as that of swimmers. If awgies don’t do this, little wonder that punters will grumble.

If you read the Fernandez statement, it offers free entry to disaffected swimmers at a future Coogee event. That is the kind of policy that awgies should have in hand, just in case things go pear-shaped. It almost hardly matters what that policy says; it should just be there ready, just in case, so they have something to say to swimmers on swim day, not leaving it till two days later.

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Bondi-Bronte is this Sat'dee... We trust this swimmer will use sunscreen this year.

Statement by Matt Fernandez, Coogee SLSC president…

Dear Coogee Island Challenge swimmers,

I would like to take the opportunity to clarify the background and reasoning behind a number of decisions that were made leading up to Sunday’s swim. All who were present were aware of the challenging and ever-changing conditions. Add to that, water temperature that was sitting at 16.5 degrees.

It was obvious to those present, that large waves were constantly breaking over the island, and high winds limited our ability to utilise drones, thus being unable to see the entire course and keep an eye out for marine activity. IRB drivers noted that the furthest swim can/buoy was barely visible on the boat, thus likely harder to see while swimming.

Of great concern as well was the large and dangerous shore break that developed across the whole beach. Many would not be aware that a swimmer (non-competitor) suffered a dislocated shoulder requiring ambulance transport as a result of the shore break prior to the 2.4k swim commencing. Negotiating the shore dump is not only difficult and dangerous for swimmers not familiar with Coogee beach (and in a fatigued state), but for our water safety and landing the IRB with patients onboard as well.

I also understand the wetsuit policy will not be well received by some and we are well aware of the advantages of wearing a wetsuit. However, as we have community swimmers of all abilities participating, some swimmers will inevitably be in the water for longer periods and for their safety, health and wellbeing, wetsuits were recommended.

Each surf club that hosts an ocean swim is met with these and many more challenges. In the last couple of years, some of Sydney's largest ocean swims have been forced to modify and/or cancel their swims at the last minute due to the changing conditions. Coogee’s decision was based on safety and I applaud the professionalism and decisions made under pressure by the Water Safety Committee, comprising of our Duty Officer, Water Safety Coordinator, Event Organiser, Club Captain and the Randwick City Lifeguards.

I empathise with many of you who have the ability to comfortably complete the swim, even in testing conditions, but didn’t get the chance to do so. I acknowledge that many swimmers have travelled a great distance and prepared themselves for this event, only to be held up on the start line for extended periods as decisions were made to reduce the swim length given our water safety capacity and the water conditions.

I hope this helps clarify the decision-making process. If you are still unhappy, unsatisfied, and didn’t get to swim, we are happy to carry over your entry to the 2019 April swim by contacting the surf club.

Wishing you the very best for the ocean swim season and hope to see you in April 2019...

Matt Fernandez
Coogee SLSC President (and ocean swimmer)

If you have a comment to make...

... email us and we'll post it on Controversy Corner... Click here

curl curl beach

Entries open this weekend...

North Curl Curl - Saturday, Dec 1 - North Curly (above, at the end of the beach) awgies have revamped their 3 Points Challenge day to the max, changing the 2km swim to a "True Mile", adding a 400m swim, and also adding a paddle event for skis and SUPs. And they've rejigged the course of the 3 Points Challenge biathlon to remove the volatile character of the second swim leg at South Curly, by bringing that second leg back up towards the middle of beach. It will be a big day at Curly... Click here

A word about your online entry...

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.

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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 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. Bookings open now.

More info and to book… 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.

More info and to book… 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. More details coming soon.

More info and to reserve your spot… Click here

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Just floating about over the reef off Apo Island, The Philippines. This could be you...

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.

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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Our San Sebastián oceanswimsafari is not all heavy swimming and seriousness. We play, too.

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 coming soon.

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 coming soon.

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. More details and packages coming soon.

Yasawas oceanswimsafari - One of our most popular oceanswimsafaris, to Fiji's remote Yasawa island group, will follow the Mana Island swims: October 20-28. More details coming soon.

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...

Coming up...

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November 21, 2018

Our 20th season as the hub of ocean swimming

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Most of the first 10 Australians to swim the English Channel - (l-r) Susie Maroney, Baden Green, Linda McGill (1), John Koorey (2), Lindy Maroney, Cyril Baldock, and Shelly Taylor-Smith. (Pic posted on Facebook by Craig Clarke.) See story below...

This issue...

Swims coming up

Marathon swimming gets a voice

Shout out from the Third Dimension

There are three dimensions to ocean swimming, each of them existing in happy isolation from each other. There are the formal events each weekend, with prizes, varying commitment, diverse achievement, obvious culcha, structure, bragging rights, and entry fees. There is informal swimming, which takes place every morning on beaches in areas of urban development, with no prizes, no structure, no commitment, no entry fees, no ego, little audible achievement, but oozing unwitting culcha, and occupying probably the vast majority of the caper’s territory. And there is marathon swimming, with high costs, massive personal commitment, high stakes achievement, miniscule territory, the sport’s highest profile and, dare we say, also the most intense ego.

We know about the first, because we get up to it every week, write about it ad nauseum, thrusting it down your throats much as a deviant parking their car outside Rex Mossop’s place above Reef Beach*. It is our raison d’etre, the one bit of ocean swimming upon which we can grasp a desperate handle, because its structure makes it real. We are conscious, frustrated, exhilarated, participants in the second, indeed paid up members of the Forster Turtles, sycophantic acolytes of Russell Jackson and Noel Maybury, who command our morning swims each day on which we get to stay overnight in Forster. And we are voyeurs of the third, shy and self-deprecating, curiously hanging on, something like the weird photographers who hang around the boat areas at surf carnivals taking photographs of the rowers as they prepare to race, their photographs turning up later on postcards on Oxford St. We are swimming voyeurs.

The first dimension of ocean swimming gets lots of attention, because we are at it all the time, the formality of the events each weekend lending it structure that makes it tactile, its participants willingly lending it their real estate with their names and faces. The second dimension is quieter, silently practising their religion amongst anonymous but consenting adults in public, hidden from mass gaze by their reticence but thrust into that gaze by their domination of the tables at beach side coffee bars post-morning swim. Watch the competition for tables at Forster’s Beach Bums between the Turtles and the Mudcrabs (Boo! Hiss!) Preening past Beach Bums on Forster Main Beach one day last week, a fellow Forster Turtle lamented that the closure of the café that day – due to power being interrupted whilst a neighbouring development had the power connected – meant we couldn’t promenade past in our cossies, our gogs hanging louchely from our fingertips, impressing the old luvvies and little children tucking into their scrambled eggs and mochas.

Now, the Third Dimension strikes back. Last Sat’dee saw the first inaugural annual dinner of what is intended to become the Strã’an Ocean Swimming Association. It was a room full of English Channel swimmers and their handlers, both on the water and in the home. And there was us, watching intently, in the function room of, of all places, although perhaps appositely, the Maritime Union of Strã’a (MUA). We were told that there is an English Channel swimmer who is an officer of the MUA, and that connection facilitated the venue.

The first inaugural dinner of the Stra’an Ocean Swimming Association – the English Channel swimmers annual dinner – was jolly, doing one thing, particularly, for which we have enormous respect, that being that it acknowledged its heritage: those who made Channel swimming the beacon of the sport that it is. Eight of the first ten Strã’ans to swim the English Channel were there, including the first, Linda McGill, the second, our comrade from Forster these days, John Koorey (who for many years held records for both the Channel and Cook Strait in NZ), and such legends as Susie and Lindy Maroney, Cyril Baldock – who later, in 2014, also became the oldest person to swim the Channel when he did so again, not long after his 70th birthday – and Shelly Taylor-Smith. The late Des Renford was represented by his lad, Murph, himself a Channel swimmer. One of the first ten had died, and another could not be tracked down, according to awgie Michael Teys, also a Channer swimmer. There was also Baden Green, along with his coach, Kevin Nielson. There's a handy and interesting reference to Strã'an Channel swimmers on the website of Melbourne's Black Ice group.

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Lanie Campbell in the mouth of a sea cave, Costa Brava, Catalonia, Spain. We visit this cave on our Costa Brave oceanswimsafari in September... Click here

In their days, Channel swimming was a rarity. Those who made it were lionised. We’re talking serious pedestal stuff here. The older boofheads amongst us will recall the meeja attention focussed on Linda McGill when she did the first three swims by an Australian between 1965 and 1967, although it's true that some/much of that was because McGill swam part of those swims topless. That was Sunday Mirror stuff! McGill told the gathering on Saturday night, the reason she pulled the top of her cossie down was that it was new and the straps were cutting into her shoulders, drawing blood. Fair enough. We would, too. Koorey followed with three swims (two successful) from 1969, and the legendary Des Renford did his 19 swims between 1970 and 1980.

By the turn of the millennium, 25 Strã’ans had swum the English Channel. These days, Channel swimming is a bit of a growth industry. Of 1,832 successful Channel swimmers at the end of this season, 212 of them are Australians. And 65 per cent of those 212 have swum since 2010.

Now, there are critical masses of aspiring Channel swimmers in Queensland (surrounding and often coached by current Channel record holder, Trent Grimsey), in Victoria, in NSW (surrounding Vlad Mavrec at Sydney’s Boy Charlton Pool, and Coach Charm Frend), and in Perth, around Shelly Taylor-Smith and a couple of other coaches. It seems that every second swimmer these days is preparing for a Channel attempt, with Rotto along the way. The badge of honour these days is that a swimmer has done the Cold Camp, in Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay, where qualifying times in qualifying temperatures can be notched up.

Teys intends that the last weekend’s dinner will lead to annual celebrations, and to the formalisation of an association. Its role, he aims, will be to promote long distance open water swimming in Australia, coordinate, officiate and record long distance open water swims here, record and acknowledge long distance open water swims by its members wherever swum, gather and share knowledge about long distance open water swimming, and promote Australia as a long distance open water swimming destination. It reflects this growth sport, the third dimension of ocean swimming. Another reflection is a race being organised for 2019 from Palm Beach to Shelly Beach at Manly, over 26km. The awgie, we were told the other night, is Tim Garrett.

When you think about it, with Strã’a’s record in long distance ocean swimming, it’s strord’nry that this kind of organisation doesn’t exist already. After all, building on the achievements of Taylor-Smith, Melissa Cunningham, and the likes of Josh Santacaterina, Brendan Capell and Grant Cleland, the last three, like Taylor-Smith, also former world champions in 25km, 25km, and 5km respectively, this nation of convicts has a solid record of getting up to this caper. This is completely separate from more recognised authorities, which have no relevance to ocean swimming.

We wish them well.

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A tour of Sydney's maritime heritage, the Dawny swim around Cockatoo Island last Sunday.

But...

But, for all that, what was also noticeable at the MUA function centre last Sat’dee night was who was not there. For example, there was no-one from Victoria. Not Cunningham or Chloe McCardel, or any of the Black Ice Group -- the Bardoels, Hayward, O'Brien, Beukelman, Gregory, et al. Grimsey, the English Channel record holder, and as personable a bloke as you’ll find anywhere, was not there. There was no-one from the West apart from Taylor-Smith. One of the most outstanding athletes of all our generations, Penny Palfrey, was not there. (Use the link here to check out Penny's record in marathon ocean swimming ararnd the world. It wasn’t that long ago that Penny, then just shy of being a grandmother, won Rottnest. Mind you, we ran into Penny’s brother in law, Marty, at the Dawny swim the next morning. Maybe doesn’t really count.) Sydney’s James Pittar, who is blind, and has swum serious marathon swims on each of the world’s continents, including the Channel, was not there. The swimmer who claims the the longest open water swim by an Australian in 2007, Collie Kinsela, was not there. Collie claimed this title because it took him 16 hours 28 minutes to swim the English Channel that year. No doubt, at least in part, because he started -- and had trained -- with a torn rotator cuff. Nothing was going to stop Collie doing that swim. Everyone has a story.

If the mooted association is to mean anything, it must be inclusive and it must take in representation and activity all around Strã’a. It’s a growth industry nationally, after all. Not just in Sydney. Awgie Teys says he recognises this. He says he hopes next year’s celebrations will be in Melbourne. One trusts that, when it actually happens, the defect will be rectified. Not only will the dinner be held in another place (Brisbane and Perth also are good candidates), but that the organisation will be done from there, too. The association, should it get off the blocks, should be run co-operatively by key figures from around the country, and it should include everyone, not just those with whom one comes into contact routinely. And not just English Channel swimmers, although to be fair, there was plenty of recognition of swimmers of other bodies of water, too.

Like all interest groups, marathon swimming is wracked with politics. Over in the UK in the last few weeks, the Father of the English Channel, Kevin Murphy, refused to attend the annual dinner of the traditional regulator, the Channel Swimming Association, because the CSA would not recognise swims that Kevin had done with the breakaway Channel Swimmers and Pilots Federation (CSPF). This is a symptom of the continuing enmity between the two groups.

There are personality splits and resentments all over the joint, perhaps reflecting that Channel swimming requires intense personal commitment, of body and mind. Lets hope they get over all this and that politics like those do not take hold amongst our mob.

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A lovely dive, indeed, from Christina Lawrence at Dawny on Sundee. Note the head, the chin, the feet, the hands and arms. This is how you do it, kiddies.

Wrapped in plastic

But Coogee is acting…

Earlier this week, following the Cook Community Classic at North Cronulla, we received this email from Emma Daisy Finnerty…

I am confident all members of the ocean swimming community despair when we read that plastic will outweigh fish in the world’s ocean by 2050. I am also sure others are anguished at footage of wildlife killed by rubbish, for example, the two turtles drowned last week after getting hooked on dumped rubbish.

In this context, it seems inconsistent to be greeted at the end of a swim with a plastic water bottle. I appreciate the sentiment, but suggest ocean swimmers are a prepared bunch! You can rely upon us to pack our swimmers, goggles and sunscreen, and I am confident you can rely upon us to sort our own water - even if it means going looking for a bubbler (including those installed as part of Council led efforts to reduce plastic on our beaches). Organisers could introduce a ‘tick a box’ option at registration to remind entrants “Don’t forget to bring own water”, or even introduce a price incentive - $40 with water, $39 without? If you did the Bondi to Bronte in 2017, you will have your own re-usable water bottle!

It also seems unnecessary for Swim caps to come in elaborate plastic packaging. A bit like when we see mandarins wrapped in plastic on a polystyrene tray! The Vici caps for yesterday’s Cronulla Ocean Swim came in a hard plastic envelope. I know there are routine collections of swim caps to send overseas for charity. I also understand that, due to safety and wave management concerns, swim organisers have been reluctant so far to let people use their own swim cap. But I do hope with time the chip technology will improve so selecting at registration to ‘supply own cap’ will become feasible. In the meantime, plastic caps don’t require plastic packaging.

Finally, a reminder that it only takes a single piece of rubbish to “green light” more rubbish accumulating at that spot. We’ve all seen the shopping trolleys that become mobile bins, the way empty coffee cups congregate, and the rubbish that accumulates at the base of flag poles on the beach. Hmmm oceanswims.com keep cups…there’s a marketing idea for you there too!

Ocean swimmers have a unique and important opportunity to share information, raise awareness and kick off a summer of leaving our beaches better than we found them.

Emma Daisy

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Coogee, the beach, with the island hiding behind the point. Swimming around Wedding Cake island is one of the great ocean swims, particularly done as part of an informal group (say, on a clear, bright winter Sundee morn, with a gentle offshore breeze, when you can go as close to the island as you like). It's also one of the great formal ocean swims. Millennials might call it "epic". Be aware: See the note below about awgies' policy this year on water bottles...

BYO water bottle

Then, on Tuesday, we received this email from Mat Fernandez, the preso of Coogee SLSC, which hosts this weekend’s Island Challenge around Wedding Cake Island. (Fernandez is no mean swimmer himself)…

Coogee has their Island swim this Sunday and we are going green, thus organisers will not be giving out bottled water (as in the past), instead water stations will be provided and participants are encouraged to bring their own water bottles.

So, you’ve been told: bring your own water bottles to Coogee. They’ll fill them for you, but you bring the containers.

Would that all other awgies followed suit…

Entries open this weekend...

toowoonaerial

Toowoon Bay Ocean Swims - Saturday, Nov 24 - (Above) One of the prettiest spots on the NSW coast, swims of 400m, 1km and 2km run in a bay protected by reefs on both sides, and by the beach. The reefs allow the swell to get in, but they moderate it. It really is a lovely swim... Online entries close on oceanswims.com at 3pm on Friday... Click here

Coogee, Island Challenge - Sun, Nov 25 - Bring your own water bottle and make your contribution to the avoidance of plastic waste... Coogee awgies have adopted a new policy this season: they'll have water for you, but you need to bring your own water bottles to receive it. Would that more awgies would do things like this. Coogee, the longer swim of 2.4km around Wedding Cake Island, is one of the best courses on the calendar. You can enter both Coogee events -- this Sunday and on Sunday, April 14 -- and receive a substantial discount on individual entry. Online entries close on oceanswims.com on Saturday at 3pm... Click here

sulawesi 151115 01 newsletter
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 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. Bookings open now.

More info and to book… 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.

More info and to book… 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. More details coming soon.

More info and to reserve your spot… Click here

philippnes dhd 1711 600 01
Just floating about over the reef off Apo Island, The Philippines. This could be you...

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.

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 160830 slippery dip
Our San Sebastián oceanswimsafari is not all heavy swimming and seriousness. We play, too.

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 coming soon.

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 coming soon.

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. More details and packages coming soon.

Yasawas oceanswimsafari - One of our most popular oceanswimsafaris, to Fiji's remote Yasawa island group, will follow the Mana Island swims: October 20-28. More details coming soon.

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

dawny 181118 01b 600
And the mob lines up, at Dawny on Sunday. No matter how uninviting the weather at the start of the day, Dawny almost inevitably turns out a glorious day on the harbour in Sydney. The critical mass on the pool boardwalk helps. One of our fave days of the season.

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

Coming up... Warriewood-Mona Vale (Jan 20)

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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November 14, 2018

Our 20th season as the hub of ocean swimming

collaroy start 181111 600
The start at Collaroy last Sundee... And welcome back to the beach, Kazimir Boskovic (centre), preoccupied until recently with tertiary studies and international level swimming. Such pesky distractions from ocean swimming.

This issue...

Swims coming up

Understanding stingers

The joy of early season swims

Half way through November, and we know the ocean swimming season is on: we’ve had swims in Queensland and in the West, in NZ, in NSW, where we have swum both weekends so far in November. Last weekend, indeed, was the first multi-swim weekend of the season in NSW. As the season progresses, the congestion will intensify. We had a bit of a giggle yesterday when we saw someone else describe this coming weekend as “unofficially kick(ing) off the ocean swims season”. Goodness, where have they been the last few weeks? Do they not know that we’ve already had multiple swimming weekends in Sydney? Apparently not.

There are six swims this weekend alone, around the joint, in NSW, the West, Tassie, Queensland, and in NZ. And it got us to thinking: what is it about the swims we’ve had so far – early season swims – that make this stage of the season so nice? In NSW, we’re still dealing with cooler water, after all. And there were a few stingers about at Collaroy, where we swam. Stingers seem to be about earlier in the season these days.

We don’t have to worry about cooler water so much, us having our wettie built in. We can afford to moralise. But at both Narrabeen last Sat’dee week, and at Collaroy last Sunday, the water was cool but the air was warm, and the sun was out, warming our backs as we slid through the sub-20 sea. At Narrabeen, you didn’t need your eyes open to know when a passing cloud blocked out the sun, for the change in temperature crossed your back like a maid or a butler gently wafting a blanket over you in a darkened bedroom in the English Cotswolds in winter. Not that we’ve ever experienced that.

Collaroy last weekend offered special delights. Sitting at the southern end of the bight that includes Narrabeen and North Narrabeen farther north, one would expect an experience very similar to Narrabeen the weekend prior. But it wasn’t. Narrabeen is half way along that beach, a wide open place that cops the brunt of onshore conditions: swell, wind, and whatever. Swim day this season was benign and pleasant, albeit cool in the water at c. 17C (that’s cool for Sydney, but we admit, it ain’t cool for other places farther south or east). Collaroy, at the southern end, sits in the lee of Long Reef Headland. You can’t see the headland from the beach around the start/finish surf club area, but the surf club sits virtually in the corner, hiding from the worst the onshore weather can throw at the coastline. As well as the headland, there’s a rock shelf jutting out, where the pool sits, offering a second protective barrier. We didn’t see how this past week’s rambunctious southerly swell affected Collaroy, but we know what it looked like in the Eastern Suburbs, with its wide open, exposed beaches. We visited Bronte on Thursday, and it was difficult. We imagine Bondi, which faces almost due south, must have copped it full on. Tama would have been closed. But you know that.

kelso john collaroy 181111 600
If you wish to talk about legends, this bloke is the yardstick: John Kelso, 89 next Tuesday, still beats most of the kids, usually swims sans gogs, and goes out in all conditions. None of this wussy stinger aversion for him.

Corollary

But Collaroy would have missed most of that.

The corollary at Collaroy is that its snug little spot in the lee of the headland means it also sits on reef. Far from an open circuit staring at a sandy bottom all the way around, Collaroy actually is one of the prettiest swims on the circuit, particularly with the course set last Sundee, when course layists set the southernmost booee way down sarth, perhaps farther south than we’ve seen it there before. This made the main swim a tour of reef, intensifying with proximity to the shoreline heading south. As you move north, they sparselate, such that the last leg heading back into the gate booees is sand all the way. Were that the bottom you stare at all the way around, that might become a little pedestrian. But it’s not: the sandy final reach makes for variety, and at that stage of the race, you’re focusing on a final surge for the line, or for survival, depending on where in the peloton you’re most comfortable, not a postcard tour of reef heads.

We all know what reef heads mean. Don’t we? They mean sea life. Sea life congregates around reef, for food and for survival. Little fish hide in rocky recesses and feed on the weed and submarine insect life, as it were. Middle sized fish hide, and prey on the smaller fish, the weed, etc. And still larger fish prey on the middle sized fish that venture out from the safety of the reef. The rocky bottom at Cabbage Tree Bay at Manly, for example, is full of everything from weed and tiny creatures through lumbering grouper, sea urchins, occies, cuttlefish, squid, and many species of sharky things - Port Jacksons, wobbies, baby whalers, and more. At Collaroy on Sundee, Mrs Sparkle reported swimming over a big eagle ray, which we reckon is one of the most graceful sights in the ocean.

Furthermore, early season swims are small: it's not that many years ago that we had only one pre-Xmas swim in Sydney -- that was Bilgola -- but now the end-of-year calendar is jam-packed. Coogee started in 2001, Bondi-Bronte in 2002, and now we also have Narra, Collaroy, Dawny @ Balmain, the Cook at Cronulla, Toowoon Bay, just in NSW alone. Over in the West, the WA Swimming series is into Round 2 at Busselton this weekend. In Auckland, the Central Masters series also is into Round 2 the following weekend. Farther south, the calendars have yet to get going, but that's where the water is cooler.

The water remains cooler in Sydney, too, as we note above, which means the pre-Xmas swims in turn remain relatively small. There's space in the ocean; not so much a crowd around the first booee.

Blessed us

All this makes swimming right now a delight.

We were blessed with the weather on Sunday, too: a warm sun, a gentle swell with a bit of surge right on the edge, a light breeze, offshore early and turning onshore as they morning progressed, and very clear water. There were a couple of stingers about: jimbles, most probably. We copped one on the inside of our forearm. We felt the tentacles waft across our unprotected, almost hairless skin, one of the places where one tends not to apply suncream (parenthetically, where we do apply suncream often seems protected). We thought at first, it may have been a bluey – we’re bluey-phobic these days, since a bad sting at Forster early this year – but the resulting rash suggested a jimble. Nothing much to worry about, but it gives you something to think about as you plough through the sea. (It was as we were leaving the reef head zone at Collaroy, so by then we didn’t have the sea life to occupy us.)

It occurred to us afterwards, standing on the steps beneath the surf club, gazing out over the sea, ruffled just a little by the by-then onshore breeze, which was also ruffling our hair (chest; we have none on our head), just how extensive the reef bottom is at Collaroy. We’ve long known it as a deceptively pretty swim, but with the booees set as they were, it was a stunning swim.

This weekend...

dawny 151122 01
A deep water start by the harbour by the Dawn Fraser Pool.

As with every swim, you should keep your own eye on weather and sea conditions before making your decision on which swims to enter.

Dawny @ Balmain

One of the most unusual swims you'll do, a tour of Sydney's maritime heritage, the Dawny swim runs from Dawn Fraser Pool, on the northern shore of the Balmain peninsula, around Cockatoo Island. It tours the gantries, the cranes, the ferry wharves, the dockyard, the quirky old boats of the harbour.  Don't be put off by the harbour: the water is fine. You can't watch the bottom because it's not as clear as the ocean, but neither is it polluted as the harbour once was. And the atmosphere on the deck inside the Dawny pool afterwards is top stuff. Two distances: around the island (2.3km), or to the island and back (1.1km). Online entries close on oceanswims.com at 3pm on Sat'dee... Click here

Cronulla

Down south in Sydney, there's the Cook Community Classic, 1km and 2km, run this year from North Cronulla beach, due to capital works proceeding currently at South Cronulla. The Bate Bay surf clubs collaborate on this event, which is also run under the moniker of the local Federal MP, currently also the Prime Minister. Online entries close at 3pm on Saturday on oceanswims.com.. Click here

Hervey Bay

In Queensland, you can be thrown into the sea from a barge 2km off the beach, and swim into shore. The swim is run by a local tri club, as part of a tri weekend... Click here

Hamilton Island

Farther oop north in Queensland, you can swim Whitehaven Beach from Hamilton Island. Two distances there, too - 750m and 2km, plus a 350m Junior swim. It's also part of a triaffalon weekend... Click here

Busselton

In the West on Sundee, it's Rd 2 of the WA Swimming open water series, down at Busselton.There are 12 rounds in this series now, which makes you wonder where the room is for the longer running WA ocean swim events... Click here

sulawesi 151115 01 newsletter

Calling all diving ocean swimmers

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 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. Bookings open now.

More info and to book… 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.

More info and to book… 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. More details coming soon.

More info and to reserve your spot… Click here

philippnes dhd 1711 600 01
Just floating about over the reef off Apo Island, The Philippines. This could be you...

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.

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 160830 slippery dip
Our San Sebastián oceanswimsafari is not all heavy swimming and seriousness. We play, too.

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 coming soon.

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 coming soon.

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. More details and packages coming soon.

Yasawas oceanswimsafari - One of our most popular oceanswimsafaris, to Fiji's remote Yasawa island group, will follow the Mana Island swims: October 20-28. More details coming soon.

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

collaroy start 181111 02 600
Amongst the action at Collaroy last Sunday.

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

Coming up... Warriewood-Mona Vale (Jan 20)

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

November 7, 2018

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

1770 musgrave 1810 600
Would you like to swim here? The lagoon by Lady Musgrave Island on the Great Barrier Reef. We're planning our Great Barrier Reef oceanswimsafari for late May, 2019.

This issue...

Swims coming up

Understanding stingers

Blueys: Why they are there

Entertaining as it was, we're conscious that the piece in our last issue on stingers did not address the issue most burning to most of us, ie blueys, purple people eaters, jimbles, and their ilk, in temperate waters, and why they are there sometimes and not at other times. And, please, don't bleat, insightfully: "Oh, they come in with the nor'-easterly!" Yes, yes, we know they come in with the nor'-easterly, indeed with any onshore breeze. It's not direction specific, apart from that onshore generality. The question is: what makes them be there sometimes and not otherwise, in order that they are available then to be blown in by an onshore breeze? Why are they there in some onshore breezes, but not others?

The issue is very relevant to us -- all of us, not just us -- because the subject conditions so much of what we do.

bluebottle beach 350Lately, there seems to be an increase in occurence, and the stinger season seems to have expanded to include winter. Time was, you'd only ever have to worry about them in summer. Nowadays, it's not uncommon to find them on the beaches in winter, and in the shoulder seasons, which we used to regard as safe. Is this global warming? Or is it just plain cyclical, as Jonesy might argue?

First, following the stuff last time on the really nasty stingers oop north, there was a very interesting piece in National Geographic about jellyfish, some of which are stingers and some of which aren't. This was drawn to our attention by Kazimir Boskovic, whom we haven't seen on the beach for a couple of years whilst he pursued serious pool swimming and university. You can read it here... Click here

Also, we're reading Spineless, by an American academic writer, Juli Berwald, who tells the story of jellyfish, as far as the "experts" know it. Berwald's book is an excellent read; "a good yarn", as we hacks put it.

The most disappointing thing we've read so far is that no-one seems to know the answer. Berwald writes, "We know them in their swimming medusa form, but they live as much or more of their lives as a mysterious tiny tube planted on the underside of a rock. They wash ashore in hordes, and they dominate the deepest depths of our planet, supporting entire ecosystems. And still, scientists are unable to predict where and when to find them." We haven't finished reading Spineless, so perhaps there's more that we haven't come to yet.

Australia's stinger expert, Lisa-Ann Gerswhin, says, in a piece on The Conversation website, "Siphonophores (os.c: which include blueys) are the most poorly studied of all jellyfish, which are in turn among the most poorly studied of all invertebrates. Many aren’t even classified yet, and for those that are, we know almost nothing about their biology and ecology".

Forewarning

Prediction is key to this. If we could predict an invasion, swimming could be safer. It's not just a case of wussy swimmers staying away when stingers are around. Punters react differently to the stings. Some react badly; some less. Some find the toxins from repeated stings build up to a point where, suddenly, they have an acute threat to their health. Some punters can handle it better than others, so the threat varies amongst them.

In Hawai'i, Waikiki Roughwater swim awgies reckon they can predict stingers in relation to moon cycles. They've been known to change their swim date by a day or two here or there, to avoid what they expect to be a date of higher risk. Run on the same weekend, Maui Channel awgies include -- or did, when we did this swim -- stinger predictions using moon cycles as part of their event briefing.

The headline above is "clickbait". This piece here does not tell us why blueys are here. Rather, we're hoping to prod punters who may have more insight to tell us. Specifically, we want the answers to these questions -

  1. What causes bluebottles to spawn, such that they are available to be blown into beaches in plagues?
  2. Ditto jimbles, purple people eaters...?
  3. What are those almost invisible, less-nasty stingers that feel like gossamer threads that you run into sometimes in the tropics? You sometimes find them at the confluence of ocean currents. Some say they are "lice", but we think they're different. We've never been able to see them, but we've certainly felt them.
  4. What are lice, and why are they there?

Other questions will come to mind, but these will kick us off.

Any answers?... Click here

coffin numb ray 600

Yet another thing to be scared of whilst we're swimming

The comedian and musician, Tim Minchin (@timminchin), tweeted recently: "Hey Aussies. I got an electric shock while I was swimming in Gordon’s bay in Sydney today. My toes touched something in the sand, and I got a quite painful jolt of electricity up my leg. Left no mark and no risidual pain. What was it?! (Gordon’s is known as a stingray nursery)."

Amongst the replies, @drumcreations, from Kiama, reckoned it might have been "Harold Volt", whilst @cburschka, a Swiss, said, "I can't imagine the level of bravery it takes to swim in the sea in Australia", which made our upper torso balloon like Chesty Bond.

However, @duskybatfishgrl, from Sydney, reckoned: "It was probably a numbray.... I scuba dive in that area very often and they hide in the sand. I hope you’re ok? If it’s any consolation they are incredibly awesome fish and very shy so... ☺️". Warrnambool horticulturalist, @BunDogs, also said, lyrically, "Numb ray".

If that's what it is, it's also known as the Coffin ray (see above).

Here are a couple of links to what might have got Tim Minchin... from the Australian Museum... from underwatersydney.org... and from Wikipedia (which we're loathe to trust, because it's writtten by ordinary punters, however its page in this case is much more informative).

This weekend...

collaroy osc 161113 600
It's the seal of approval for the Collaroy swim, this Sundee.

Collaroy 14 bendallCollaroy

Four swims around the joint this weekend, all of them on Sunday. In Sydney, we'll continue our travels along Sydney's Northern Beaches, at Collaroy, where we're hoping that the only Balmain Tiger we'll talk to, Denis Bendall (right, portrait by Glistening Dave @glistenrr), now a confirmed Sydney Swans fan, will be announcing from the oven that is the surf club's top balcony. Please feel for Denis, and give him a cheerio as you pass beneath him. Two distances on offer - 800m and 1.5km. Feel free to do both. It's low-priced @ $30 for either swim, or $45 for both, if you enter online, but $40 for either and $55 for both if you enter at the beach on race day. Collaroy is an open beach in the lee of the Long Reef Headland. But for an open beach, it's remarkable for the reefs scattered around the bottom, and reefs always make for interesting swimming. Online entries close on oceanswims.com at 3pm on Sat'dee... Click here

Penrith

You can also do Penrith on Sunday, at the Regatta Centre but, we're told, in the back lake, not the normal rowing course lake. Three distances - 2.5km, 5km, and 10km. That's an ask if you're an aging boofhead who swims vertically in fresh water. But you have the mountains as a backdrop. This Penrith 5km is also part of the NSW Swimming 5km Leaderboard... Click here

Auckland

Over the d'tch, Auckland Central Masters offer the 2.2km Around the Island Swim, from Herne Bay around Watchmans Island... Click here

BTW, you can get a complete list of NZ swims at Mike Cochrane's calendar site... Click here

Leschenaultia

In the West on Sundee, you can swim another fresh water lake, Leschenaultia, over four distances - 3.2km, 1.6km, 800m, or 400m. It's a day's outing from Perth, good to get out in the country... Click here

Pittwater Ocean Swim Series

A message from the organisers of the Pittwater Ocean Swim Series...

"After frustrating, recurring cancellations of the annual ‘Billy’ swim in early December, due to bad weather or dangerous surf, we have changed the date," advises David Madew, Event Director for Bilgola SLSC, “Our ocean swim will now be on Sunday January 13, taking the day that was the Avalon Beach swim date which has moved to April 14."

Speaking for Avalon SLSC, organiser Volker Klemm explains, "We found a great interest when we introduced our ‘Around-the-bends’ swim from Newport to Avalon in April 2018. This a true open water challenge of 2.5km along our beautiful peninsular coastline.

The Club decided to also hold the annual 800 metre and I.5 km at Avalon on the same day. This ensures the large number of volunteers needed for starts and finishes along with plenty of qualified lifesavers for water safety.“

These two ocean swims are part of the Pittwater Ocean Swim Series with the Newport swims on Jan 6, Mona Vale on Jan 20, then The Big Swim, from Palm Beach to Whale Beach, on Jan 27, the Australia Day Holiday weekend.

That means in January there will be a swim every weekend, great for ocean swimmers who enjoy the Pittwater swims at some of the most picturesque beaches in Australia.

There is a choice of distances to cater for all levels of swimming abilities.

Those who swim in 3 of the 5 longer distance events, there is a lucky draw for a trip for two with luxury accommodation and entry in the Bryon Bay Classic next May.

Entry for all these events are of course on oceanswims.com.

Throwing up in the sea

fish stomach vomit 350We don't have this problem, but some punters become seasick whilst they are swimming. We received the other day an email from Andrew: "I have started to get sea sickness while doing ocean swims. Does anyone know of a non-sedating prevention or treatment for this".

We know of others who also feel ill during swims. Some use an over-the-country medication to deal with it: Travelcaklm or Quell, say. Mrs Sparkle says others use ginger tablets.

Any other ideas?... Click here

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. Bookings open now.

More info and to book… 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 full for 2019, but hold your place with an advance deposit on 2020.

More info and to book… Click here

sulawesi 1806 03 600
Looking from our resort in Sulawesi out to the Bunaken Islands, where we go to swim and dive.

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.

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

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 coming soon.

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 coming soon.

costa brava figueres pau 600
Our Costa Brava oceanswimsafari, on the Catalan/Spanish Mediterranean coast, also takes us to our fave wine bar, run by Pau, a sommelier, whose name means us in Catalan. We had so many punters with us in September that Pau found it a little stressful. We promise to behave better in 2019.

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

Coming up... Malabar (NSW, Feb 17), Big Swim - Palm-Whale (Jan 26)

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October 23, 2018

yasawas fiji oceanswimsafaris 1810
We've just been in Fiji's Yasawas with a peloton of punters. Here they are, practising the ocean swimmers' salute.

This issue...

Swims coming up

Understanding stingers

More on our fave subject, but only hints on blueys

From http://www.mysailing.com.au/cruising-helmsman, via mysailing.com.au

By Jenny Kailie

“No worries” said the skipper, a noted marine biologist, already in the water, “You don’t find stingers out in the open ocean. Just jump in, you’ll be fine.”

Famous last words in my experience.

On one memorable occasion a few years ago now, we were becalmed aboard our 39 foot Cavalier Noctiluca, 180 nautical miles from New Caledonia having endured eight horrendous days of stormy passage from New Zealand. This was my first bluewater passage and it was proving to be a true baptism of fire.

Both the motor and our new self-steering gear had given up the ghost on the second day out of Opua when the storm hit. This meant resorting to a tiny storm jib, the only sail possible in these conditions.

Nonetheless, despite its small size, we were still powering along at speeds in excess of seven knots. The waves were huge and ominous and our poor old lady was pitching and yawing all over the place making moving around extremely challenging.

Meals were hurried ‘food in the machine’ affairs eaten straight from the can, our clothes were salt-stiffened and grotty, we were both sleep-deprived and, to add insult to injury, no cups of tea were possible to soothe and lift the spirits.

This much anticipated trip was definitely not meeting my expectations of an idyllic sailing adventure highlighted by gourmet dinners, sparkling champagne and opportunities to mull on the wonders of nature as the sun set in the evenings. Hence, when on the eighth day the wind dropped right out and the sun shone, the enticement of the sparkling azure water and the opportunity to have a jolly good scrub, proved too much.

Reassured by the afore-mentioned marine biologist’s assertion that there would be no stingers, I stripped off and jumped overboard, bravely overcoming my irrational fear that the bottom was some three kilometres below me and that the water teemed with countless unknown marine beasties, full of evil intent.

As I hit the water, I felt several incredibly painful lashes across my boobs and shoulders and, sure enough when I clambered back on deck whimpering, the tell-tale welts from a number of jellyfish stings were immediately observable. They continued to remind me of their presence for almost a week after the event.

Although I did not think so at the time, I was very lucky because if the culprit had been one of the jellyfish that cause any of the symptoms of Irukandji syndrome, the outcome would almost certainly have been catastrophic, especially as we were so far offshore.

blueys glistenrr 600
Staff snapper Glistening Dave (@glistenrr) snapped these evil characters at Bongin Bongin Bay on October 13. They seem to be arriving earlier these days. Sadly, our knowledge of their reproductivity - what makes them be there when they are there (and don't say to us, glibly, "Oh, they come in on the nor'-easterlies!") -- is not enhanced by this piece, which is otherwise fascinating.

A bit on their biology

Jellyfish, or jellies as they are better known as they are definitely not fish, belong to the phylum Cnidaria and the subphylum Medusozoa. However, their phylogenetics are complex and evolving as more research is conducted.

Currently, it is accepted that there are four major classes within the phylum: the Scyphozoa, sometimes called true jellyfish; the Cubozoa, commonly known as the box jellyfish; the Hydrozoa and the Staurozoa or stalked jellyfish. They are found in every ocean from the surface to the deep sea, even down to depths of 3700 metres in the Mariana Trench.

Exclusively marine, except for some freshwater Hydrozoans, jellies have had an extraordinarily long evolutionary history: over 500 million years, making them one of the oldest multi-organ animals to have evolved. Composed of over 95 per cent water, these soft-bodied gelatinous animals usually take the form of umbrella-shaped bells, although some have a flattened disc shape. All have limited control over their movement, but by pulsating their hydrostatic skeleton, some can navigate and move.

Although jellies do not have a true central nervous system or brain, they have a loose network of nerves located in the epidermis, interspersed with ganglia.

This enables them to detect various stimuli, including odours and pressure such as the touch of other animals. In addition, the network allows transmission and spread of nervous information to all areas in their bodies.

Did you know that jellyfish can see? They can detect light because the lower surface of the bell or disc bears light sensitive sensory organs called ocelli. Some species are able to detect colour.

The edge of the bell also has the trailing tentacles which are studded with stinging cells called nematocysts. Nematocysts are discharged for the capture of prey or in defence against predators.

The injectable portion of a nematocyst is coated with toxin and it is this that causes pain and the other symptoms associated with being stung. The shape of nematocysts differs in different species and this can be useful in deciding on treatment protocols after a victim has been stung.

Often, particularly in the case of some box jellyfish, the sting is only moderately irritating initially. Severe symptoms can be delayed for 5 minutes to 120 minutes depending on the species involved. Thus a timely microscope examination of skin scrapings can allow earlier medical intervention.

Most jellies do not have specialised digestive, respiratory or circulatory systems. Often they have a stalk-like manubrium that hangs down from the middle of the ventral surface and this is surrounded by oral arms that connect to a central aperture which serves as both a mouth and anus. This opens into a gastrovascular cavity, which facilitates both digestion and absorption of food.

green sea turtle 350Green sea turtles are our friends. They are quite partial to stingers. Perhaps that's why they have such bad breath.

Jellies are carnivorous, feeding on plankton, crustaceans, fish eggs, small fish and other jellyfish. They usually hunt passively using their tentacles as drift nets.

Jellies have separate sexes although they can reproduce both sexually and asexually. At maturity and when there is plenty of food, whole populations can spawn daily, the event being controlled by light. Thus, at either dawn or dusk, adults synchronously release eggs and sperm into the surrounding water.

Multiple phases follow fertilisation; a larval planulae stage which is free swimming, until a suitable substrate is found; a polyp phase which, through budding, produces free-swimming ephyrae and then the adult medusa phase, where the organism is recognisable as a jellyfish. In some species, some phases are skipped.

Lifespans vary. Some species live only a few hours, others several months and, in the case of some deep-sea species, lifespans can be several years. Most large coastal jellyfish live two to six months.

They have few predators. Most predation is from their own kind: species of jellyfish that specialise in preying on other jellies. Other known predators include tuna, shark, swordfish, sea turtles and Pacific salmon.

Australian jellies

In the tropical waters off the Queensland coast, marine stingers can be present year round, although there is a higher risk during the period October to May. At these times, jellies are prevalent in the waters around the mainland, the islands as well as out on the reef.

The primary indicator of stinger season is linked to the increase of light northerly winds immediately after the south-easterly trades subside. Onshore breezes have the ability to concentrate animals and to move them into areas where people swim or undertake other water activities, thus increasing their risk of being stung. Jellyfish bloom formation is, however, a complex process dependent on a number of other factors apart from wind: ocean currents, nutrient availability, temperature, season, reduced predation and water oxygen levels.

Currents can concentrate populations of jellies in particular areas. Hence the common stinger ‘hotspots’ in the Great Barrier Reef tend to be on the south western sections of islands or the south western areas of rocky headlands with far fewer stings recorded on the more open north western sections of island and headland.

However, it needs to be remembered that while all jellyfish have the capacity to discharge nematocysts, not many have the ability to penetrate the skin, not all toxins are the same and people differ in their response to being stung. Nonetheless, Australia is host to some notorious box jellyfish, which are able to produce extremely potent toxins with the capacity to inflict severe reactions and in some cases death in their hapless victims.

Most deaths have been attributed to Chironex fleckeri (the Sea Wasp: os.c) and two of the Irukandji species: Carukia barnesi and Malo kingi.

box jellyfish sea wasp chironex fleckeri 350Chironex fleckeri

Chironex (right) venom is particularly nasty because within 2m to 5m the victim’s cells become highly porous leading to massive losses of potassium, cardiovascular collapse and death. This jelly is widespread throughout the Indo-Pacific region, including Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, the Phillipines, Hawaii and, possibly, New Caledonia.

Carukia barnesi

This jelly was named after Dr Jack Barnes who was searching for the jellyfish causing Irukandji syndrome. Carukia barnei is very small and transparent with a diameter of only 25 millimetre to 35mm. Not much is currently known about its biology. It has four retractable tentacles of variable length 50mm to 500mm and both the body and the tentacles have nematocysts. It is also known to have image-forming eyes although, anomalously, no brain capable of processing visual information.

Malo kingi

This species differs from all other cubozoans in having halo-like rings of tissue encircling the tentacles, with club-shaped appendages inserted end-on around the periphery of the rings. The species was only named in 2007 after the sting fatality of a 44 year old American tourist.

There are at least 16 Irukandji species. These, almost transparent, box-shaped jellies are very hard to see in the water and its small size enables it to move freely though stinger nets; although stinger suits prevent penetration of the nematocysts.

All Irukandji species have four tentacles bearing numerous nematocysts which fire on contact with prey, delivering a highly-potent toxin into the epidermis of victims. The toxicity of the venom is far in excess of that from a cobra or a tarantula and although the initial sting may only be mildly irritating with little visible evidence to the skin, symptoms increase in severity after some five to 120 minutes, depending on the species.

The victim experiences excruciating muscle cramps in the arms and legs, severe pain in the back and kidneys, a burning sensation of the skin and face, headaches, nausea, restlessness, sweating, vomiting, an increase in heart rate and blood pressure and psychological phenomena such as the feeling of impending doom. Known as the Irukandji syndrome, these symptoms are in part caused by the release of catecholamines: hormones produced by the adrenal glands including dopamine and adrenalin and which are normally released into the blood stream at times of physical or emotional stress i.e. the flight/fight response. In addition, the venom also contains a sodium channel modulator which alters the normal function of nerves and muscle cells.

Currently no antivenom has yet been developed. Treatment is symptomatic with antihistamines given to control inflammation, antihypertensive drugs to reduce high blood pressure and intravenous opiates used to control pain.

irukandji carukia barnesi 250Good ol' Carukia barnesi

Are numbers on the rise?

In some places, blooms of jellyfish have shown a substantial, visible impact on coastal populations and have resulted in clogged nets for fishermen, an apparent increased risk of being stung for tourists and even choked intake lines for power plants.

This has led to the general perception that the world’s oceans are experiencing increases in jellyfish due to human activities such as increased agricultural and industrial runoff and the overharvesting of fish.

It is true that agricultural and industrial runoff has increased the nutrient loads in tropical coastal waters off the Queensland coast, resulting in eutrophication and lowered oxygen levels in seawater in some areas. Furthermore, laboratory studies have shown that jellies appear to thrive better in nutrient-rich, oxygen-poor water with higher salt concentrations than other marine organisms. This potentially may give it an advantage when eutrophication events occur.

 

We also know that jellies have few predators and feed by touch, not by vision; potentially allowing them to feed effectively at night in turbid water. We also know that if the balance of a particular ecological niche is disturbed, because of the removal of one of the niche species, then another species quickly moves to fill that niche.

Thus, in theory because jellyfish feed on the same prey as adult and juvenile fish, the removal of fish by overfishing could markedly reduce the competition for available food allowing jellyfish populations to increase significantly. We have also seen in some areas of the world, populations of invasive jelly species from other habitats tend to expand rapidly because of lower predation levels in a new habitat.

However, we do not have any definitive evidence. We know very little about the biology of jellyfish although there is some evidence to show that jelly populations fluctuate in approximate 10 and 20 year cycles, in concert with solar and climate cycles.

irukandji malo kingi 250Malo kingi

Globally, they are little surveyed and why their numbers fluctuate like this is not entirely understood. The paucity of historical records also makes it very difficult to determine if there is a global trend of jellyfish proliferation.

Global warming, however, will provide a rising baseline against which climate cycles will cause fluctuations in jelly populations. Most scientists agree that there is an urgent need to put a stop to the continued abuse of our oceans. Unfortunately, the probable acceleration of anthropogenic effects may well lead to further problems with jellies.

Will they move down the Queensland coasts in large numbers as was suggested after the recent Irukandji incidents off the Fraser Coast? Maybe, but in the meantime take care in the water, especially during the stinger season. Avoid known box jellyfish habitats if you are not sure the dive site or swimming area is safe.

On a lighter note

Jellies do have some beneficial attributes.

In some countries, such as China, Japan and Korea, they are considered to be a delicacy.

The jellyfish is dried to prevent spoiling and, once dried, can be stored for weeks at a time. When required for consumption, the product is soaked overnight in water after which it is shredded, or eaten raw or cooked with a dressing of oil, soy sauce, vinegar and sugar. I have eaten it in soup many times and found it to be delicious.

On a more pragmatic note, did you know that jellies are used to make diapers, tampons and paper towels because as a ‘hydromash’, they have been found to be super-absorbent! ≈

Jenny Kailie

burleigh heads beach 600
One of the most famous point breaks in the world... And not a bad spot for a swim, either: Burleigh Heads.

Weekend on the Goldie

Burleigh Heads this Sundee

Another bucket-list item for many punters is the Gold Coast. Some are lucky enough to live there. Others can only dream of visiting. So do it this weekend, resident or visitor, and swim one of the world's most famous beaches - Burleigh Heads.

Four events distances at Burleigh – 2km, 1km, a Dash for Cash, and there's a 400m swim for kids, too (8-10 years).

Online entries close on oceanswims.com at noon on Saturday, October 27.

More info and to enter… Click here

Curious event in NSW

In NSW, there are two events this weekend, both on Sat'dee, at Penrith (in the Regatta Centre) and on the South Coast at Huskisson.

Penrith offers 5km, 2.5km and 1km. It's a flat water swim in fresh water, around a circuit in the lake.

Huskisson offers 5km, 3km, and 1km, along the shoreline of Jervis Bay. The 3km and 5km swims here are a little unusual, in that they require swimmers to exit the water at checkpoints before proceeding on. In the 5km, you're out of the water at the 2km and 4km marks, while in the 3km, you're out at the 2km mark. Awgies say that, at each of these checkpoints, "Competitors must exit the water... and collect a wristband to ensure they have completed the full course". They say, "Swimming and paddling along the coastline and 'hopping out' is a safer way to keep competitors close to the shore and is great for spectators too".

The 5km event at Huskisson also is the first event in the NSW Swimming 5km Leaderboard series for season 2018/19. Some swimmers have told us they believe the requirement to exit the water during the event compromises it as a genuine 5km swim. As well, swimmers must don wristbands at each checkpoint as part of a verification process intended to prove that they have completed the course. That means that you're not just running out of the water, shouting your name and/or number and running back in again; you must stop, get a wristband, put it on, and take off again. In the 5km swim, there appear to be two wristbands, one at each checkpoint.

There are other ways to keep swimmers close to shore, of course, eg set booees and require swimmers to pass inside them rather than outside, and policing those booees. Checkpoints and providing and collecting wristbands also adds to the administration, workforce, logistics and, thus, cost of the event, we'd have thought. Awgies would have their reasons, but.

Water temps

Always a puzzle

Our cobber, Peter O'Driscoll, who once ran for council as "The Honest Irishman", has been looking into the issue of water temps...

For some time I was somewhat confused with the disparity between the Sydney water temperature as presented in The Sydney Morning Herald and the daily temperature recorded by the volunteers at Cronulla South - 17.2 today (this was written on October 6: os.c). I'm sure there are other volunteers up and down the coast doing the same.

The temperature difference can be up to three degrees higher in The Sydney Morning Herald.

To satisfy my curiosity, I wrote to b2c_support@weatherzone.freshdesk.com. Weatherzone collate the data displayed in the newspaper.

The following was included in the reply:

Weatherzone sources its Sea Temperature data from Manly Hydraulics Laboratory: https://mhl.nsw.gov.au/data/realtime/sst/Sydney

I then wrote to Manly Hydraulics Laboratory (MHL) - Melody.Wu@mhl.nsw.gov.au - to get an understanding as to where the temperature reading is taken. The following was the reply:

We monitor sea temperature from buoy at Sydney (Latitude: -33.76888892, Longitude: 151.41194444). The adjacent buoys are Crowdy Head (north of Sydney’s) and Port Kembla (south of Sydney’s) and they are hundreds of kilometres away. You can find all the offshore buoys from the website below:

http://www.mhl.nsw.gov.au/data/realtime/sst/

We are not quite sure how Weatherzone interprets our data.

I used Google Maps to determine where the MHL buoy is situated and discovered it is out in the ocean 10 kilometers east of Freshwater!!!!

As a result the published temperatures are not very helpful to the majority of those who use the sea for recreational purposes.

Peter O'Driscoll

To wee, or not to wee: More on Code Yeller

Wees and pees not the only guilty parties

wee in pool 350Last issue, we published a story on the issue of swimmers who wee in the pool, and the effects this can have on swimmers from the interaction between urine (urea) and pool chemicals. It explained, we felt, why we always felt congested (in our respiratory system) after doing morning squads at a prominent north side Sydney pool the morning after the same pool was used for litle children's learn-to-swim sessions.

This naughty lad has more problems than just irresponsibility. Look at the colour of that wee: he needs to drink more water!

We know little children do this kind of thing, just as they empty their nasal passages into the pool when neglectful parents fail to empty them for them before sending them off poolside for their lessons. But we find it hard to see how supposedly intelligent grown-ups, such as squaddies, could do the same. Laziness, perhaps. Intensity of workouts. Some hardline coaches don't allow their charges to exit the pool to wee during sessions. But some of those charges also don't wee before sessions because it gives them an excuse to get out for a rest during those sessions. It's a fine line.

Recently, we were chatting with one of the world's most outstanding open water swimmers, Penny Palfrey, who told us a story that puts this issue in a fresh (as it were) light.

Penny told us how she'd been training for one of her genuine epic swims. Before she jumped into the pool, she weighed herself, then weighed herself again when she finished the session two hours later. She weight 2kg less at the end of the session than she had at the start.

In effect, that's 2kg of sweat that's gone into the pool. We haven't weighed our urea lately, so we're not sure how much that is in litres or in strength.

Sweat essentially is urea, a mischievous component of urine made, further essentially, from ammonia and carbon dioxide.

So, if we could just everyone to stop sweating, as well as weeing, then the problem would be solve.

There's a role for all of us in this.

Swimmer's shoulder

What to do about it

Recently, we ran a piece by physiotherapist Jerome Murphy on swimmer’s shoulder. Jerry explained the condition, and now here’s the second 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…



Make sure you watch this video carefully, and do the exercise exactly as Jerry does it here.

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. Bookings open now.

More info and to book… 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 full for 2019, but hold your place with an advance deposit on 2020.

More info and to book… Click here

Get remote in Sulawesi - Indonesia (June 11-19, 2019 - bookings open soon) - One of our fave oceanswimsafaris at the centre of the area of greatest marine biodiversity in the Indo-Pacific region. In 2019, we're going to make this a swim/dive oceanswimsafari: swim some of the world's best ocean one day, and dive it the next. If you're not dive qualified, you can do your training on this trip. And the food is sensational at one of the prettiest boutique resorts you will ever experience.

More info and to book... Click here

Philippines Apo Reefs 600
The reef off Apo island, in The Philippines.

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

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 coming soon.

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 coming soon.

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

Coming up... Malabar (NSW, Feb 17)

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August 27, 2018

pool swimmer 600
Aaahhh... That's better! Pools are havens from the hustle and bustle of life. But not everyone uses them altruistically. (Note: This swimmer is not one of them. As far as we're aware. This image serves simply to draw attention to the story below about swimming pools. She has no connection with it whatsoever, otherwise. We sourced this image through a Google search. Why is it important to point out that there no connection? You'll see, when you read the story.)

This issue...

Swims coming up

Zoggs Fogbuster

Swimmer suffers eye damage from recalled anti-fog gel

From the ABC News website...

abc zoggs eyes
(Pic sourced from ABC website.)

A Queensland swimmer has suffered "horrible pain" and damage to his eyes after applying a recalled anti-fog gel to the inside of his goggles.

Darren Lydeamore, who spent three days in hospital, had no idea that Zoggs Australia had recalled the faulty product, and his treating doctor said given the seriousness of his injuries, the recall should have been more strongly worded and better publicised.

Mr Lydeamore said when he applied the Zoggs Fogbuster lens cleaner to his goggles on a routine morning swim at his local pool, he began feeling an intensifying burning sensation in both his eyes.

"Initially I thought I'll get some eye drops from the chemist on my way to work," he said.

"But then the right eye really started hurting and I had to close it and I couldn't see anything, and the left eye started clouding up.

Tony McLellan, a doctor from the Alice Street Medical Centre in Atherton, was concerned about the level of deterioration he saw in Mr Lydeamore's eyes.

Further treatment was arranged at a local eye clinic before Mr Lydeamore was transported by ambulance to the Cairns Hospital for urgent care.

Dr McLellan said while he had seen some advertisements about the product recall, they varied in description and level of injury.

The ABC saw notices on government websites, including the ACCC, which only specified "may cause irritation and burning sensation to the eyes".

The message on the company website said it "could cause temporary discomfort and short-term eye damage".

"I felt given what I'd seen of the damage this could cause, this was woefully inadequate and I suggested strongly to them to make it much more public," Dr McLellan said.

"At the very least, every swimming pool should be notified in Australia."

Zoggs has apologised to Mr Lydeamore and offered to pay his medical bills.

He's not ruling out legal action and said while his eyes are recovering there is still damage at the moment.

Similar to 'acid splashed in eyes'

abc zoggs bottle 340Dr McLellan said the damage at the front of Mr Lydeamore's eyes was "fairly typical of when someone has had acid splashed in their eyes".

"The cornea — the clear part of the eye — was completely rough and even with the naked eye I could see a lot of damage to the cornea," Dr McLellan said.

"I was worried he could get permanent damage to his vision — even to the point of getting corneal grafting in the future."

Mr Lydeamore said he spent three days in hospital with a saline drip in his eyes in an attempt to reduce the burning and damage.

"It's not just the physical pain it's also the emotional … the concern here was 'what were we going to end up with'," he said.

"They [the doctors] were concerned about the amount of damage. They were saying things like 'significant and severe'."

His wife Meredith said she had to watch her husband suffering from the pain.

"It was horrible, it was really, really bad," Ms Lydeamore said.

Mr Lydeamore said he was not able to take part in a recent half marathon he had been training for in Townsville because of his condition, which he said could have been prevented if the company had more prominently advertised its recall.

"I swim regularly — three times a week — and I've attended a few triathlons," he said.

"I've spoken to a few people that also swim that also didn't know about the recall.

"It would have made more sense for the recall notices to be displayed at the pools and where people purchased the product."
Zoggs apologises, defends recall approach

The ACCC says Zoggs Australia satisfied all of its recall notification requirements by advertising it on its website and Facebook page.

Zoggs' response

General manager of Zoggs Asia Pacific Rob Davies declined to be interviewed, but said in a statement Zoggs had corresponded with every consumer who had reported any issue with the Zoggs Fogbuster and lens cleaner.

"I am very sorry to hear about the discomfort/pain Darren and all Zoggs consumers have suffered to their eyes, with some leading to hospital treatment and, obviously, great personal distress," the statement said.

Mr Davies said when Zoggs became aware of a potential issue with a batch of Fogbuster the product was immediately quarantined in the Australian and New Zealand warehouse and no further products were sold while tests were carried out.

"We have been advised that, although painful and very distressing, with medical treatment any effects are temporary."

He said Zoggs then initiated an immediate product recall to retailers to who had received a product from one of the affected batches.

"We have issued a full recall of all Fogbuster solution sold in the period January to June 2018," he said.

"Zoggs will also be permanently discontinuing the product.

viewgoo"Recall notices were then sent to all customers [retailers] who had purchased the faulty products asking them to be displayed in store and for the Fogbuster to be taken off sale and returned to Zoggs by freepost for a full refund," Mr Davies said.

Mr Davies said the Zoggs sales team then visited the retailers to ensure the recall requirements were in place.

He said 70 per cent of the affected product had been returned to Zoggs.

Recall notice doesn't go far enough: doctor

Dr McLellan noted the recall notices on the ACCC and several other websites varied in their descriptions as to the level of injury that could be sustained.

The ABC found notices on government websites including the ACCC only specified "may cause irritation and burning sensation to the eyes".

Dr McLellan said Mr Lydeamore had a level of damage that he thought was "significant".

He said he would have preferred to see a far wider campaign to notify customers.

(os.c says: We have been retailing View Super Anti-fog Treatment for many years and have heard of no such incidents involving this product. Mrs Sparkle and many of her friends use it religiously. Apart from taking your Zoggs Fogbuster back to the retailer from whom you bought it, if you'd like to obtain the View product --known affectionately as goggle goo... Click here)

hervey urunga pier
The pier at Hervey Bay.

Where the whales play

Tick it off that bucket list

We all have bucket lists of places where we want to swim, and for many punters, their lists include Hervey Bay. Now’s your opportunity: the Pier2Pub swims run there on Sunday, September 9. This is an idyllic location for a swim: the broad bay stretches out from the north facing beach as far as the eye can see, generally flat and calm, protected from the worst of the weather by Fraser Island.

Adding to the attraction, the humpback whale migration season is under way, and the whales like to pause in Hervey Bay on their journeys north and sarf. You never know, you might have an encounter.

Three distances at Hervey Bay – 3km, 1km, and 500m. All courses run along, but offshore from the beach, and they run with the tidal current.

There’s also a social swim on Sat’dee afternoon, 3:30pm from the Hervey Bay SLSC. There’s also a Masters surf carnival on the Saturday. It’s an action-packed weekend!

Online entries close on oceanswims.com at 5pm, Friday, September 6. You can enter by mail, but be aware: race day entries will not be accepted. You must enter beforehand.

More info and to enter… Click here

pool crowd 600
Code Brown: Who dropped the blind mullet?

To pee, or not to pee

Code Yellow: Pease don't

Some years ago, we used to swim in an early morning squad in a pool on Sydney's North Shore. Every day affer swimming that squad, we'd suffer from respiratory congestion. That's something we've suffered from at times over the years, but it was remarkable how severe the condition was after those squads, and how inevitably it would come on later on squad day. Now, we think we know why. The pool in which our squad swam, early morning, was also the pool in which innumerable little children did learn-to-swim lessons the afternoon before, every afternoon...

From The Guardian...

It is an antisocial act that normally goes under the radar, but many swimmers have long suspected the truth: people are peeing in the pool.

Now scientists have been able to confirm the full extent of offending for the first time, after developing a test designed to estimate how much urine has been covertly added to a large volume of water. Regular swimmers with a keen sense of hygiene may wish to stop reading now.

The test works by measuring the concentration of an artificial sweetener, acesulfame potassium (ACE), that is commonly found in processed food and passes through the body unaltered.

After tracking the levels of the sweetener in two public pools in Canada over a three-week period they calculated that swimmers had released 75 litres of urine – enough to fill a medium-sized dustbin – into a large pool (about 830,000 litres, one-third the size of an Olympic pool) and 30 litres into a second pool, around half the size of the first.

Lindsay Blackstock, a graduate student at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, and lead author, said: “Our study provides additional evidence that people are indeed urinating in public pools and hot tubs.”
Although the researchers were unable to confirm exactly what fraction of visitors were choosing to quietly relieve themselves in the water rather than making the shivery trip to the changing rooms, the results suggest that the urine content was being topped up several times each day.

“We did not monitor the number of pool users over the three week time period ... so there is no way we could estimate the number of individual urination events per day,” said Blackstock.

The findings make for unwelcome reading, but swimmers might find some comfort in the measurements from eight hot tubs, which were found to have far higher urine levels. One hotel Jacuzzi had more than three times the concentration of sweetener than in the worst swimming pool.

In total, the team sampled 31 different pools and tubs in two Canadian cities and found ACE to be present in 100% of the samples, with concentrations up to 570 times the background level in tap water samples. They used the average ACE concentration in Canadian urine to convert their measurements into approximate volumes of urine.

“We want to use this study to promote public education on appropriate swimming hygiene practices,” said Blackstock. “We should all be considerate of others and make sure to exit the pool to use the restroom when nature calls.”

While most people, beyond early childhood, would not admit to using their local swimming pool as a giant communal toilet, the results are not entirely surprising. In one anonymous survey, 19% of adults admitted to having urinated in a swimming pool at least once. And professional swimmers have confessed to being among the most regular offenders.

Ahead of the London 2012 Olympics, the US swimmer, Ryan Lochte, said: “I think there’s just something about getting into chlorine water that you just automatically go,” and his team-mate, Michael Phelps, agreed it was acceptable behaviour. “I think everybody pees in the pool,” he said. “Chlorine kills it, so it’s not bad.”

However, while urine is sterile, compounds in urine, including urea, ammonia, and creatinine have been found to react with disinfectants to form byproducts known as DBPs that can lead to eye and respiratory irritation. Long-term exposure to the compounds has been linked to asthma in professional swimmers and pool workers.

In the future, the scientists suggest it may be possible to use ACE as a test to ensure that urine in pools is kept to a hygienic level. Contrary to the warning many children are given – that a coloured cloud will appear around them if they pee – there is currently no urine indicator dye that could be used in a pool.

“This is a myth probably used to scare children, and adults, into using proper hygiene practices for fear of public humiliation,” said Blackstock.

The findings are published in the American Chemical Society journal, Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

goble sally pool jubilee 600
Jubilee Park pool, Sally Goble's first dive in. (Yes, they have Jubilee Parks in the UK, too.)

All things bright and beautiful

My August lido roadtrip, in which I swam home from Lincolnshire

Channelling John Cheever, Sally Goble made her way home, pool by pool...

Deepest darkest Lincolnshire. Every single piece of wall space in this hotel where I am staying has been given up to a painting of an RAF bomber, a handsome squadron leader, or a bomb. Public rooms have names like ‘The Squadron bar’. Rarely have I felt more uncomfortably out of place. I walk out of the door and five minutes later I have never felt more at home: it’s 7am and my lido road trip has begun.

What did you do this weekend, Sally? In homage to John Cheever’s The Swimmer, I have driven over 100 miles and plotted a course back to London, intending to swim in as many lidos as I can in one day, while wending my way back home.

I’m in Woodhall Spa, and it’s 7am, and I’ve foregone hotel breakfast for my first swim. Jubilee Park lido is a stone’s throw away — it’s an immaculate 33m pool on a neat and tidy site, near a campsite. A dolphin shaped slide greets me and makes me smile. I wonder who the swimmers here are, who serenely glide up and down this sleepy Saturday morning? The lifeguard walks up the pool slowly, having an animated conversation with a woman who is doing head-up breaststroke. When she turns, so does he, chatting to her as she swims down again. I feel completely at home with these early risers, these water babies, these lido lovers, even though I am a stranger in a strange town. As others sleep, or munch breakfast staring blearily at paintings of World War II, we, the swimmers, are alive.

My second stop is Bourne: Historic Market Town. I park on the street and scurry down a path past Bourne Pétanque and cricket club grounds. I spot a high red brick wall and know the lido must be there. And true enough beyond the high wall is Bourne outdoor swimming pool. While everything around is red brick or a lush rain-fed green, Bourne pool — a majestic 50m heated pool with a deep deep end and no lane lines to corral a swimmer into disciplined lengths — dazzles and entices with its brilliant blue tank. Here in this secret world, cocooned by the red brick wall on one side and a tall hedge on the other, I am betwitched by the blue, by the magic of something so unexpected. My heart is lost. I want to stay here all day.

But I can’t stay, I have places to be. An hour or so later I’m in Peterborough, snatched from the secret world of Bourne to the middle of a busy town, to a car park that smells of deep fat fryers. Peterborough Lido makes a bold art deco statement in pale green. This is a place where fun is to be had. I bet this lido is an amazing place to be on a hot day. Today it’s quiet and slightly downbeat. I swim my kilometre and order a tea and toast from a café that seems to only sell fried food.

goble sally pool jesus green 600
Jesus Green Lido.

Cambridge is my next stop, to Jesus Green Lido. As I walk through the turnstiles, eager to swim, I notice a sign with a lot of rules: no petting, no smoking, no drinking, no photos, no changing on the poolside. Surely this is a place of enjoyment and relaxation? Unheated, narrow, and a spectacular 91m (100 yards) long, it’s like swimming down a long, blue, road — a thing that only happens in my dreams. I pause before I jump in to remind my brain that the water might be chillier than I’ve experienced today. It’s deliciously cool and welcome. A relief in fact. I set off for the other end of the pool, in the far distance, dodging leaves. I watch the world as I swim: lifeguards cleaning and painting and fooling about; a sauna; a few older men sunbathing, their backs pressed against the warm timber walls of the changing rooms; a woman reading a book. My 11 lengths done, I need to press on. As I pack up, a regular tells me breathelessly about her pool and her love for it, and we smile and talk about the delight of swimming knowing exactly how one another feels.

goble sally pool letchworth 600
Letchworth Park.

My last two pools are close together geographically and architecturally: Letchworth and Hitchin outdoor pools. They are like non-identical twins: similar but different, five miles apart and built within a year of one another. It’s incredible that these two medium sized towns each boast their own 50m long heated lido. Shhhhhhh. Redolent of a time when embracing the outdoors was healthy, and energising and fashionable, these lidos would have been unheated and exhilerating at the time but now are heated and more comforting. But their architecture still tells the old story — both have a sense of ample space, with gardens and terraces, picnic areas, pot plants and sun loungers, with vistas and skies. The sense of space, and of space to breathe, is palpable as you swim.

Hundreds of miles driven, and six lidos later, I’ve run out of time. I throw my kit into the boot of my car and head home. What a great lido road trip.

Every lido I swim in tells a story — of the history of the place, of the community it serves, of the people who habituate it. They are secluded sanctuaries; large and showy fun palaces; places to dissolve your stresses; places faintly embodying the spirit of another age. Above all they are populated by the people who love them. Nobody goes to a lido because they have to. These are the places that I, and many others, feel at home.

Sign up to see Sally Goble's blog... Click here

Mana Fiji

A few things about Mana Fiji...

fiji mana start 1610 01

What do we like about the Mana Fiji SwimFest?

1. Mana Fiji SwimFest allows us to swim in clear, tropical water that's deep enough to gain clear water whilst still appreciating the magnificant coral reef - The Mana swims take place just over the reef drop-off, which means you're not constantly dodging coral heads or getting stuck in the same spot watching the same bit of coral for what seems like an eternity. This is important in coral reef swimming. If you're restricted to swimming over shallow reef, you're missing the joy of reef swimming.

2. The Mana Fiji SwimFest is one of the farthest out islands in Fiji's Mamanuca chain. The general rule is, the farther out the island, the better the water. Islands closer in can't offer the same water quality, or even the same sea life.

3. The Mana Fiji SwimFest offers a complete swimming and holiday package where you can do all your swimming and relaxing at the one location, without having to commute by bus or ferry from venue to venue each day. Much better to be able to get your morning swim and your racing in at the one place, without the need for a crowded, sometimes smokey commute each day.

4. The Mana Fiji SwimFest is the original ocean swimming carnival in Fiji, indeed in the South Pacific. It's the only ocean swimming carnival that take splace completely in pristine reef waters. It offers a range of distances, from that extra longer distance you've been building up to, to the shorter events that give you a taste of good tropical water without the pressure of distance.

5. Mana Fiji is supported by trained and experienced water safety staff, who've been watching over this event now for eight years, some of them for over ten years.

6. Mana Fiji is the only ocean swimming carnival that gives you the opportunity to swim with the English Channel record holder, Trent Grimsey, his equally talented brother, Codie, and New Zealand triathlon and ocean swimming legend, Brent Foster. All three are pre-eminent coaches in their fields, and you could come away better ocean swimmers than when you arrived.

If you're setting yourself for Rottnest Channel swim in 2019, you can also use the 10km event at Mana as your qualifying swim. While Mana falls just prior to the official qualifying period, Rotto organisers ask that you keep a training diary to demonstrate that you're kept up your regimen. Best to check with them directly, as well, of course.

There are two days of swimming at Mana: Thursday for the 10km either solo or as part of a 3x swimmer relay, each swimmer doing c. 3.3km; then Saturday, when you have a choice of 5km, 2.5km and 1km.

We have special swimmer packages online now offering free spa treatments, all meals, and 20 per cent off room rates all included. The inclusion of all meals -- a compulsory meal plan, as some other Fijian resorts have been doing for years -- makes the rates a little higher, but then you now don't face the added cost of food once you get there.

Check for info and booking... Click here

Swimmer's shoulder

What to do about it

Last newsletter, we ran a piece by physiotherapist Jerome Murphy on swimmer’s shoulder. Jerry explained the condition, and now he’s sent us 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…



Make sure you watch this video carefully, and do the exercise exactly as Jerry does it here.

cantoo logo

CanToo opening for registrations

A message from CanToo…

Last season's Sydney Ocean Swim broke all our records. We supported 416 people to face their fears and learn to ocean swim, fundraising an incredible $628,091 for cancer research and prevention.

And it’s nearly that time of year again!!!

SAVE THE DATE

Registrations open Friday, 31 August.

Our recent community survey showed ocean swimming is our most sought-after experience. Last season, most of our pools were waitlist-only in the first month of registrations opening, and we finished up with less than 5 spaces available across the whole of Sydney.

We're adding about 50 ocean swimming spaces.

Find out more… Click here

Philippines Apo Reefs 600
The reef off Apo island, in The Philippines.

2019 oceanswimsafaris

Coromandel NZ (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. Bookings open now.

More info and to book… Click here

Tahiti/Moorea (open for bookings) – 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 open now and filling quickly…

More info and to book… Click here

Philippines (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

Tonga (open for bookings in a few days time) – 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, one already is full (clever people got in very early to hold places), and another is filling fast. We still have plenty of spots left on our Tonga oceanswimsafari from July 23-31, but based on past experience, they won’t last long. Packages are on oceanswimsafaris.com now.

More info and to book… Click here

Ebb and flow

A few changes in the Sydney ocean swimming calendar... The Avalon swims, traditionally the third Sundee in January, are moving to April 14, which pits them this coming season again against the autumn Wedding Cake Island swim at Coogee. Bilgola, which used to be the only Sydney swim prior to Xmas -- many years ago -- is slipping from the second Sunday in December into Avalon's old date on the second Sundee in January.

Meanwhile, we understand Fairfax Meeja is still to decide about a date for the Harbour Swim, from Man o' War Steps near the Opera House, following their acquisition of the event from its former private owners, who now have been subsumed into the Fairfax Events awginization.

The Harbour swim used to be on Australia Day, but when the swim fell into abeyance for a year, Bondi lifeguard Andrew Reid filled that date with an event at Rose Bay.

The problem for Fairfax is that the other obvious dates -- the two last Sundees in January, and the first Sundee in February -- are occupied already and respectively by Mona Vale, Palm-Whale, and Fairfax's own Cole Classic.

No one seems to like going on Sat'dees, but we hope Fairfax does not decide to jump on someone else's established date.

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

Most swims remaining this season are open to online entry on oceanswims.com, as you'll see below, as well as a couple of season 2018/19 swims.

New... Nup

Coming up... Burleigh Heads (Qld, Oct 28)

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