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February 21, 2018

national geographic white shark 600
Something to rouse you from your afternoon torpor: We saw this on Twitter, billed as National Geographic's photograrph of the year. We could see why, but does it look as implausible to you as it does to us? Maybe we're being too cynical. We did a quick inspection of National Geographic's recent pics and we couldn't find it. But that's not to say it ain't genuine. Spectacular if it is. Check out the magazine's shark gallery for more excitement. If you can find this one, please let us know... Click here

Swims this weekend

Our culcha

Haunting, and tragic

Hailed since publication in 1993 as “the best swimming book ever written”, Haunts of the Black Masseur remains Charles Sprawson’s only published work. Now, he’s half way through a follow-up, but age and ill-health have come in the way…

(This report from The Economist, February 1, 2018)

“I write slowly,” Charles Sprawson said last summer, explaining why the sequel to his celebrated debut was not yet finished, “so my books take a long time…Of course, then I got ill.” He was smartly dressed, his hair a wing of white above his broad forehead. “It’s desperate, really. I expected to be here for a few days. It’s been…” He screwed up his face, then continued: “…months.” Now and then he raised his deep, patrician voice to drown the shouts of a patient in the next room.

Mr Sprawson, who is now 76, was in a secure hospital ward in west London for elderly people with mental-health problems. Most of his fellow patients were wheelchair-bound and speechless. The television in the communal room was always on, the volume high. Mr Sprawson longed to be back in his nearby flat, among his books. His memory was smudged around the edges, but he recalled his years of literary glory, a quarter of a century ago, with sparkling clarity. “The problem is,” he said, “all the really good people I knew are dead now.”

His first and (so far) only book, “Haunts of the Black Masseur”, will be reissued later this year. When it was first published, in 1992, it enjoyed the kind of critical and commercial success that most debut authors only dream about. It has inspired and influenced homages and imitations. Mr Sprawson was feted—then forgotten. The story of his career since that triumph exemplifies the caprices of literary celebrity and the indignities of old age. It points to a deeper issue, too: what, in the end, defines a person’s life?

black masseur sprawson cover 300In Byron’s wake

Mr Sprawson was born in Pakistan, the son of a headmaster, went to school in Kent and briefly taught classics in the Middle East. He married, settled in Gloucestershire and raised a family. He became an itinerant art dealer, specialising in Victoriana. On visits to the Channel Island of Jersey, his car loaded with oil paintings, he stayed at the Prince of Wales hotel in Greve de Lecq: it was on the beach and he could swim before breakfast. Along with books, swimming was at the heart of his life.

“Haunts of the Black Masseur” came out of these twin obsessions. The London Magazine commissioned him to write a piece on literary swimmers in 1988; the article was vivid and crammed with learning. Afterwards Mr Sprawson worked the piece into what may be the finest book about swimming ever written. It ranges across the windswept beaches of English seaside towns, Niagara Falls, the landings at Gallipoli (“a swimmer’s war”) and Leni Riefenstahl’s film of the Berlin Olympics in 1936. Its most memorable passages lace between the exploits and reflections of great swimming writers—Rupert Brooke, Lord Byron, André Gide, Jack London—and the author’s own waterborne life.

He tells of the time he heroically swam the Hellespont, and of the (less heroic) time he was picked up by the naval police while attempting to cross the Tagus estuary in Lisbon. He describes childhood dives amid the sunken Greek ruins of Cyrene in Libya:

On Christmas Day we made a ritual of bathing in a natural rock pool, long and rectangular, its sides encrusted with molluscs and anemones, where once Cleopatra and the Romans reputedly swam. The waves broke against one end, and beyond them, beneath the surface, lay most of the remains of the classical city… When we dipped our masked faces into the water there emerged on the corrugated sand mysterious traces of the outline of ancient streets and colonnades, their sanctity disturbed by the regular intrusion of giant rays that flapped their wings somnolently among the broken columns as they drifted in from out of the shadowy gloom of deeper water.

J.G. Ballard said “Haunts” was “an exhilarating plunge into some of the deepest pools inside our heads.” Part memoir, part literary and social history, part personal credo, it gave birth to a whole subgenre of swimming literature. Mr Sprawson recognised something important that animated both his literary heirs and the current vogue for wild swimming: that immersion in water offers a particularly sublime form of escape, out of the material world and into nature. Plunging into it, for him, was at once an adventure in an alien element and a solace, “a return to the security and irresponsibility of the womb”. Recent books from authors such as Philip Hoare, Jenny Landreth, Joe Minihane and Victoria Whitworth could not have been written without Mr Sprawson’s model.

That he was once such a bold swimmer and an exquisite writer makes his later trajectory all the more poignant. After the success of “Haunts” he separated from his wife and became a man of letters. He contributed to the Spectator and the Observer and was commissioned to write a second book, this time about extreme swimmers. He flew to Slovenia to interview an athlete who had swum the Amazon. But he never completed it.

His ensuing decline is, at a simple level, a familiar tale of the trials of age. He contracted throat cancer; then, says Clare Burleigh, one of his daughters and an artist who drew the sketches that open each chapter of “Haunts”, he began to show signs that something else was wrong. “It was little things at first, just forgetfulness,” she says, “then it suddenly became much worse. He couldn’t stay in his flat any more.” That flat is a small, book-filled bachelor pad up a stairway so steep it is almost a ladder. At the end of 2016 he picked up an infection that led to hallucinations. He has been marooned in hospital since.

“All he wants”, says Ms Burleigh, “is to be back in his flat, writing again.” To pay for the home care needed to spring him from what he calls his “incarceration”, his remaining friends tried to secure a grant from the Royal Literary Fund, a 200-year-old benevolent organisation established to help writers in financial difficulty. Its representatives visited him in hospital but, in the end, they turned him down—because he had published only one book, and “quantity is a consideration as well as quality”.

This idea—that leaving behind only a single book, if a beautiful one, is not enough—poses interesting questions about literary posterity. Emily Brontë, Harper Lee and J.D. Salinger suggest a lone classic is indeed sufficient to secure a reputation. But it also points to the difficulty of distilling the essence of a life. Mr Sprawson always saw himself as a writer, and still does, “Haunts” being only the outward evidence of that identity. Others saw him the same way, but only for a while.

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Pic from Getty Images

Still afloat

Since last year Mr Sprawson has been moved to another ward. His room is underground and looks onto a sunken courtyard. Some of the other patients are able to talk. “They’re really quite interesting, some of them,” he says. Mr Sprawson himself, though, has grown worse. He is still visited by his daughters and by Margaret Vyner, his lover for the past 15 years. But he has stopped reading. He spends much of his time wandering the corridors looking for a swimming pool, opening broom cupboards in the hope that one will reveal the dapple of shimmering water.

He remains desperate to go home, to return to the manuscript of his second book, which is half-finished and sits submerged in a drawer in his flat. “I’m tired at the moment,” he says, looking out at the wintry view. “Much too tired to write. But I’m getting better.”

From, The Economist, Feb 1, 2018

The Haunts of the Black Masseur, by Charles Sprawson, first published 1992 (Penguin)

Pokemon, go!

Blue Dragon 600 

We've been wanting to bring this story to you, but absent a credible explanation, we've held off. This creature has been washing up on a few beaches around the joint, including Dee Why in Sydney. This story is from National Geographic...

It might look like something out of a science-fiction movie, but the blue dragon, scientific name glaucus atlanticus, is actually a sea slug.

One of these rare creatures washed up on Broadbeach in Queensland earlier this month, drawn to the shoreline while chasing its favourite prey – the dangerous blue bottle jellyfish.

“Instead of digesting the sting cells, they store them on the outside of their body,” Griffith University marine invertebrate expert Kylie Pitt told the Gold Coast Bulletin.

“They are really weird. They float upside and move around using the water’s surface tension.”

While undeniably beautiful, it’s not something you want to touch. The blue dragon packs a powerful sting.

A master of disguise, its colourful hues provide two types of camouflage. It’s silvery bottom half hides the slug from fish looking up from below and its blue topside offers protection from hungry birds.

Blue dragons are nudibranchs, creatures that shed their shell after the larval stage, and grow to between three and four centimetres.

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Pic of a blue dragon eating a bluey by Rachel Stewart in the Manly Daily. If you follow this link, you can watch one of these creatures attacking a bluey. Yayyyy!!... Click here

Swimmers' disease?

Following our piece last week about the death of Michael Gordon in a swim at Phillip Island on February 3, we had two interesting contributions to Controversy Corner -

From Peter Kerr

Re Michael Gordon, another risk factor is atrial fibrillation called commonly "swimmers disease"—see Lancet and Dr Tony Freeman at Prince of Wales.

It can normally be identified by racing heart beat, but can also get low rate heart beat AF—which I got and is rare but still has the same result as high rate. Blood accumulates in the upper ventricle, after a couple days clots and heads to the brain -- death.

I only knew I had low rate AF because I swim most mornings in a squad and when I wanted my motor to go a bit faster in a set that morning it wouldn't.

I felt well and healthy but when I got to work in town I went to check it out with my doctor. ECG showed AF, immediately took strong anti-clotting medicine and into St Vincent's the next morning and zapped under a general.

People know when they have high heart rate AF but rarely low rate.

Dr Freeman looks after a number of us water polo players/swimmers and is usually volunteering on Bondi swims. He also does swim treks.

Love your work and agree with your etiquette suggestions.

Fom Brian Munro

Thanks for your very newsy newsletter

On the heart attack issue, we had an incident in March 2017 in Leeton. I have been the organiser and participant in the 24 hour Ms Megaswim in Leeton in 2017. On the Saturday Night, a member of the Bidgee Masters , a 65 – 60 F , who regularly swims in Griffith and the South Coast entered the water at midnight to do her first ½ hour of swimming for the Bidgee Masters team.

After 3 laps of the 50 m pool, she suffered an acute heart attack that required a call to 000 and 2-3 days of hospitalisation in Leeton and Wagga. The patient was on no medications for any medical condition. The final diagnosis, in the end was related back to a myocarditis. As a veterinarian I see animals with myocarditis at times. In these animals it is mostly presumed that the damage is done to the heart muscle by a previous viral infection. Your article that you cited from the NY Times about the flu probably relates to that as a possibility. Most human heart attacks are due to blockage in the arteries and so the article needs to be fine-tuned as to the type of heart attacks that are being increased by the factors you describe.

We also had a willing discussion in Controversy Corner about drafting/bludging/cheating, including a thoughtful contribution by Shane Gould. More of that will come later, but check it out now… Click here

Top floater

 Norris Kellam 01 600

From crazyfacts.com

Norris Kellam 02 400Norris Kellam’s great talent in life was floating. For which he earned the name “The Human Cork". In May, 1933, he attempted to break the world record for staying afloat by floating in a saltwater pool in Norfolk, Virginia, for over 86 hours. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it. After 71 hours and 19 minutes, he was overcome by sharp cramps and sunburn and had to climb out of the pool.

Pointed out by the Marathon Swimmers Federation

Two Bondi swims this weekend

Two? You probably knew of one – the Bondi Bluewater Challenge this Sundee -- but not two. Well, sort of Bondi. The other one is in Wollongong where North Wollongong, the ‘Gong’s most popular city beach, is regarded as “the Bondi of the south”. So, awgies say, if you’re over the crowds of the city, come on down to Wollongong to their version of Bondi for the Basin2Beach swim, also on Sunday.

Wollongong

This will be the 7th iteration of the Basin2Beach, offering three distance options from 400m to 2km. But this one, awgies point out, has free parking.

“We’re keen to champion the ‘get out of Sydney’ vibe and join a swim offering spectacular location, free parking, services as baggage and unique and great swim experiences,” says awgie Rob Battocchio.

The 800m and 400m offer the younger or novice swimmer a safer “harbour only swim – perfect to encourage a first time swimmer friend”.

Battocchio says the event is also supporting fund raising for a local lad with a terminal illness. Caleb Clarke, 4, of Stanwell Park, has an ultimately fatal neurological disorder, Infantile Neuro Axonal Dystropy (INAD). Caleb’s dad, Sam, is swimming in the 2km swim on Sunday as part of a global campaign by families of suffers of this condition, to raise awareness worldwide.

Race day entry is available from 7:30am till 15 minutes prior to each swim at City Beach Surf Life Saving Club.

North Beach, where the main swim finishes, offers cafés and amenities. It’s known locally as “Bondi of the south”.

Unlike Bondi of the city, Wollongong has a back-up option if things go awry on swim day and conditions prove too difficult: they can switch courses to Wollongong boat harbour.

Online entries close at 2pm on Saturday, February 24. More info and enter online… Click here

bondi bluewater dhd 15 02
Photograrph by David Helsham @glistennr

Blue water at Bondi

Back oop north, Bondi offers a 4km beach run along with its 1km and 2.1km swims around Bondi Bay, and a new multi-discipline event for Nippers.

Bondi might be a big city beach, with all the ups and downs that that entails, but it’s colourful and fun. The expression “the passing parade” might have been invented for places such as Bondi, where you can sit on the promenade on the beach watching life go by, and you’ll never grow bored.

Swimming is always interesting, too. Unlike Bondi’s other swims (at North Bondi), this event is run for the world’s second-oldest surf club, Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club, from the centre of Bondi beach, which means it offers a beach break with all that that entails at both ends of the swim.

Bondi’s is a typical beach break. It’s always interesting: shifting banks, gutters, rips, edge, and in between the swim course follows a Marie Antoinette champagne glass shape out towards Mackenzies Point, up towards Ben Buckler, and back into the finish in the centre of the beach.

It’s a lovely swim, and an interesting course that offers everything that an ocean swim in Sydney can pose, apart from rounding a headland. Short of that, you visit two of the most famous headlands in Strã’a in Mackenzies and Ben Buckler. You’ve got it all.

Online entries close at 3pm on Saturday, February 24. More info and enter online… 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.)

oceanswimsafaris

Spots open up in Tonga

tonga jump into the water

We thought we’d pretty much run out of space on our three oceanswimsafaris to Tonga to swim with whales in July-August, but a couple of punters have pulled out and we now have a couple of rooms available in our second group (July 24-Agust 1), and our third group (July 31-August 8). If you’re wondering what it’s like to swim with whales, check out our video from last year’s oceanswimsafaris in Tonga… Click here

sulawesi dawn 1607Exotic Sulawesi

We also have a few rooms left at our most exotic location, Sulawesi, to where we’re running two oceanswimsafaris in 2018, June 12-21 and June 20-29.

Sulawesi is right out of left field: it’s one of the most beautiful locations you’ll ever bvist, but we’ll wager that, unless we took you there, you would never even hear agout it, let alone visit. We try to find locations that will surprise you and Sulawesi is a fine example of that. Water is profoundly clear with lots of sea life, dramatic landscapes and local culture, and extra-sensory food. We also throw in a day tour around the mountain hinterland, and whitewater rafting. It’s an obscure location, with very few Strã’ans going to Sulawesi, remarkably for it’s so close to us, and easy to access. We go via an overnight in Singapore, then it’s a single flight from there to Manado, in the far north of Sulawesi.

Find out more and book… Click here

Grimseys, Foster coming to Mana Fiji

We’re finalising our packages for the Mana Fiji SwimFest in October, and will have them available in the next few days… Click here

We’re particularly excited this year, because we’ll be joined on Mana Island by three of the best and best known ocean swimmers in the world, Trent and Codie Grimsey, and New Zealand’s Brent Foster. You’ll get to swim with the world’s best.

fiji mana start 1610 01

Beware of imitations

Be aware, there is a rival event launching in Fiji later this year. Don’t be confused by the new one. The Mana Fiji SwimFest runs on one of the most beautiful swimming islands near the outer reef in Fiji’s Mamanuca island group. With the rival event, you'll be staying on the mainland (where the water is coastal, estuarine and unpleasant) and involves bussing and ferrying every day to and from swim locations. That's ok if you fancy spending part of each day of your Fiji holiday on a bus or a ferry. But not so good if you’d rather be in some of the world’s best swimming water or stretching out by the beach, drifting of to sleep by the wafting lilt of breeze through the palm fronds.

ReCap loss at Malabar

Nothing to see here, sadly

Swim ReCap awgie Marc Westius was left totes devo at Malabar last Sunday, after council workers at the end of the day collected his bins full of used swim caps -- bins, caps, signs and all -- and threw them in the truck with the rest of the day's refuse. Marc actually spoke with the council chappie who did it, he says, and the bloke reckons he didn't notice the signs on the bins, or what they contained, or anything unusual about them. No quarter given: they're all gone.

Marc toils long and hard over his ReCap campaign. But Marc feels he's the one who's let down all those who've donated their used and otherwise unwanted caps.

Luckily, as it were, it was one day's caps; there are hundreds or thousands more that Marc's already collected and recycled to good use. But it was also the loss of the bins, signs, and the posts to which the signs were attached -- all of which Marc has financed himself -- which were themselves attached to the bins, that really hurts.

We're building a new shopping cart

view selene mirror 05Sorry, our shopping cart is down temporarily... We're building a new one... Rather, someone is building it for us.

In the meantime, if you'd like to buy our merchandise, such as View goggles or other swim gear, tow floats, oceanswims cossies, etc, we can still process your order manually. The old shopping cart still is there, so you can browse that to work out what you'd like, then contact us by email. Some prices have changed a little from the old cart (suppliers change their prices, which means we must review ours).

We can work it out.

To contact us and to order... Click here

Fine ocean swims calendar in NZ

For NZ swims, there is a new website run by former fine ocean swimmers tallies winner Mike Cochrane which is a simple calendar of swim events around the nation. We'll list swims coming up in this newsletter, as well, but to plan ahead, check out Mike's calendar for a comprehensive list of NZ swims... Click here

Swims open to online entry

New... Nowra-Culburra (Mar 31), Pacific Palms (Apri 1), Forster (Apr 8), Mona Vale-Warriewood (Apr 28), Coogee-Bondi (Dec 8)
In the works
... mtc

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February 14, 2018

forster tube 02 600
We haven't been back to Forster for a couple of weeks, so here are a few images (here and below) to remind us of our #EarlyMorningSwim sessions with Marshal Noel. #ForsterTurtles

Swims this weekend

Etiquette crisis

Scratch my back, waft my heel

We had an anguished email early in the week from a swimmer at the North Bondi Classic on Sunday. Talbot Henry won his M40-44 age group in the 1km swim at North Bondi, and was attempting to chase down Peter Thiel, 1st in the M45-49, at the time of the incident he relates here…

henry north bondi 180211 300Check out the scratch that some mug punter put down my back in the 1km (that's it... at right).

Even worse is that it was definitely deliberate as he also tried to get his hand down my swimmers in the same movement to pull me back as I swam past him at the first can.

I’m assuming it was a him... Just saw a red cap (wave in front 35-39 versus my orange 40-44).

Never happened in my 30 years of ocean swims!!!

All I did was pass him (or her) on the inside of the 1st can during the 1km - as I was trying to chase Peter Thiel. I’m always very conscious to keep my elbows in when I’m swimming past other swimmers in races and would’ve brushed them at worst (my side of the story of course!). Maybe Peter Thiel clobbered him on way through ;)

Perhaps we need to educate swimmers more about swimming slightly wide of the cans if they find themselves being overtaken by other waves?!

Quite. This ugly incident points to the delicate issue of etiquette. Delicate because one person's etiquette might be another person's god-given right.

Those of you who’ve been swimming for more than a year may be aware that there are some practices in swims that send us off the deep end. Not that we’ve ever been victims of them ourselves, and it’s not that this affects us any more significantly than they affect you. Etiquette is something that affects everyone. It’s all about relations between swimmers and within the peloton. It’s about how a mob of hundreds of swimmers get from start to finish without warfare breaking out. It’s a microcosm of civilisation. Government is all about introducing order (civilisation) into chaos, and ocean swimming etiquette is about civilising a caper that otherwise has no rules at all. Someone has to go on about these things, otherwise the social offences are left to go on rampant and unchallenged.

Up our nose at the moment is drafting and heel wafting. Often, they are the same thing; sometimes, the drafter does their deed without the heel wafting.

Rules?

A couple of weeks back, a swimmer was moaning to us about his experience in the 5km at Rose Bay on Strã’a Day. All the way through the 5km, this swimmer told us – let’s call him, “Heinz” – another swimmer drafted on him, stroking his feet, stroke after stroke. The draftee even stopped to challenge the offender, but he kept at it, brazenly. At North Bondi last Sundee, a laydee swimmer – we’ll call her “Lizette” – complained to us about another laydee in her age group who did the same thing to her, all the way around the 1km course. Stroke after stroke, heel after heel, waft after waft… All the way.

A few years back, at Newport, another laydee swimmer had a rival on her heels for the entire course, only to have the drafter pull out at the end, all fresh and full of vim and vigour, to run past her in the break. When they got to the beach, the draftee – the victim – got a bottle of Gatorade-type stuff and sprayed it all over the drafter. She conceded later that this was not her finest hour.

At Forster, also a few years back, a young female swimmer drafted the entire 4.2km on Mrs Sparkle, again to pull out from behind her, overtake and run past her on the beach. This one was not even a rival in the same age group. The drafter was a teenager, 40 years younger than Mrs Sparkle. You’d think she’d have enough energy to do the swim under her own power, and that she’d have more self respect than to draft on someone who could have been her grandmother. Evidently not. On the beach at the end, Mrs Sparkle challenged the teenage drafter, who retorted: “You’re allowed to draft under the rules of ocean swimming”.

This was a revelation to Mrs Sparkle, who is not given to blowing her stack at rival swimmers. It was a revelation to us, too. We had not realised that there were such a thing as “the rules of ocean swimming”. We’ve been searching for them ever since, and we still have not been able to find them. When we run into that girl again, we’ll ask her for a reference.

These are just a few examples. Drafting has been going on since time immemorial, and will continue to go on, particularly as long as there are swimmers of the tryaffalete bent, although in fairness, it’s not just tryaffaletes who get up to this. In the past, when we’ve raised this practice, we’ve had swim coaches respond that it’s all fair, legitimate, and to be expected in an ocean swim (yes, Ken, we mean you, and others). Indeed, we saw a Facebook post this week from another laydee swimmer at North Bondi who thanked her coach for allowing her to draft on him all the way around the 2km course.

There are swimmers of whom we’re aware who are notorious drafters, many of whom do it brazenly; some of whom do it furtively. Mrs Sparkle tells us she has spent many swims weaving between swimmers in the peloton to get away from habitual drafters. Mrs Sparkle is a handy swimmer, and drafting on her brings rewards for lesser athletes if they can stay on her heels.

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Our oceanswimsafaris are one big get-together, corroborees of oceanswimming and, in the case of Tonga, whale swimming, too. We have just two rooms left on the second of our three oceanswimsafaris to Tonga in July (July 24-August 1). Think of it, too, as a way of helping Tonga recover from Cyclone Gita. As Tony Midolo said of Vanuatu after Cyclone Pam, "My money is better spent in Vanuatu than Hawai'i this year". That's the spirit. Find out more and book for Tonga... Click here

Cheating and bludging

At Noosa some years back, we were walking with a sub-peloton through the bush to the swim start at Ti-tree Bay. En route, we overheard a female swimmer explaining to a friend, evidently a new swimmer: “The trick is to find someone’s feet and sit on them throughout the swim,” she said. We turned to her and butted in: “Only if you want to cheat”.

For that’s what drafting is: it’s cheating; it’s bludging. It’s using the efforts of other swimmers to drag you through the water, so that you get similar speeds over similar distances without yourself putting in anywhere like the effort of the lead swimmer. The idea is that you conserve your energy so that, at the end, you have plenty left in store to pull out from behind the draftee, overtake, and run up the beach a clever but disingenuous winner.

This happens in every swim. Defenders of such cheating and bludging bleat that everyone does it. Not everyone, chaps and chapesses. Some do, some don’t. Some swimmers have greater integrity, and respect for their fellow swimmers than to use someone else’s effort for their own parasitical gain.

Now, it’s true – and this is where we will concede some ground to swimmers at what might be called the Elite level – that drafting goes on in top class open water swimming. (We understand it also goes on in triathlon, but that’s their business. They’re not us.) But in so-called top class open water swimming, members of the pack generally take it in turns to lead, much as the members of a sub-peloton in le Tour. It’s a means of co-operating to maintain the pace, ideally with each swimmer contributing as much as everyone else.

That is their business. We are not in the business of Elite open water swimming. We are not in the business of triaffalon, where this practice is rampant. We are in the business of ordinary mugs having fun on a Sat’dee or a Sundee morning. We are in the intensely rank-and-file business of ordinary people experiencing something special, something spiritual, something of which the vast majority of punters out there have no idea; no concept. We are out there on a pristine frontier, yet within a few minutes we can be back on the beach sipping a cuppa and bragging about it. You don’t need to be an Elite swimmer, a champeen, or anything special to achieve that. You just need to take part.

The problem with drafting, done at its worst, is that the drafter continually touches the draftee, not just bludging on them but imposing on them with constant personal contact that distracts them from the purpose of their swimming. How can you appreciate the glory of the ocean, the frontier at our doorstep, with some bludger constantly stroking the soles of your feet?

forster wave
Hydrodynamics: What it's like underneath a breaking wave. Just in case you haven't see this kind of thing before. #EarlyMorningSwim #ForsterTurtles

Assault

And it can border on the criminal, in the sense that any act that imposes on someone else’s person, it might be argued in a court of law, is a form of assault. Back in 1981, the then Opposition leader in the state where we live, Bruce McDonald, was charged with assault after flicking the tie of a protestor at the front of Parliament House. “What’s your name, sport?” Bruce had challenged the protestor, who also was the NSW seccetary of the Australian Workers Union. Bruce had imposed on this person’s person; infringed their personal space, although it’s highly doubtful that he had intended to “assault” the bloke in order to harm or offend him. To Bruce, it was just the daily contest of political life; it was a normal political challenge. Normal as. He was a combative fellow, was our Bruce. The extraordinary thing is that, while flicking someone’s tie may be a form of assault – just as is smoking in the vicinity of innocent bystanders, but that’s another story -- this kind of thing goes on in ocean swimming all the time, intentionally, deliberately, wilfully, yet there are people in the pack who defend it as being ok.

Some punters get their kicks in strange ways, of course. We well remember our cobber, Killer, up at Mur’bah, boasting to us a few years back that someone had drafted on him. Killer was so proud. Someone actually had drafted on him. The corollary is that someone was slower than him, and that’s why he was proud: they saw him, Killer, as worthy of bludging on; he was faster than someone. Killer had a smile on his face when he was telling this story, a boastful, pleasured smile, his eyes closing to slits, that said, “I’m someone! At last.” He's always been a retiring type, has our Killer.

In a pack, it can be difficult to avoid some form of drafting. You’re all thrown together, you can’t get out, and you’re all tightly packed. You draft by virtue of being so close together. But it’s not a deliberate, premeditated act. It’s inadvertent, and unavoidable for the moment. It’s a transient thing. But as the peloton stretches out, space expands and you have the opportunity to swim your own race. To those who do, we applaud you and your honest swimming. We scorn the drafters for their deliberate, willful disregard of the right of other swimmers to enjoy their ocean swimming in peace, often solitude, in their own spiritual zone. For that is what the drafter-cum-heel wafter is stealing from the draftee.

forster sun god
It's the Sun God, at least a Sun Worshipper, #EarlyMorningSwim at Forster. #ForsterTurtles

Over the top

Then we come to Talbot Henry’s experience. It’s not the first time we’ve heard of slower swimmers taking exception to being swum past by faster swimmers. Talbot acknowledges that there may have been some brushing, which is also unavoidable in a crush going around a booee, particularly one with a sharp turn. So is he at fault, squeezing through on the inside? Or is the slower swimmer at fault, for crowding a booee when faster swimmers are trying to get past?
Swim awgies have tried for years – although many have given up in recent times – to find the ideal order of starting waves to optimise the safety of the race and to separate faster swimmers from slower swimmers. The objective is to make the event as safe as possible for both: safer for faster swimmers, in that they’re not continually running into road blocks; safer for slower swimmers, in that they’re not continually having big, brutish faster swimmers swimming over the top of them.

 

Slower swimmers will complain that the faster swimmers should have known that they had someone in front of them and steered clear. But at speed, with your head down, you don’t always see a slower swimmer until you’re on top of them. Indeed, a faster swimmer has just as much right to swim their own race as a slower swimmer. It’s incumbent on swimmers at all parts of the speed spectrum to be cognisant of what’s going on around them and to do everything possible to avoid compromising other swimmers’ enjoyment of the event. Just like with drafting.

It amazes us constantly to see slower and/or less experienced swimmers stop dead on turning booees, sometimes even quite experienced swimmers. It amazes us to see, after years of whingeing about breastrokers, to see mugs break into breastroke on a crowded booee. Hardly surprising that following swimmers, caught unawares by a sudden “stop”, swim over them.

That said, some swimmers are aggressive, devil-may-care, careless and selfish on the course. Such as drafters. We all have a responsibility to swim with sensitivity to others around us, fast and slow alike.

They are all issues of etiquette: the rules of “acceptable behaviour”. So when someone argues that something is “in the rules of ocean swimming”, remember that “acceptable behaviour” is a matter of personal judgment. We live in a civilised society, however. You’re not allowed to assault someone willfully on the street, and you shouldn’t do it during a swim. In any case, there are no "rules" to ocean swimming. Individual events have rules, but the caper as a whole does not. In order to have rules, you need first to have a central authority. Ocean swimming has no central authority, thus we have no rules. That is much of the beauty of it. Any rules we do have are those of human decency and commonsense.

Talbot Henry says, “Etiquette is always a tricky one… When runners train (on track), the slower ones usually move to the outside so the quicker ones go on the inside. I think the guy (who scratched his back) must’ve been a water polo player to go for the ‘scratch & grab’ like he did. And it’s likely that I was copping it for some earlier treatment that he (or she) was on the receiving end of.

“Overall, we haven’t seemed to be able to work that out in the water (still see breastroke near the cans sometimes!!). Even when training in lane swimming, I know that unfortunate ‘incidents’ happen all the time… one of the reasons I swim in a squad!”

Ah, pool swimming etiquette… How long do we have…?

This weekend

Murray's Magic turns 10

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This Sunday marks the 10th running of a unique swim. The Murray Rose Malabar Magic is one of the very few swims on the calendar that are run directly by a charity to raise funds for its own activities, other than a surf life saving club. As such, The Rainbow Club has no army of logistics, equipment and water safety volunteers from which to draw.

A message from Murray Rose Malabar Magic awgie, Rob Lloyd…

This Sunday marks the 10th Anniversary of the Malabar Magic. A good long challenging Swim run from Malabar Beach swimming in Long Bay in South Eastern Sydney. The swim is run by the Rainbow Club of Australia and all money raised fund swimming lessons for children with a disability.

In 2009, the first edition was a destination swim from Malabar to Little Bay. It was named the Stockland Malabar to Little Bay Challenge. The great HG Nelson was the announcer on the day and quickly applied his marketing skills and brilliant use of phonetic STRINE to coin the name THE MALABAR MAGIC. And the name stuck.

On that day in 2009, the Rainbow Club corralled about 200 swimmers who braved cyclonic weather and bay full of salps (blubbery little things) to swim the first event of the swim that has become the Malabar Magic.

The Malabar Magic Ocean Swim has grown to be a great success …..widely recognised as the most inclusive swim on the circuit in Australia, if not the world.

malabar magic swimmers 350Likely lads at Malabar.

Each year the Malabar Magic has around 1,000 ocean swimmers and raises around $100,000, which is directed to the work of Rainbow Club providing one-on-one swimming lessons for over 650 children with disability at 20 different clubs each week.

Established by late, great Murray Rose and Rob Lloyd, the swim organisers have always had the desire to make it “the swimmers’ swim” and all decisions on how to run the swim have had the swimmers comfort and enjoyment as the key guiding principle.

Upon Murray’s early passing in 2012, the swim was named Murray Rose’s Malabar Magic. Murray would be proud of the ongoing success of the swim and the support it give his beloved Rainbow Club.

One of the greatest accolades for the swim is the encouragement it has given swimmers with a disability to participate. James Pittar the blind marathon swimmer who is an ambassador of the Rainbow Club after last year’s swim wrote,

“It was a historic day for ocean swimming in relation to the fact that amongst the 800 or so swimmers over the 3 swims of 250 metre, 1km and the 2.4km, every disabled group was involved.

I don’t know of any other swim in the world to date where a deaf, a blind, an amputee, a wheelchair, a cerebral palsy, a Special Olympian, an autism and a Downs syndrome person swam in the ocean together on the one day.”

On its 10th anniversary this Sunday, the swim hopes to raise over $200,000 with over 14 teams entering a fundraising challenge to raise $10,000 each by swimming a combined 10 Kilometres each. It’s the 10x10x10 Challenge. Two of the teams are comprised solely of Rainbow Club children. They were presented at a launch in November 2017 which was attended by Dawn Fraser, the Premier and a cast of swimming super stars including Daniel Kowalski and Matt Abood, who will also be at the swim and starting it this Sunday.

Please enter the swim and or just come down and enjoy the spectacle. If you want to support the Rainbow Club please help out one of the Rainbow Club team.

The Magic Rainbows https://donate.grassrootz.com/oceanswim/murray-rose-malabar-magic-ocean-swim-2018/magic-rainbows

Or the Sutherland all-stars https://donate.grassrootz.com/oceanswim/murray-rose-malabar-magic-ocean-swim-2018/sutherland-all-stars

As HG would say…..WE WILL SEE YOU AT THE MAGIC

Rob Lloyd
Organiser

Chck out the Magic video - 5 REASONS TO DO THE MAGIC

How to Ocean Swim

how to ocean swimWe'll be at Malabar on Sunday offering View goggles, swim accessories, tow floats, oceanswims cossies, etc, to eager punters, and others. We'll also be offering How to Ocean Swim, Lizzie Crowhurst's practical "Ladybird" guide to what we get up to, just the ticket for ocean swimmers who love their caper but don't take themselves too seriously. We'll have the last 10 copies available, and Lizzie is donating all proceeds (total price of $20 each) to The Rainbow Club.

With Cyclone Gita stirring up the Pacific, you should keep an eye on conditions, as awgies are. The Murray Rose Malabar Magic sits at the end of Long Bay and most swell doesn't present great concerns, particuarlly on a high tide, as it will be on swim day (just after 11am). 

Online entries to the Murray Rose Malabar Magic close on oceanswims.com at 3pm on Saturday, February 17. More info and to enter online… Click here

79th year for 5 Bridges

hamilton aerial

Another unique swim is coming up in New Zealand, the 5 Bridges River Swim, in Hamilton, run this season on April 8. Don't let the 7.1km distance put you off, because it's down the Waikato River with the flow.

This is a classical, community swim run by Hamilton Masters Swimmers.

Find out more on oceanswims.com... Click here

Life...

gordon michael by andrew meares 300A week and a half back, we were sorry to hear of the passing of an ocean swimmer during an event off Phillip Island in Victoria. To us, it wasn’t just any swimmer; it was someone we knew. It was all the worse as Michael Gordon was the second of our acquaintances, around the same vintage as us, to pass suddenly on successive days. The other was Andrew Casey, with whom we’d worked as young hacks in Sydney many years ago.

Mike Gordon (at right, pic by Fairfax's Andrew Meares) is reported to have suffered a heart attack during the Cowes Classic on Saturday, February 3. Remarkably, Mike's death is only the fifth of which we're aware in the course of ocean swims. One was in San Francisco c. 10 years ago; another was in a swim in Greece almost as far back; there was another, of a swimmer suffering from epilepsy, at Balmoral about 12 years ago; and there was a death in an informal group at Manly about two years back.

This is remarkable when you consider how many punters are out there swimming every day, and their overwhelming demographic.

We had been hacks contemporaneously with Michael Gordon, him on Melbourne’s The Age with us on The Sydney Morning Herald and later The Australian. We had similar interests in the sea and in journalism. For a while, we were direct rivals, each of us covering the political and union rounds for our papers. We were both surfers as well as swimmers, although while our surfing days are behind us now, Mike was still very active.

Which points to the bizarre thing about his passing. Michael Gordon was not an unfit, inactive, overweight character. He was fit, relatively slim, even slight, regularly active in swimming and surfing, and perhaps the last person on he beach whom anyone would regard as likely to suffer such a fate.

Shortly before, we saw a couple of reports in newspapers about risk factors in heart disease, factors that made the news because they were so surprising. Both were in The New York Times. One was the increased vulnerability to heart attack of people who suffer from the flu: in the week after contracting flu, the sufferer is six times more likely to suffer a heart attack. The other reported the discovery of CHIP, a “bizarre accumulation of mutated stem cells in bone marrow”, as the cause of another dramatically higher risk of heart attack, even amongst punters with no overt risk factors otherwise, ie people who might be fit, active, vital and healthy.

We don’t wish to be morbid or melodramatic about this, but these stories, and the sudden and premature passing of Andrew Casey and Michael Gordon, remind us of how tenuous is our existence, and how special are the opportunities that we have to do what we do.

forster tube 600

New oceanswimsafari

Costa Brava in the South Pacific

coromandel cathedral covePretty much your last chance coming up to secure a spot on our first oceanswimsafari to New Zealand, to the remote Coromandel Peninsula. This is basically a long weekend -- Thursday-Monday --  anchored to the Cathedral Cove Swim at Hahei (see pic at right). This is one of the prettiest swims you will ever do. We'll do informal swims along this stunning coast -- which reminds us very much of Spain/Catalonia's Costa Brava, with its towering cliffs with homes perched precariously on their distant peaks, hence Costa Brava in the Sarth Pacific -- enjoy a sea kayak tour of the surrounding bays and islands, visit the thermal springs at Hot Water Beach, where you can make your own bath by digging down into the sand, and a whole lot more water-type activities surrounding it.

We have a nice sized bunch coming with us on this first inaugural oceanswimsafari, but we have room for a couple more if you get in quick and smart.

We visited the Coromandel earlier this year to try out this tour. It’s a spectacular location, very clear water, lots of interesting sea life, and one of the most stunning coastlines in the South Pacific. The Coromandel is a remote, unspoilt finger of land to the east of Auckland. It's almost a wilderness, with very little population and beautiful countryside. Mind you, much of New Zealand is like that.

Our Coromandel oceanswimsafari long weekend dates are April 5-9, the week after Easter. We'll meet at Auckland Airport and transfer to the Coromandel from there. Packages are on oceanswimsafaris now. This one will be popular.

More info and to book… Click here

New oceanswimsafari

Pristine reef in The Philippines

philippines whale 600

If you're thinking of coming with us to The Philippines in July, then you'd better pull your fingers out quick and smart. We're closing off bookings very soon, under pressure from our accommodation providers to confirm our room requirements. You may miss out...

We’re constantly amazed at how many beautiful places there are around the South East Asian archipelagos, and the area around Dumaguete, on the island of Negros Oriental, is a prime example, in an area of some of the greatest marine diversity in the world. We’re very excited to bring you our new oceanswimsafari here. As we like it, it’s a place right out of left field.

It’s a place of stunningly beautiful water and perhaps the healthiest reef over which we’ve ever swum. Our accommodation is a 5 star dive resort.

We’ve programmed daily swims, some of them along the coast from our resort, others a bit farther afield. On one day, we’ll cross by boat to a small island offshore, Apo, which is like a Disneyland of ocean swimming, so clear is the water, so abundant the sea life.

Across the channel on the neighbouring island of Cebu, there is a place where local fisherman feed whale sharks daily. Visitors are permitted to get in the water with the sharks whilst they feed, just metres off the beach. We’ve programmed an excursion to swim with the whale sharks. Some may take issue with this experience, and it's not compulsory. But in this part of the world, the locals hunted whale sharks, just as others hunted whales. This seems a preferable alternative to support local communities.

We have reserved a limited number of suites at our resort. To find out more and to book… 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.)

We're building a new shopping cart

view selene mirror 05Sorry, our shopping cart is down temporarily... We're building a new one... Rather, someone is building it for us.

In the meantime, if you'd like to buy our merchandise, such as View goggles or other swim gear, tow floats, oceanswims cossies, etc, we can still process your order manually. The old shopping cart still is there, so you can browse that to work out what you'd like, then contact us by email. Some prices have changed a little from the old cart (suppliers change their prices, which means we must review ours).

We can work it out.

To contact us and to order... Click here

Fine ocean swims calendar in NZ

For NZ swims, there is a new website run by former fine ocean swimmers tallies winner Mike Cochrane which is a simple calendar of swim events around the nation. We'll list swims coming up in this newsletter, as well, but to plan ahead, check out Mike's calendar for a comprehensive list of NZ swims... Click here

Swims open to online entry

New... Shellharbour (Apr 8), Caves Beach (Apr 29)
In the works
... Pacific Palms (Apri 1), Forster (Apr 8), Mona Vale-Warriewood (Apr 28), Coogee-Bondi (Dec 8)

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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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February 7, 2018

cole 180204 kilponen 600
Dolphy was smiling on starters in the Cole Classic @ Manly on Sunday. This pic for The Sydney Morning Herald by Dallas Kilponen @DallasKilponen

In this issue...

What to do about plastic and rubber
Our motion picture report from the Cole Classic @ Manly
Pomes for Parents
Who's going to Mana Fiji?

King tides and extreme events

Pristine reef in The Philippines
This weekend
Our shopping cart
NZ swims
Swims open to online entry
Subscribe

Swims this weekend

The evil twins

What to do about plastic and rubber

An interesting experiment at the Cole Classic last Sunday in the use of reusable drink cups for water at the end of the swims, instead of the customary “disposable” cups. Awgies have recognised a movement away from disposability and towards environmental friendliness, but then Fairfax Meeja run a lot of events and these issues must tax them all year long.

There are two themes we’d point to here: one is avoiding “disposable” plastic; the other is avoiding “disposable” latex, in the form of swim caps. The “disposability” of both materials is a headache for the environment, awareness of which we’re really only just getting to. Some punters have been shouting about it for a while (yes, you, Angela van Boxtel, amongst others, and you, Marc West with Swim ReCap), but it takes a while for a difficult issue to take hold in little minds such as ours.

And both issues are difficult, not just in understanding the problems, but especially in finding solutions to them.

We’ll get to the swim caps issue in a moment.

cole 180204 osc 02 600
Peter Thiel shows a clean pair of heels to following mug punters at Shelly Beach on Sunday. Watching starting waves from front on, as we do, it always amazes us how many starters -- the more so with the younger ones -- hurl themselves seawards, then stop dead when they hit the water upright, even if only with heads up. The way to do it is as Thiel is doing here: Kiddies, take note: the arms, the hands, the head position, the body postiion: the perfect torpedo. Pic by oceanswims.com.

Just a little drink

Firstly, water cups. They’re such a simple thing, inoffensive even. We have no idea empirically of the magnitude of the issue, but we do know that they are an issue. On our travels around the Pacific and the Sarth East Asian archipelagos, we have seen the blankets of plastic just bob-bob-bobbing around the ocean for as far as the eye can see. We have seen the piles of “waste” cups at the end of swims. At the Cole @ Manly alone last Sundee, 3,500 swimmers mean 3,500 water cups used only once, but so flimsy — because they’re designed to be used only once — that it’s difficult to reuse them. So many unwanted, used cups is enormous by any standards, but multiply them by all the swimmers around Stra’a and New Zealand — there were more than 50,000 last season — and you start to get some idea of how the problem can grow. With 70,000+ runners in the Herald's City to Surf, that's 70,000+ cups that must be provided, cleaned up and disposed of just at the finish, not to mention the start and at drink stations along the way. Just at that event. It is no minor issue.

ReCap founder Marc West points to the decision by China to end its practice of accepting other states’ waste for recycling. Now, it all must be done here, or somewhere else, whereas until now we could fob it off, just piling it onto boats and sending it off to China to an uncertain fate. Now, it will be our issue again, and it focuses the mind.

After the Newport swim, we received an email from Jan Proudfoot, who is part of that swim’s workforce, who says she would like to see swims “forget about providing water at the end of a race (bottles or cups).

“After all, we are not provided with water when we compete in multiple events at a Surf Life Saving carnival. And it's not like a fun run, where we need water during the course.”

Jan says she’s been researching the issue, and has found a swim in Wessna Stra’a, at Gnarabup, near Margaret River, that has introduced this policy:

"Caring for our planet: There will be no plastic water bottles for refreshments at the finish. Instead bring your own water bottle and we will fill it for you. Recycling and regular bins will be available, so be sure to choose which bin you place your rubbish in."

Jan says: “I'm hoping you might be interested in pushing this idea to all oceanswim "awgies" :)”

Indeed.

cole 180204 osc 04 600
This mug appeared to be blowing us a kiss, although we're sure he wasn't. He's a Babewatcher, after all. In fact, he was so taken with this pic that, within hours of us tweeting and Instagramming it, he had it as his avatar on his Instagram account. No credit to the photo drunk, though, who was us. Tell everyone where you got it from, sport. Pic by oceanswims.com.

“I also suggest,” Jan adds, that “a designated area be provided (next to the finish line, under a tent) for swimmers to leave their drink bottles. I was thinking a section for each wave could be clearly marked off (so swimmers are not looking for their bottle amongst another 450+).”

Awgies might “complain about the amount of work involved,” she says.

“Not sure why some people have to be so negative about new ideas when there is an obvious benefit.”

Perhaps it comes down to a clash between the micro (individual workload on the day) and the macro (the Obvious Benefit). All good in theory, but who’s going to do it?

At the Cole on Sundee, Fairfax Meeja thought the reusable cups a great success, a "no brainer" as they told us for events like the Cole, where the need is focused at the finish area and containable. Fairfax obtained the cups for free, from a supplier in Dubbo -- who'da thunk that? -- who paid for them with sponsorship printed onto the cups. Fairfax must pay for the cups to be cleaned, but that's done by the supplier through local charity workshops.

The issue is different at larger events and in runs. While start and finish areas can be contained, it's a different story at drink stations, from where runners grab water as they jog past, then throw it to the ground, like Bwian, when they've finished with it, much like the peloton in Le Tour with their drink bottles and chocolate wrappers. On the ground, it's harder to clean up and, even worse, it's an obstacle for following runners.

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Flying start. Again, note the better starts by the better divers. Pic by oceanswims.com

To recap...

And then there are swim caps...

Fairfax also collected swim caps on the weekend, in support of Swim ReCap, with whom most of you will be familiar from their work over the last couple of seasons.

This was a relatively late move. We approached Fairfax on Friday with the idea, when we heard that Swim ReCap founder, worker, brains trust, collector, driver, and everything else, Marc West, would be at South Maroubra on Sunday, and not at the Cole. With potentially so many caps facing an unwanted future post-Cole, we thought this was too good a need/opportunity to miss. So we asked the Cole people whether they would be prepared to put bins in place in their finish area to collect caps on behalf of Swim ReCap.

They agreed immeejatly. It was good to see them embrace the opportunity without hesitation, and we thank them for it. Some of us — most of us — might look at that ReCap issue and think that it’s “the bleedin’ obvious”, as Basil says of Sybil. But remember that most swim awgies are swim awgies for one day of the year; most have no involvement in the caper outside their own swim and their own swim day. So what’s bleedin’ obvious to regular swimmers is not so obvious to awgies. They need a bit of a prod from time to time.

We put Marc West in contact with Fairfax, and the result was the cap collection at the Cole. Marc will collect the caps from Fairfax this week, and do what he does with them, which is wash them (we’re talking as many as hundreds of caps each week), hang them out to dry on the family clothes line, in the family backyard (Marc and his partner, Eugenie, have a place in Sydney’s inner west, so backyard is postage stamp size). With hundreds of caps, and the space and time available, a load of hundreds of caps might take Marc several weekends to process. Then he must find places to take them for reuse, such as Reverse Garbage at Marrickville. Recently, he shipped some of them to Viêt Nam for swimming lessons up there.

Marc does all this by himself, although credit should go, too, to his pre-school aged kids who “help dad”, including by making their toddlers wading pool available for the washing. We all know how helpful pre-school aged kids can be. All of us who are parents, anyway.

Swim ReCap is altruism personified. There is no money in this for Marc; he doesn’t do it for that. He just saw a need/opportunity from the obvious waste, and doing something about it now means, for him, a lot of work, effort, time. Anyone who has a young family like his knows how little time you have for anything other than work and family. It was good to see Fairfax supporting Swim ReCap at the Cole, but many may not have realised it was a Fairfax/ReCap operation.

The other aspect of caps, of course, is the suggestion that swims should require swimmers to BYO. Caves Beach awgies tried this a year or so back as a cost-cutting measure dovetailing with environmental consciousness. Not sure what their position is now, but we shall check and let you know.

But let’s develop this idea: It’s one thing to say, “BYO Cap”, simplistically. But caps have a number of roles. One is water safety: the right coloured cap will make a swimmer far more visible in the water (provided the caps are of the fluoro colours range specified by the Surf Life Saving Association). Another cap role is to distinguish amongst starting waves and age groups. Perhaps swims could say, “BYO cap, and BTW, these are the age group colours...”, going on to specify which colours would be acceptable for particular age groups. Swimmers then could build a wardrobe of caps of different fluoro colours, to bring the appropriate item to the swim. We’ve heard of “millionaires” who have just such a wardrobe, and bring it along to a swim to see what colour applies to their age group, then to swim for free. Perhaps that’s how they became “millionaires”.

To extend this idea, perhaps “there should be” a specified range of colours attaching to caps for age groups that all swims could follow…

Yes, yes, we know… That opens an entire other issue: How can there simply “be” anything, if there is no-one with the authority to articulate what should be…?

What happened at the Cole?


Our report from last Sundee's Cole Classic @ Manly

Pomes for parents

A bit of whimsy here... Two verses that parents should find useful. And many of us are parents.

Walking Away

by C Day-Lewis

It is eighteen years ago, almost to the day –
A sunny day with leaves just turning,
The touch-lines new-ruled – since I watched you play
Your first game of football, then, like a satellite
Wrenched from its orbit, go drifting away

Behind a scatter of boys. I can see
You walking away from me towards the school
With the pathos of a half-fledged thing set free
Into a wilderness, the gait of one
Who finds no path where the path should be.

That hesitant figure, eddying away
Like a winged seed loosened from its parent stem,
Has something I never quite grasp to convey
About nature’s give-and-take – the small, the scorching
Ordeals which fire one’s irresolute clay.

I have had worse partings, but none that so
Gnaws at my mind still. Perhaps it is roughly
Saying what God alone could perfectly show –
How selfhood begins with a walking away,
And love is proved in the letting go.

This Be the Verse

By Philip Larkin

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.

Our Mana Fiji winner is...

mana fiji 17 01 600
The winner of our random draw at last Sunday's Cole Classic @ Manly for a trip to take part in the Mana Fiji SwimFest in October was Jackie Stroud, a visiting English swimmer and soil scientist. Well done, yourself, Jackie, and thank you to all those who entered. Jackie wins flights (from Sydney or Brisbane, not from the UK) to Fiji, transfers, five nights accommodation at Mana Island Resort and entry to the Mana Fiji SwimFest events. Perhaps she can bring some of her British cobbers with her...? We'll have packages available online in the next week or to this year's Mana Fiji SwimFest, core dates October 22-27. See oceanswimsafaris.com for more.

King tides and extreme events

By Bruce Thom, Member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists; former Chair National State of Environment Committee 2001.

This article from John Menadue's weekly newsletter, Pearls and Irritations.

Summer has been awash with extreme ocean water levels reaching positions rarely seen in the past along the NSW coastline. On two occasions the tide gauge at Fort Denison reached levels only exceeded three times since the more accurate self-recording tide gauge was installed there in 1916. Such events raise questions as to why these summer king tides resulted in exceptionally high water level events, whether similar events will occur more frequently in the future, and what are the long-term consequences.

It was predicted that on 6 December last year and 2 January 2018 the east coast would experience very high spring tides (often referred to as “king tides”). Tide tables based on astronomical pull forces of the moon and sun around these dates exert maximum gravitational force on our coastal waters. For instance, for 6 December, 2017, the predicted tide at Fort Denison was 2.01 above the base level termed Indian Spring Low Water (ISLW). On 2-3 January the prediction was slightly higher at 2.07. This was the time of the perihelion when the Earth is at its closest point in its orbit to the Sun (147,097,193km). These factors are included in tidal predictions. Yet on both occasions the measured water level at Fort Denison reached a remarkable 2.28m above ISLW. The weather at the time was relatively calm.

Tidal measurements at Fort Denison constitute one of the longest records in the world (120 years). Over this period maximum recorded levels have exceeded 2.28m on only three occasions: 2.40 in 1974 (25 May); 2.35m on 27 April, 1990; and 2.32m in 1956 (10 June). Thus these two summer peaks are the fourth highest. Of note is that fifth and sixth highest at 2.27m occurred in June and August in 1984 and 2001 respectively. It is quite extraordinary to have had what are near record measured water levels in summer months especially as we know that on some of those past events such as May 1994 coincided with very intense storms (east coast lows) in the Sydney region. It is well known that storms just off the coast associated with high onshore winds can drive water levels higher, a storm surge, as occurred in 1974 when such a storm coincided with a predicted astronomical high tide.

The December 2017 event may be linked to the passage of an intense low pressure system moving from west to east across Bass Strait into the Tasman Sea at that time. Cold fronts can help elevate water levels and promote the movement of what are termed coastal trapped waves along the NSW coast. It is possible that a component of the 27cm difference between the measured water level and predicted tide was due to a surge/trapped wave effect. In contrast, the early January event could not be related to a storm system, though the presence of a low pressure system might have been a contributory factor.

These are all important facets in understanding the nature of dynamic physical processes that operate independent of the tidal forces to push water levels higher or lower under certain circumstances. Some of these processes are short-lived and more localised operating on timescales of hours to days (such as storm surges, atmospheric pressure, coastal trapped waves) whilst others can persist for several months (such as ocean currents, El Nino and la Nina events) affecting regional scale water masses.

We know that sea level has risen by about 12-22cm globally over what is generally termed the “Instrumental” era (from around 1870) thus elevating the base position of ISLW at the Fort Denison site. But this is factored into predictions. Climate change science forecast these rises to continue well into the future dependant on greenhouse gas emissions.

So the high fair weather king tides of this summer cannot be directly attributed to sea level rise. Another factor is the on-going warming and dynamics of the East Australian Current (EAC). Higher water temperatures in this meandering water mass will be associated with higher water levels where those warm waters impinge on the coast. It is not clear at this stage whether the EAC movements were a cause in the summer king tide anomalies. Therefore we cannot be sure of the cause but we can expect that such extreme tides are likely in future.

New NSW Coastal legislation (Coastal Management Act 2016) incorporates the need to understand potential more frequent occurrence of extreme climate events on coastal lands and adjoining waters. Tidal inundation is recognised as one of the seven coastal hazards that must be considered in future coastal planning and management. There was considerable media coverage of both summer’s king tides. Phil Watson of OEH collects photos from various sources that show the extent of tidal inundation. This will be invaluable records as we continue to assess impacts on infrastructure and property. More research will now be needed to disentangle possible causes of these fair weather extreme events from those attributed to storms especially given continued warming of atmosphere and oceans.

Bruce Thom
(with thanks to Phil Watson, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage)

New oceanswimsafari

Pristine reef in The Philippines

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If you're thinking of coming with us to The Philippines in July, then you'd better pull your fingers out quick and smart. We're closing off bookings very soon, under pressure from our accommodation providers to confirm our room requirements. You may miss out...

We’re constantly amazed at how many beautiful places there are around the South East Asian archipelagos, and the area around Dumaguete, on the island of Negros Oriental, is a prime example, in an area of some of the greatest marine diversity in the world. We’re very excited to bring you our new oceanswimsafari here. As we like it, it’s a place right out of left field.

It’s a place of stunningly beautiful water and perhaps the healthiest reef over which we’ve ever swum. Our accommodation is a 5 star dive resort.

We’ve programmed daily swims, some of them along the coast from our resort, others a bit farther afield. On one day, we’ll cross by boat to a small island offshore, Apo, which is like a Disneyland of ocean swimming, so clear is the water, so abundant the sea life.

Across the channel on the neighbouring island of Cebu, there is a place where local fisherman feed whale sharks daily. Visitors are permitted to get in the water with the sharks whilst they feed, just metres off the beach. We’ve programmed an excursion to swim with the whale sharks. Some may take issue with this experience, and it's not compulsory. But in this part of the world, the locals hunted whale sharks, just as others hunted whales. This seems a preferable alternative to support local communities.

We have reserved a limited number of suites at our resort. To find out more and to book… Click here

north bondi entry portal 1200 

This weekend…

We're taking entries online to one swim this weekend...

North Bondi

The second of North Bondi's swims, but the first this season after The Roughwater was cancelled on January 14 due to conditions on the day. If you're an ocean swimmer, you must swim Bondi at least once over the course of the season. There are several opportunities to do so. This swim, run by North Bondi SLSC, starts and finishes in the nor'-eastern corner of Bondi beach (Bondi faces south to just east of south, which surprises some people. But have a look at a map. So the North Bondi end is really the East Bondi end.) But there is a sheltered corner there that offers gentle access and egress from the sea, making this swim a good one for experienced and inexperienced swimmers alike.

Two distances: 1km and 2km. Entries to The Roughwater, cancelled on January 14, roll over to this swim. So if you entered for January 14, you are now automatically entered for February 11. If you can't make it this Sunday, email us and we can transfer your entry to a credit list for next season, and you can use your entry then. Very important: when you email us, make sure you do so from the same email account that you used in your original online entry for January 14. That's how we know that it's really you asking... Click here

Online entries close at 3pm on Saturday on oceanswims.com. For more information and to enter... 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.)

We're building a new shopping cart

view selene mirror 05Sorry, our shopping cart is down temporarily... We're building a new one... Rather, someone is building it for us.

In the meantime, if you'd like to buy our merchandise, such as View goggles or other swim gear, tow floats, oceanswims cossies, etc, we can still process your order manually. The old shopping cart still is there, so you can browse that to work out what you'd like, then contact us by email. Some prices have changed a little from the old cart (suppliers change their prices, which means we must review ours).

We can work it out.

To contact us and to order... Click here

Fine ocean swims calendar in NZ

For NZ swims, there is a new website run by former fine ocean swimmers tallies winner Mike Cochrane which is a simple calendar of swim events around the nation. We'll list swims coming up in this newsletter, as well, but to plan ahead, check out Mike's calendar for a comprehensive list of NZ swims... Click here

Swims open to online entry

New... North Steyne (Mar 25), Terrigal (Mar 31), South Head (May 20)
Coming soon
... Shellharbour (Apr 8), Caves Beach (Apr 29), 5 Beaches - Coogee-Bondi (Dec 8)

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January 31, 2018

big swim 180128 600 01
Girls just wanna have fun... We were struck by this swimmer's smile, going through the break at The Big swim last Sunday. More girls having fun below...

In this issue...

Fluffy ain't so bad
Win a trip to Fiji @ the Cole
Welcome to country
Postcard from Auckland

Big swim last Sundee
Pristine reef in The Philippines
This weekend
NZ swims
Swims open to online entry
Subscribe

Swims this weekend

Reasons to be fearful

Chances are, Fluffy ain't so bad

It's well known now, according to rumour (so it must be true): the start of The Big Swim last weekend was held up by the sighting of a person in a grey suit off Whale Beach. But are such persons really so threatening? All things are relative, after all. And we note (tempting fate, perhaps) that most of the shark "interactions" around our neck of the woods involve board riders or ski paddlers, not swimmers. This story is from the PADI blog, by Megan Denny...

Sharks are amazing creatures with a bad reputation. Though many see them as monsters, sharks are responsible for an average of ten fatalities per year worldwide. Ten deaths a year – compared to eight deaths every day in the US from people texting while driving. Meanwhile, humans kill more than 70 million sharks each year for their fins, teeth, or for sport. It’s time to set the record straight about sharks.
The next time someone tells you they could never scuba dive because they’re afraid of sharks, ask them if they also avoid:

In a recent list of the animals most deadly to humans, sharks didn’t even rank in the top 10.

most deadly animals 

No One Can Hear You Sneeze

Statistically speaking, people may be safer underwater, because the average human has a 1 in 63 chance of dying from the flu. Compare that to a roughly 1 in 3,700,000 chance of being killed by a shark. At least underwater no one can cough on you.

Divers are also less likely to be attacked by a shark in the first place. The highest number of shark attacks in recent history was 79 attacks in one year (2010). The victims of these attacks were:

– Surfers (51%)
– Swimmers or waders (38%)
– Snorkelers and divers (8%)

What animal kills more humans every year than any other? Mosquitos.

Mosquitoes transmit both malaria and dengue fever. According to the World Health Organization: 429,000 people die from malaria and 22,000 die from dengue fever.

The animal that causes the second-highest number of fatalities per year? Humans. O_O

As a diver we know you often get asked, “aren’t you afraid of sharks?!?” Now you can respond accordingly.

Megan Denny

Win a trip to Fiji by entering the Cole Classic

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The Cole Classic is on this weekend, with online entries open (on the Cole Classic website) till Sat'dee. When you enter the swim, take the option when your entry is complete to go on to enter our draw to win a trip for two to Fiji to take part in the Mana Fiji SwimFest in October, 2018. Even if you've already entered the swim, you still can revisit to submit your entry into our competition. It would be a shame if you missed out. We'll be at the Cole on both Saturday and Sunday. Look for the oceanswims.com tent in the Cole Classic Expo. You can get your View gogs, plus other stuff, or come and talk with us about an oceanswimsafari. To enter the Cole Mana Fiji draw.. Click here

 Welcome to country

Prompted by brouhaha over the significance of Strã'a Day, Fiona Horn wonders whether swims should recognise prior ownership of the lands around which we swim...

Aboriginal Flag 350‘Straya Day 2017 saw me on the beach with 600 + from the Manly Bold & Beautiful (BnB) swim crew singing along with gusto to our anthem ‘Australians Are All Ostriches’ BUT I was a little perturbed as to the plethora of blue & white Southern cross spangled flags and cozzies . Where was the black, yellow and red? No Indigenous flag or acknowledgment of traditional owners? Hmmm, I didn’t want to rock the boat (or swim) but it rankled away at the back of my mind.

Fast forward to the week before ‘Straya Day 2018 where the good people of Oz were preparing to throw snags on barbies, race cockroaches, and drape flags around their personae. I was lucky to have the choice of either the B&B swim or throw some money & support Reidy’s Splash swim at Rose Bay. I chose the latter, but asked both awgies on social media how they planned to acknowledge our First Nation people on this ‘Straya day, which was increasingly becoming a battleground with #ChangeTheDate leading the charge. Reidy, bless his little cotton Bondi Rescue swimmers was very sympathetic, but a little frazzled two days out from the event, when I put the question of ‘Welcome to country & acknowledgement of traditional owners to him’. I offered to pop on my social media hat and consult with some Indigenous elders/leaders as to the best way forward.

Things got tricky and vexed, as only they can on social media with the like of:

‘Personally I have no interest in celebrating anything tomorrow. It doesn’t pay any respects to any Country, especially the Gadigal ppl of the Eora Nation and those invaded thereafter. I do not and never will celebrate 26 January. I cannot help you’

‘Acknowledgements for events are generally advisable but only local community can really say re. a specific day/event in their community’

Reidy was a modicum of diplomacy (no affiliation, though I have watched Bondi Rescue in the past…) and wanted to do the right thing and show respect but decided it was too late this year to do this with sensitivity and respect, but for the record stating ‘Aboriginal culture is very important to me and I want to make it work in years to come’. Nice work Reidy!

Over on the BnB Face book page things were also hotting up and getting a little New-agey, contentious and strange:

‘The aboriginal flag is beautiful .. as is the Australian .. just bring one along whatever flag or feeling /thoughts for the day .. celebrate living in an awesome community / country .. I think the best thing is not to make a big deal of it .. be natural .. the earth has been around for 1000000000 years at least and I guess it’s not always there to be an ideal to humankind’

‘Why rely on flags- are they feel-good props for The Manly Daily?

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More girls having fun... Hurtling through the break at Palm Beach, but still time for a grin.

Clearly people here care. A lot. We have good speakers and thousands of amazing voices in the BNB. So don’t make it a one day flag flying event.’

Things even got a little desperate:

‘Fiona do you have a flag ? and are you able to do the welcome to country or provide the info for someone else to if its decided to do it? Just given that its short notice for the organisers’

On the day over on the Northern Beaches is all kinda worked out, and there was an impromptu smoking ceremony, but no flag that I could see from blog photos which looked like a sea (‘scuse pun) of the usual blue, white & Southern crosses. It also seemed quite weird that none of this had ben discussed at BnB before, as they are in general, a vocal bunch.

So what is the way forward? Should there be an acknowledgement of the traditional owners at the start of ocean swims, not just ‘Straya day (which hopefully will no longer be on 26th Jan)? I am told this is done routinely at Park Run, surely runners do not have a more developed social conscience than ocean swimmers, who seem to me to be a respectful and sensitive mob. Or is it just all too political, and should we just bury our goggles in the sand? Look forward (with more than a little apprehension) to the debate.

Fiona Horn

Postcard from Auckland

Go Hard or Go Home

rangitoto mission bay

It’s a beautiful calm morning. Where better than a beach? What better than a swim? And with Rangitoto (that's it, right, albeit from the other side of the harbour) providing the backdrop it’s natural that our intrepid group should feel good about heading across Takapuna. ‘Welcome to “Go Hard or Go Home”. We will swim for about an hour. Anyone getting out early will be on a yellow card. I am watching you, Sean.’ That’s the cry from our leader and it is said in pure jest. We titter about, wondering what routine Johnny will call for the day.

The group, which gets up to 30 swimmers, is a friendly, happy mob. We swim buoy to buoy and to the shore and back. The pace varies considerably but Johnny is smart. He keeps us together by often calling for the faster lot to swim further. He mixes up distances and sprints. ‘Sixty hard ones’ is a favourite. And we regroup regularly. It works. We enjoy our 2.5 or 3km workout, shower together and wander 20m to the beach café. To borrow the oceanswims.com vernacular, the cuppa is the culcha. Tables and chairs are shifted to suit the group. Triaffaletes mix with mortals. Laydees sport their colours. Guys share their gossip.

So it is every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Off the Takapuna boat ramp – usually at 7am. The sea is currently a pleasant 21 degrees. Wetties are optional. Occasionally it is choppy. Free parking. Neat exercise. Good humour. And newcomers are always welcome, especially visitors from overseas.

Ian Gunthorp

Send us a postcard about your social swim group... Click here

Big Swim last Sundee...


Our report from last Sundee's Big Swim.

New oceanswimsafari

Pristine reef in The Philippines

philippines whale 600

We’re constantly amazed at how many beautiful places there are around the South East Asian archipelagos, and the area around Dumaguete, on the island of Negros Oriental, is a prime example, in an area of some of the greatest marine diversity in the world. We’re very excited to bring you our new oceanswimsafari here. As we like it, it’s a place right out of left field.

It’s a place of stunningly beautiful water and perhaps the healthiest reef over which we’ve ever swum. Our accommodation is a 5 star dive resort.

We’ve programmed daily swims, some of them along the coast from our resort, others a bit farther afield. On one day, we’ll cross by boat to a small island offshore, Apo, which is like a Disneyland of ocean swimming, so clear is the water, so abundant the sea life.

Across the channel on the neighbouring island of Cebu, there is a place where local fisherman feed whale sharks daily. Visitors are permitted to get in the water with the sharks whilst they feed, just metres off the beach. We’ve programmed an excursion to swim with the whale sharks. Some may take issue with this experience, and it's not compulsory. But in this part of the world, the locals hunted whale sharks, just as others hunted whales. This seems a preferable alternative to support local communities.

We have reserved a limited number of suites at our resort. To find out more and to book… Click here

south maroubra break from north

This weekend…

We're taking entries online to one swim this weekend...

South Maroubra

A little tweek to the South Maroubra swim this Sundee, with the main event coming back to 2.2km from 2.5km, so that it fits inside the bay at Maroubra more comfortably. This swim is on its second outing in 2018, after drawing rave reviews from punters on its debut last year. Distances are 1km and 500m (for 9-12 year olds, as well as grown-ups), as well as the 2.2km swim. That's the beach, above. We've wondered for years why we haven't had a swim at Maroubra. Now, the locals have stopped stomping and given us one. Nice event for mug punters daunted or otherwise put off by the crowds of the Cole Classic, at Manly on the same day.

Online entries close at 3pm on Saturday on oceanswims.com. For more information... Click here

Costa Brava in the South Pacific

coromandel cathedral coveOur first oceanswimsafari to New Zealand, to the remote Coromandel Peninsula in early April, is basically a long weekend -- Thursday-Monday --  anchored to the Cathedral Cove Swim at Hahei (see pic at right). This is one of the prettiest swims you will ever do. We'll do informal swims along this stunning coast -- which reminds us very much of Spain/Catalonia's Costa Brava, with its towering cliffs with homes perched precariously on their distant peaks, hence Costa Brava in the Sarth Pacific -- enjoy a sea kayak tour of the surrounding bays and islands, visit the thermal springs at Hot Water Beach, where you can make your own bath by digging down into the sand, and a whole lot more water-type activities surrounding it.

We visited the Coromandel earlier this year to try out this tour. It’s a spectacular location, very clear water, lots of interesting sea life, and one of the most stunning coastlines in the South Pacific. The Coromandel is a remote, unspoilt finger of land to the east of Auckland. It's almost a wilderness, with very little population and beautiful countryside. Mind you, much of New Zealand is like that.

Our Coromandel oceanswimsafari long weekend dates are April 5-9, the week after Easter. We'll meet at Auckland Airport and transfer to the Coromandel from there. Packages are on oceanswimsafaris now. This one will be popular.

More info and to book… 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.)

We're building a new shopping cart

view selene mirror 05Sorry, our shopping cart is down temporarily... We're building a new one... Rather, someone is building it for us.

In the meantime, if you'd like to buy our merchandise, such as View goggles or other swim gear, tow floats, oceanswims cossies, etc, we can still process your order manually. The old shopping cart still is there, so you can browse that to work out what you'd like, then contact us by email. Some prices have changed a little from the old cart (suppliers change their prices, which means we must review ours).

We can work it out.

To contact us and to order... Click here

Fine ocean swims calendar in NZ

For NZ swims, there is a new website run by former fine ocean swimmers tallies winner Mike Cochrane which is a simple calendar of swim events around the nation. We'll list swims coming up in this newsletter, as well, but to plan ahead, check out Mike's calendar for a comprehensive list of NZ swims... Click here

Swims open to online entry

Coming soon... South Head (May 20).

Subscribe

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January 24, 2018

forster turtles 180119 600
Early morning swim in Paradise, NSW Lower North Coast.

In this issue...

What's a real ocean swim?
New oceanswimsafari - The Philippines
Win a trip to Fiji
Manufacturing goodwill
Swims this weekend
New oceanswimsafari - Coromandel, NZ
NZ swims

Swims open to online entry
Subscribe

Swims this weekend

A "real ocean swim"?

Walking along the beach at Mona Vale last Sundee, a cobber said to us of the swim he’d just completed, “That was a real ocean swim”.

We have a lot of swims on the calendar these days — hundreds of the damn things — but how many of them really can be regarded as “ocean”, especially “real ocean”? These days, “ocean” often is meant to equate with “open water”, but many of the swims open to us could not by any legitimate stretch be regarded as genuinely or “real ocean”. Sydney Harbour last Sat’dee was in the harbour. Is that “real ocean”? Is there anything difficult about it to warrant breast-beating? Mornington last Friday was in Port Phillip Bay. Can that be regarded as “real ocean”? Lake Taupo in New Zealand the weekend prior was not only not in the ocean, not in salt water, but also well inland, in the fresh water of Lake Taupo. Nothing remarkable about that?

And does any of this matter?

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Some determined chaps at Warriewood.

Enclosed vs ocean

Even enclosed open water such as those cited above can present difficulties: in Sydney Harbour, the currents can be ferocious, but the swim course there these days stays well away from where they are strongest. Who remembers the day that half the peloton was swept by the out-going tide into the middle of the harbour shipping lane? More, Sydney Harbour can be some of the bumpiest water in the country: the wash from boats, spurred by the currents, bounces off the rock walls all around the harbour foreshore. In water like that, no two strokes are the same; it’s very hard to settle into a rhythm. Port Phillip Bay has tidal currents so strong that some swims simply cannot be run against them — we know an awgie there who was “sacked” because he got the tides wrong when setting the swim time.

The fresh water of Lake Taupo offers the worst threat of all to boofhead swimmers: it’s fresh. What’s wrong with fresh water? In Lake Taupo, there are no currents to speak of, boat traffic is controlled, the sun is shining (often), and it's one of the most beautiful settings you could imagine... What could possibly go wrong? Fresh water is the enemy of bloke swimmers because we don’t float in it. Most blokes have no flotation on the lower limbs, and our legs just sink. We swim events in fresh water almost vertically. It makes it very tough. One of the hardest swims we have ever done was 5km in Lake Glenbawn on Stra’a day ten years or so ago. We did that one mostly vertical (and at the end of it, the awgies did not even acknowledge the 5km swimmers, saying “it was a test event”, but they had taken our money to enter).

But does any of this matter?

We’re rather lucky in much of Strã’a because the combination of conditions we swim in make our ocean swimming unique. We have swum in many places around the globe and in many events, but there aren’t many places that offer combinations of surf, ocean, water, air temperature, water temperature, distance options, and, yes, stingers, that make our swims the adventures that they can be from time to time. Even the shark net is part of the adventure that can't be matched overseas. Much of the time, it’s all quite benign, but when Dolphy turns it on, our swimming is unlike anything else. It is “real ocean”, and that is why so many of us do it.

What makes “real ocean”?

At Mona Vale the other day, it was this: while the day started quietly with a gentle breeze blowing slightly offshore for the short swim, by the time the main swim started at the southern end of the beach at Warriewood, the wind had swung to the nor’-east and had picked up strength. So the swim was into a chop and into the breeze. It was bumpy. There was also a current running north-to-sarth, right into us. The break at the start at Warriewood was small this time, but even slightly larger, it can, at that beach, be nasty and difficult. No stingers on Sundee that we heard about, but we all know what they can be like. Sunday was also a parade of recovering punters showing off their bluey scars from Newport two weeks earlier. Indeed, the punter who remarked to us that Mona Vale had been “a real ocean swim” himself still sported some appalling scars for two-weeks age. That’s what made Warriewood-Mona Vale “a real ocean swim”.

mona vale 180121 osc fydler 600
Rather like an MX missile shooting from the tube of a submerged nuclear submarine, Chris Fydler appeared at the start at Warriewood last Sundee much as he appeared to his rivals all the way to Mona Vale.

In 2003, we did our first South Head Roughwater. The sea was angry that day, my friends. On the way from Watsons Bay to the start at Bondi, in our escort boat, the seas were 3-4m from the sou’-east. Some punters abandoned on the way around. But for the swim itself, the swell pushed us along. Most boats hugged the cliff line but we (that means we, us) decided our course should stay out from shore to a particular point, then to take a direct line with the swell into South Head. When we (that means we, us) made this call, we were the next swimmer into the water. Our swimmer in the water at that time, Glistening Dave, had followed the rest of the peloton along the shoreline, conventional mob runner that he is. So we (we, us) advised our skipper, a mad Frenchman, to drop us out at sea, then go in to pick up Dave, then come back out to meet us. This plan worked well, until the boat returned to about where it had dropped us only to find that it could not find us. We could see the boat, momentarily as we rose to the top of those passing 3-4m swells, but it could not see us. Well, it was a boat; we were a yellow swim cap. This shows how important it is to have fluoro colored-caps, not the lost-at-sea colours that some unthinking awgies still dispense. Even with a bright cap — our yellow was yellow, not fluoro yellow — the boat could not see us. This upset some on the boat. Well, one on the boat, who told us later that she had been quite distraught. Perhaps like Dr Evil, when asked how he would respond if something bad happened to Minime: “I’d be quite distraught, for about 20 minutes. But I’d get over it”. The others, all boofheads, did not cry, as far as we know. But the experience gave us an inkling of what it must be like to be lost at sea. We were only half a kilometre out, but we were as good as in the middle of the ocean.

Adventures in Tonga

Have you seen our video of our whale swimming adventures in Tonga in 2017?


We have three whale swimming oceanswimsafaris in Tonga in 2018. Two are full, but we still have places available on our oceanswimsafari of July 24-August 1... Click here

Brush with danger

It gets better. Wisely or not (not), the point at which we (that means we, us) decided was ideal to alter course to run with the swell into South Head was a fishing boat that we’d passed on the way to the start earlier. This fishing boat was leaning over, so laden it was with tourist fisherfolk, who by that time had spent 4-5 hours throwing burley into the sea around them. We know that because we started swimming through it as we approached the boat. So it should surprise no-one to hear that, as we drew close to the fishing boat, our skipper (the mad Frenchman) spotted two shark fins circling our swimmer. It was either, he said, two little sharks or one big shark. We shouted out to our swimmer, who was a schleppy type who, when he swam, just put his head down and went till he’d counted a requisite number of strokes, in this case several hundred or a thousand or so. We shouted and we banged on the side of the boat, but he couldn’t hear us. But eventually he did, as the shark circled, and he climbed back into the boat.

The skipper took us closer in to shore to be near all the other boats, and our swimmer dived back in again, because he hadn’t yet reached his requisite number of strokes. We followed him, and he and I alternated all the way into the harbour, with Glistening Dave and our cheese, The Hand, refusing to take their turns and re-enter the water until we passed through the heads. Pussycats. Little did they think, there are more nasty sharks inside Sydney Harbour than outside it. But that South Head Roughwater was “a real ocean swim”.

A big swim

We recall The Big Swim from Palm Beach to Whale Beach, also around ten years ago (this year’s iteration is this weekend). There are over 1,000 mug punters in this event, so the peloton can become quite crowded. The course is from Palm Beach, sou’-east to Little Head, then around the headland into Whale Beach. The majority of the course is that first leg out to the headland; after that, it’s a simple bay crossing into Whale Beach which, that said, can be difficult even in a small swell. With a sou’-easterly swell running, and a sou’-easterly breeze, we were into it all the way to the headland. It was a sizable swell, not huge but made the more difficult by being overlaid with chop from the breeze. It was bumpy, a sharp, steep bumpy, so that we spent more time going up and down than forwards.

You might think it’s a similar course to Bondi-Bronte, but Little Head is very different to Mackenzies Point. Essentially, from Mackenzies Point, there is a rock shelf extending to sea, so that whenever there is a swell running, the waves can break some distance out. If this happens, you need to swim farther to sea to get around. Little Head, on the other hand, has a deep shoreline, so that you can swim as close as you like, in theory, to the rocks to get around. In the old days, the Big Swim awgies didn’t always have booees off the point, so the peloton could swim as close in as it liked. This day, going up and down more than forwards, we reckoned we could have touched the rocks without too much trouble, so close we felt. Time always blurs the detail, of course. But there you go. That was “a real ocean swim”.

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It's The Hand. And it's the hands. Technique counts for much.

In Indonesia, we swim (in our oceanswimsafari) around the Bunaken Islands, just offshore from Manado, at the far northern tip of Sulawesi. This is a place that few Strã'ans visit; indeed, few Yrpean-type people. Most Yrpeans who visit there are Dutch or German, hardly surprising given the area’s colonial heritage, which is not that far in the distance. There is no surf around the Bunakens, which are dominated by the volcano island of Manadotua with a small archipelago of islands clustering around it. The islands are surrounded by pristine coral reef and separated by very deep channels several kilometres deep in places. When the tide is running, this creates strong currents. With islands as small as these, it’s difficult to set a swim course that doesn’t involve some legs against a current. First time we took an oceanswimsafari there, we set a course around the tiny island of Siladen. The reef around Siladen is particularly beautiful, and it was an entertaining swim all the way, and a relaxing swim for two-thirds of it. Nearing the northern point of Siladen, the shallow reef broadens, and the current flows over it ferociously. We were into it, so into it that we became very familiar with each bit of coral, each tiny Nemo, darting in and out of its host anenome. It was a head swim, where you plough on resolutely, driven by the confidence and determination that you can and will do it, despite the force into your body. No surf, but that was “a real ocean swim”.

In Spain, we swim France to Spain around the end of the Pyrenees. It’s about 3.3km, starting from the little Harbour at Cerbère, rounding Cap Cerbère, crossing the border, and into the long bay at Portbou. Cerbere and Portbou are mirror-image towns either side of the border, nestled into the foothills of the mountains. From one to the other, there are a couple of little pebbly beaches, but there is no way out. Like South Head, once you’re out, you’re committed.

This swim is governed by the Tramontana, the howling wind that blows off the Pyrenees. If it blows, you can’t swim. Light Tramontana is very difficult, and not something that can be swum against. The Tramontana blows up a chop on a wind swell that is sharp and nasty. Small boats won’t take to sea in it. It crashes onto the shoreline and tosses swimmers around mercilessly. Swimming with the wind, it pushes you along at a rate of knots. No surf, but it’s “a real ocean swim”.

White out

Who remembers Bilgola three years back, when the thunderstorm rolled through mid-way through the course? Never seen a sky so black, and when the tail-end swimmers neared the break coming back, the storm howled through the remaining peloton — the slowest swimmers, those still out there — and you couldn’t tell which way was in or out or up or down. Then it was gone. Not a big wave that day, but it was “a real ocean swim”. Mollymook, when the storm blew through there half way through the swim... South Curl Curl to Freshwater when the southerly blew in between the first two starting waves...

But then, we remember Lake Glenbawn, swimming vertically for 5km. Who’s to say that that’s inferior as a challenge to any of the swims above? Is it relevant that it’s not “a real ocean swim”? Or is the relevant bit the particular challenge that any swim poses, for all these challenges are the grist of our boasting over a cuppa afterwards, all of them rich stitches in the Bayeux Tapestries of our lives. (Actually, we read a story in the paper yesterday that reckoned the Bayeux Tapestry is not a tapestry — it’s not stitches — but a 70m-long embroidery... But that’s another story.)

Mona Vale last Sundee...


Our report.

New oceanswimsafari

Pristine reef in The Philippines

philippines whale 600

We’re constantly amazed at how many beautiful places there are around the South East Asian archipelagos, and the area around Dumaguete, on the island of Negros Oriental, is a prime example, in an area of some of the greatest marine diversity in the world. We’re very excited to bring you our new oceanswimsafari here. As we like it, it’s a place right out of left field.

It’s a place of stunningly beautiful water and perhaps the healthiest reef over which we’ve ever swum. Our accommodation is a 5 star dive resort.

We’ve programmed daily swims, some of them along the coast from our resort, others a bit farther afield. On one day, we’ll cross by boat to a small island offshore, Apo, which is like a Disneyland of ocean swimming, so clear is the water, so abundant the sea life.

Across the channel on the neighbouring island of Cebu, there is a place where local fisherman feed whale sharks daily. Visitors are permitted to get in the water with the sharks whilst they feed, just metres off the beach. We’ve programmed an excursion to swim with the whale sharks. Some may take issue with this experience, and it's not compulsory. But in this part of the world, the locals hunted whale sharks, just as others hunted whales. This seems a preferable alternative to support local communities.

We have reserved a limited number of suites at our resort. To find out more and to book… Click here

Win a trip to Fiji by entering the Cole Classic

mana fiji 17 01 600
You can win a trip for two to Fiji to take part in the Mana Fiji SwimFest in October, 2018, just by entering the Cole Classic @ Manly... Click here

Manufacturing goodwill

australia swims logo 250We remain sceptical about Australian Swimming’s attempt to manufacture a position in rank and file ocean and open water swimming ("Our Sport"). They and the private owners of the swim drew 906 finishers to the Sydney Harbour swim last Sat’dee, which is a good result for them. Punters seemed to have had a good time, judging by reactions we saw on social meeja. It’s a spectacular course, from the Opera House around Farm Cove.

Swimming Australia are encouraging punters to “pledge” their swim distances over this week to make up “a lap of Australia”. They have listed events on a website for the week, the detail of which, as far as we can see, they have lifted from other websites (no-one asked us whether they could pinch our data, word-for-word, and they’re not the first ones to do this), and we wonder whether they had permission to lift data and images from The Big Swim website.

Be aware, this is a data collection exercise for Australian Swimming and their corporate sponsors, whose livery is all over the website. It’s a commercial exercise, run by Australian Swimming’s Commercial (marketing) department. If you sign up to "pledge" your distance, you will be required to submit your personal details, including your email address. If you’re comfortable with giving up your data to them, all well and good. But at least be aware of it.

Otherwise, Australian Swimming have shown no interest in our sport at all over the years, and they’ve scaled back their support of open water swimming overall. They should earn their strokes with altruistic involvement, not a naked commercial exercise. And they should research their own data, not pinch it from others who've done the hard work first.

newcastle harbour 1001
Life on Newcastle Harbour, from photoessay by Glistening Dave (David Helsham, @Glistennr)

This weekend…

We're taking entries online to three swims this weekend...

Newcastle Harbour

It's the return of one of our fave swims, two legs across Newcastle Harbour and back. We had our earliest years in Stockton and, when we were growing up, we always wanted two things - to be a "ferry boy" (a deckie on the Stockton ferry), and to swim in the harbour. We're probably too old to be a deckie now, certainly too busy, but we still get to swim in the harbour. You can see our late nan's place (the peak of her roof) from the start at Queens Wharf on the Newcastle side. We can't be there this weekend, but we'll be there in spirit. This swim was abandoned last year, but it's back this year, and with prize money to help the kids with squad fees. You can swim just one crossing, if you wish. Both are available.

Online entries close at 3pm on Thursday on oceanswims.com. For more information... Click here

Newcastle Ocean Baths Destination NSW 600
Pretty well the entire course of Nobbys-Newcastle. (Pic from Destination NSW)

Nobbys-Newcastle

It's an ocean/open water swimming festival in Newcastle this weekend, with the Harbour swim on Strã'a Day followed by Nobbys-Newcastle on Sat'dee. If you breathe right, this is a spectacular and beautiful swim, around the rock shelf and past the Cowrie Hole and Newcastle Ocean Baths, from Nobbys into Newcastle Beach. Newcastle is the only major city in Strã'a, of which we're aware, with a beach in the CBD. It's a beautiful swim, even if you can't breathe right.

Online entries close at 3pm on Thursday on oceanswims.com.Find out more and enter online... Click here

big swim 350 01 600 copy
It is, indeed, a big swim. (Pic from The Big Swim.)

Palm to Whale (The Big Swim)

The first of the year's great classics, swim 2.8km from Palm Beach around Little Head to Whale Beach, now complemented by The Little Big Swim, 1km around a circuit at Palm Beach. If you fancy yourself an ocean swimmer, you must do this swim.

Online entries close on oceanswims.com at 3pm on Saturday. And remember, there are no entries available at the beach on race day... Click here

Costa Brava in the South Pacific

coromandel cathedral coveOur first oceanswimsafari to New Zealand, to the remote Coromandel Peninsula in early April, is basically a long weekend -- Thursday-Monday --  anchored to the Cathedral Cove Swim at Hahei (see pic at right). This is one of the prettiest swims you will ever do. We'll do informal swims along this stunning coast -- which reminds us very much of Spain/Catalonia's Costa Brava, with its towering cliffs with homes perched precariously on their distant peaks, hence Costa Brava in the Sarth Pacific -- enjoy a sea kayak tour of the surrounding bays and islands, visit the thermal springs at Hot Water Beach, where you can make your own bath by digging down into the sand, and a whole lot more water-type activities surrounding it.

We visited the Coromandel earlier this year to try out this tour. It’s a spectacular location, very clear water, lots of interesting sea life, and one of the most stunning coastlines in the South Pacific. The Coromandel is a remote, unspoilt finger of land to the east of Auckland. It's almost a wilderness, with very little population and beautiful countryside. Mind you, much of New Zealand is like that.

Our Coromandel oceanswimsafari long weekend dates are April 5-9, the week after Easter. We'll meet at Auckland Airport and transfer to the Coromandel from there. Packages are on oceanswimsafaris now. This one will be popular.

More info and to book… 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.)

We're building a new shopping cart

view selene mirror 05Sorry, our shopping cart is down temporarily... We're building a new one... Rather, someone is building it for us.

In the meantime, if you'd like to buy our merchandise, such as View goggles or other swim gear, tow floats, oceanswims cossies, etc, we can still process your order manually.

We can work it out.

To contact us and to order... Click here

Fine ocean swims calendar in NZ

For NZ swims, there is a new website run by former fine ocean swimmers tallies winner Mike Cochrane which is a simple calendar of swim events around the nation. We'll list swims coming up in this newsletter, as well, but to plan ahead, check out Mike's calendar for a comprehensive list of NZ swims... Click here

Swims open to online entry

Coming soon... More.

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January 17, 2018


Have you ever seen a rip form? What happens when two waves come together on the shore: the water has to go somewhere, and watch out if you're in the way.

In this issue...

Burnt, but not by the sun
New oceanswimsafari - The Philippines
Podcast - Ocean Swimming with Beachwatch
New oceanswimsafari - Coromandel, NZ
Win a trip to Fiji 
Swims this weekend
NZ swims

Swims open to online entry
Subscribe

Swims this weekend

Poor man me

Burnt, but not by the sun

A cancellation and a postponement last weekend sends a message to us all yet again to watch the weather and surf forecasts in the days leading up to our next swim. This should be bleedin’ obvious, as Basil Fawlty would say, yet every time the weather catches us out, some punters complain and demand a refund.

Never mind the agreement that every entrant makes in entering a swim that entry fees are not refundable in the event of cancellation or postponement.

They are not “experienced” ocean swimmers who complain. Generally, they are “new” swimmers; often, they are “international visitors”. And they’ll come up with every bit of sophistry in their argument that they, of all of us, should be refunded.

Punters who do their dough merit sympathy, of course. We’ve all been there. But remember that the ones who feel cancellations and postponements the most are the awgies, for they have laboured over the weeks and months leading up to the cancellation/postponement, almost invariably as volunteers, to The Big Day. It’s their one day of the year, and it anguishes them when it doesn’t all come off. Not to mention the costs their clubs have gone to just to get to swim day. Who is going to pay for and eat all those snorkers dripping in BBQ sauce?

forster turtles 180116 01
Special for @DenisBendall, who loves our wave pics. Yesterday at Forster.

Sympathy

A couple of years ago, there was a rash of cancellations/postponements over a season characterised by grey skies and pounding surf. Was it nine over a period of a few months? Punters can put up with the odd one or two over the course of a season, but this was too much!

The punter we felt for most was a bloke who’d entered himself and his girlfriend online in the Bondi event, only to have Bondi postpone two days before swim day (well done to the awgies for decisiveness!). So he switched his attention to Long Reef, only to have that swim cancel (or maybe postpone, we can’t quite recall) on the afternoon prior. So this chap has done four entries over the one weekend. He cried through his email to us, but he copped it. Sometimes, punters just want someone to listen.

As a result of all those cancellations, the vast majority of surf club swims now have policies on refunds that acknowledge the commitment of pre-race day entrants, and which mean that they don’t necessarily “do their dough”. They might roll entries over to their next iteration, or offer a discount next time around. Thus, North Bondi has rolled all entries over to its other swim on February 11, with those who can’t make it, or who took a Combo entry to the cancelled event last Sunday, getting a credit for a North Bondi swim in 2019. Glenelg, which ran on December 28, took a large number of entries at a $15 discount from punters who’d entered its 2016 swim, which was cancelled on the day during heavy rain and very dirty water.

It’s rare these days that a swim will just cancel with no refund. The last such event we can think of that did so was Byron Bay, which cancelled twice in three years due to heavy surf, without refund or credit. A year later, also amid kerfuffle over sharks, their entries dropped by half. Byron has a long-standing policy of re-running their event a month later, should conditions prevent it running on swim day. But that’s cold comfort to interstate, international and inter-city punters who face considerable expense making a weekend of Byron. They can’t simply roll up again.

So what is this all about? It’s a reminder that no surf club cancels a swim without very good reason, and they always do so with enormous reluctance. All that work and expense to get to swim day, but all for nothing. It’s a reminder, too, that awgies don’t just pocket the dough when a swim is called off. And it’s a salutary lesson in swimmer responsibility, that you’re just as capable of watching the weather and surf forecasts as is any awgie, and you know that, when you enter a swim, there are risks.

 forster turtles 180117 03
Out of harm's way... Forster Turtles show clean pairs of heels. Guess which one's the boofhead.

I coulda swum that

And another thing…

The other discussion that’s had invariably when a swim has been cancelled or postponed is whether the cancellation/postponement was justified. “I would have swum that!” is the cry. Or, “Why couldn’t we all just swim it anyway, if we accepted the risk?”

Quite. It all seems so simple when you’re opining from the coffee shop or the pub.

Bear in mind that awgies have a range of issues to bear in mind when determining whether to proceed in difficult conditions.

They have a duty of care to ensure that conditions are as safe as they can make them for paying punters.

They also have a duty of care to their own volunteers who sit out there on boards watching all us mugs schlepp by, sometimes in freezing, wet, turbulent conditions, or perhaps marshaling on beaches being pounded by dangerous surf.

And, silently, in the background, they must listen to the advice of the professional lifeguards, who have legal authority over activities on the beach. Often, you’ll find, if you delve, that it’s not the awgies who decided not to proceed with a swim, but the lifeguards, who told the awgies that they cannot.

If you wish to check surf conditions prior to a swim, check these websites and/or apps, inter alia –

There are many others. Forecasting weather and surf is a c. competitive space these days.

Us locals know most of this stuff, but you might show it to an "international visitor," if you know one, so that they are aware of our rules.

New oceanswimsafari

Swim The Philippines - With friends

philippines whale 600

We’re constantly amazed at how many beautiful places there are around the South East Asian archipelagos, and the area around Dumaguete, on the island of Negros Oriental, is a prime example, in an area of some of the greatest marine diversity in the world. We’re very excited to bring you our new oceanswimsafari here. As we like it, it’s a place right out of left field.

It’s a place of stunningly beautiful water and perhaps the healthiest reef over which we’ve ever swum. Our accommodation is a 5 star dive resort.

We’ve programmed daily swims, some of them along the coast from our resort, others a bit farther afield. On one day, we’ll cross by boat to a small island offshore, Apo, which is like a Disneyland of ocean swimming, so clear is the water, so abundant the sea life.

Across the channel on the neighbouring island of Cebu, there is a place where local fisherman feed whale sharks daily. Visitors are permitted to get in the water with the sharks whilst they feed, just metres off the beach. We’ve also programmed an excursion to swim with the whale sharks.

We have reserved a limited number of suites at our resort. To find out more and to book… Click here

one mile beach 180117 haywood
The sea was angry that day, my friend... One Mile Beach, Lower North Coast, NSW, on Wensdee (Pic by Kim Haywood)

Podcast

Ocean swimming, with Beachwatch

Beachwatch test the water quality of Sydney beaches to see if they are suitable for swimming. The program also partners with councils and wastewater managers for swimming sites along the NSW coast. Water samples are collected and tested for bacteria, which may suggest faecal pollution, and influence whether the beach is safe for swimming. The program started in 1989 due to sewage pollution washing up on Sydney beaches - there was literally poo on the beach... These days, water quality has greatly improved, largely due to new deep ocean outfalls for coastal sewage treatment plants, as well as improvements in wastewater and stormwater management. The major reason why a beach may be unsafe to swim these days is because of recent rainfall, which can bring stormwater and wastewater overflow. Beachwatch also provides weekly star ratings for beaches, and the annual State of the Beaches report.

Dr Meredith Campey is the Beachwatch Program Manager. Marc West spoke with her about what Beachwatch does, its history, how they test and what they test for, and the various reasons a beach may be unsuitable for swimming... Click here

This weekend…

mona vale pano 600

Mona Vale

We’re taking online entries to Warriewood-Mona Vale this weekend, which expands this year to offer a shorter swim as well as the elongated Warriewood-Mona Vale Mighty Marathon, now running all the way around the rock shelf and into Bongin Bongin Bay. Whereas the longer swim starts way down south at Warriewood, the new, shorter swim just runs around the rock shelf at Mona Vale, like the Mona Vale Cold Classic in June. It gives an option to newer and less confident swimmers.’

The Mona Vale swim is Race 3 in the Pittwater Series. For more information... Click here

Find out more and enter online... Click here

Costa Brava in the South Pacific

coromandel cathedral coveOur first oceanswimsafari to New Zealand, to the remote Coromandel Peninsula in early April, is basically a long weekend -- Thursday-Monday --  anchored to the Cathedral Cove Swim at Hahei (see pic at right). This is one of the prettiest swims you will ever do. We'll do informal swims along this stunning coast -- which reminds us very much of Spain/Catalonia's Costa Brava, with its towering cliffs with homes perched precariously on their distant peaks, hence Costa Brava in the Sarth Pacific -- enjoy a sea kayak tour of the surrounding bays and islands, visit the thermal springs at Hot Water Beach, where you can make your own bath by digging down into the sand, and a whole lot more water-type activities surrounding it.

We visited the Coromandel earlier this year to try out this tour. It’s a spectacular location, very clear water, lots of interesting sea life, and one of the most stunning coastlines in the South Pacific. The Coromandel is a remote, unspoilt finger of land to the east of Auckland. It's almost a wilderness, with very little population and beautiful countryside. Mind you, much of New Zealand is like that.

Our Coromandel oceanswimsafari long weekend dates are April 5-9, the week after Easter. We'll meet at Auckland Airport and transfer to the Coromandel from there. Packages are on oceanswimsafaris now. This one will be popular.

More info and to book… Click here

Win a trip to Fiji

mana fiji 17 01 600
You can win a trip for two to Fiji to take part in the Mana Fiji SwimFest in October, 2018, just by entering the Cole Classic @ Manly... Click here

Last weekend

North Bondi

All entries from The Roughwater, North Bondi, cancelled last Sunday, January 14, carry over to North Bondi Classic (February 11). Combos receive credit for their 2nd leg to a North Bondi swim in 2019... Click here

Avalon

All entries to the Avalon swims (and Newport-Avalon), postponed from last Sunday, January 14, carry over to the postponement date, Sunday, April 8... 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.)

We're building a new shopping cart

view selene mirror 05Sorry, our shopping cart is down temporarily... We're building a new one... Rather, someone is building it for us.

In the meantime, if you'd like to buy our merchandise, such as View goggles or other swim gear, tow floats, oceanswims cossies, etc, we can still process your order manually.

We can work it out.

To contact us and to order... Click here

Fine ocean swims calendar in NZ

For NZ swims, there is a new website run by former fine ocean swimmers tallies winner Mike Cochrane which is a simple calendar of swim events around the nation. We'll list swims coming up in this newsletter, as well, but to plan ahead, check out Mike's calendar for a comprehensive list of NZ swims... Click here

Swims open to online entry

Meanwhile, many new season swims are open for entry now on oceanswims.com…

Coming soon... More.

Subscribe

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

Share this post

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January 10, 2018

newport 180107 osc 01 jg
Top dive, as James Goswell attacks the Newport swim with the verve of someone who knows he's about to go and live overseas for a couple of years. But what lies in wait for the Babewatch founder... Keep an eye out to see, further down this newsletter...

In this issue...

Not all melanomas caused by the sun
New oceanswimsafari - Coromandel, NZ
TOSSA from the North
Win a trip to Fiji
New oceanswimsafari - The Philippines
Swims this weekend
NZ swims
Swims open to online entry
Subscribe

Swims this weekend

Beware

Not all melanomas are caused by the sun

Not wishing to darken your day, but we like to bring you, from time to time, stuff that's relevant, if not always felicitous. We need to be aware. This, from the Melanoma Institute Australia...

melanoma fingernail 250 vert"Slip, slop, slap" is synonymous with being Australian and playing it safe in the sun. These sun smart rules reduce our chances of getting melanoma of the skin. However, new research tells a different story for those affected by rarer forms of melanoma.

The genetic study, led by Australian researchers at Melanoma Institute Australia, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and The University of Sydney as part of the Australian Melanoma Genome Project, has found that melanomas on the hands and feet (known as acral) and internal surfaces (known as mucosal) are not linked to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This is in contrast to melanoma of the skin, which is strongly related to UV radiation.

The research, published in the prestigious Nature journal, shows that acral and mucosal melanoma have different causes to skin melanoma. This has implications for preventing and treating these forms of melanoma, which occur worldwide.

“This is by far the largest study to have looked at the whole genome in melanoma, and it has proven these less common melanomas are strikingly different in terms of their causes,” says Professor Richard Scolyer, Conjoint Medical Director of Melanoma Institute Australia and a lead author.

Every year in Australia, up to 420 people are diagnosed with acral or mucosal melanomas. They affect people of all ethnic backgrounds, and are the most common forms of melanoma in people with very dark skin. These forms of melanoma often behave more aggressively, are harder to diagnose and have a poorer outcome compared to skin melanoma.

Treatment for skin melanoma has advanced rapidly in recent years, with therapies tripling the life expectancy of some advanced melanoma patients. For the first time, this research sheds light on why revolutionary treatments—many of which have been pioneered at Melanoma Institute Australia—don’t work as well for acral or mucosal melanomas.

“Acral and mucosal melanomas occur all over the world, but they have been even more challenging to treat than skin melanoma,” says Professor Nicholas Hayward, a lead author from QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute. “Knowing these are really different diseases to skin melanoma is important for development of future therapies.”

forster turtles 180105 wave
We love this water: Forster Beach last Fridee.

The study also found acral and mucosal melanomas have much less gene damage compared with skin melanoma and the damage “footprints" did not match those of any known causes of cancer, like sun exposure. This means we must target new research to discover what is causing these cancers, and what can prevent them.

While they had fewer gene drivers that could be targeted for therapy, new ones were found. Some mucosal melanomas unexpectedly had mutations in the SF3B1 and GNAQ genes, which had previously only been connected to melanoma of the eye.

melanoma institute logoUnderstanding which gene mutations are driving an individual tumour is the basis of personalised cancer medicine. This is the first study to survey the entire DNA sequence of melanomas, not just the genes themselves, giving 50 times more information than in previous work. Many genes were found to have damage in their control regions, the so-called “dark matter” of our genome, and these may be previously unsuspected drivers of melanoma.

“This is a world-leading genetic analysis of melanoma,” explains Professor Graham Mann, a lead author at Melanoma Institute Australia. “We are working hard now to turn these discoveries about the uniqueness of acral and mucosal melanoma, and about the new control mutations, into better results for our melanoma patients.”

Publication: Hayward, N.K. et al. Whole-genome landscapes of major melanoma subtypes. Nature. 03 May 2017. doi: 10.1038/nature22071.

Clarification: We sought more info on the areas of the body affected by different types of melanoma. Here's the response from The Melanoma Institute's Danielle Fischer: "The acral melanoma... is a rare melanoma subtype occurring on the hairless skin on the soles of the feet, palms of the hands and subungual areas (occurring under a fingernail or toenail). Melanoma on the area between the toes are still considered cutaneous (skin) melanoma.

The article also mentions mucosal melanoma, which is an area that doesn’t see the sun – ie. the mucous membranes that line the cavities in the body that are exposed to the external environment and internal organs, eg. the nostrils, gastrointestinal tract, etc."

newport 180107 osc 03
We're coming to get you... Newport last Sundee.

Costa Brava in the South Pacific

coromandel cathedral coveOur first oceanswimsafari to New Zealand, to the remote Coromandel Peninsula in early April, is basically a long weekend -- Thursday-Monday --  anchored to the Cathedral Cove Swim at Hahei (see pic at right). This is one of the prettiest swims you will ever do. We'll do informal swims along this stunning coast -- which reminds us very much of Spain/Catalonia's Costa Brava, with its towering cliffs with homes perched precariously on their distant peaks, hence Costa Brava in the Sarth Pacific -- enjoy a sea kayak tour of the surrounding bays and islands, visit the thermal springs at Hot Water Beach, where you can make your own bath by digging down into the sand, and a whole lot more water-type activities surrounding it.

We visited the Coromandel earlier this year to try out this tour. It’s a spectacular location, very clear water, lots of interesting sea life, and one of the most stunning coastlines in the South Pacific. The Coromandel is a remote, unspoilt finger of land to the east of Auckland. It's almost a wilderness, with very little population and beautiful countryside. Mind you, much of New Zealand is like that.

Our Coromandel oceanswimsafari long weekend dates are April 5-9, the week after Easter. We'll meet at Auckland Airport and transfer to the Coromandel from there. Packages are on oceanswimsafaris now. This one will be popular.

More info and to book… Click here

Win a trip to Fiji

mana fiji 17 01 600
You can win a trip for two to Fiji to take part in the Mana Fiji SwimFest in October, 2018, just by entering the Cole Classic @ Manly... Click here

Letter from Townsville

TOSSA from the North

An email from Jillaine Duve...

beard phillip 350I love reading your Ocean Swims emails and I particularly liked the latest one, "One Big Fambly".

Phillip Beard (right) runs a long-established family-owned clothing retail business in Mt Isa and Townsville, when he's not tempting tiger sharks and crocs. (Pic from The North West Star.)

I see that you're putting together an atlas of informal swimming groups so I thought I'd let you know about one tiny group in Townsville, North Queensland, run by my very good friend, the dedicated Phillip Beard. He rides his bike to the beach early each morning, nearly every single day of the year, with his faithful dog, Titus, and jumps in the water to do a lap of the Strand and back.

Titus waits (not very patiently) on the beach for him to return. People who live in apartments on the Strand see him each morning and wave to him from their balconies. Phillip is occasionally joined by a friend, but mostly does the swim by himself.

A few years ago, Phillip thought he'd make the group more formal and began calling it the TOSSAs – the Townsville Ocean Surf Swimming Association. He even had business cards printed to try to attract other swimmers to join him, but the problem is that Cleveland Bay, off Townsville, is full of tiger sharks. North Queenslanders also contend with marine stingers for six months of the year and the occasional crocodile swims past.

I think his bravery is what makes Phillip's daily morning swims so remarkable. He used to swim with a knife (or two) strapped to his leg, James Bond style, "just in case" but he doesn't actually think he'll have the presence of mind to use it if an emergency happens! Phillip was also one of the first to pioneer the swim to Magnetic Island without a shark cage.

Phillip flies to Sydney two or three times a year and takes part in an ocean swim down here. He's 63 years old and participated in the recent freezing swim at North Curl Curl, finishing it in an admirable 42 minutes.

Best regards and please keep the emails coming,

Jillaine Duve

Perhaps Phillip could inaugurate a federation of TOSSAs with the Tamarama Ocean Swim Squad, who also are TOSSas: os.c

New oceanswimsafari

Swim The Philippines - With friends

philippines whale 600

We’re constantly amazed at how many beautiful places there are around the South East Asian archipelagos, and the area around Dumaguete, on the island of Negros Oriental, is a prime example, in an area of some of the greatest marine diversity in the world. We’re very excited to bring you our new oceanswimsafari here. As we like it, it’s a place right out of left field.

It’s a place of stunningly beautiful water and perhaps the healthiest reef over which we’ve ever swum. Our accommodation is a 5 star dive resort.

We’ve programmed daily swims, some of them along the coast from our resort, others a bit farther afield. On one day, we’ll cross by boat to a small island offshore, Apo, which is like a Disneyland of ocean swimming, so clear is the water, so abundant the sea life.

Across the channel on the neighbouring island of Cebu, there is a place where local fisherman feed whale sharks daily. Visitors are permitted to get in the water with the sharks whilst they feed, just metres off the beach. We’ve also programmed an excursion to swim with the whale sharks.

We have reserved a limited number of suites at our resort. To find out more and to book… Click here

Never too old for a swim

forster turtles 180105 len
Len Kean, 94 on New Year's Day and with just one leg, has long wanted to get back into the water. Last Fridee, the Forster Turtles rolled him down to the sea in the beach access chair, pushed him out through the break -- not much of a surf that day -- and rolled him off the chair into the ocean. "It's lovely," said Len. And they rolled him back into the chair after his float. Shortly after, the Shark Patrol helicopter spotted a 2.5m Great White Fluffy just out from Len's lovely swimming spot. But they all survived.

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.)

We're building a new shopping cart

view selene mirror 05Sorry, our shopping cart is down temporarily... We're building a new one... Rather, someone is building it for us.

In the meantime, if you'd like to buy our merchandise, such as View goggles or other swim gear, tow floats, oceanswims cossies, etc, we can still process your order manually.

We can work it out.

To contact us and to order... Click here

avalon pano 01
The beach at Avalon.

This weekend…

We're taking entries online to two major swim events this Sundee...

Avalon...

... Sydney's Northern Beaches, and one of the most beautiful swims you will do. This season, Avalon awgies are combining their two events from last year on the one day, giving you three swim options: 2.5km Newport-Avalon at 8:30, then 1km and 1.5km at Avalon itself. Chris Ivin has done a magnificent course preview with his drone. It's worth visiting the Avalon page on oceanswims.com if only for that.

Be warned with all the Northern Beaches swims this season, too: prior to council amalgamations, the Pittwater swims – Bilgola, Newport, Mona Vale, Avalon and Palm Beach-Whale Beach – offered free parking till 3pm. Under the new Northern Beaches Council, there is no more free parking. You must park legally, and you must feed the metre, where applicable. Best to use the event parking near Avalon public school. Of course, if you’re a Northern Beaches resident with a resident’s sticker on your car, then you don't need to worry. (If you live on the Northern Beaches, do they issue you with a free residents' parking permit only if you support the Sea Eagles? That would be a deal-breaker for us)... Click here

nbondi roughwater 170108 osc 800 01
North Bondi is always a colourful experience.

North Bondi...

... You have to swim Bondi at some stage during the season, particularly now that the water has warmed since the earlier weeks of the season. Two distances at North Bondi this Sundee, and the opportunity for some excellent value with four swims on offer over the two North Bondi dates, this Sunday and February 11. If you take the Combo entry for both swims this weekend and both swim son February 11, you get them for $30 a pop.

North Bondi is a very good swim for novice ocean swimmers, too: the start and finish area hides in the corner and is well-protected in most conditions.

Bondi always is a passing parade of colour and pageantry, although the people forming it don't necessarily realise it. It's a spectacle, a carnival atmosphere. Good barbie, two, run by the Dawson Bros… Click here

ReCap at North Bondi

ReCap will be at North Bondi collecting used and otherwise unwanted swim caps. You'll find their bins around the finish area.

Find out more about what ReCap does... Click here

newport 180107 stinger jg 350Last Sundee at Newport

A few blueys about off Newport last weekend. More than a few. Awgies estimated "50-70" punters were treated for stings, with several finding the stinging bits wrapping around their ankles and being caught on the timing chip band. Water safety and other event staff did a triffic job all 'round on the day.

And a bit of whimsy with a whole lot of mugs uploading their tracks from Newport to Strava, which then combines them and turns them in to an online race, like the puppies in the TAB at the pub. Thanks to Chris Ivin for pointing it out to us. Check it out... Click here

Fine ocean swims calendar in NZ

For NZ swims, there is a new website run by former fine ocean swimmers tallies winner Mike Cochrane which is a simple calendar of swim events around the nation. We'll list swims coming up in this newsletter, as well, but to plan ahead, check out Mike's calendar for a comprehensive list of NZ swims... Click here

Swims open to online entry

Meanwhile, many new season swims are open for entry now on oceanswims.com…

Coming soon... More.

newport 180107 osc 02
Always good to use a wave to finish a swim spectacularly... Newport last Sundee.

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January 3, 2018

Philippines Apo Reefs 600 
Apo Island, one of our swim locations in our new oceanswimsafari to The Philippines.

In this issue...

Just one big family
New oceanswimsafari - The Philippines
Ocean swimming in plastic pollution
Swims this weekend
ReCap
Win a trip to Fiji
New oceanswimsafari - Coromandel, NZ
Fitness devices
Swims open to online entry
Subscribe

Swims this weekend

Just one big family, really

We are just one big fambly. We come occasionally to Forster, a tourist town on the NSW Lower North Coast. There, we swim with the Turtles, an informal mob of locals who meet each morning at the local surf club for a swim followed by a cuppa. The cuppa usually is at a place on the beach promenade called Beach Bums.

Nothing unusual about that. Every beach in Strã’a that has development around it has a morning swim group and most, if not all, would follow their swims with a cuppa. In the city, many beaches have multiple swim groups, distinguished from each other only by the time at which they enter the water each day. At Cronulla, they ‘round Shark Island; at Coogee, they might ‘round Wedding Cake Island; at Bondi they swim point-to-point; at Manly, they swim Manly-Shelly-Manly; in Newcastle, they swim Bar Beach or sarf to Burwood and back, or maybe Nobbys-Newcastle; on the Goldy on Good Friday, one group swims Burleigh to Surfers; in Perf, it’s Cott to North Cott and back, or vice versa; on the Sunny, it might be Mooloolaba; in Port Phillip Bay, it’s along the bayside beaches, or maybe Sorrento to Portsea on weekends; in Mollymook, it’s around the rock shelf towards the golf course, or maybe along the beach. This is not all of them, of course. They’re just examples.

forster turtles start 180103
Quaint folk, the Forster Turtles begin each morning's swim with a ritual dance, in thanks to Dolphy for providing the ocean for their morning swims, and for Fluffy.

Culcha

The cuppa is important: it’s the culcha. It’s the yarning, the swapping of experiences, the exaggerating, the boasting, the lying and the listening. That way, everyone’s experience enriches everyone else. This morning at Forster, for example, the yarning was about shark sightings. There were four that we know of, from ocean swimmers alone. Two of them swam under us, although we saw only one of them. We have lots of shark sightings here. Our favourite shark is called Fluffy.

To gain access to the culcha, its creation and its reception, you have to do the swim. You can turn up just for the cuppa, of course, but unless you’ve first done the swim, you fall into a different category. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s different. It reminds us of a time, many years ago, when we’d lost our job. A day or two later, we were walking through the local shopping centre at lunchtime. It was filled with workers on their lunch break. We weren’t on a lunch break. You must have a job in order to get a lunch break, and we felt strangely out of it, that we weren’t a part of whatever they were part of. We didn’t have to hurry back to the office, because we had no office to go to. There was a detachment, an exclusion, an isolation; dare we say it, a loneliness. We were quite welcome to hang about the shopping centre, with all the workers on their lunch breaks, but we weren’t one of them.

Likewise, you can join us for a cuppa after the swim, but unless you did the swim, you couldn’t feel the same.

But ocean swimmers are inclusive. It’s not as if they spurn those who didn’t swim, but when the yarning turns to the swim just done, it’s only those who’ve done it who can take full part. Stands to reason, dunnit.

forster turtles start 180103 break
We lova wave photos. Some don't; we do. Every wave is different. Only a very blinkered, sad person could not see that.

Eclectic

In Forster, the Turtles are a broad group of locals, although it also must be said that they generally are aged from their 40s-50s onwards. They include nurses, doctors, lawyers, accountants, IT engineers (software and hardware), a horse whisperer, musicians, chalkies, artists, medical administrators, retired political drivers, a truckie, rabble-rousers and naughty boys, farmers and graziers, a medical photographer, a physiotherapist, a sparky, an espresso machine servicer, real estate agents, cooks, residential apartment managers, cleaners, clericals, labourers and navvies, and so on. They are of disparate interests and physical capacities. Many are retired. The thread weaving them together is the swimming. Some of them do the entire session; some of them do little more than the break, then they come back in. Some of them will do part of the warm-up swim, then come back in. For the older Turtles, especially, it all depends on how they’re feeling that day and the chunderosity of the surf.

We are lucky that we have multiple god parents at Forster, who conduct our sessions so that we’re not just entering the water to plod around. Twenty years ago, the Turtles came out of a group of laydees who’d been adopted by Russell, a retired concrete truck owner-driver. Russell saw some laydees turning up each day for laps in the bullring, the local ocean pool, and offered to coach them. The pool is known as the Bullring (because some punters swim across, while some swim up and down, and occasionally they meet, head on, in the middle). Russell still runs the sessions in the ocean, particularly on weekends. On week days, we’re led by a retired Tiger named Noel (whose former playing partners tell us he was known at Leichhardt as a bit of a rough and ready lad). Noel must have cleaned up his act these days for he is the epitome of neat and tidy, even combing his hair meticulously into the mirror as his last act in the change room after the swim. A ranga, Noel doesn’t have much hair, but what he does have is well under control. Perhaps old habits die hard. Out in the water, Noel puts us through our drills: “Right, six 50s. First one, put in!” That means we have to try our very hardest. Next one, Noel might say, “First 10 strokes, no breath.” And the one after, “Last 20, make it lively”. Lively seems much the same as “put in”, albeit with a subtle variation in the degree of putting in, which way – up or down – we haven’t yet been able to work out. It's quite nuanced, swimming with Noel.

We’ll swim up and down the beach this way, behind the break. Then Noel will say, “That’ll do.” And we head in to the beach to frolic in the break, then shower and off for the culcha at Beach Bums. We could swim the same distance just plodding, but we get much more out of it, physically, with Noel and Russell riding us.

Quite often, the Turtles also find they are not alone in the sea behind the break at Forster Main Beach. On Xmas Day, they were joined by what some might call “a shark” of varying length ranging from two metres to three metres, depending on whom you’re talking with. Russell says it was a bull. He said he didn’t see how long it was, but he could see how wide was its head.

Cute

This was Fluffy.

Fluffy’s appearances are not unusual here. In the weeks leading up to the annual mullet run, last Easter, hardly a day went by when the Turtles didn’t find themselves accompanied in their morning swim. One day, there were about 15 of us in the water behind the Bullring, about 75 metres out from the beach, when four Turtles in the middle of the peloton watched a three-metre bull shark cruise over the reef three metres below us. Three metres long is starting to get up there. One who saw it was Mrs Sparkle, who was two metres behind us. She grabbed our ankle; we thought she was mucking around, so we shook her off. We didn’t see it. She watched as it glid beneath us, looking for brekker on the reef, then quietly and unobtrusively, wagged its tail and went away, or out of our sight, at least. This morning, one of Russell’s laydee squadders, who swim in the Bullring at 6 on Wednesdees, was warming down in the break next to the pool when she saw a Little Fluffy swim between her and the beach.

When the Turtles swam a bit later, we saw perhaps the same Little Fluffy swim beneath us towards the other end of the beach. We were swimming next to Russell at the time. “Did you see that?” we asked him. “Yes, I did,” he said.

About 20 metres farther on, on the other side of the little reef known as Crocodile Rock, we noticed Russell stop again, looking under water towards the shore. “Another one?” we asked. “Yes,” he said. “A bit bigger this time.” And he said, “I think it’s time we went in”. Russell is our godparent, and he feels a duty of care.

forster turtles start 180103 hand
It's the hand.

Responsible

Turtles can swim very quickly, but you’ve never seen them swim this fast.

A few of us continued on, however. We reckoned that both Little Fluffy and Mid-Fluffy were grey nurses, a relatively docile breed that hang around the joint a bit and cause no-one any problems.

Five of us carried on to the breakwall at the western end of the beach, and we came back again. Then a few went back up towards the Bullring and back to the centre of the beach, one of them swimming over Little Fluffy again along the way.

Mind you, of all the shark sightings by swimmers at Forster Main Beach – and they include quite a few bulls as well as nurses – none have caused us problems, as far as we know. There are baited drum lines off the beach and the official catchers are often pulling up whites as well as all the others, tagging them and dragging them out to sea, only to to find them back again the next morning, but none of them has caused problems, apart from a few heart flutters.

As far as we know.

In Forster, after the morning swim, the Turtles take over a table at Beach Bums. The size of the table – how many tables and chairs are fitted together – depends on how many swam that morning. Little and Mid Fluffy gave us something to talk about this morning. Otherwise, perhaps we'd all sit there mute.

When the Turtles are finished, the table is taken over by the Mudcrabs. The Mudcrabs (boo, hisss). The Mudcrabs are to the Turtles what the Sharks are to the Jets. The Mudcrabs are the winter swimming club in Forster. Where the Turtles swim in the sea, the Mudcrabs swim in the Bullring. They’re more likely to have moustaches, fewer women as members, and they wear Hawai’ian shirts on Fridays. They are very different to the Turtles. It must be difficult in one household, in which the wife is a Turtle whilst the husband is a Mudcrab.

Ours are like many other groups – all other informal groups – around the joint. They differ from the more formal groups in that they don’t take themselves or their swimming too seriously. What they do take seriously is the enthusiasm for activity, as opposed to sedentarianism. They know that activity is what keeps them vital, and, as they age, that’s more and more important.

forster turtles start 180103 rose
Forster surf club bought this boat from North Bondi, which was the club of which Murray Rose was a member. A condition of sale was that they retain the dedication.

Personal

More formal groups do get a little serious, the degree to which is proportionate to the money they spend on being part of that group. (Triaffaletes spend a fortune just to take part in their sport – thousands of buckaroos, with bikes and associated gear, running gear, etc – so they have to take it seriously.) There is one group we know of run by a coach so strident that his sessions are described by one participant as being “a 90-minute session in personal abuse”. Maybe it’s 60 minutes. Whatever. They subject themselves to it because they feel they derive benefit out of proportion to the abuse. In any case, the abuse is part of the fun. If you don’t become the target of the abuse, if you don’t get a turn, then you haven’t been noticed; you’re not important enough. Some punters can’t handle the stridency; the personal abuse. It’s not for everyone.

The culcha enveloping these swim groups forms critical detail in our life’s tapestries, just as they do with running groups, walking groups, book clubs, play groups – absolutely critical to the sanity of new mothers – men’s sheds, and so on. You start off with your particular group of school friends, then you move on to play group; you progress through life, moving from genre to genre; and you end up with swim groups.

The Turtles’ special day is Sat’dees. As we’re sitting around the table at the end of the promenade, a tall Turtle named Rod, a glorious tenor when he sings, pulls out the Saturday paper and reads out the quiz. Rod is slightly stooped, in the way of tall, slim people, not quite willowy these days, as you might describe a laydee of similar build. Rod is of an age by which the willow has given way to hardened rubber. Rod has an idiosyncratic cadence to his delivery, a waft or a lilt; an innocence, which makes the quiz that much more engaging. Everyone has a go at answering the questions, although there are no prizes, apart from the inner warmth of kudos when you get one right. The quiz is the Sat’dee tradition amongst all us swimming hacks.

Back in Sydney, we were chatting with a much better swimmer who was telling us that he takes part in Coach Neil Rogers’s Saturday morning sessions at the Bondi Icebergs, another ocean pool, although one looking much more like an Olympic pool than any other ocean pool along the coast. “It’s nice,” says this swimmer (let’s call him “Peter”). “It’s a good hard session, then we all sit around and have coffee. And someone pulls out the paper and we all do the quiz…”

We are one big fambly, as the kids would say.

forster turtles 180103 head
The Forster Turtles train themselves to withstand all kinds of surf conditions by standing, deliberately, under the lip of breaking waves.

It's the vibe

But we are not like families in the sense that there is no formal structure that connects us: there is no law; no blood; no over-arching organisation; no central authority. Our connection is purely spiritual, and that’s why when some ocean swimmer mug goes on holidays to somewhere like Forster, or away on business to Auckland, s/he can always find like-minded mugs with whom to swim, and who are almost invariably welcoming and inclusive.

One of our goals over this Xmas-NY period is to finally get online our atlas of informal swim groups. We’ve been collecting details of groups for some little while, but we haven’t quite managed yet to get it up, as it were. That will change. It will take some little time to make the atlas comprehensive, but we are doing our best. We are starting small, but we will grow, as Manuel may have said to Basil.

Tell us about your swim group, anywhere in the world… Click here

New oceanswimsafari

Swim The Philippines - With friends

philippines whale 600

We’re constantly amazed at how many beautiful places there are around the South East Asian archipelagos, and the area around Dumaguete, on the island of Negros Oriental, is a prime example, in an area of some of the greatest marine diversity in the world. We’re very excited to bring you our new oceanswimsafari here. As we like it, it’s a place right out of left field.

It’s a place of stunningly beautiful water and perhaps the healthiest reef over which we’ve ever swum. Our accommodation is a 5 star dive resort.

We’ve programmed daily swims, some of them along the coast from our resort, others a bit farther afield. On one day, we’ll cross by boat to a small island offshore, Apo, which is like a Disneyland of ocean swimming, so clear is the water, so abundant the sea life.

Across the channel on the neighbouring island of Cebu, there is a place where local fisherman feed whale sharks daily. Visitors are permitted to get in the water with the sharks whilst they feed, just metres off the beach. We’ve also programmed an excursion to swim with the whale sharks.

We have reserved a limited number of suites at our resort. To find out more and to book… Click here

Podcast

Ocean swimming… in plastic pollution

It is estimated that ocean plastics will outweigh ocean fish by 2050, according to a study by the World Economic Forum. There are at least 5.25 trillion plastic pieces floating in the oceans right now.

Dr Jennifer Lavers is a Research Scientist at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania. She is a marine eco-toxicologist with expertise in tropical and temperate seabird ecology, plastic pollution (marine debris), invasive species management, and fisheries by-catch. Her research examines how marine apex predators, such as seabirds, act as sentinels of ocean health, and focuses on pollutants of aquatic ecosystems such as plastic, heavy metals, Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and radionuclides. She is also very interested in science and conservation outreach.

Jennifer also has an Erdos-Bacon number, as a star of the stage and screen, as well as of academia!

Marc West chatted to Jennifer Lavers about her work, starting with her article This South Pacific island of rubbish shows why we need to quit our plastic habit... 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.)

gerringong swim 01 2014
The walk over the hill to the start at Gerringong. Don't be late.

This weekend…

It’s been all on around the joint for a few weeks. NSW has had six weeks of swims leading into the end of 2017; they’ve been busy in the West and the east, in New Zealand, and in Tasmania. Victoria typically is quiet late in the year, but shifts gear to frenetic over the Xmas-New Year period, awgies taking advantage of the relocation of Melbournians en masse to the bayside and Mornington coast, to the east of Port Phillip Bay, and to the Surf Coast to the west. But it happens from this weekend in a much more intensive way. Check out Swims this weekend at the top of this newsletter.

We’re taking online entries to three swims this weekend, all of them offering multiple events –

Gerringong...

... on the near South Coast of NSW has the Captain Christie Classic, a 1.8km swim and a stand-up paddle from Boat Harbour near Gerringong around to Werri Beach. It’s a beautiful stretch of coastline and a fr9iendly, carnival atmosphere at swim HQ at Gerringong surf club beforehand and afterwards. Be warned, but: registration closes at the surf club at 9am, and they mean it. After rego, they need to brief, then get the peloton over the hill and down to Boat Harbour in time for a start at 10am. Do. Not. Be. Late. You will miss out… Click here

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Acolytes, heading seawards. Pic by Glistening Dave

Newport...

... on the Sydney Northern Beaches, offers a third distance this year, aimed particularly at younger swimmers, attempting to make the day more complete for families. Swimmers as young as 10 can do the 400m swim at Newport (above), while 13 year-olds and older can do the 800m and 2km. It’s another stunning bit of coastline.

Be warned with all the Northern Beaches swims this season, too: prior to council amalgamations, the Pittwater swims – Bilgola, Newport, Mona Vale, Avalon and Palm Beach-Whale Beach – offered free on-street parking till 3pm. Under the new Northern Beaches Council, there is no more free parking. You must park legally, and you must feed the metre, where applicable. Best to use the event parking at Newport rugby field, just off Barrenjoey Rd just north of the beach. Of course, if you’re a Northern Beaches resident with a resident’s sticker on your car, you park free… Click here

yamba04Yamba...

... right up on the Far North Coast, offers two distances and a Dash for Cash. Yet another stunning bit of coastline, with towering hills above this holiday beach near the entrance to the Clarence River. Punters come down from Queensland for this swim, as well as from all over NSW. It’s a holidaymakers swim, with many Sydney-siders in town as well as the locals.

Make sure you visit the pub later in the day: the view from there is one of the best along the coast… Click here

ReCap on hols

There will be no ReCap at swims this weekend. ReCap maestro Marc West has his family away on hols on the South Coast. Good luck to him, we say. Not sure yet about the following weekend, but watch this space.

ReCap collects unwanted swim caps and finds new uses and homes for them where they will be appreciated. To find out more about ReCap... Click here

Win a trip to Fiji

mana fiji 17 01 600
You can win a trip for two to Fiji to take part in the Mana Fiji SwimFest in October, 2018, just by entering the Cole Classic @ Manly... Click here

Costa Brava in the South Pacific

coromandel cathedral coveWe're enjoying a good response to our first oceanswimsafari to New Zealand, to the remote Coromandel Peninsula, in early April. It's basically a long weekend -- Thursday-Monday -- using an anchor event, the Cathedral Cove Swim at Hahei (see pic at right). We'll do informal swims along this stunning coast -- which reminds us very much of Spain/Catalonia's Costa Brava, with its towering cliffs with homes perched precariously on their distant peaks -- enjoy a sea kayak tour of the surrounding bays and islands, visit the thermal springs at Hot Water Beach, where you can make your own bath by digging down into the sand, and a whole lot more water-type activities surrounding it.

We visited the Coromandel earlier this year to try out this tour. It’s a spectacular location, very clear water, lots of interesting sea life, and one of the most stunning coastlines in the South Pacific. The Coromandel is a remote, unspoilt finger of land to the east of Auckland. It's almost a wilderness, with very little population and beautiful countryside.

Our Coromandel oceanswimsafari long weekend dates are April 5-9, the week after Easter. We'll meet at Auckland Airport and transfer to the Coromandel from there. Packages are on oceanswimsafaris now. This one will be popular.

More info and to book… Click here

forerunner 205 150Fitness devices

In our last newsletter, we asked for your experiences with GPS watches. We had some good responses, which we ran in Controversy Corner at the bottom of the online version of that newsletter... (Click here)... But we also want to ask about your experiences with fitness devices, the kind that monitor your steps, and all your other athletic activity. What do you use? What are the pros and cons? We used to use a particular device, but we find now that our iPhone does all that stuff and more. But what’s your experience?... Click here

Working with our swim calendar

oceanswims.com has run complete event calendars for Australia and New Zealand pretty much since we got going at the beginning of the 21st century.

For complete event listings, check our calendar under Swims at the top of each and every page on oceanswims.com. You can search the calendar by state, country or region (eg Sydney North Side, Sydney Eastern Suburbs, Victoria Surf Coast, NZ South Island, etc), or even by type of swim (Lake, Estuary, Surf Beach, etc), by type of water (Salt, Fresh), and in many other ways.

We list Featured Swims down the right hand side of pretty well every page on oceanswims.com. These are events that work with us to gain extre prominence for their swim. Generally, Featured Swims also offer online entry, but occasionally you still can enter online to events that don't take the Featured Swim status, so if you don't see the swim you're looking for on Featured Swims, check our complete calendar, too.

Fine ocean swims calendar in NZ

For NZ swims, there is a new website run by former fine ocean swimmers tallies winner Mike Cochrane which is a simple calendar of swim events. We'll list swims on oceanswims.com as well, but you also can check out Mike's calendar for a comprehensive list of NZ swims... Click here

Swims open to online entry

Meanwhile, many new season swims are open for entry now on oceanswims.com…

Coming soon... Soon.

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December 13, 2017

forster turtles 171212 01
We are one, and we are  many... Early morning swim with the Forster Turtles.

In this issue...

Swims this weekend...

No cap? No swim

There was a kerfuffle a week or so back when we noted how many swimmers took part in ocean swims without their prescribed swim cap. The comment was inspired by an elite swimmer who did the Bondi-Bronte event at Bondi. But the issue has been on our minds for a couple of years. In Fiji this past October, a swimmer pulled his cap off during the 10km swim, which was run in very difficult conditions. His wife explained, “Oh, the cap bothers him”.

Poor petals all.

During the kerfuffle a week or so back, another comment in response to our pic of the elite swimmer at Bondi, posted on Instagram, was “swimming caps can give ear infections”. We’ll deal with this claim in a later newsletter. Suffice to say now: “Balderdash”.

Some swimmers who don’t wear caps really should know better, being in positions with a duty of care, setting examples for their own swimmers to follow. Elite swimmers, too, have a responsibility, we argue, to set examples for the rest of the mob. Elite swimmers get a favoured run at most events. All are watching when they swim; they’re showered in admiration. The least they can do is to set an example and follow the rules.

forster turtles 171212 03
The engine room... What goes on behind the wave.

The rules

In entering the Bondi-to Bronte swim, the elite swimmer who swam without a cap had agreed to this rule, included in the event waiver: “All swimmers are to wear their prescribed cap…”

Most swims have this rule. We all agree to the event rules when we sign up. As such, we commit ourselves to following the rules whatever they may be. They are not there so that we can pick or choose which rules we will follow.

The swim cap rule has a particular purpose. The swim cap is a safety item that makes it easier for event staff to spot swimmers in the water. Without a cap, swimmers are almost invisible. If something goes wrong, such as a swimmer suddenly stopping swimming due to – perish the thought – a heart attack, or being run over by an IRB, they will not be swinging their arms over stroke by stroke: they will be floating (if they’re lucky), maybe sinking, and almost, if not absolutely invisible. The cap is the only thing that will allow them to stand out and to be spotted more readily. In Queensland, swims run by surf life saving clubs also issue those pink singlets, which stand out on the beach but, we argue, are next to useless in the water, because they are under the water. Some will argue with us on this, but there you go.

An IRB driver negotiating swells, chop and swimmers needs to see where swimmers are. The cap makes this much more possible. Conversely, without the cap, it's nigh on impossible.

Some swimmers say they are allergic to latex. Perhaps they can swim with silicone beneath their prescribed cap, or perhaps they can hold a store of coloured silicone caps – you wouldn’t need many – to use as appropriate.

forster turtles 171213 01
Terry Hudson breasts the day... Forster Turtles, early morning swim.

But why?

The reasons why swim caps are important are many. It’s why awgies specify them, distribute them and make them a condition of taking part. They are why the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia insists that caps be used of a specified range of fluoro colours. By Circular 56/2012-13, dated December 14, 2012, the SLSA says, “All aquatic activity participants in SLS surf sport competitions and SLS sanctioned/special events must be clearly identified with a standardised high visibility vest or swimming cap (for ocean swims only) as a means easy identification…
“The purpose of using high visibility safety garments is to increase the ability to identify/locate participants above the water by water safety personnel during daylight hours.”

This ruling followed the loss of Saxon Bird at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships on the Gold Coast in March, 2010.

The Circular adds: “From the 1 October 2013, ALL participants in an SLS sanctioned/special open water based event must wear a high visibility fluorescent coloured Lycra vest. For open water ocean swims, a high visibility fluorescent coloured swimming cap may be used in lieu of a Lycra vest.”

It specifies that the colours for these caps must be drawn from Fluorescent Pink (“Knockout Pink”), Fluorescent Yellow (“Safety Yellow”), Fluorescent Green (“Green gecko”), Fluorescent Orange (“Shocking Orange”), and Fluorescent Red.

We don’t agree with everything that the SLSA does or says, but on this we’re with them 100 per cent. Swimmers must be visible in the water. If organisers of ocean swims (affiliated with the SLSA), don’t follow this rule, then the SLSA may well require them to go the whole hog and use those silly pink singlets, too.

forster turtles 171213 02
A wave at the end of the early morning swim... Jenny Saad, Forster Turtles.

Both ways

That said, awgies often are at fault, too.

Look around you at your next ocean swim and observe the cap colours issue to swimmers. More often than not, those cap colours will be drawn from what we call the “Lost at Sea” range of colours, which includes pretty well everything except those fluoro colours that Surf specifies above. Next time you’re in the water on a grey, windswept, choppy day, have a look at how visible are caps of blue (light or dark – same colour as the sea and the sky), white (same colour as white caps), dark red, purple, grey, green, etc, all almost absolutely invisible.

Awgies fall down in another area, too: we know of no awgie that polices its starting lines to ensure that all swimmers are wearing their issue cap. And we know of no awgie that will DQ a swimmer who fails to wear their cap or finishes without their cap.

They should, if only to get the message across.

Indeed, an awgie that does not police its own cap rule, or does not follow the ruling from the SLSA, one could argue, is derelict in its duty of care.

It sounds strong language; a big call. But it’s true.

Both swimmers and awgies have obligations with caps. If they continue as slack as they are now, someone is going to get into trouble. Let’s just hope they survive.

Glistening Dave on Fiji

Our staff snapper, Glistenign Dave, came to Fiji with us in October, to both the Yasawas and to the Mana Fiji SwimFest. Now, he's produced a book of photograrphs. Have a geek... 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.)

The slalom of the sea

We claim to be amongst the first, if not the first, ocean swimmer in Strã’a to use a wrist-mounted GPS device. We acquired it online from Garmin many years ago, in the days when Garmin would not deliver online purchases to Strã’a. Instead, we had a Forerunner 205 delivered to a cobber in San Francisco, who then sent it on to us.

At the time, this particular model of GPS device was the only device of which we were aware that swimmers could use to track their course. It was not guaranteed as absolutely water proof, but water resistant, and we wore it on our heads between two swim caps, so that a) it was protected from the water, and b) that it would keep the signal.

forerunner 205 150The Forerunner 205... Forerunner to many water-useful GPS devices today.

Our inspiration was the late Across the Lake (Macquarie) swim, which was a straight line between Coal Point and the Belmont 18’ Club. Awgies placed small, yellow booees about every 200m and, veering wildly off course with every stroke, we reckon we slalomed the course. Swimming 3.8km in a straight line gives you time to think, and it occurred to us that, if we could see our actual course superimposed onto a map, it would be a zig-zag, perhaps twice the distance of the marked 3.8km. And wouldn't everyone be fascinated to see this?

Our Californian cobber, Gary Emich, was using a 205 to measure his Alcatraz swims, so we thought this was what we needed.

GPS devices have come a long way since then, Nearly everyone wears a GPS, many of them tweeting their course post-swim. The novelty has gone.

Although we wear our current Forerunner 910 on our wrist, it still loses the signal unless you keep lifting your arm out of the water. Indeed, when you upload courses from the 910 to the internet, it’s striking how they still zig-zag to places where we definitely know we did not go. Mike Cochrane, in NZ, a self-described geek when it comes to these things, reckons this is because even contemporary GPS devices spend a lot of their time guessing between strokes: they catch the signal when out of the water, and guess where you’ve been when in the water. This can lead to some bizarre representations of courses when superimposed onto a map.

We recall one swim we did in Fiji’s Yasawas, also a straight line, between islands. The course from the old 205 was accurate till we got half way through the 3km swim, then it suddenly veered off to a point about 15km to the north, then came back again, continuing across to the destination island.

These days, GPS devices are also watches, and they record all manner of data, quite apart from position, distance and speed. Our current quest is for a device that also measures water temp and depth. We think we may have found one, a Suunto watch made for freedivers, but they appear, again, to be unavailable yet in Strã’a.

Anyway, we relate all this because of a request from a swimmer for advice on “fitness trackers that are good for open water”.

Over to you: what do you know, what do you recommend, and from what do advise we stay away… Click here

xmas swim berlin 450It's Xmas

We wish you all a joyful, relaxing Xmas. Enjoy your families and your friends, and return in 2018 rejuvenated... From all of us (both of us) at oceanswims.com.

Here (right) are members of Berlin Seals taking a dip in the Orankesee Lake in Germany. (Pic from abc.net.au)

We'll leave you alone till the New Year now.

A little glitch

A big weekend last weekend for the new NSW Swimming 5km Leaderboard competition with two of its five events over the two days, Coogee-Bondi on Saturday and the NSW Swimming Open Water Champeenships at Penrith on Sunday. Not ideal, but event scheduling was in concrete when the Leaderboard came into existence and crowding this season was hard to avoid. Never mind, swimmers who sought ranking in the Leaderboard would have to do both to earn the points.

Little glitches emerge when new things are attempted, particularly with long-established bodies following long-established rules and procedures. A little glitch occurred at Penrith, with the sole laydee swimmer being hauled from the water by officials before the event cut-off time, contrary to the event’s rules, and destroying her chance for points.

Jai di Tommaso was the only lady in the Female division of the NSW Swimming event at Penrith. (There also was just one, Justin Hanby, in the male division.) As such, finishing the event within the 90 minutes allowed would give Jai 10 points on the leaderboard for winning the laydees division overall, and 10 points for winning her age group. If she missed the cut-off, she would have been disqualified, earning no points in either. Being pulled from the water within the cut-off time also meant DQ and no points, no matter the rules, but no clarity about whether Jai would have completed the distance within the time allowed had she been allowed to continue.

But how could this occur?

The 5km Leaderboard is an initiative of NSW Swimming, and they should know their own rules. As it was explained to us, it was the good ol’ “failure in communications” that led to Jai being pulled from the water.

Jai’s event was being held contemporaneously with the NSW Swimming Open 5km Champs, and in that event there is another rule: that all swimmers must complete the course within 15 minutes of the winner. When she was pulled out, Jai was over 15 minutes behind the winner of that (separate) event. The problem was that that rule did not apply to Jai.

Officials insisted, however. There was some to-ing and fro-ing between officials in the boat and event bosses back on shore, with discussion as well about whether Jai would have made the distance within the 90 minutes (the rule that did apply to her). This was moot. Jai says she spent 5-10 minutes discussing the issue with the boated officials, but she still could not be sure that she would have made the distance had she been allowed to continue uninterrupted.

It would not have helped that the NSW Swimming official responsible for the Leaderboard competition had left the event by then. It had been a long two days at Penrith, with OW events over 10km, 7.5km, 5km, and 2.5km over the weekend.

We learnt of these events when the mother of another swimmer contacted us, upset that Jai should have been treated this way. Sarah Laverty wrote in a letter to NSW Swimming president Mark Heathcote, “A lady who should have been celebrated for continuing to compete at a very competitive level at the age of 62 was instead left humiliated because she didn’t have the opportunity to continue the race”.

Sarah asked for an apology to Jai. At the time of our writing, she had not heard back from Mr Heathcote.

The silver lining is that this little glitch has exposed weaknesses in their system that should allow NSW Swimming to improve the way it runs this series.

The irony is that, had NSW Swimming officials followed their own rules by allowing Jai to continue, and she had not completed the course in 90 minutes, Jai would have been DQed and missed out on any points. By not following their own rules, they guaranteed, given the outcry since, that she received maximum points in both the event overall and her age group, without completing the course.

Jai di Tommaso tells us she is satisfied now.

There is a Santa.

Win a trip to Fiji

mana fiji 17 01 600
You can win a trip for two to Fiji to take part in the Mana Fiji SwimFest in October, 2018, just by entering the Cole Classic @ Manly... Click here

Costa Brava in the South Pacific

coromandel cathedral coveWe're enjoying a good response to our first oceanswimsafari to New Zealand, to the remote Coromandel Peninsula, in early April. It's basically a long weekend -- Thursday-Monday -- using an anchor event, the Cathedral Cove Swim at Hahei (see pic at right). We'll do informal swims along this stunning coast -- which reminds us very much of Spain/Catalonia's Costa Brava, with its towering cliffs with homes perched precariously on their distant peaks -- enjoy a sea kayak tour of the surrounding bays and islands, visit the thermal springs at Hot Water Beach, where you can make your own bath by digging down into the sand, and a whole lot more water-type activities surrounding it.

We visited the Coromandel earlier this year to try out this tour. It’s a spectacular location, very clear water, lots of interesting sea life, and one of the most stunning coastlines in the South Pacific. The Coromandel is a remote, unspoilt finger of land to the east of Auckland. It's almost a wilderness, with very little population and beautiful countryside.

Our Coromandel oceanswimsafari long weekend dates are April 5-9, the week after Easter. We'll meet at Auckland Airport and transfer to the Coromandel from there. Packages are on oceanswimsafaris now. This one will be popular.

More info and to book… Click here

Costa Brava, San Sebastián, Yasawas 2018 released

Get booking!

We've released our packages for our Spanish/Catalan/Basque oceanswimsafaris in 2018, and our Yasawas dates in Fiji.

We tell you about our inaugural NZ Coromandel oceanswimsafari in April 2018 above. We also have online now our packages for Sulawesi in Indonesia and to swim with whales in Tonga in July/August. We're already taking bookings for these oceanswimsafaris so, if you're interested, get onto us quick and smart... Click here

We have finalised our packages to San Sebastián in Spain's Basque country, in August, 2018, and for our Costa Brava oceanswimsafari, also in Spain (or maybe it will be Catalonia by then), in September 2018. Check out San Sebastián... Click here... and Costa Brava... Click here

Ditto our Yasawas oceanswimsafaris. Mana Fiji will be in the last full week of October, 2018, and we'll take an oceanswimsafari to Fiji's Yasawas the week prior to Mana... Click here

Where could it be now?

dhd reccie 1711 01 600

Another taste of our new oceanswimsafari, teasing you just that little bit more... It's a particularly exotic location and with a very special main attraction. We're very excited about it. Stunning water, and the healthiest reef we've ever swum over.

This one will be in late June/early July, 2018. Just a hint: it's somewhere in that sprawling myriad of islands that make up the South-East Asia archipelagoes. That's it above, right here, too. This pic also by Glistening Dave (@glistenrr)

You can follow the fun we have on our oceanswimsafaris if you follow us on Twitter (@oceanswimsafari/@oceanswims), Instagram (oceanswimsdotcom/oceanswimsafaris) or Facebook.

Working with our swim calendar

oceanswims.com has run complete event calendars for Australia and New Zealand pretty much since we got going at the beginning of the 21st century.

For complete event listings, check our calendar under Swims at the top of each and every page on oceanswims.com. You can search the calendar by state, country or region (eg Sydney North Side, Sydney Eastern Suburbs, Victoria Surf Coast, NZ South Island, etc), or even by type of swim (Lake, Estuary, Surf Beach, etc), by type of water (Salt, Fresh), and in many other ways.

We list Featured Swims down the right hand side of pretty well every page on oceanswims.com. These are events that work with us to gain extre prominence for their swim. Generally, Featured Swims also offer online entry, but occasionally you still can enter online to events that don't take the Featured Swim status, so if you don't see the swim you're looking for on Featured Swims, check our complete calendar, too.

Fine ocean swims calendar in NZ

For NZ swims, there is a new website run by former fine ocean swimmers tallies winner Mike Cochrane which is a simple calendar of swim events. We'll list swims on oceanswims.com as well, but you also can check out Mike's calendar for a comprehensive list of NZ swims... Click here

Swims open to online entry

Meanwhile, many new season swims are open for entry now on oceanswims.com…

Coming soon... Freshwater (NSW, Mar 4), Mona Vale (NSW, Jan 21)

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December 6, 2017

bondi bronte 171203 start 02 600 
The start at Bondi last Sundee. (Pic from BonditoBronte Facebook page.)

In this issue...

Swims this weekend...

Much ado about wetties

There was broo-ha-ha following last weekend’s decision by the Bondi-Bronte organisers to switch their event completely to Bondi and to urge all swimmers to don wetties, opening up all places and prizes to wettists. It was, in large part, exactly the right call, given the conditions the awgies were faced with on the Saturday, when they made their decision.

We disagreed with one part: opening up official places and prizes to wetsuited swimmers. It’s one thing to encourage swimmers to wear wetties, given the water temp last weekend. It’s quite another to virtually hand the even to them on a plate, as their decision did.

Most Sydney swimmers do not wear wetties, as shown by the multitudes heaving themselves into the 13 degree water newd on Sunday. Most do not own wetties, we’d wager. So opening the event’s prizes and places to wetsuits simply disenfranchised the majority of swimmers.

We had a bit about this in our report on Sunday evening, and you can read that if you like… Click here

We copped a bit of criticism from some quarters about this, but we don't reckon our job is just to tell awgies what they want to hear.

Bottom line is, awgies did the right thing, but they went too far. Bronte has a history of being nice to wettists and, while there’s nothing wrong with that in principle, it needs to be balanced, reflecting the preponderance of newds in Sydney swims. Bronte had changed their wettie policy before this year’s event to one that is much fairer (see our report on oceanswims.com, linked above).

bondi bronte 171203 no cap 600
See below... (Pic from BonditoBronte Facebook page)

Babes

5 beaches prize bowl

Other awgies are dwelling on this issue as we speak. 5 Beaches (Coogee-Bondi) and Bilgola both are running in Sydney this weekend and both awgies are preparing for a continuation of the cooler water. (That said, reports this morning from people who swim in the sea on Sydney’s northern beaches are that the water has warmed somewhat since last weekend, whilst still cool: 18C, reckons our staff snapper, Glistening Dave, who swims each morn with the Dawnbusters in Bongin Bongin Bay.)

With great perspicacity, 5 Beaches awgie Coach Neil Rogers decided several weeks ago to encourage swimmers to wear wetties if they wished, although major prizes still would be reserved for newd swimmers. Following last weekend’s events, Rogers now says wetsuited swimmers will be eligible for prizes, too.

While perhaps not an ideal situation, Rogers’s event is 4.5km, more than double the distance (and time in the water) of last weekend’s Bronte swim at Bondi. 5 Beaches offers prizes only to 1st Boofhead/Laydee overall (elegant bowls designed by Neil and his daughter, Kelly Rutherford, and produced by Celeste Coucke, of Celestial Ceramics). Age groups are recognised, but they don’t receive prizes. The 5 Beaches swimmers generally are much more experienced than the field at Bondi the other day, so you would expect that they would, overall, be better equipped to handle their personal situations.

Bilgola awgies are encouraging wetties if the water remains cool. They’ll wait till closer to the time to make other decisions, if necessary.


See what happens when an enthusiastic starting wave runs into a gutter... This one from the 3 Points Challenge Ocean Swim at North Curl Curl last Sat'dee.

The fewtcha

Sydney awgies don’t have much experience in dealing with this issue, so when confronted with it, there’s not a lot of best practice available to use as a guide. But what might be done in similar circumstances in future? Here are a few ideas –

1) If the water looks like being cool, below 18C, say, by all means encourage punters to wear wetties, for safety’s sake. Of course, some – many – will choose not to follow that advice, but there you go. We all have different tolerances to temperature. We, for example, have our wettie built-in, so we don't need rubber.

2) As an inducement to wettists, if the awgie believes inducement is required, allocate part of the prize collection to them, so that they can compete for prizes in their own division. It could be one prize per age group, or 1-2-3 overall, say. It really comes down to the resources available to the organisers as to what they can allocate, how big the field is, and how many wettists might be in attendance relative to newds.

3) At registration, ask swimmers whether they intend to wear a wettie and note it against their name, so that a set of wettie results can be recorded as well as results overall. This involves extra data entry, but it should not be beyond the resources of organising clubs. If they want that swimmers enjoy their event, then it will be a small price to pay. You could even have an option on the entry portal online to select "Wettist".

4) To cover the cost of these initiatives, expand the age groups to, say, 10 years from five, so the overall burden of supplying prizes is not necessarily increased.

13C

Interesting to hear, after Sunday’s swim, that the water temp was actually 13C. This raises another question: at what temp should awgies consider calling off their swim? We’re not doctors, so we can’t advise. Perhaps medically minded (and qualified) punters out there can help out with advice?.. Click here

No cap, no…

bondi bronte 171203 start 600
Elite wave start at Bondi. (Pic from BonditoBronte Facebook page.)

BTW, why was the elite swimmer at Bondi last Sundee allowed to swim without a cap? With the kerfuffle about water temp, we’re entitled to think that safety is first and foremost, but was no-one from the awgie group checking that swimmers had swim caps? They’re not just bits of decoration; they’re important safety items. they enhance visibility, and, in cool water such as Sundee's, they are a tremendous aid to warmth. Much body heat escapes through the head, so in cool water, caps are even more useful. Elite swimmers, of all people, have a responsibility to set a standard for the rest of the field, and awgies should be policing their starts to ensure that caps are worn.

This swimmer milled about at the start without a cap, then started with a newd head. It’s not as if it suddenly flew off in the wind or under the first wave. He’s an experienced swimmer, and he should know better. So should awgies.

Merry Xmas from budgysmuggler

budgysmuggler xmas cricket 600

So no one drops the ball this Christmas with gift-buying, our friends at Budgy Smuggler are offering all OceanSwimmers FREE SHIPPING on all orders!

Head to BudgySmuggler.com.au and use the code "OceanSwims" at checkout to claim. The code is only valid until 5pm Friday!

Happy Smuggling

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.)

Another good story...

City Tattersalls Pool 350We like stories about ordinary swimmers, on the grounds that everyone has a story, but not everyone is prepared to listen. Therese Spruhan runs a blob, Swimming Pool Stories, and her latest is a memory of her late dad and his good cobber... Click here

Yes, it's all Ekman

From Prof. Matthew England, UNSW, in response to our story last week on the upwelling of cold water on Sydney's beaches...

Yes it's all Ekman! :-)

I've been swimming off Sydney's sacred shores since the mid-1980s and teaching physical oceanography at UNSW since around 1995. Love the emails from oceanswims.com by the way!

The BoM article is spot on: NSW coastal waters are very much impacted by Ekman transport, and the recent sustained cool water spell is due pretty much entirely to the recent sustained spell of nor' easterlies. [Without barely a puff of southerly breeze over the past few weeks]. Actually, the prevalence of N/E winds over summer helps keep the ocean that little bit cooler despite the relentless input of heat from summer's high dose of solar radiation.

So, yes, it really is Ekman's fault.....! [Note to editor: I did like the list of "other factors" you presented: these are all true, but none on that list can account for the recent NSW coastal water cold spell. Another to add for NSW swimmers is "ocean eddies" - these whirlpools of unusually warm or cold water can pinch off the East Australia Current and make their way to the coast].

The cold water spell we're currently having will be blown away in no time the next time a southerly buster comes along. Or a steady S/E sea-breeze for a day or two.

There's something wonderfully counterintuitive in all this: along the NSW coast, cold southerly winds bring warmer surface ocean waters to the coast for us swimmers to bask in. And in contrast, warmer northerlies can lead to freezing cold ocean waters. I still remember a swim at Bondi a few years ago: baking hot northerly winds, 35 degree heat, and yet barely 15 degrees C in the water. Crazy.....

Matthew England @ProfMattEngland
Professor of Oceanography
University of New South Wales

Win a trip to Fiji

mana fiji 17 01 600
You can win a trip for two to Fiji to take part in the Mana Fiji SwimFest in October, 2018, just by entering the Cole Classic @ Manly... Click here

Murray Rose collection on the block

rose murray smh 350December 7, tomorrow, is the date of the auction of Murray Rose's memorabilia, by the Leonard Joel Auction House in Melbourne. Jodi Rose tells us, "I’ve always kept Murray's memorabilia in excellent condition – robes, tracksuits, blazers, towels, swim suits, from the 1956 and 1960 Olympic games. Plus, lots of official programs, pins, stamps, big and little trophies, etc. It feels right to allow many of these beautiful items to go to Australian collectors (or museums) who will preserve them into the future. Just storing in the back of a closet or storeroom creates deterioration which is not a good thing."

You can check the collection, part of an auction of diverse sporting memorabilia, in the Joel catalogue... Click here

We've said this before, and we'll say it again now: us baby boomers grew up with Murray as our role model: he was not just one of the world's outstanding athletes of his day; he was more. Murray was the ideal Strã'an young bloke, wholesome, clean, nice to his mum and dad;  the perfect role model... Yeah, yeah, we've heard all this about so many sporting role models, and look where they end up... So it was refreshing and reassuring to find, when we met Murray later in life, and we became friends, that he actually was that person. Such a good, decent bloke. He lived up to all those ideals, not because he tried, but because it was in him. We rank Murray up there almost with our late dad, Rotten ol' Herbie.

Murray's medals are owned now by Jodi and Murray's son, Trevor, and housed in the Sporting Hall of Fame at the MCG.

Pic of Murray above by Jacky Ghossein, The Sydney Morning Herald.

Costa Brava in the South Pacific

coromandel cathedral coveWe're enjoying a good response to our first oceanswimsafari to New Zealand, to the remote Coromandel Peninsula, in early April. It's basically a long weekend -- Thursday-Monday -- using an anchor event, the Cathedral Cove Swim at Hahei (see pic at right). We'll do informal swims along this stunning coast -- which reminds us very much of Spain/Catalonia's Costa Brava, with its towering cliffs with homes perched precariously on their distant peaks -- enjoy a sea kayak tour of the surrounding bays and islands, visit the thermal springs at Hot Water Beach, where you can make your own bath by digging down into the sand, and a whole lot more water-type activities surrounding it.

We visited the Coromandel earlier this year to try out this tour. It’s a spectacular location, very clear water, lots of interesting sea life, and one of the most stunning coastlines in the South Pacific. The Coromandel is a remote, unspoilt finger of land to the east of Auckland. It's almost a wilderness, with very little population and beautiful countryside.

Our Coromandel oceanswimsafari long weekend dates are April 5-9, the week after Easter. We'll meet at Auckland Airport and transfer to the Coromandel from there. Packages are on oceanswimsafaris now. This one will be popular.

More info and to book… Click here

Costa Brava, San Sebastián, Yasawas 2018 released

Get booking!

We've released our packages for our Spanish/Catalan/Basque oceanswimsafaris in 2018, and our Yasawas dates in Fiji.

We tell you about our inaugural NZ Coromandel oceanswimsafari in April 2018 above. We also have online now our packages for Sulawesi in Indonesia and to swim with whales in Tonga in July/August. We're already taking bookings for these oceanswimsafaris so, if you're interested, get onto us quick and smart... Click here

We have finalised our packages to San Sebastián in Spain's Basque country, in August, 2018, and for our Costa Brava oceanswimsafari, also in Spain (or maybe it will be Catalonia by then), in September 2018. Check out San Sebastián... Click here... and Costa Brava... Click here

Ditto our Yasawas oceanswimsafaris. Mana Fiji will be in the last full week of October, 2018, and we'll take an oceanswimsafari to Fiji's Yasawas the week prior to Mana... Click here

Where could it be now?

secret spot dhd 1712 01

Another taste of our new oceanswimsafari, teasing you just that little bit more... It's a particularly exotic location and with a very special main attraction. We're very excited about it. Stunning water, and the healthiest reef we've ever swum over.

This one will be in late June/early July, 2018. Just a hint: it's somewhere in that sprawling myriad of islands that make up the South-East Asia archipelagoes. That's it above, right here, too. This pic also by Glistening Dave (@glistenrr)

You can follow the fun we have on our oceanswimsafaris if you follow us on Twitter (@oceanswimsafari/@oceanswims), Instagram (oceanswimsdotcom/oceanswimsafaris) or Facebook.

Working with our swim calendar

oceanswims.com has run complete event calendars for Australia and New Zealand pretty much since we got going at the beginning of the 21st century.

For complete event listings, check our calendar under Swims at the top of each and every page on oceanswims.com. You can search the calendar by state, country or region (eg Sydney North Side, Sydney Eastern Suburbs, Victoria Surf Coast, NZ South Island, etc), or even by type of swim (Lake, Estuary, Surf Beach, etc), by type of water (Salt, Fresh), and in many other ways.

We list Featured Swims down the right hand side of pretty well every page on oceanswims.com. These are events that work with us to gain extre prominence for their swim. Generally, Featured Swims also offer online entry, but occasionally you still can enter online to events that don't take the Featured Swim status, so if you don't see the swim you're looking for on Featured Swims, check our complete calendar, too.

Fine ocean swims calendar in NZ

For NZ swims, there is a new website run by former fine ocean swimmers tallies winner Mike Cochrane which is a simple calendar of swim events. We'll list swims on oceanswims.com as well, but you also can check out Mike's calendar for a comprehensive list of NZ swims... Click here

Swims open to online entry

Meanwhile, many new season swims are open for entry now on oceanswims.com…

Coming soon... Freshwater (NSW, Mar 4), Mona Vale (NSW, Jan 21)

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