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May 12, 2017

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Under the lip. If you'd like to follow our #EarlyMorningSwim pics, follow us on Twitter (@oceanswims) and Instagram (oceanswimsdotcom)

Swims coming up...

Swim music – Your Hit Parade

We had a spirited response to a couple of items in our last newsletter (... Click here to refresh your memory), particularly Peter Hancock's list of swimming songs, Toni Leeman's plea for advice on dealing with a frozen shoulder, and the merits of wetties. We publish the frozen shoulder advice below, but here we list the songs that others have suggested. Our fave is Swim, by the German band Reamonn, partly because we first heard it as a result of an oceanswimsafari to the Solomon Islands in 2003, and it evokes that trip. Check it out (above).

Here, we list others' suggestions, qualified by the stipulation that we had to be able to identify the song and the band/singer. Sadly, we didn't feel able to publish lyrics that could not be set into an accurate context.

I Believe in a Thing Call Love – The Darkness (“129 bpm so technically perfect for swimming”) (suggested by Tony Midolo)
Nightswimming – REM (Tim Carson, Matt Starr, Neil Harrison, et al)
Where is My Mind – The Pixies (Anne Henshaw)
Wave of Mutilation – The Pixies (Anne Henshaw)
Jaws – Soundtrack (Peter Hancock - might have been a joke)
In Too Deep – Sum 41 (Tim Carson)
Jump in the Pool – Friendly Fires (Tim Carson)
Swim – Kate Bush (Tony Midolo)
Swim – Fishbone (Tony Midolo)
Swim – Jack’s Mannequin (Tony Midolo)
The Air that I Breathe – k d lang (Tony Midolo)
Breathe (Kylie Minogue (Ken Thorley)
Swim Until You Can’t See Land – Frightened Rabbit (John Sheely)
Disco Boy – Shantel (David Berenbaum)

Wetting his pants

From David Fielding...

Maybe a different view about wetsuits

You did a fantastic issue about skin cancer recently- really great stuff. I thought one would lead to the other - I actually thought the wettie article was a natural progression as a potential Protection from skin cancer

We all hate putting on sunscreen - yes you need some on your face but after an hour out there all the sunscreen has washed off your body right? People swimming every day clock up quite a few sun hours including in the local pool - not the pre-dawn brigade obviously.

So my take is to feel a lot more love for the wettie - it's a great weight Loss tool as well - you only have one size and you don't want your friends laughing at you while you try grimly to get the zip to ride up over those bulges with 2 minutes before the start

Piddler

From Bernard McClement

I thought I'd respond to your recent comments about wettists. I know that the masses have already cried out, but in this day of social medias and internets, we're all led to believe we have something important to say - no matter how trite or inane.

Forgive me Father for I have sinned... I am a wettist. I'll probably always be a wettist, for all of the reasons you mention in your newsletter. I am a triathlete, and for some reason, some bugger decided that there must be three disciplines in triathlon. And that one of those should involve venturing into the Deep.

I am not a natural swimmer - I did not enjoy the carefree Aussie youth of sunshine and surf clubs. (I grew up in Africa where the water contains a whole host of sharp-toothed bitey things, and no-one could afford fancy olympic-type swimming pools). I only took to the sport in my early 40s, so my progress in the water is more inebriated hippo than lythe dolphin. My 68kg, 178cm frame sports a tangle of well-developed bones and sinews, and a ribcage that you can play a xylophone on. I get cold within 30 minutes of frolicking in a heated pool, let alone the frigid ocean. I have no natural, built-in buoyancy either, and gaze with envy upon the fine and ample figures of my fellow ocean swimmers.

So I wear a wetsuit when I venture out into the ocean. It's quite hard to drown in one. And I stay warm, especially after the pre-swim piddle (that should give you budgie-bearers reason enough to give me some room in the froth!).

There is no doubt that swimming in a suit is faster than going naked. It's not a level playing field. But I care nothing for podiums and prizes - I agree unreservedly that we wettists shouldn't be competing for the same rewards (in fact I'm happy for there to be no rewards, but then I have many other things in life that make me feel special). I turn up at my local (Newy) Ocean Swims for two reasons: the first is that I like to support the People Who Stop Other People from Drowning - the SLSCs; the 2nd is that it is an opportunity for me to swim in an organised, relatively safe event, usually in some spectacular location. You see, I really don't like swimming in a pool - I have to convince myself to get out of bed and get down there every time I need to do a training session. But I love open water. Despite my relative incompetence and sluggish progress, I love being out in the ocean. I'd do every session out there if I could do it safely.

I think it comes down to whether you want the sport to be inclusive, or exclusive. In my day job, I heal the sick. And there is no doubt that the sick are getting bigger and bigger every year. We're an ailing, increasingly sedentary society, and it's getting steadily worse. We desperately need things that inspire people to get up off the couch and get active. And if wearing a wetsuit or donning goggles, fins and a snorkel tips the balance and encourages one more person to get out in the ocean, that has to be a win. And maybe one day they'll feel confident enough to head out in nothing but budgies, but really, what matter is that they're out there swimming instead of scoffing.

Incidentally, I swam at Caves Beach in the Commotion In The Ocean a couple of years ago. In my wetsuit, of course. At the end, I smiled and thanked the organisers, and went on my way. A couple of weeks later, I decided to give the patio furniture a clean, and discovered a little prize pack from the Cave's Beach SLSC hiding under one of the cushions. Turns out, I had come 2nd in the BoP group. I didn't expect a prize, and it wouldn't have affected my decision to swim either way, but I flaunt that towel with pride! I hear an awed hush from the laydees every time I flourish it down at the pool. I think the girl that came first had flippers and goggles - someone should ban those things.

I hope you return it, Bernard: Back of the Packers should not get prizes: how can one validly compare someone in a wettie with fins, someone with a pull-buoy, someone with a front snorkel, or someone just lolling along in a relaxed fashion seeking only to be out of the crush? It's terrific that Back of the Pack divisions make swims more accessible to swimmers, but let's not kid ourselves that they are competitive categories. And we don't say no-one should wear a wettie. We reckon they should be in a category of their own, because the wettie gives one artificial support: os.c

A night at the James Squire Brewery...

End of season means it's time for our annual knees-up at the Malt Shovel Brewery, home of James Squire beers, hosted by our fave swimming brewer, Chuck Hahn.

Date is Wednesday, June 7, 6-8pm. Entry is free. You can book up to two tickets per booking but we need names of all those included in bookings.

Maximum 50 people, so get in now. We have some bookings already. Don't just assume that because you've said to us vaguely, "Oh, i might come along... If I have nothing else on", that we're going to hold you a ticket or two. Only those who submit bookings receive tickets. Once hyou've submitted your booking, just turn up.

More info and to book... Click here

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Early morning swim. If you'd like to follow our #EarlyMorningSwim pics, follow us on Twitter (@oceanswims) and Instagram (oceanswimsdotcom)

Dealing with frozen shoulder

We got some very constructive feedback from swimmers about how to deal with "frozen shoulder". Here is a selection...

Give it a rest

I don't know if it was frozen shoulder but what I had sure was painful.

I am not one to go to doctors and physios and a friend of mine said even if you do go for treatment it will only rectify itself over time... So that's what I gave it and 4 to 5 months later it was fine.

That was 6 months ago and still no reccurrance with paddling or swimming almost every day.

Another friend recommended acupuncture. The acupuncturist was on holiday the day I went to see him and I never got back. Next time... if there is a next time... I think I will head to the acupuncturist.

My advice is, give it rest.

Peter

The Shoulder Guy

There's a physiotherapist in Brisbane literally called "The Shoulder Guy" AKA Luke VanEvery. Just Google him.

My surgeon referred me to him (happy to provide surgeon's name and contact details if needed). He's bloody brilliant. I was very close to surgery and he gave me Luke's details as a last resort or to discuss rehab after surgery.

Six years on no surgery needed and daily swims about 3km.

This guy changed my life. Everything he taught me was the opposite of advice from other allied health professionals.

He tailored exercises specifically to me and provides them in diagram, audio and video format. He made sure everything we did was about getting back in the water swimming and then being able to continue swimming.

I haven't been back for about five years as I have no need. He's too good at his job.

In all, serious physios are worth their weight.

Kate Sangha

Capsulitis

Truth is, there is no proven effective treatment for adhesive capsulitis. They usually run their course between 1 and 2 years after onset. With or without treatment.

Best to just accept you'll probably be out for a year.

Mark Larsen

Kayaking

Ok - Frozen shoulder, yes this was my experience.

It was 8 years ago; I'm now 58 and back to regular swimming and kayaking.

I remember that summer morning kayaking on Middle Harbour; my mates took off home - it was catch me if you can. Well in the end I didn't catch them but was left with a shoulder strain that didn't heal. I couldn't raise the arm above my shoulder.

Its only after you can't do something that you realise how much you miss it. All swimming including ocean swims was out but I could at least swing a golf club.

The shoulder specialist said it was Frozen Shoulder and he could give me a few shots of Corticosteroid to relieve symptoms, which I declined.

Apart from that, there're not sure how to fix it and it's a matter of sitting it out to let nature do it's job. It took more than a year and was relieved to be able to get back to my normal exercise routines.

You just need patience

Tim Hart

PRP

Just read your wonderful newsletter and noticed the request for a miracle worker for Toni Leeman. If Toni is Sydney based then l can highly recommend Dr Phillip Lim, a muscular skeletal specialist, who has kept me, dare l say operational, year on year, even after spinal surgery, for 10 plus years. Dr Lim specialises in pain relief and PRP (Platelet enriched plasma), which for my money works a treat. Dr Lim fixed my left shoulder last year and I will be checking in once again this year on my Sydney stop over for my regular overhaul.

Kirk Robinson

There is hope

See Dr Ed Bateman in Gosford. Not even a twinge after he operated on my shoulder. Rehab with his preferred physio. Come back very slowly looking at the future big picture. Where there is life, there is hope!

Peter Nickless

Works for me

Not sure if this comment will help Toni but here goes.. Sorry I can't really recommend a practitioner as most of what I did was from my own research plus paying a personal trainer to put together some gym programs + provide motivation.

In my opinion, GPs and general physios are a bit cautious, so I prefer to use sports physios and doctors instead, preferably ones that work with professional sports teams. That has worked for both my shoulder, and running injuries like shin splints and knee pain.

Background - F48 keyboard warrior. I was a club swimmer as a kid and as an adult did laps purely for fitness, until at age 39 I got frozen shoulder and experienced all the classic symptoms. Had strong pain while it froze up then after the pain eased the shoulder stayed frozen for a few months. I had one (cortisone?) injection into the shoulder at about 4 months which had no effect. My GP sent me to a chiro, who performed weekly extremely painful massages on my shoulder and upper arm, also with no noticeable effect except lightening my wallet.

I had a second ultrasound-guided steroid injection right into the centre of the shoulder capsule at about 6 months, and within 2 days it started to loosen up quickly. This could have been coincidental, as frozen shoulder usually releases itself eventually.

As you can imagine during that six months I got plump and unfit. So once I could move my left arm just a little a little I joined a gym, hired a personal trainer and set myself the "ridiculous" goal of doing an unassisted chinup, something I had never done since age 10. Gotta love power to weight ratios of little kids, but I digress...

The one good thing the chiro did was give me a bunch of rotator cuff exercises. You are probably doing them already, but the most effective for me by far was a rotator cuff stretch with a broom handle.

DISCLAIMER this is not advice, this is just what I did and it worked for me. And it will depend on where you are at with range of motion too.

The best googled example I could find of this stretch is here http://stretchcoach.com/articles/rotator-cuff-injury/ but you have to be careful and not push it too hard.

The doorway stretch is pretty good but doing it one side at a time as shown here (see Subscapularis & Pectoral Stretch)  actually worked better.

I pushed all of these stretches to the point of mild to moderate pain (see DISCLAIMER!).

Also did a bunch of resistance band exercises, and heavy, brute force strength work with dumbbells and barbells, eg. bench press, to rebuild strength and importantly confidence.

Now a frozen shoulder apparently will never regain the full range of motion but mine got pretty close, plus I managed to get a chinup to boot 2-3 months after starting at the gym. Then got back into the pool as soon as I felt I could freestyle without too much restriction. That was about 4 years before taking leave of my senses and signing up for an ocean swim.

7 years on, I still religiously do the broomstick and doorway stretches, and 'shoulder dislocates' (BIG DISCLAIMER HERE "Not a recommendation but it works for me") before doing any upper body exercise. I still do bench press and chinups, and spend way too much time commuting to ocean swimming events.

Sonia

Earlier entry close for South Head

If you're planning on doing South Head on Sundee week, then be aware that the closing time for entries is noon on Friday, May 19.

Also, available t-shirt sizes are S through XXL. Sizes XS and XXXL have been dropped.

More info and to enter... Click here

Heron Island booking now

heron great barrier reef swim photopia 1611 04
Heron Island... Note the water... We're giving away a room upgrade each month to the winner of our photo comp. All you have to do is send us your pics (they must be yours to submit, ie someone else won't feel aggrieved at a breach of copyright) of swimming. Initially, we said the pics had to be of coral reef swimming, but we've decided to broaden the criteria so that as many punters as possible can submit images. It doesn't have to be the reef at Heron Island, or even a coral reef, or even necessarily ocean swimming, although ocean swimming images naturally will attract our attention. Just swimming. There's a prize each month of a room upgrade at this year's Great Barrier Reef Swim. Please ensure the pics are a reasonable size to allow us to fiddle with them for internet publication. Each month's competition will close on the last day of each month. When you submit your pics, tell us who took them (preferably you), where and when. To submit your pics... Click here

This year's dates for Heron Island are Saturday to Wednesday, November 4-8. It means your stay includes Melbourne Cup Day. That will be the day of the 2.8km swim around Heron Island, followed by a slap up awards dinner and party.

Heron Island Resort operators block the resort for the period of the swim. It's dedicated entirely to us. That means you get to hang out only with ocean swimmers and their towel carriers. For four days. Can you imagine the joy of being able to talk nothing but ocean swimming for four days? No, we can't, either. But it's a lot of fun, swimming daily in perhaps the world's best water. It's not for nothing that David Attenborough chose Heron Island as the location for most of his pieces to camera in his Great Barrier Reef series on the telly last year.

You'll be joined by lots of turtles, nesting, reef sharks, big rays, the odd very large grouper, and lots of other sea life. It is the most magical swimming place. The program includes two swim events, 1km (around the wreck in the Heron Island harbour) and 2.8km (around Heron Island), a course tour and swim back, and swim clinics with Olympian and topline swim coach, Graeme Brewer, one a dry land session and the other in the water.

Ask about the special rates for nights before and after the swim period. Why not head to Heron Island a few days early? Or stay a few days longer? Or both...?

In the meantime, get in quick and book your spot now. The main rooms last year went very quickly indeed.

When you click the link below, you'll go to a link to book directly with the resort. When you get to that page, check the pricing info, then use the email or phone numbers provided to book. Don't use the Book Now button.

For more information and to book... Click here

Mana Fiji SwimFest

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Ocean Swimming Stadium, Mana Island

Extend yourself at Mana Island

There is a move towards longer distances. After many swims at the 1km and 2km distances, swimmers are looking for something more testing, perhaps building up to a real ocean challenge, say South Head (10km) or Rottnest (19km).

The stepping stone appears to be 5km then 10km. A successful 10km swim within time limits, from November, also means qualification for Rottnest in February.

But where to find the swims?

This is why the Mana Fiji SwimFest is attracting swimmers seeking more distance. Mana offers two days of swimming, two days apart (so, time for a rest between swim days). On Thursday, have a go at the 10km swim in some of the most beautiful, comfortable ocean swimming waters in the world. You can do this swim either as a solo or as part of a 3-swimmer relay, each swimming c. 3+kms.

Then two days later, on the Sat'dee, you can have a go at 5km or 3km, and/or 1km.

Mana's dates this year are October 24-29. While this falls prior to November, Rottnest awgies over the past few years have allowed their 10km swim to be taken as a qualifier because it is so close, and provided the qualifier keeps a training diary to show that they have kept up their swimming over the period to February.

Mana Island offers a special ocean swimming experience. We call the water off Mana's North Beach, Ocean Swimming Stadium, because it is such a good, natural venue for this kind of swimming. And over stunningly beautiful reef, too. Can you imagine the joy of spending five days with no-one but ocean swimmers?

Come with us... More info and to book... Click here

Mirrored Selenes available again, again

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We had such an enormous response to our Xmas Special featuring the new mirrored Selene goggles that they sold out very quickly. It seems the people at View had been able to obtain only a few of them, and we sold them for them very quickly. But now, more have just arrived from Japan. We have (reasonably) good stocks of the Mirrored Selenes in all three available colours.

view selene mirror 06The Selene is Mrs Sparkle’s fave goggle, the most comfortable gog you will ever wear, and the best all-round gog we’ve ever come across (and we’ve worn a few gogs in our time): it’s made with a soft, wide, silicone seal that doesn’t leave rocky-raccoon marks around your eyes, and it offers a wide field of view and a low profile.

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

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

The Mirrored Selens are $40 + p/h. Get in now!

Order yours... Click here

New os.c cossie sizes available now

bs cossies both bothGood news for medium-sized punters frustrated that we'd sold out of some sizes of our oceanswims cossies: we've been able to obtain more stock in all sizes from our cobbers at budgysmuggler.com.au.

And all sizes are still on special! 10% off as the season winds down - Laydees' sizes for $A76.50, Men's for $A49.50.

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

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

We love them. And you can buy them now on special while stocks last... Click here

Controversy Corner...

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

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

We call our feedback section Controversy Corner in memory of the late Rex Mossop, a pioneer in the art of sporting debate, who blazed the way for Roy and Haitch-G, Bruce McAvaney 'n all. Rex had Controversy Corner on his Sundee morning footy show on the telly. It was formative in our upbringing.

New oceanswimsafaris planned in 2018

We have a couple of surprises in store for our oceanswimsafarists in 2018. A couple of new oceanswimsafaris. More info coming soon, but in the meantime, these are our 2017 oceanswimsafaris...

Seven of them already are SOLD OUT. If you're interested, get in quick and smart. We have spaces left only for Fiji (Yasawas and Mana Fiji SwimFest) in October, and for Heron Island in November...

  • Vanuatu - Port Vila (May 24-29)
  • Vanuatu - Santo (May 29-June 3)
  • Sulawesi (Indonesia, June 11-19) - Sold out!
  • Yasawas Fiji - Swim with Manta rays (July 16-23) - Sold out!
  • Tonga 1 - Swim with Whales 1 (July 25-Aug 2) - Sold out!
  • Tonga 2 - Swim with Whales 2 (Aug 1-9) - Sold out!
  • Tonga 3 - Swim with Whales 3 (Aug 8-16) - Sold out!
  • San Sebastián (Spain, Aug 23-29) - Sold out!
  • Costa Brava (Spain, Aug 31-Sep 8) - Sold out!
  • Yasawas Fiji (Oct 16-23)
  • Mana Fiji (Oct 24-29)
  • Heron Island (Nov 4-8) - Bookings open now

Swims open to online entry...

New entries here... Nil

In the works... Mona Vale Solstice (June 18)

Sorry for being late

Sorry, sorry for being late, Angus. We had connectivity issues this week, which led us to miss our normal deadline of Wensdee for our weekly newsletter. So here it is now.

As winter approaches, we won't publish every week, but generally monthly with more as we find we have something to report or just to say, or if there's a particular event coming up. Perhaps you need a rest from us anyway.

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May 3, 2017

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How good was the water last Sundee from South Curly to Freshwater! Autumn swimming at its best.

Swims this weekend...

Music to evoke your swimming by

A few years back, we met Hugh Ealey, who was part of a band who had recorded a song about a life experience with swimming at its heart. Swimming By, by the Jumping Jacks, was about Hugh running into an old girlfriend mid-way through The Big Swim, from Palm Beach to Whale Beach. Sean Parker set it against a backdrop of the Byron Bay swim.

Now, Peter Hancock explores an anthology of music relating to swimming... Music to set your rhythm and evoke a mood, memories, sentiments...

(This appeared first on the website of the outdoorswimmingsociety.)

I recently came across an old TDK tape of swimming songs. It brought back memories of many swimming adventures I had in the 1990s and early 2000s. The only problem was that I no longer have a functioning cassette player to listen to the songs.

With the aid of the penciled song list inside the case, I created the modern equivalent of my swimming mixed tape: a Spotify playlist. What’s more, I updated the list to include songs released since the days when highways were strewn with black ribbons of magnetic tape.

Here is the list of songs, with a little description of what they’re about or what they mean to me.

1. Deeper Water – Paul Kelly

kelly paul greatest hitsOn a crowded beach in a distant time
At the height of summer; see a boy of five
At the water’s edge so nimble and free
Jumping over the ripples, looking way out to sea

Paul Kelly doesn’t know me from the next man, but every time I hear this song, I feel as though it was written about me. In fact, the song could be about any number of us sons-become-fathers. It’s brilliant.

For me, the crowded beach is Maroochydore, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, and the distant time the summer of 1980. The clock turns, through joy and tragedy, to a new child that was first my daughter, then my two sons.

This is a powerful song, incredibly relatable to many Australian lives, and a perfectly crafted circle-of-life song from Australia’s best singer/songwriter.

2. Moonlight Drive – The Doors

Let’s swim to the moon,
Let’s climb through the tide
Surrender to the waiting worlds
That lap against our side

The Doors formed at Venice Beach in California, so it’s fitting that their first recorded song tells the story of a nighttime swim. The band has a way of building excitement through their songs, and Jim Morrison’s delivery brings out some of the tensions, fears, and excitement of swimming in a moonlit ocean.

3. The Swimming Song – Loudon Wainwright III

This summer I swam in a public place
And a reservoir, to boot,
At the latter I was informal,
At the former I wore my suit,
I wore my swimming suit.

Roger Deakin liked this song for its portrayal of the carefree swimming fool who cares not for speed or competition, but revels in swimming in all its diversity.

wainwright loudon swimming

4. Aqua Profunda- Courtney Barnett

I saw you in the lane next to me
You were doing freestyle, then you switched it around
To a little bit of backstroke
I couldn’t see underneath
Your swimming cap, but it appeared that you had
Dark colored hair, maybe it was blonde for all I know
I had goggles on
They were getting foggy
I much prefer swimming to jogging

A swimmer notices another at the local pool and tries to impress. We’ve all been there, and can all appreciate the subtle fumbles that get made when the swimming pool becomes an arena for courting.

5. Waterfalls – TLC

Don’t go chasing waterfalls.
Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to.
I know that you’re gonna have it your way or nothing at all,
But I think you’re moving too fast
.

Some places are dangerous for swimming – none more so than waterfalls, with their cliffs, shallow areas of bedrock, and strong currents. This song is a warning for swimmers not to be lured by the scenic beauty of waterfalls, because behind the rainbow spray of mist, and the curtain of water, lurk perils and danger.

presley elvis moonlight swim6. Moonlight Swim – Elvis Presley

Let’s go on a moonlight swim
Far away from the crowd
All alone upon the beach
Our lips and our arms
Close within each other’s reach
Will be, on a moonlight swim

Another song about night swimming, this Presley tune is delivered in a more bouncy and fun tone than the previous Moonlight Drive. I heard it first in the 1980s, when Elvis movies played on TV every Saturday afternoon. It’s from Elvis’ Blue Hawaii movie, and portrays the romance of swimming at night with someone you love.

7. Santa Monica – Everclear

We can live beside the ocean
Leave the fire behind
Swim out past the breakers
Watch the world die

When Everclear lead singer Art Alexakis was a teenager, his girlfriend tragically committed suicide. Soon afterwards, Alexakis also attempted suicide by leaping off the historical Santa Monica Pier. This song is a wistful account of the two coming back together and living beside the ocean.

8. Chattahoochee – Alan Jackson

Yeah way down yonder on the Chattahoochee
Never knew how much that muddy water meant to me
But I learned how to swim and I learned who I was
A lot about livin’ and a little ’bout love

Rivers and dams are the centre of recreation for many country teenagers. That’s what this song’s about. The scenes are as valid in the inland towns of Australia as they are in America. For me the Chattahoochie could just as easily be the Bogan, Murray, or Bellinger Rivers – places where some of the formative stages of life unfold.

rogers maggie9. Alaska- Maggie Rogers

I was walking through icy streams
That took my breath away
Moving slowly through westward water
Over glacial plains

Maggie Rogers’ songs are strongly influenced by the outdoors, and although not specifically about swimming, they contain scenes or feelings that outdoor swimmers will connect to. As well as Alaska, check out the film clip for Dog Years, which captures the essence of this young singers work.

10. Twisting By The Pool - Dire Straits

Yeah, gonna be so neat
Dance to the Euro beat
Yeah, gonna be so cool
Twisting by the, we’re twisting by the
By the pool

Pool parties. There’s more dancing than swimming in this song, and it’s beside the pool rather than in it. But I’m sure everyone would have ended up in the pool by the end of the night.

hancock peter sunshine coast
Peter Hancock creating memories on the Sunshine Coast, 1980, with his dad and brother.

For the complete Spotify Playlist titled ‘Songs for Outdoor Swimmers’ please click here.

The playlist contains songs about swimming, rivers, lakes, beaches, lazy summer days, and the many essences of outdoor swimming. Look it up, take a listen, and let me know what you think.

Recap ReCap

recap graph

Not content with owning all of Sydney's real estate, and having literally all Australia's political power, Baby Boomers and Generation X have proven themselves to be the best recyclers of swimming caps in Sydney.

With the Sydney ocean swimming season approaching its end, I'm going to put out some stats from this season's cap collection. And first up is the break down of cap returns.

Overall, of the 5805 caps handed out at the swims I attended, 2420 were donated back. At 42%, this is significantly more than I expected to get. If we separate out the Northern Beaches swims from the Eastern Suburbs swims, the East comes out clearly ahead (1517 out of 3459 at 44% vs. 903 out of 2346 at 38%). In the East, the 50-59 year olds of the late Baby Boomers dominated, whilst in the North, the 60+ older Baby Boomers were the best cap returners. However, when we look at the whole picture across Sydney, it is the 40-49 year old Generation Xers who have taken out the inaugural Recap Return Reward. I will present it to a duly nominated representative of this cohort in due course.

So, why are the results the way they are? I have a theory or two. At some swims, I had help collecting the caps, but mostly, it was just me and a bin. And I noticed that swimmers were more inclined to throw their caps in the recycling bin when I was there holding a sign drawing their attention to it. But I was only there after I finished my own swim. In most swims, the youngest swimmers and the elite went off in the first waves, and the oldest in the last, hence typically more of the older generations saw me at the bin.

This was, of course, not always true. And I have a few other theories - it will be interesting to see if this pattern repeats itself next year. Having an announcer plug Recap really helped too.

I figured this out by counting the cap colours, which usually represented an age range, then by looking at the results to determine how many people of each age competed, and then doing some stats. I'll put out some more stats over the coming weeks when I've collated all the donated caps - the stats in this post are only those collected from the swims I did, and don't include those brought in from home or otherwise donated.

More info, see our Facebook page... Click here

Marc West

frozen shoulder

Plea from a sufferer...

We received this week an email from ocean swimmer Toni Leeman...

Still love reading your newsletter, though it has been a very long time between swims for me.

I have spent 2016 with a frozen shoulder, and am dutifully working through physio exercises/rehab so far this year.

I was wondering if you know of other swimmers who have made a successful and sustained return to swimming after shoulder injuries, and if so, if there are some recommendations out there for swimmer-friendly physio/rehab trainers/body healers (honestly - am at the point where I'll try almost anything).

Is there a spot on your blog/ website where I could post this as a request for assistance/tips/comment?

If you have experience or advice that could help, let us know. There are plenty of swimmers who suffer from this condition... Click here

Winner! Room upgrade at Heron Island

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Heron Island... Note the water... The winner of our first inaugural Great Barrier Reef Swim Photo Comp is so evocative of coral island swimming that we hardly need to change the caption on pics we've carried here previously. Ths image was submitted by Sharon Gray from last year's Great Barrier Reef Swim. Sharon wins a room upgrade at this year's Great Barrier Reef Swim (Nov 4-8). The image articulates what it's like to swim on a coral reef island, which is very different to swimming by islands inside a reef, such as... oooh, the Whitsundays, say. The water is clear; the colours deep; the sea life prolific. We're giving away a room upgrade each month to the winner of our photo comp. All you have to do is send us your pics (they must be yours to submit, ie someone else won't feel aggrieved at a breach of copyright) of swimming. Initially, we said the pics had to be of coral reef swimming, but we've decided to broaden out the criteria so that as many punters as possible feel they can submit their images. It doesn't have to be the reef at Heron Island, or even a coral reef, or even necessarily ocean swimming, although ocean swimming images naturally will attract our attention. Just swimming. There's a prize each month of a room upgrade.

Each month, we'll pick a winner of a room upgrade at this year's swim. Please ensure the pics are a reasonable size to allow us to fiddle with them for internet publication. Each month's competition will close on the last day of each month. When you submit your pics, tell us who took them (preferably you), where and when. To submit your pics... Click here

This year's dates for Heron Island are a little different from previous years: Saturday to Wednesday. It means your stay includes Melbourne Cup Day. That will be the day of the 2.8km swim around Heron Island, to be followed by a slap up awards dinner and party.

Heron Island Resort operators block the resort for the period of the swim. It's dedicated entirely to us. That means you get to hang out only with ocean swimmers and their towel carriers. For four days. Can you imagine the joy of being able to talk nothing but ocean swimming for four days? No, we can't, either. But it's a lot of fun, swimming daily in perhaps the world's best water. It's not for nothing that David Attenborough chose Heron Island as the location for most of his pieces to camera in his Great Barrier Reef series on the telly last year.

You'll be joined by lots of turtles, nesting, reef sharks, big rays, the odd very large grouper, and lots of other sea life. It is the most magical swimming place. The program includes two swim events, 1km (around the wreck in the Heron Island harbour) and 2.8km (around Heron Island), a course tour and swim back, and swim clinics with Olympian and topline swim coach, Graeme Brewer, one a dry land session and the other in the water.

Ask about the special rates for nights before and after the swim period. Why not head to Heron Island a few days early? Or stay a few days longer? Or both...?

In the meantime, get in quick and book your spot now. The main rooms last year went very quickly indeed.

When you click the link below, you'll go to a link to book directly with the resort. When you get to that page, check the pricing info, then use the email or phone numbers provided to book. Don't use the Book Now button.

For more information and to book... Click here

Mana Fiji SwimFest

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Ocean Swimming Stadium, Mana Island

Extend yourself at Mana Island

There is a move towards longer distances. After many swims at the 1km and 2km distances, swimmers are looking for something more testing, perhaps building up to a real ocean challenge, say South Head (10km) or Rottnest (19km).

The stepping stone appears to be 5km then 10km. A successful 10km swim within time limits, from November, also means qualification for Rottnest in February.

But where to find the swims?

This is why the Mana Fiji SwimFest is attracting swimmers seeking more distance. Mana offers two days of swimming, two days apart (so, time for a rest between swim days). On Thursday, have a go at the 10km swim in some of the most beautiful, comfortable ocean swimming waters in the world. You can do this swim either as a solo or as part of a 3-swimmer relay, each swimming c. 3+kms.

Then two days later, on the Sat'dee, you can have a go at 5km or 3km, and/or 1km.

Mana's dates this year are October 24-29. While this falls prior to November, Rottnest awgies over the past few years have allowed their 10km swim to be taken as a qualifier because it is so close, and provided the qualifier keeps a training diary to show that they have kept up their swimming over the period to February.

Mana Island offers a special ocean swimming experience. We call the water off Mana's North Beach, Ocean Swimming Stadium, because it is such a good, natural venue for this kind of swimming. And over stunningly beautiful reef, too. Can you imagine the joy of spending five days with no-one but ocean swimmers?

Come with us... More info and to book... Click here

Swims this weekend

Challenge for a warrior

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An unusual event this weekend in Sydney: the Chieftain's Challenge is a run-swim-run from Mona Vale's Bongin Bongin Bay to Warriewood, consisting of a series of soft sand runs and swims. It's all along the beach, which means you don't need shoes, if you like. Last year's first inaugural event was run on a magnificent day on the beach and in the water, and it showed how good an event like this can be at this time of year. Here's hoping for similar weather this year.

The Chieftain's Challenge is a Sat'dee afternoon event, too, so you can get your kids' sport done, and the shopping, and still have plenty of time to get to Mona Vale to the start. Enter online here or at Bongin Bongin Bay on event day.

Online entries close on oceanswims.com at 4pm on Friday, May 5.

More info and to enter online... Click here

Byron entries close early

Byron Bay is on this weekend, too. Be aware, if you're planning to travel to the Bay for this swim, that there will be no entries accepted over the weekend -- either on Sat'dee or on swim day, Sunday -- so you must enter online (by midnight Friday) or at the Byron Bay surf club from 3-5pm.

Nine Mile off

Minutes after we sent last week's newsletter to you -- literally, minutes, like, three -- we learnt of the postponement of the Nine Mile Classic from last Saturday. Organisers said in a statement...

The Nine Mile Ocean Classic to be held Saturday 29 April 2017 at Blacksmiths Beach has been postponed. The ocean swim committee along with the club executive have considered the risks associated with coordinating the event with recent marine life activity within Swansea Channel and strong believe that in the interest of public safety it is better to delay the event.
The swim will be held later in 2017 on a date to be advised from the Ocean Swim Committee.
Club President Graham Burge conveyed, “The club decided to take the necessary precautions due to recent marine activity in Swansea Channel along with the pending mullet run season. As lifesavers we are committed to maintaining a safe environment for the public, with the safety of our competitors and water personnel being of utmost importance. We would like to thank our sponsors and supporters of our swim.”
Further information can be obtained at www.oceanswims.com or www.swanseabelmont.com
For further enquires please contact Anthea Stephens 0417 517276 or Graham Burge 0408 216517.

All entries roll over to the postponement date, which organisers have still to determine.
 
Alternatively, if you would prefer to withdraw from the event, until next Friday, May 5, refunds are available subject to a $10 administration fee.

To request a refund... Click here

Mirrored Selenes available again, again

view selene mirror 03

We had such an enormous response to our Xmas Special featuring the new mirrored Selene goggles that they sold out very quickly. It seems the people at View had been able to obtain only a few of them, and we sold them for them very quickly. But now, more have just arrived from Japan. We have (reasonably) good stocks of the Mirrored Selenes in all three available colours.

view selene mirror 06The Selene is Mrs Sparkle’s fave goggle, the most comfortable gog you will ever wear, and the best all-round gog we’ve ever come across (and we’ve worn a few gogs in our time): it’s made with a soft, wide, silicone seal that doesn’t leave rocky-raccoon marks around your eyes, and it offers a wide field of view and a low profile.

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

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

The Mirrored Selens are $40 + p/h. Get in now!

Order yours... Click here

Voldemort must find a new home

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This is an unabashed ad to sell our car: it's a VW Jetta from 2009, and after near faultless performance over that period, we've renewed our personal transport. Voldemort is a 2l TDi, and has been through the VW diesel recall upgrade. As a turbo, it's very sprightly, very comfy, plenty of room inside, and an enormous boot. Exterior and interior are near flawless (we've looked after our motor). 115,000km, rego till 11/17, seeking c. $9,500. Interested? Give us a yell... Click here... Or check carsales.com.au

Great news for punters of all shapes and sizes

New os.c cossie sizes available now

bs cossies both bothGood news for medium-sized punters frustrated that we'd sold out of some sizes of our oceanswims cossies: we've been able to obtain more stock in all sizes from our cobbers at budgysmuggler.com.au.

And all sizes are still on special! 10% off as the season winds down - Laydees' sizes for $A76.50, Men's for $A49.50.

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

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

We love them. And you can buy them now on special while stocks last... Click here

Controversy Corner...

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

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

We call our feedback section Controversy Corner in memory of the late Rex Mossop, a pioneer in the art of sporting debate, who blazed the way for Roy and Haitch-G, Bruce McAvaney 'n all. Rex had Controversy Corner on his Sundee morning footy show on the telly. It was formative in our upbringing.

Exclusive benefits in our Vanuatu packages

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Champagne Beach, Santo... We'll swim in these waters in June.

Many of our oceanswimsafaris in 2017 are booked out, but you still can come with us on other oceanswimsafaris over the coming winter.

Our Vanuatu oceanswimsafari is different in 2017. Port Vila is a five-day package from Wednesday, May 24-Monday, May 29, with Santo running from Monday through Friday, June 2.

The organisers of the 3.2km Port Vila swim (this year on Saturday, May 27), now the Port Vila MasterBathers, have returned to the swim's original Port Vila Harbour home at the old Rossi Restaurant now once more named the Rossi following a recent change of ownership, as swim HQ (the inaugural original home was when the swim was an informal event in Port Vila's Second Lagoon, but no-one really wants to swim there these days). Around the swim, we have arranged a series of events to offer you a five-day stay in Port Vila with swimming, dining, exploring and lazing about.

Your Port Vila package with oceanswimsafaris.com/oceanswims.com includes benefits and activities that you can't get elsewhere.

On Monday, May 29, we're heading up to Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu's "Adventure Island", for a four night/five day oceanswimsafari which this year features the trial of a new swim course past the famed Champagne Beach. We've swum most of this course many times in the past between Lonnoc Bay and Champagne Beach, both ways, but this time we're heading between Lonnoc, around the reef and Timmy's Place, farther along the shoreline. It makes it a slightly longer swim and a much more diverse swim of around 2.5km.

We've also included other local excursions on the beautiful island of Aore, and local swimmers are running the traditional Espiritu Santo Aore Swim from Luganville across the channel to Aore Island Resort, all of which will be available to oceanswimsafarists who come with us to Santo.

More info and to book... Click here

Our oceanswimsafaris in 2017

We've had tremendous interest in our oceanswimsafaris in 2017, so much so that five of them already are SOLD OUT, and one more (Spain's Costa Brava) has just a couple of places left. If you're interested, get in quick and smart.

Swims open to online entry...

New entries here... Nil

In the works... Not right now, but it's interesting that so many swims have got their acts together this early to open entries for next season.

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April 19, 2017

heron great barrier reef swim photopia 1611 14
More from Heron Island... Note the water: That's what you get on the Great Barrier Reef. It's different from swimming at a coastal beach, or even off an island inside a reef, the Whitsundays, say. The water is clear; the sea life prolific. It's what brings plenty of punters to Heron Island each year for The Great Barrier Reef Swim. This year, we're offering you a chance to win a room upgrade at Heron Island for the Great Barrier Reef Swim in November 2017. We'll give away a room upgrade each month. All you have to do is send us your pics (they must be yours, not someone else's) of swimming on a coral reef. It doesn't have to be the reef at Heron Island, or even Strãa's Great Barrier Reef. Just a coral reef somewhere, and your pic must demonstrate how beautiful is coral reef swimming. There's a prize each month of a room upgrade. See below for more details...

Swims this weekend...

Equality for newds and wettists?

We received two anguished emails this week. From a laydee –

"Hello. Just wondering if the rule in regard to wetsuits has changed as people seem to be wearing wetsuits and taking out the prizes. It happened at Terrigal, Toowoon bay and also Caves beach last year and there were cash prizes at Caves. I heard one of them tell people they can wear wetsuits now and still win prizes. Me and others don't do tris cos we can't afford all this fancy gear but what's the point in training for ocean swims and having to compete against people with aids? A man I know said his usual time for 1km is 20 mins but reckons is only 15 in a wetsuit! Huge. Pretty unfair and is putting some of us off."

Then, a day later, this email from a gentleman –

"I'm not against swimmers wearing a wetsuit but as they have a big advantage why do you give them prizes when these ocean swims/races are supposed to be non-wetsuit swims? I think it's unfair and it should be stopped!"

Two emails on the same, heartfelt subject, and less than a day apart. Perhaps it is a conspiracy.

But they go to an issue that is important, and highly relevant to the sense of satisfaction that ocean swimmers seek from completing a swim.

Over 10 years ago, we were chatting to the awgie of a swim who said to us, "I don't reckon wetties make any difference". We had been talking about his swim's practice of grouping wettie wearers and non-wettists (newds) in the same categories. This chap was not a swimmer, so we're not sure how he'd know. Our guess is that his informed opinion came from late nights at the bar.

Shortly after, we asked a highly-respected coach, an accomplished swimmer himself, what he thought of the supposed advantage that wetsuits offer swimmers. He said it was "up to 20 per cent". That is, wettists can derive, he reckoned, up to a 20 per cent speed advantage over newds.

This varies according to such factors as water conditions, technique, the thickness of the neoprene, and the individual's natural flotation, which affects how high they sit in the water as newds.

Unnatural

We don't know whether there is such a thing as a rating or measurement of an individual's flotation, but we would be interested to know whether there is and, if so, how to work it out. We do know, based on observation, that some swimmers float in the water better/higher than others, and the higher you float, the less the resistance through the water, and the faster you can swim with less effort. Thus, if you can sit higher in the water, you can swim faster with less effort than someone with roughly equivalent flotation.

That's one of the two points about wetties. First, they keep the swimmer warmer by insulating her/im from the water temperature (wetties allow a thin layer of water inside the suit, which is warmed by the body and in turn helps to keep the body warm). Second, the neoprene material from which wetties are made adds to the body's flotation. The thicker the wettie, the higher the flotation assistance, thus the higher the swimmer will sit in the water, thus the less effort required to get through the water at a given pace, thus the greater the speed possible at given effort.

The first is a legitimate reason for wearing a wettie, we believe. The second point is just a blatant attempt to gain unnatural advantage.

The bottom line is, wetties offer the swimmer an artificial advantage over newd swimmers.

We declare our interest: We despise wetties. We hate them. We would tax them out of existence if given the chance. We would ban them from ocean swimming, had we the capacity to do that. Maybe. But it's not our call.

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Don't forget to duck... Early morning swim at Forster.

Built-in

There are qualifications. We are lucky enough to swim generally in a region (NSW) where the water is pleasantly warm for much of the year, and not very cold for the rest of the year. Out behind the break at Main Beach Forster this morning, for example, Bellarine Greg, looking at his watch, reported that the water temp. was 23.6C. That's about as good as it gets over mid-late summer and throughout autumn. Over winter, the temp. will drop perhaps to 16C, which is cooler, but not particularly cold by any standards.

Another qualification is that we are also (un)lucky enough to have our wettie built-in, so we don't need a neoprene wettie to stay warm in most water in which we swim. Dolphy (Praise Dolphy!) gave us natural insulation. So we have the luxury of waxing sanctimonious about wetties, because we generally don't need them.

That said, we have swum the winter Pier to Pub at Lorne at 12C, thrice. That was a shock to us at first, but eminently doable in our naturally insulated, wettie-built-in state. And as soon as you swim, you start to generate body warmth that protects you to some extent from the cooler temps. Throughout those 12C swim at Lorne, we could tell it was cold, but it didn't bother us. Once on the beach, we stood chatting for 15 minutes before we started to feel the cold from the air temp. We marvelled at the time at all the skinny Victorians who rushed playfully into the water and gambolled in the break before setting out to swim. But they are used to it: these particularly skinny Victorians have years of experience at gambolling playfully in Port Phillip Bay in temps, we understand, of as low as 8C. In NSW, we generally don't get anywhere near as low as that.

Shivers and Shakers

In any case, we can proselytise about these things because we don't suffer as some punters do. As a result, we can campaign against wetties and we can look down our noses at wettists.

But there are arguments in support of wettie use.

Some punters feel the cold, and they seek protection over a much greater range of temps than we would ourselves consider reasonable. Laydees appear particularly prone to this, although we know some boofheads (eg the McCartney Bros, Shivers and Shakers) who also feel the cold more than others. The McCartneys carry no weight apart from their skin and bones, so they carry very little insulation at all. Our hearts go out to them, also our understanding.

We all know, too, that triaffaletes can't swim without wetties, so we can cop them wearing them in ocean swims because the alternative is a mass rescue requirement that most swim awgies could not cover. Also, they like to use ocean swims to practise for triathlons by building their experience in swimming in wetties. That's fair enough.

One of the beauties of ocean swimming is that it varies from place to place. Practice and habit vary as well as conditions. In Victoria, Tasmania, and New Zealand, for example, not to mention most places in Yrp, the practice is to wear wetties. We have seen a Frenchman donning two wetties in high summer on the Riviera. We don't believe that was just to stay warm. In NSW and Queensland, where we are tougher, the practice is that we don't: we swim newd. We've never swum in Tassie, so we can't express a view, but we have swum in Victoria and in NZ on several occasions, and our view is that most punters there don't need wetties, either, but they wear them because others wear them, and they fear that, if they don't wear wetties, then they will be at a disadvantage, which probably is true. But they would exist quite happily, perhaps more happily, as newds, and they could afford better restaurants.

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Some say ocean swimming, particularly in the early morns, is such a spiritual experience that it moves them to song.

Restraining the core

This goes to the argument, too, about hi-tech swimwear. We hate and despise fastskins, too. Even "jammers", which we're told by jammists helps them swim faster because it keeps their core in. The problem is that all these things cost money, often lots of money, so the contest becomes contaminated by income and spending rather than being one of natural ability. In our perfect world, everyone would wear just conventional cossies: budgys by boofheads and one- or two-pieces by laydees without the arms and legs. No neoprene or any hi-tech material that confers an artificial advantage. We would love to see ocean swimming, in its competitive, formal iteration, as a true contest as much as possible between humans, not technologies and fancy corporates. We should follow, informally, marathon swimming rules which allow our kinds of cossies and just gogs.

We say "informally" because we would not advocate being locked into anyone's rules, or into any rules at all. We prefer to encourage a culcha, with adherents embracing the values of that culcha, eg a culcha that frowns on drafting, which is out and out cheating, which no self-respecting ocean swimmer would practise or condone.

In truth, we don't mind anyone wearing a wettie in a swim, which is big of us. Indeed, it's not our place to have a view on this that carries any more weight than anyone else's. You are free to make up your own mind, which also is big of us.

That said, there is an issue at the heart of the two emails that we received over the past few days: if punters are free to wear what they wish in a swim, should they be grouped in the same categories? Should wettists be awarded prizes at the expense of the true ocean swimmers, newds? It's important not so much to establish a winner, but to allow swimmers to compare and rank themselves, to measure their progress and their performance. It's all part of the individual swimmer deriving satisfaction from getting up to their chosen caper. The point isn't to win: it's to allow one's individual performance to be measured validly.

We facilitate this from time to time with the Dezzie, a form of event results which calculates the ratio of an individual punter's time to the winner's time. Thus, the lower your Dezzie, the closer you swam to the winner's time, whoever that winner is from event to event. It allows you to measure your performance and your progress, or de-progress. (Dezzie is named for Deke Zimmerman, formerly Sydney's outstanding swimmer, who was known to his cobbers, for obvious reasons, as Dezzie. Deke now is in retirement from swimming.) You can't have a valid Dezzie if newds are grouped with wettists.

If an event groups newds and wettists together in age categories, or even as elitists, then the results are not fair or valid.

forster turtles 170403
Some say ocean swimming early each morn helps them face up to the vicissitudes that life throws at them each day.

Go figure

Some awgies recognise this, but some don't. We have never been able to fathom, for example, the reasoning behind one particular swim series in Queensland that groups wettists and newds together. In Queensland! It's a privately run series, so perhaps it's an attempt to attract triaffaletes, who won't swim unless they can wear their wetties. The result is that true ocean swimmers in Queensland, starved of swims because very few surf clubs will put them on, have little choice but to cop unfair categories if they wish to take part.

Neither have we ever been able to fathom the practice in the Bondi-Bronte swim in Sydney that allocates one of the three prizes in each age category to the fastest wetties. There might be a hundred newds and one wettist, and the wettist gets a prize. Go figure. Maybe it's an encouragement award, a pat on the head with an indulgent, "Well done!" If  you had lots of wettists, then they should just have their own categories. But you can count wettists in Sydney swims generally on one or two hands. The demand just does not justify special treatment.

As our correspondents (above) lament, other awgies, too, allow wettists in open company, but our guess is that it just doesn't occur to them to separate them. Most awgies, after all, are not swimmers. Perhaps if enough punters raise it with them, they will realise that there is an issue there that they really should address if they wish their swims to be perceived as fair.

In answer to our laydee and gentleman correspondents, however, there is no "rule change" that suddenly allows wettists to be rated in the same context as newds. There are no rules in ocean swimming. Rules are what each event decides. We would like there to be a culcha, however, in which we embrace values and practices. Such as separating newds and wetties in swim results.

Apart from all this, we cannot imagine deriving any satisfaction from swimming in the ocean in a wettie. We tried it once. Didn't like it.

Mana Fiji SwimFest

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Ocean Swimming Stadium, Mana Island

Extend yourself

There is a move towards longer distances by many swimmers. After many swims at the 1km and 2km distances, they're looking for something more testing, perhaps building up to a real ocean challenge, say South Head (10km) or Rottnest (19km).

The stepping stone appears to be 5km then 10km. A successful 10km swim within time limits, from November, also means qualification for Rottnest in February.

But where to find the swims?

This is why the Mana Fiji SwimFest is attracting swimmers seeking more distance. Mana offers two days of swimming, two days apart (so, time for a rest between swim days). On Thursday, have a go at the 10km swim in some of the most beautiful, comfortable ocean swimming waters in the world. You can do this swim either as a solo or as part of a 3-swimmer relay, each swimming c. 3+kms.

Then two days later, on the Sat'dee, you can have a go at 5km or 3km, and/or 1km.

Mana's dates this year are October 24-29. While this falls prior to November, Rottnest awgies over the past few years have allowed their 10km swim to be taken as a qualifier because it is so close, and provided the qualifier keeps a training diary to show that they have kept up their swimming over the period to February.

Mana Island offers a special ocean swimming experience. We call the water off Mana's North Beach, Ocean Swimming Stadium, because it is such a good, natural venue for this kind of swimming. And over stunningly beautiful reef, too. Can you imagine the joy of spending five days with no-one but ocean swimmers?

Come with us... More info and to book... Click here

Back of the Pack has a winner?

We had another email exchange a few days back with a swimmer who saw from the results of a recent swim that they had recorded the fastest time in the BoP category. Thus, they reasoned, they had "won" the Back of the Pack group. They had left the beach without waiting for the presentation, they told us, so they wanted to know how they could collect their prize.

It's true, some awgies do give prizes for BoP. We can't understand why. But this swimmer could not understand why they wouldn't.

Why wouldn't there be prizes for Back of the Pack?

BoP groups are intended for two types of swimmers: those who wish to remove themselves from the hurly burly of rank and file age groups, and those who wish to use swim aids, eg fins, snorkels, pull buoys and wetties. Such a facility attracts all kinds of swimmers with all kinds of gear, virtually all of which offers some artificial advantage.

The corollary is that it must be nigh impossible to validly rank swimmers in this group. How do you rank a swimmer with fins against a swimmer in a wettie? Even a front snorkel, worn by some because they have neck issues, offers an advantage because the swimmer does not need to rotate to breathe, thus it's easier to maintain their streamline and to minimise resistance in the water.

A pull buoy keeps your lower half higher in the water, also reducing resistance. Some swimmers who use pull buoys do so because they have back/spine or leg issues. A pull buoy allows them to swim, whereas they could not take part without it.

It's terrific that swimmers can take part who otherwise might be prevented from doing so, but the fact remains – or so we argue – that it is impossible to rank swimmers using different kinds of swim aids, thus it is impossible to award prizes for fastest times with validity.

Any awgies who do so really should have a good, hard think.

Swims this weekend

north curl curl from point

Champs at Curly

On Sat'dee this weekend, the rescheduled North Curl Curl swim, the Global Swim Series Pacific Championships, gives you the chance to swim 5.3km over two events of 1.5km and 3.8km. It's a pretty beach with protection at the start/finish at the northern end, but with a rolling swell through onto the very exposed beach.

Online entries close at noon on Friday, April 21.

More info and to enter online... Click here

caves main cave

BYO caps to Caves

One of our faves this weekend, Commotion in the Ocean at Caves Beach. Caves is our alma mater. It's a sprightly sprint from the base of the breakwater along the reef into the beach.
And as a contribution to reducing waste and resource usage, for the second year running, awgies ask all swimmers to bring their own fluoro/hi-vis caps to wear during the swim. Colour doesn't matter, except that it must be fluoro/hi-vis.

Awgies also will be collecting for ReCap, so bring your unwanted caps for collection and we will pass them on to ReCap.

Online entries close at 3pm on Saturday, April 22.

More info and to enter online... Click here

Mirrored Selenes available again, again

view selene mirror 03

We had such an enormous response to our Xmas Special featuring the new mirrored Selene goggles that they sold out very quickly. It seems the people at View had been able to obtain only a few of them, and we sold them for them very quickly. But now, more have just arrived from Japan. We have (reasonably) good stocks of the Mirrored Selenes in all three available colours.

view selene mirror 06The Selene is Mrs Sparkle’s fave goggle, the most comfortable gog you will ever wear, and the best all-round gog we’ve ever come across (and we’ve worn a few gogs in our time): it’s made with a soft, wide, silicone seal that doesn’t leave rocky-raccoon marks around your eyes, and it offers a wide field of view and a low profile.

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

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

The Mirrored Selens are $40 + p/h. Get in now!

Order yours... Click here

Caught short

Following last week's newsletter, we have been inundated with orders for View Mirrored Selene gogs. We've also been away, and whilst we brought supplies away with us just in case you ordered them, the orders were so great that we ran out quickly.

Never mind. We will be home in a few days and we will get orders out to orderors quick and smart from Monday on.

Our apologies for this to all whose orders have been delayed.

Foggy gogs?

After our morning swim today, a cobber was whingeing to us about how his newish gogs were fogging up. He got them from us, so he blamed us, if jocularly.

We explained to him, even the best gogs can fog if you don't look after them. This is why we have prepared a guide, Goggle Respect, to help you look after your gogs and to get the best from them.

To find out how to respect your goggles... Click here

heron great barrier reef swim photopia 1611 25
The Course Tour and Swim Back at Heron Island runs around the island to give you a feel for the water. Get a load of the colours: that's swimming on a coral reef for you.

Win a room upgrade at Heron Island

As you'll see above, we're running a monthly competition to give away a room upgrade at Heron Island Resort for the Great Barrier Reef Swim in November, 2017. Just send us your pics that show the best of swimming on a coral reef (it doesn't have to be the Heron Island reef, or even the Great Barrier Reef). The pics must be yours. We'll publish the best of them, and each month, we'll pick a winner of a room upgrade at this year's swim. Please ensure the pics are a reasonable size to allow us to fiddle with them for internet publication. Each month's competition will close on the last day of each month. When you submit your pics, tell us who took them (preferably you), where and when. To submit your pics... Click here

Bookings are coming in for the Great Barrier Reef Swim November 4-8. Last year, some punters were disappointed when they left their bookings for a while, only to find the options had diminished since they opened. Advice is: get in now.

This year's dates are a little different from previous years: Saturday to Wednesday. It means your stay includes Melbourne Cup Day. That will be the day of the 2.8km swim around Heron Island, to be followed by a slap up awards dinner and party.

Heron Island Resort operators block the resort for the period of the swim. It's dedicated entirely to us. That means you get to hang out only with ocean swimmers and their towel carriers. For four days. Can you imagine the joy of being able to talk nothing but ocean swimming for four days? No, we can't, either. But it's a lot of fun, swimming daily in perhaps the world's best water. It's not for nothing that David Attenborough chose Heron Island as the location for most of his pieces to camera in his Great Barrier Reef series on the telly last year.

You'll be joined by lots of turtles, nesting, reef sharks, big rays, the odd very large grouper, and lots of other sea life. It is the most magical swimming place. The program includes two swim events, 1km (around the wreck in the Heron Island harbour) and 2.8km (around Heron Island), a course tour and swim back, and swim clinics with Olympian and topline swim coach, Graeme Brewer, one a dry land session and the other in the water.

Ask about the special rates for nights before and after the swim period. Why not head to Heron Island a few days early? Or stay a few days longer? Or both...?

In the meantime, get in quick and book your spot now. The main rooms last year went very quickly indeed.

When you click the link below, you'll go to a link to book directly with the resort. When you get to that page, check the pricing info, then use the email or phone numbers provided to book. Don't use the Book Now button.

For more information and to book... Click here

Voldemort facing eviction

osc vw jetta 01

This is an unabashed ad to sell our car: it's a VW Jetta from 2009, and after near faultless performance over that period, we've renewed our personal transport. Voldemort is a 2l TDi, and has been through the VW diesel recall upgrade. As a turbo, it's very sprightly, very comfy, plenty of room inside, and an enormous boot. Exterior and interior are near flawless (we've looked after our motor). 115,000km, rego till 11/17, seeking c. $9,500. Interested? Give us a yell... Click here

Great news for punters of all shapes and sizes

New os.c cossie sizes available now

bs cossies both bothGood news for medium-sized punters frustrated that we'd sold out of some sizes of our oceanswims cossies: we've been able to obtain more stock in all sizes from our cobbers at budgysmuggler.com.au.

And all sizes are still on special! 10% off as the season winds down - Laydees' sizes for $A76.50, Men's for $A49.50.

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

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

We love them. And you can buy them now on special while stocks last... Click here

Controversy Corner...

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

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

We call our feedback section Controversy Corner in memory of the late Rex Mossop, a pioneer in the art of sporting debate, who blazed the way for Roy and Haitch-G, Bruce McAvaney 'n all. Rex had Controversy Corner on his Sundee morning footy show on the telly. It was formative in our upbringing.

Champagne swimming

Vanuatu santo champagne 600
Champagne Beach, Santo... We'll swim in these waters in June.

Our three oceanswimsafaris to Tonga to swim with whales in 2017 have long been filled, along with our trip to Sulawesi in Indonesia, and our San Sebastián oceanswimsafari in Spain. But you still can come with us on many other of our oceanswimsafaris over the coming winter.

Our Vanuatu oceanswimsafari is different in 2017. Port Vila is a five-day package from Wednesday, May 24-Monday, May 29, with Santo running from Monday through Friday, June 2.

The organisers of the 3.2km Port Vila swim (this year on Saturday, May 27), now the Port Vila MasterBathers, have returned to the swim's original Port Vila Harbour home at the old Rossi Restaurant now once more named the Rossi following a recent change of ownership, as swim HQ (the inaugural original home was when the swim was an informal event in Port Vila's Second Lagoon, but no-one really wants to swim there these days). Around the swim, we have arranged a series of events to offer you a five-day stay in Port Vila with swimming, dining, exploring and lazing about.

Then we're heading up to Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu's "Adventure Island", for a four night/five day oceanswimsafari which this year features the trial of a new swim course past the famed Champagne Beach. We've swum most of this course many times in the past between Lonnoc Bay and Champagne Beach, both ways, but this time we're heading between Lonnoc, around the reef and Timmy's Place, farther along the shoreline. It makes it a slightly longer swim and a much more diverse swim of around 2.5km.

We've also included other local excursions on the beautiful island of Aore, and local swimmers are running the traditional Espiritu Santo Aore Swim from Luganville across the channel to Aore Island Resort, all of which will be available to oceanswimsafarists who come with us to Santo.

Come with us... More info and to book... Click here

Our oceanswimsafaris in 2017

We've had tremendous interest in our oceanswimsafaris in 2017, so much so that five of them already are SOLD OUT, and one more (Spain's Costa Brava) has just a couple of places left. If you're interested, get in quick and smart.

Swims open to online entry...

New entries here... None this week.

In the works... Narrabeen (Nov 4)

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April 12, 2017

heron great barrier reef swim photopia 1611 28
More from Heron Island... Idyllic, isn't it. Have you ever swum on a coral reef? It's different from swimming at a coastal beach, or even off an island inside a reef, the Whitsundays, say. The water is incomparably clear; the sea life prolific. It's what brings plenty of punters to Heron Island each year for the Great Barrier Reef Swim. This year, we're offering you a chance to win a room upgrade at Heron Island for the Great Barrier Reef Swim in November 2017. We'll give away a room upgrade each month. All you have to do is send us your pics (they must be yours, not someone else's) of swimming on a coral reef. It doesn't have to be the reef at Heron Island, or even Strãa's Great Barrier Reef. Just a coral reef somewhere, and your pic must demonstrate how beautiful is coral reef swimming. There's a prize each month. See below for more details...

This weekend's swims...

bluey dhd 600
Glistening Dave's dramatic, iconic study of the ocean swimmers' enemy #1.

How to treat a jellyfish sting

Wee on bluey stings? Don't bother

isbister geoff uonGeoff Isbister
Director, Clinical Toxicology Research Group, University of Newcastle

This article appeared first in The Conversation

It's easy to be confused about how to treat a jellyfish sting. Is it best to use grandfather's slurry of bicarbonate of soda or a douse of vinegar? Is it best to use an ice pack, take a hot shower or ask someone to urinate on your leg?

Even experts disagree about the right first aid. And guidelines about how to treat the stings can seem confusing because of different types of jellyfish in different parts of Australia.

For instance, first aid differs between temperate and tropical waters (north and south of Bundaberg in Queensland).

But we do not only need to consider the type of jellyfish and where in Australia people are stung. We also need to consider if a treatment works (is effective), is safe and ultimately whether it is practical.

Hot water (but not too hot) for bluebottle stings

Treating bluebottle (Physalia) stings is a good example of the balance of effectiveness, safety and practicality.

Bluebottle stings occur throughout Australia, more commonly on exposed beaches after onshore winds. They are responsible for thousands of stings each year in the warmer months. They cause immediate intense local pain lasting for an hour, or more in severe cases. At the sting site there is a characteristic raised red line that remains for hours to days.

There is good evidence immersing someone in hot water works when treating bluebottle stings. Hot water inactivates the jellyfish toxins and so stops the pain; it is effective in about 90 per cent of cases after 20 minutes.

But there is less evidence hot water treatment is safe as there is a risk that if the water is hotter than 46C it can burn. It might also not be practical to immerse someone in hot water on a beach.

So what happens in the real world? Surf life-savers might put victims in a hot shower. This is because the risk of a burn is low (if they test the water first), it is practical and still likely to be effective.

If your child is stung and you are close to home, head home, run a hot bath (test your child can tolerate the temperature) and get your child to soak for about 20 minutes.

medusa oss 1307A sting from a particular type of "medusa" -- a generic name for a stinger in the Mediterranean -- is like being marked with a branding iron.

Advice changes as we head north

Things become more confusing as you go north. Here, beach goers face major box jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri) stings, which can be life-threatening, and Irukandji syndrome, which can cause such severe pain you need to be treated in hospital.

For these, is it best to use vinegar or hot water? Again it's mainly a question of safety.

A study published earlier this week found that for treating box jellyfish, immersion in hot water is no more effective than using an ice pack.

So, while we have seen hot water is best for bluebottle stings, it doesn't seem to work so well for box jellyfish in northern waters. This may simply be due to the delay in application of hot water in the emergency department with box jellyfish compared to treatment on the beach for bluebottle stings. Or it may be a species difference.

So how should we interpret this? Currently the recommendations in hospitals are to use ice packs to relieve the pain of box jellyfish stings. This seems to be as effective as immersing in hot water in the recent study, and certainly easier to do and safer. So, we should continue to use ice packs in the emergency department.

What about for major box jellyfish stings on the beach in Darwin, or Far North Queensland? This is more difficult to answer.

In animal studies, hot water inactivates its venom. So it is likely that hot water will be effective if administered early. So, on the face of it, it might be reasonable to put people in a hot shower.

But, if you are stung by a box jellyfish in tropical waters, the initial priority is not to treat the pain but to prevent severe envenomation, a process that's not clearly understood but can lead to cardiac arrest and death.

So, the current recommendation is to use vinegar, which we'll come back to, and an immediate transfer to hospital. If the person stops breathing or has a cardiac arrest, they need immediate, basic life support.

Vinegar for tropical box jellyfish, for now

This brings us to the question of whether to use vinegar to treat box jellyfish in tropical waters.

Vinegar has been recommended for decades to treat box jellyfish stings based on a single study. The idea is vinegar prevents the further firing of stinging cells. But there's little evidence to suggest applying vinegar has improved victims' health or likelihood of dying from a sting.

Then, there's conflicting evidence about whether vinegar is harmful. A laboratory study found vinegar may actually increase the release of venom.

Clearly we need further evidence to see if vinegar is effective and harmful in a real-life situation.

But with no real-world evidence of harm in treating box jellyfish stings, and the potential benefits in preventing life-threatening envenoming, it should remain the initial first aid for these stings.

We just assume if the venom is inactivated it will decrease the severity of the sting.

irukandji abc 700
More drama: the irukandji.

Jury's out on vinegar for Irukandji syndrome

Next comes first aid for Irukandji syndrome, caused by being stung by a range of jellyfish including Carukia barnesii. These jellyfish are found mainly in tropical waters in the north. Although some species occur in southern waters, these rarely sting.

Treating Irukandji syndrome is more difficult because in most cases people do not recognise they've been stung until about 30 minutes later. The pain is severe and generalised (chest, back and abdomen), needing treatment with strong opioid painkillers. A small proportion of people may develop heart problems.

Using vinegar to treat Irukandji syndrome is again controversial. The evidence may weigh more toward it causing harm, with little evidence of benefit. There is no evidence for using hot water.
No evidence for urine or bicarbonate of soda

Then there's the old myth of using urine to treat jellyfish stings, popularised in the TV series Friends. There's no evidence to back that, or for using a slurry of bicarbonate of soda.

Where to next?

Current guidelines might appear confusing, but are based on the best available evidence. In some cases this evidence is a randomised-controlled trial, where victims are chosen at random to receive a treatment and compared with others who receive another treatment (or no treatment). But in other cases, guidelines are based on anecdote and expert opinion, which require challenging.

We also need more research, for instance on the effectiveness and safety of vinegar, both for Chironex fleckeri stings and Irukandji syndrome.

Mirrored Selenes available again, again

view selene mirror 03

We had such an enormous response to our Xmas Special featuring the new mirrored Selene goggles that they sold out very quickly. It seems the people at View had been able to obtain only a few of them, and we sold them for them very quickly. But now, more have just arrived from Japan. We have (reasonably) good stocks of the Mirrored Selenes in all three available colours.

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

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

view selene mirror 06They come in three colour combinations – Pearl Black/Blue, Aquamarine Ice Blue/Yellow (with a glitter frame), and Lavender/Pink.

The Mirrored Selens are $40 + p/h. Get in now!

Order yours... Click here

heron great barrier reef swim photopia 1611 04
The 1km swim at Heron Island runs around the wreck. Get a load of the colours: that's swimming on a coral reef for you.

Win a room upgrade at Heron Island

As you'll see above, we're running a monthly competition to give away a room upgrade at Heron Island Resort for the Great Barrier Reef Swim in November, 2017. Just send us your pics that show the best of swimming on a coral reef (it doesn't have to be the Heron Island reef, or even the Great Barrier Reef). The pics must be yours. We'll publish the best of them, and each month, we'll pick a winner of a room upgrade at this year's swim. Please ensure the pics are a reasonable size to allow us to fiddle with them for internet publication. Each month's competition will close on the last day of each month. When you submit your pics, tell us who took them (preferably you), where and when. To submit your pics... Click here

Bookings are coming in for the Great Barrier Reef Swim November 4-8. Last year, some punters were disappointed when they left their bookings for a while, only to find the options had diminished since they opened. Advice is: get in now.

This year's dates are a little different from previous years: Saturday to Wednesday. It means your stay includes Melbourne Cup Day. That will be the day of the 2.8km swim around Heron Island, to be followed by a slap up awards dinner and party.

Heron Island Resort operators block the resort for the period of the swim. It's dedicated entirely to us. That means you get to hang out only with ocean swimmers and their towel carriers. For four days. Can you imagine the joy of being able to talk nothing but ocean swimming for four days? No, we can't, either. But it's a lot of fun, swimming daily in perhaps the world's best water. It's not for nothing that David Attenborough chose Heron Island as the location for most of his pieces to camera in his Great Barrier Reef series on the telly last year.

You'll be joined by lots of turtles, nesting, reef sharks, big rays, the odd very large grouper, and lots of other sea life. It is the most magical swimming place. The program includes two swim events, 1km (around the wreck in the Heron Island harbour) and 2.8km (around Heron Island), a course tour and swim back, and swim clinics with Olympian and topline swim coach, Graeme Brewer, one a dry land session and the other in the water.

Ask about the special rates for nights before and after the swim period. Why not head to Heron Island a few days early? Or stay a few days longer? Or both...?

In the meantime, get in quick and book your spot now. The main rooms last year went very quickly indeed.

When you click the link below, you'll go to a link to book directly with the resort. When you get to that page, check the pricing info, then use the email or phone numbers provided to book. Don't use the Book Now button.

For more information and to book... Click here

This weekend...

A swimming Easter

It wasn't long ago that we had a choice of just one swim over Easter. In NSW, that swim was at Pacific Palms, Elizabeth Beach. If you were in the West, you could get away for the Easter Weekend down sarth, doing Albany on Easter Sat'dee and Denmark, not too far away, on Easter Sundee. Not much has changed in most places, except in NSW, where we also now have two swim on the Saturday of the Easter weekend. North or sarth? it's your choice. In New Zealand, the Auckland Central Masters have scheduled their season-ending 10km event on Easter, too.

Easter Sat'dee swims...

culburra aerial

the sunbather

Nowra-Culburra, NSW South Coast - 1.9km - This swim is one of the prettiest swims on the calendar, with a bonus: if seas rise, it has a safe, protected alternative course available (suitable in most conditions). The course runs around Tilbury Headland, either south-north from Culburra Beach into Tllbury Cove, or vice versa if conditions warrant it. In heavy seas, the swim can usually be run as a circuit inside the cove, which sits in the lee of the headland. We say it's one of the prettiest swims on the calendar because as it rounds the headland, against a backdrop of the Great Dividing Range blueing in the distance, it winds its way between myriad reefs. It really is a stunning swim. And this year, the swim's awgie, a Naval officer, Col Lawrence, has been promoted to rear-admiral, so it's the only swim on the calendar run by an admiral. They will have to do it right. Another bonus: Culburra is where photographer Max Dupain captured his classic image, The Sunbather. You can replicate it, if you phone is sharp enough.

More info and enter online... Click here

terrigal 11 01

Terrigal, NSW Central Coast - 1km, 2km - The gems of the NSW north coast are its north-facing beaches, and Terrigal is a prime example. The beauty of them is that they face the autumn sun and, protected by headlands, are spared the worst of conditions coming from the sarth. Terrigal is a beautiful holiday town offering a gentle, rolling swell, which means it's a good beach for a race. We notice, too, that one of Terrigal's hallmarks has become its event t-shirts: unlike some events, that plaster their t-shirts with commercial logoas, Terrigal in recent years has offered a thoughtfully, artistically designed shirt that is a real collector's item. That's how event shirts should be: collector's items, not billboards. And at Terrigal, they're cheap: only $15. You can order them as you enter online and collect them on swim day.

More info and enter online... Click here

Easter Sundee swim...

pacific palms 09 01

Pacific Palms (Elizabeth Beach), NSW Lower North Coast - 600m, 1.5km - Another of those North Coast gems: a north facing beach, offering a moderated swell and a unique course: it's like a squashed figure 8, or a squashed X. Not as strange as it sounds, but it's different. It's another of our faves, especially now that it's moved its start times back to noon for the main swim and 11am for the shorter swim. We used to enjoy a gentle motor up the expressway from Sydney on Easter Sundee morn, arriving at Elizabeth Beach in time to check-in but still with time to check out the markets on the lake shore. This weekend, we're in the vicinity already, so we don;'t need to motor more than 20km or so. It's a popular event with holidaymakers who throng to the Lower North Coast over Easter.

More info and enter online... Click here

But what about Ballina?

That's right, the Shaws Bay swim at Ballina was scheduled for Easter Sundee, but it's been cancelled following severe flooding on the NSW Far North Coast which has left the bay, a sheltered cove off the Richmond River, with water that can best be described as erky perky. A statement from the awgies on April 10 (Monday) says:

There are many in the Far North Coast community with far greater problems due to the extreme weather events over the last seven days but another casualty will be the Shaws Bay Swim proposed for Sunday the 16th April 2017.

Due to water quality issues within Shaws Bay (and the Richmond/Wilsons River) and the fact that there has been more rain over the last week, it is going to take some time (greater than the next seven days) for the return of a healthy swimming environment. (Lighthouse Beach is looking even worse over the last few days than last week.)

An alternate date is TBA - Again it is far from ideal but in the interests of public safety and our obligations under such the current event will need to be cancelled.

Despite the "TBA", our understanding is that it's cancellation for this season, not postponement. A possible new date may be September 24, but that is not confirmed.

Voldemort needs a new garage

osc vw jetta 01
This is an unabashed ad to sell our car: it's a VW Jetta from 2009, and after near faultless performance over that period, we've renewed our personal transport. Voldemort is a 2l TDi, and has been through the VW diesel recall upgrade. As a turbo, it's very sprightly, very comfy, plenty of room inside, and an enormous boot. Exterior and interior are near flawless (we've looked after our motor). 115,000km, rego till 11/17, seeking c. $9,500. Interested? Give us a yell... Click here

Great news for punters of all shapes and sizes

New os.c cossie sizes available now

bs cossies both bothGood news for medium-sized punters frustrated that we'd sold out of some sizes of our oceanswims cossies: we've been able to obtain more stock in all sizes from our cobbers at budgysmuggler.com.au.

And all sizes are still on special! 10% off as the season winds down - Laydees' sizes for $A76.50, Men's for $A49.50.

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

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

We love them. And you can buy them now on special while stocks last... Click here

Controversy Corner...

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

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

We call our feedback section Controversy Corner in memory of the late Rex Mossop, a pioneer in the art of sporting debate, who blazed the way for Roy and Haitch-G, Bruce McAvaney 'n all. Rex had Controversy Corner on his Sundee morning footy show on the telly. It was formative in our upbringing.

Champagne swimming

Vanuatu santo champagne 600
Champagne Beach, Santo... We'll swim in these waters in June.

Our three oceanswimsafaris to Tonga to swim with whales in 2017 have long been filled, along with our trip to Sulawesi in Indonesia, and our San Sebastián oceanswimsafari in Spain. But you still can come with us on many other of our oceanswimsafaris over the coming winter.

Our Vanuatu oceanswimsafari is different in 2017. Port Vila is a five-day package from Wednesday, May 24-Monday, May 29, with Santo running from Monday through Friday, June 2.

The organisers of the 3.2km Port Vila swim (this year on Saturday, May 27), now the Port Vila MasterBathers, have returned to the swim's original Port Vila Harbour home at the old Rossi Restaurant now once more named the Rossi following a recent change of ownership, as swim HQ (the inaugural original home was when the swim was an informal event in Port Vila's Second Lagoon, but no-one really wants to swim there these days). Around the swim, we have arranged a series of events to offer you a five-day stay in Port Vila with swimming, dining, exploring and lazing about.

Then we're heading up to Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu's "Adventure Island", for a four night/five day oceanswimsafari which this year features the trial of a new swim course past the famed Champagne Beach. We've swum most of this course many times in the past between Lonnoc Bay and Champagne Beach, both ways, but this time we're heading between Lonnoc, around the reef and Timmy's Place, farther along the shoreline. It makes it a slightly longer swim and a much more diverse swim of around 2.5km.

We've also included other local excursions on the beautiful island of Aore, and local swimmers are running the traditional Espiritu Santo Aore Swim from Luganville across the channel to Aore Island Resort, all of which will be available to oceanswimsafarists who come with us to Santo.

Come with us... More info and to book... Click here

fiji mana north beach 10 

You can do the most beautiful swims in the Pacific -- therefore, the world -- at Mana Island in Fiji in October. Particularly, if you're looking for that perfect event to get your first 10km under your belt, or your first 5km, come with us to the Mana Fiji SwimFest, October 24-29. On Thursday, 10km (either solos or relays of three swimmers), and on Saturday, 5km, 3km or 1km. This is one of the world's most spectacular courses, amongst some of the most beautiful reefs.

Come with us... More info and to book... Click here

Our oceanswimsafaris in 2017

We've had tremendous interest in our oceanswimsafaris in 2017, so much so that five of them already are SOLD OUT, and one more (Spain's Costa Brava) has just a couple of places left. If you're interested, get in quick and smart.

Swims open to online entry...

New entries here... None this week.

In the works... Narrabeen (Nov 4)

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April 5, 2017

heron island beach 14
Idyllic, isn't it. Have you ever swum on a coral reef? It's different from swimming at a coastal beach, or even off an island inside a reef, the Whitsundays, say. The water is incomparably clear; the sea life prolific. It's what brings plenty of punters to Heron Island each year for the Great Barrier Reef Swim. This year, we're offering you a chance to win a room upgrade at Heron Island for the Great Barrier Reef Swim in November 2017. We'll give away a room upgrade each month. All you have to do is send us your pics (they must be yours, not someone else's) of swimming on a coral reef. It doesn't have to be the reef at Heron Island, or even Strãa's Great Barrier Reef. Just a coral reef somewhere, and your pic must demonstrate how beautiful is coral reef swimming. There's a prize each month. See below for more details...

This weekend's swims...

You're never alone in the water

In the dew of little things

Peter Hancock lives on the NSW Northern Tablelands. Most mornings, he swims in waters behind Dumaresq Dam, 14km outside Armidale. He is usually alone. Sort of.

Wildlife-swimming tours are big business. Now you can travel to Scotland to swim with basking sharks, take a boat ride off the northern coast of Western Australia and get in the water with majestic whale sharks, or spend a few days in Tonga being totally blown away by close encounters with humpback whales.

Swims such as these truly are wild, and provide completely unforgettable experiences. However, there is an untapped market in wildlife swimming that can, with a bit of expectation management and a squinted sideways glance, provide encounters just as exhilarating as those with the megafauna superstars. Well, almost.

I'm not talking about anything as large and dangerous as a shark, nor even as big as a beaver or platypus. I'm talking about the wildlife that inhabits almost every lake and river suitable for swimming- the aquatic invertebrates. Below are some examples of the elegant creatures you may encounter:

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Aquatic invertebrates – the microfauna superstars

Just the idea of aquatic invertebrates, those creepy-crawly things in the water, is enough to keep some swimmers doing laps, but even pools are not as devoid of life as their caretakers would like. I often see backswimmers tumbling in the turbulence of my arm strokes as I pass overhead. And like most things we're a bit nervous about, they're not so bad once you get to know them.

One of the best things about swimming in lakes and rivers is that they are full of life that it forever changing; daily, through the seasons, or on some other timescale beyond the ken of a swimmer. Invertebrates constitute a large, and readily accessible component of this life. In fresh water, insects and crustaceans are the main kinds that we will encounter, but with a bit of searching in the right spot, you might also come across small jellyfish, freshwater sponges, small mites, flatworms, and amazing little creatures called hydra that are related to jellyfish but are attached to weed and dangle their tentacles in the water to catch prey.

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Larval dragonfly – the lions of weed beds

Anyone who has kept a larval dragonfly in an aquarium with other insects will appreciate the drama that exists in the underwater world. Dragonflies are the lions of the weed beds. Perfectly camouflaged, they sneak slowly up on their prey, either by crawling slowly or by underwater jet propulsion. Once in range, their bottom jaw shoots out with the speed of a striking snake and grasps the unsuspecting prey in specially modified teeth.

hancock peter dew 03

Bloodworms – nature's eco-filter system

One of the best groups of filterers are the bottom-dwelling larvae of non-biting midges, which make contributions far beyond their minute size. Bloodworms, as they're collectively known because of their bright red appearance, build small tubes less than 1 mm in diameter through which they filter water. In doing so, they trap dissolved nutrients and small particles of carbon. Recent research has demonstrated that the millions of bloodworms living in small lakes can filter the equivalent volume of the lake in scales of days to weeks.

What is more, the global contribution of bloodworm filtration is so vast that it can mediate some of the factors contributing to climate change. The humble midge isn't so humble after all!

Midges are just one group of invertebrates living in fresh waters, and filtration is just one of the services that aquatic invertebrates provide. Countless other species help break down organic matter, farm bacteria, burrow through the sediments, graze bacteria, and otherwise maintain our aquatic ecosystems like minute gardeners tending their little patch of river bed.

Indeed, almost everything living in the water contributes to the health of the ecosystem in some way. In fact, councils use the aquatic bacteria, insects, and small crustaceans in water treatment plants. They are also key players in sewage treatment; cleaning water after we've finished with it so that it is of a suitable quality for release to the environment.

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The Roger Deakin way

"For in the dew of little things, the heart finds its morning and is refreshed." That is Khalil Gibran's way of saying stop and smell the roses. For outdoor swimmers, this means occasionally slowing right down in order to get to know the aquatic creatures in your local swimming hole. While larger aquatic invertebrates can be observed with a pair of goggles, smaller ones can be caught with a small net and placed in an aquarium. This is something Roger Deakin did to familiarise himself with the residents of his moat, and it is something that everyone can do.

hancock peter dew 05

The mindful swim

I've written mostly about the invertebrates living in fresh water, but there is also fascination in fish, frogs, salamanders and tadpoles. Marine and intertidal areas have a whole suite of animals from limpets and crabs, to anemone and fish. And don't forget to lift your gaze to the things above the water; the birds flying overhead, or the otters along the shore. Aquatic environments are alive, and their inhabitants are well worth taking an interest in if for no other reason than you're guaranteed to make each swim even more interesting, mindful even.

This story was published previously on the website of the Outdoor Swimming Society.

Where is Dumaresq Dam?

No, you are never alone in the water...

bull shark fnq cyclone debbie
All washed up, no place to go: a remnant of Cyclone Debbie in Far North Queensland. A long way from Angourie.

A few years ago I was at the small beach north of Angourie Headland, on the NSW North Coast. The beach is only 100m long, faces north, and has a low gradient rocky shelf in the water beyond the sand. I'd driven down with my family that afternoon and we were keen to get in the water. It was about 5:30 pm (yes, a bad time). I went in with the two oldest kids, who were then about 12 and 9. My daughter swam out about 50m, and was treading water when a fin popped up between her and me, heading towards the shore. She saw it, and so did I.

I was standing in chest-deep water with my son beside me. All three of us watched the fin approach the beach, then at the shoreward side of the rocky shelf, turn towards Josh and me. There was a ledge just out of the water behind me, so I lifted him onto that and turned back to the shark. The ledge was too high for me to climb up on. I didn't know what to do, and in the absence of any better idea, I just stood and watched it approach. Less than two metres from me, it turned, and it's tail lifted out of the water. From the distance between dorsal fin and tail, I reckon it was between 2.5 and 3 m long. It had turned away from me, but worse, was heading out to deeper water where Steph was still treading water, watching.

"Is that a shark, Dad?" she asked.

"Yes," I said, "but stay there".

Swimming towards me would have brought her directly in front of the shark.

Then, still heading out to sea, the fin sank under the water and neither of us could see it. This was the scariest part, because all the shark had to do was veer a few metres to its right and it would have come into contact with Steph, who was between it and the open sea. I was petrified, and could do nothing but watch Steph's face. I didn't know if it was the last time I was going to see it. It was a completely terrifying experience, probably the most scared I've ever been.

I had no real way of judging where the shark was, but when I came to my senses, I told Steph to swim quietly to her left towards the beach. I swam over to intercept her, and we walked out onto the sand. My knees were so weak I had to sit down.

I've been a fan of sharks all my life, and have dived with many different species. However, without a doubt this was the scariest encounter of any kind I've ever had in the water. It was most terrifying because of the fear I'd had of losing my kids.

My theory is that the shark was coming in to patrol the rocky shelf. It was probably searching for turtles, and we didn't match the shape of them. It swam along the rocky shelf, turned, and swam back out to sea. It would have seen at least me, as the water wasn't that turbid. The sun was still just above the horizon, so there was still a bit of light. I don't know what the real level of danger was. If it was cued in to turtles and the water was clear, then probably not much as long as the shark didn't get any surprises.

It's very unfortunate when someone gets attacked by a shark, but culling won't solve the problem. Education into shark behaviour might help, but even with the best knowledge in the world there will still probably be encounters, as happened with us.

Peter Hancock

Where is "a small beach north of Angourie Headland"...

More tales of melanoma

Mike Bosch...

Melanoma is a scary thing! I go to the dermatologist every year to get checked out... Years of beach and surfing and sailing in the dry airs of Southern California followed by more years of the same here, with no sunscreen or hat or shirt - even my dermatologist said he grew up on a dairy farm in the NSW Northern Rivers and would wear short shorts and maybe shoes and nothing more while working on the farm as a kid.

Lea Dawson...

Thank you for this. This is a powerful piece regarding melanomas and other skin cancers and importance of getting skin checked.

Ward O'Neill...

David Finnimore's personal story on the discovery of a melanoma was sobering and an important one for people to read. I have been wearing a rashie during ocean swimming events and in any swimming outside of 6:30 in the morning for years. Usually, I am the only adult male wearing a rashie during ocean swims. I've noticed that most people are better at looking after their small children than they look after themselves.

I have fair freckled skin, love swimming and have had to take proper steps to avoid skin cancer. Despite these measures, my skin specialist detected a melanoma on my left shoulder during a regular check at the end of 2016. Fortunately, he got it early. It was removed surgically without any other further treatment, but I do have a large scar on my back.

We should think of our back, and indeed any exposed part of our body as a solar panel. Rashies cover a large part of our bodies and should always be worn in the sun and we should cover the rest with high SPF sunscreen.

Anon (we know their name)...

Congratulations for promoting sun awareness – it's really good to see.

I too had a melanoma diagnosis in 2007 – I was 28 at the time. A youth of swimming training in Brisbane caught up with me.

Through my early 20s, I became a mole, essentially under UV lights as an accountant, but the damage was done. Whilst having a "home hair cut" after returning from a year in the UK, my sister noticed what looked like a mottled cornflake on my back. I was diagnosed with a Type 2.

The subsequent sew-up felt like my skin was a tight wetsuit. Subsequently, I moved to close follow-ups and now annuals with just the occasional suspected Basal cell carcinoma removed now, which keeps me from the water for a few months at a time.

I have a far greater respect for the sun now, and encourage others to do too – taking this respect means there isn't any need to take unnecessary risks that could shorten your life. Daily I use this link  to keep an eye on how brutal the sun is. I still enjoy swimming but do it at sparrows' or the end of the day, and I enjoy the occasional ocean swim.

My only wish would be that organisers consider the risk they are placing participants in: wouldn't it be good to see some races a little earlier in the day before the sun becomes too damaging? For example, next weekend's Cooly classic is at 10:30. This is a swim I've wanted to do for years, but the time has put me off. Seriously considering wearing a wetsuit to partake. Sure, there'll be the triathlete criticism and probably be a cooked crab, but this is a small price to pay for a swim I've always wanted to do.

Wouldn't it be great if our promoters were also educators?

heron great barrier reef swim photopia 1611 04
The 1km swim at Heron Island runs around the wreck. Get a load of the colours: that's swimming on a coral reef for you.

Mirrored Selenes available again, again

view selene mirror 03A bit of a blunder on our part last week, when we gave you the link to order our Mirrored Selenes, but we had not configured the item correctly on our website. The results was that, when you clicked the link, all you got was an error message. Sorry about that. We've fixed it now, but, and orders have been coming in.

We had such an enormous response to our Xmas Special featuring the new mirrored Selene goggles that they sold out very quickly. It seems the people at View had been able to obtain only a few of them, and we sold them for them very quickly. But now, more have just arrived from Japan. We have (reasonably) good stocks of the Mirrored Selenes in all three available colours.

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

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

view selene mirror 06They come in three colour combinations – Pearl Black/Blue, Aquamarine Ice Blue/Yellow (with a glitter frame), and Lavender/Pink.

The Mirrored Selens are $40 + p/h. Get in now!

Order yours... Click here

heron great barrier reef swim photopia 1611 13

Win a room upgrade at Heron Island

As you'll see above, we're running a monthly competition to give away a room upgrade at Heron Island Resort for the Great Barrier Reef Swim in November, 2017. Just send us your pics that show the best of swimming on a coral reef (it doesn't have to be the Heron Island reef, or even the Great Barrier Reef). The pics must be yours. We'll publish the best of them, and each month, we'll pick a winner of a room upgrade at this year's swim. Please ensure the pics are a reasonable size to allow us to fiddle with them for internet publication. Each month's competition will close on the last day of each month. To submit your pics... Click here

Bookings are coming in for the Great Barrier Reef Swim November 4-8. Last year, some punters were disappointed when they left their bookings for a while, only to find the options had diminished since they opened. Advice is: get in now.

This year's dates are a little different from previous years: Saturday to Wednesday. It means your stay includes Melbourne Cup Day. That will be the day of the 2.8km swim around Heron Island, to be followed by a slap up awards dinner and party.

Heron Island Resort operators block the resort for the period of the swim. It's dedicated entirely to us. That means you get to hang out only with ocean swimmers and their towel carriers. For four days. Can you imagine the joy of being able to talk nothing but ocean swimming for four days? No, we can't, either. But it's a lot of fun, swimming daily in perhaps the world's best water. It's not for nothing that David Attenborough chose Heron Island as the location for most of his pieces to camera in his Great Barrier Reef series on the telly last year.

You'll be joined by lots of turtles, nesting, reef sharks, big rays, the odd very large grouper, and lots of other sea life. It is the most magical swimming place. The program includes two swim events, 1km (around the wreck in the Heron Island harbour) and 2.8km (around Heron Island), a course tour and swim back, and swim clinics with Olympian and topline swim coach, Graeme Brewer, one a dry land session and the other in the water.

Ask about the special rates for nights before and after the swim period. Why not head to Heron Island a few days early? Or stay a few days longer? Or both...?

In the meantime, get in quick and book your spot now. The main rooms last year went very quickly indeed.

When you click the link below, you'll go to a link to book directly with the resort. When you get to that page, check the pricing info, then use the email or phone numbers provided to book. Don't use the Book Now button.

For more information and to book... Click here

This weekend...

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After the storms, a super weekend of swims

This weekend was always going to be big for swims, with five scheduled in NSW alone, and more in Queensland and Auckland. But with the rash of postponements in recent weeks, now there are even more: three on Saturday and five on Sunday, all but two of them in NSW. We're taking online entries to five of these swims...

Sat'dee swims...

Mollymook, NSW Sarth Coast - 500m, 2km, and a Dash for Cash - Beautiful beach on the South Coast with headlands at each end, a sometimes bouncy corner, beach break with everything that holds, and a main swim that runs from the northern end of the beach to the south. It's a terrific swim... More info and enter online... Click here

Sundee swims...

Coogee, Sydney's Eastern Suburbs - 1km, 2.4km, and an 800m swim for junior swimmers. The main swim goes around Wedding Cake Island, which makes it one of the most stunning swims on the calendar. Autumn is an excellent time for this swim (which runs also in November each season), particularly if the weather is autumn at its best. A clear day is forecast with a little bit of swell and a bit of breeze from the north. On that forecast, it should be a good day. More info and enter online... Click here

Forster, NSW Lower North Coast - One of our fave swims, 1km, 250m, and 3.8km, which might turn out to be more like 4.2km. The main swim runs from One Mile Beach, around Bennetts Head into Main Beach at Forster, which is one of those glories of the NSW North Coast, for it faces north and thus is protected generally from the worst conditions. More info and enter online... Click here

Newport-Avalon, Sydney Northern Beaches - An enticing new swim on the Northern Beaches, tracking from Newport, past Bilgola and on to Avalon. It's a stunning bit of Sydney coastline. This will be the first formal outing for this swim, which local swimmers have been doing for years. It's a swim in the best spirit of journeys: it has an interesting start, a beautiful course, and a spectacular finish. More info and enter online... Click here

Shellharbour, Illawarra - Another beautiful swim in the Illawarra, just a little sarth of Sydney, a picturesque 1.2km dash along the rock shelf from Shellharbour's Boat Harbour into the main beach. There are bits of reef all the way: plenty to look at, and a nice community, family-oriented swim. More info and enter online... Click here

ReCap at Mollymook, Coogee

ReCap will collect unwanted swim caps at the Coogee swim on Sunday. And the Mollymook awgies will collect on behalf of ReCap at their swim on Sat'dee. Look for their bins as you leave the finishing area. All caps donated will go to a good use with a good cause. For more info... Click here

Buy our motor

osc vw jetta 01
This is an unabashed ad to sell our car: it's a VW Jetta from 2009, and after near faultless performance over that period, we've renewed our personal transport. Voldemort is a 2l TDi, and has been through the VW diesel recall upgrade. As a turbo, it's very sprightly, very comfy, plenty of room inside, and an enormous boot. Exterior and interior are near flawless (we've looked after our motor). 115,000km, rego till 11/17, seeking c. $9,500. Interested? Give us a yell... Click here

Great news for punters of all shapes and sizes

New os.c cossie sizes available now

bs cossies both bothGood news for medium-sized punters frustrated that we'd sold out of some sizes of our oceanswims cossies: we've been able to obtain more stock in all sizes from our cobbers at budgysmuggler.com.au.

And all sizes are still on special! 10% off as the season winds down - Laydees' sizes for $A76.50, Men's for $A49.50.

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

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

We love them. And you can buy them now on special while stocks last... Click here

Controversy Corner...

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

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

We call our feedback section Controversy Corner in memory of the late Rex Mossop, a pioneer in the art of sporting debate, who blazed the way for Roy and Haitch-G, Bruce McAvaney 'n all. Rex had Controversy Corner on his Sundee morning footy show on the telly. It was formative in our upbringing.

Champagne swimming

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Champagne Beach, Santo... We'll swim in these waters in June.

Our three oceanswimsafaris to Tonga to swim with whales in 2017 have long been filled, along with our trip to Sulawesi in Indonesia, and our San Sebastián oceanswimsafari in Spain. But you still can come with us on many other of our oceanswimsafaris over the coming winter.

Our Vanuatu oceanswimsafari is different in 2017. Port Vila is a five-day package from Wednesday, May 24-Monday, May 29, with Santo running from Monday through Friday, June 2.

The organisers of the 3.2km Port Vila swim (this year on Saturday, May 27), now the Port Vila MasterBathers, have returned to the swim's original Port Vila Harbour home at the old Rossi Restaurant now once more named the Rossi following a recent change of ownership, as swim HQ (the inaugural original home was when the swim was an informal event in Port Vila's Second Lagoon, but no-one really wants to swim there these days). Around the swim, we have arranged a series of events to offer you a five-day stay in Port Vila with swimming, dining, exploring and lazing about.

Then we're heading up to Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu's "Adventure Island", for a four night/five day oceanswimsafari which this year features the trial of a new swim course past the famed Champagne Beach. We've swum most of this course many times in the past between Lonnoc Bay and Champagne Beach, both ways, but this time we're heading between Lonnoc, around the reef and Timmy's Place, farther along the shoreline. It makes it a slightly longer swim and a much more diverse swim of around 2.5km.

We've also included other local excursions on the beautiful island of Aore, and local swimmers are running the traditional Espiritu Santo Aore Swim from Luganville across the channel to Aore Island Resort, all of which will be available to oceanswimsafarists who come with us to Santo.

Come with us... More info and to book... Click here

manta ray 01
Manta rays... We're heading to Fiji's Yasawas in June to swim with them. Come with us... Click here

In Fiji later in June, you can come with us to swim with manta rays. Anyone who has ever swum with Mantas will have been struck by the grace of these creatures. You may be lucky enough to witness a Manta mating train. On this oceanswimsafari, we'll spend part of our time at Blue Lagoon Resort, and part at Paradise Cove, from where we'll join the Mantas.

We're taking bookings now. For more info and to book... Click here

Our oceanswimsafaris in 2017

We've had tremendous interest in our oceanswimsafaris in 2017, so much so that five of them already are SOLD OUT, and one more (Spain's Costa Brava) has just a couple of places left. If you're interested, get in quick and smart.

Swims open to online entry...

New entries here... Cronulla (Nov 19)

In the works... Narrabeen (Nov 4)

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March 29, 2017

finnimore david
David Finnimore has had a brush with melanoma. Read his story....

This weekend's swims...

Their pounds of flesh

Personal tales of melanoma

From David Finnimore...

Good on you for promoting sun awareness among the community here..... Much needed.

I spent all my youth just like you, surfing around Catho, Birdie and Norah Head..... My old man owned two chemist shops in Budgewoi, so we had access to sunscreen... The top shelf stuff was Aquasun4 in my day, but I rarely used it, like everyone else.

This caught up with me six years ago, when on a surf holiday in Bali, I was keen to get some sun and surfed without a rashie for the week or so... I got home, was getting a massage a few months later, and the lady noticed a different spot she had not seen before. Got it checked out; Dermo ripped it out that day, and I waited...

Christmas Eve, 4pm, I get a phone call saying the results were bad and I had melanoma, and to make sure I should take all January off work. 2nd January, there I am seeing the Professor at the Melanoma Institute at RPA (Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney)... more tests, scans... Two days later under the knife, after some nuclear trace tests, and out came 4-5 lymph nodes in my left armpit, and out came a chunk of my back, as per the picture.

At the time, the testing suggested I had a 35-40 per cent chance of being dead in five years, so every year I survived was a big improvement on my chances of survival. (Until a few weeks ago, at my six-year check up, when I checked the stats with the professor, I was living with the understanding I had a 35-40 per cent of living, which was pretty harrowing, versus the marginally better 35-40 per cent chance of being dead ).

When given these percentages, I decided to throw myself into the Bronte Nippers and run it, and make it the best Club I could so my kids could see what being a good community member is all about, and set a good example for them to see for later life. My old man ran The Lakes SLSC (on the Central Coast) when I grew up, and I always admired that in him, among many other things. It's also the reason I am heavily involved in the Bondi to Bronte swim, and encouraged Macquarie Group to sponsor it, along with keeping Banana Boat engaged for my Nipper swim.

Obviously, I love the surf, and wanted my kids to be strong and confident in the ocean, which they are. So to celebrate now that I am through the five-year period, and now as much chance as anyone of getting melanoma, I have booked three surf trips with the family this year to "celebrate"... So we are off to King Island in two weeks, then West Timor in June, then Mentawis (Indonesia) in early December.

Will be well covered this time around.

hahei 170324 02

This is where tennis balls come from... In New Zealand, they grow on trees.

From Lara Gallagher...

I always enjoy your newsletters, having been a loyal reader and ocean swimmer for over a decade. I didn't start swimming laps until I was in my 30s but reckon it was the best thing I ever did - learning how to swim more than 50m.

Anyhow, I wanted to say a special thank you for your latest email about skin cancer. My hubbie recently had a class 2 melanoma removed from his back. It left a huge scar - he likes to tell small children it's from a shark bite - but most importantly its removal left him alive and well.

Neither of us had noticed the spot. In fact, it was his dermatologist who spotted it during a routine check of his moles. Thank goodness.

Many of his friends live in denial despite us living in north-eastern NSW and our local government area being identified by the Cancer Council as the third highest number of skin cancer incidents in NSW.

Thank you for helping spread the message and using your wonderful writing style to catch people's attention.

From Wilson Gamble...

Another thing about sunscreen that should be stressed is that they deteriorate with age. Check the use-by date and turf all those that have expired. On hearing this on a radio program, I checked those I keep in my car and they were all over their use by dates.

Good article.

From Howard Roby...

Google what killed Bob Marley.

From Dominic Dwyer...

An excellent article – congrats.

The topic is often thought about down at the Balmoral Beach Club, with an annual swim (2/4/6k, open to all comers) for Eric Mather, a club member and fine swimmer who died in his 40s of melanoma. You should come down and do it next year.

(My father also had both melanoma and various facial BCCs from a youth playing cricket, and a life time swimming. The Irish should never have come to Australia.)

(My wife) has the same freckle count as Mrs Sparkle. We both go regularly to the dermos. Dermatologists are pallid because they spend all day inside counting vast wads of money.

hot water beach 170323 01
Hot Water Beach, on New Zealand's Coromandel peninsula, where the bubblin' crude seeps up through the sand at temperatures sometimes over 60C.

Mirrored Selenes available again

view selene mirror 03We had such an enormous response to our Xmas Special featuring the new mirrored Selene goggles that they sold out very quickly. It seems the people at View had been able to obtain only a few of them, and we sold them for them very quickly. But now, more have just arrived from Japan. We have (reasonably) good stocks of the Mirrored Selenes in all three available colours.

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

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

view selene mirror 06They come in three colour combinations – Pearl Black/Blue, Aquamarine Ice Blue/Yellow (with a glitter frame), and Lavender/Pink.

The Mirrored Selens are $40 + p/h. Get in now!

Order yours... Click here

heron great barrier reef swim photopia 1611 13

Heron Island bookings open

Bookings are coming in for the Great Barrier Reef Swim on Heron Island November 4-8. Last year, some punters were disappointed when they left their bookings for a while, only to find the options had diminished since they opened. Advice is: get in now.

Dates this year are November 4-8, Saturday to Wednesday, which is a little different from previous years. It means your stay includes Melbourne Cup Day. That will be the day of the 2.8km swim around Heron Island, to be followed by a slap up awards dinner and party.

Heron Island Resort operators block the resort for the period of the swim. It's dedicated entirely to us. That means you get to hang out only with ocean swimmers and their towel carriers. For four days. Can you imagine the joy of being able to talk nothing but ocean swimming for four days? No, we can't, either. But it's a lot of fun, swimming daily in perhaps the world's best water. It's not for nothing that David Attenborough chose Heron Island as the location for most of his pieces to camera in his Great Barrier Reef series on the telly last year.

You'll be joined by lots of turtles, nesting, reef sharks, big rays, the odd very large grouper, and lots of other sea life. It is the most magical swimming place. The program includes two swim events, 1km (around the wreck in the Heron Island harbour) and 2.8km (around Heron Island), a course tour and swim back, and swim clinics with Olympian and topline swim coach, Graeme Brewer, one a dry land session and the other in the water.

We'll be announcing special offers for the Great Barrier Reef Swim in coming weeks, including -

  • A photographic competition in which each month's winner will receive an upgrade on their room booking at this year's swim; and
  • Special rates for nights before and after the swim period. Why not head to Heron Island a few days early? Or stay a few days longer? Or both...?

In the meantime, get in quick and book your spot now. The main rooms last year went very quickly indeed.

When you click the link below, you'll go to a link to book directly with the resort. When you get to that page, check the pricing info, then use the email or phone numbers provided to book. Don't use the Book Now button.

For more information and to book... Click here

This weekend...

balmoral pano entry portal

Now, 5km at Balmoral

This Sundee's Balmoral Swim for Cancer offers, for the first time, a 5km distance to complement the traditional 1km, Junior 200m, and Schools and HMAS Penguin Relays. This is a terrific opportunity, in the smooth waters of Sydney Harbour, to practise your stroke and your speed over a distance. It's a beautiful course: loops around a course between the two parts of Balmoral beach. And, even better, if you enter and complete the 5km swim at Balmoral, you can then rock up to the regsitration tables and enter the 1km swim absolutely free!

There are two swims on the calendar in Sydney that don't have the backing of surf life saving clubs, thus they don't have rank and file lifesavers to help out with water safety. Balmoral is one of them, raising funds for the Children's Cancer Institute. Balmoral attracts a slightly different peloton than your regular ocean swims, drawing swimming punters from the community of cancer sufferers and their families as well as the rank and file whom you see on the beach each weekend. This is your chance for a different kind of swim, benefiting a very good cause.

The Balmoral Swim for Cancer encourages entrants to set up fundraising pages to help you get the support of your family and other comrades. If you prefer not to get involved in fundraising of this nature, however, we also have a facility on the online entry portal to allow you donate a separate amount to the Children's Cancer Institute as you enter the swim online. After the event, all such donors will receive an official receipt from the Institute that you can use for a tax deduction of amounts greater than $2.

Go to the event page on oceanswims.com and find out more. Online entries close at 3pm on Sat'dee, April 1... Click here

Bits 'n bobs...

cochrane make teaserYou'll remember the phenomenal Mike Cochrane, who headed our fine ocean swimmers' tallies two years ago, swimming 307.8km over the course of the season. Now, it emerges Mike's motivation wasn't that he just liked to swim, as it is with many of us. Rather, it was "beating the Aussies at a game they invented". Having topped the series in 2014/15, he hasn't stopped. Catch up with what Mike Cochrane has been up to, including some quite extraordinary exploits... Click here

"Elderly" at 63?

And to Ireland, where the Independent newspaper reports on "elderly" swimmers, aged 63... Click here

Great news for punters of all shapes and sizes

New os.c cossie sizes available now

bs cossies both bothGood news for medium-sized punters frustrated that we'd sold out of some sizes of our oceanswims cossies: we've been able to obtain more stock in all sizes from our cobbers at budgysmuggler.com.au.

And all sizes are still on special! 10% off as the season winds down - Laydees' sizes for $A76.50, Men's for $A49.50.

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

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

We love them. And you can buy them now on special while stocks last... Click here

Controversy Corner...

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

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

We call our feedback section Controversy Corner in memory of the late Rex Mossop, a pioneer in the art of sporting debate, who blazed the way for Roy and Haitch-G, Bruce McAvaney 'n all. Rex had Controversy Corner on his Sundee morning footy show on the telly. It was formative in our upbringing.

Champagne swimming

Vanuatu santo champagne 600
Champagne Beach, Santo... We'll swim in these waters in June.

Our three oceanswimsafaris to Tonga to swim with whales in 2017 have long been filled, along with our trip to Sulawesi in Indonesia, and our San Sebastián oceanswimsafari in Spain. But you still can come with us on many other of our oceanswimsafaris over the coming winter.

Our Vanuatu oceanswimsafari is different in 2017. Port Vila is a five-day package from Wednesday, May 24-Monday, May 29, with Santo running from Monday through Friday, June 2.

The organisers of the 3.2km Port Vila swim (this year on Saturday, May 27), now the Port Vila MasterBathers, have returned to the swim's original Port Vila Harbour home at the old Rossi Restaurant now once more named the Rossi following a recent change of ownership, as swim HQ (the inaugural original home was when the swim was an informal event in Port Vila's Second Lagoon, but no-one really wants to swim there these days). Around the swim, we have arranged a series of events to offer you a five-day stay in Port Vila with swimming, dining, exploring and lazing about.

Then we're heading up to Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu's "Adventure Island", for a four night/five day oceanswimsafari which this year features the trial of a new swim course past the famed Champagne Beach. We've swum most of this course many times in the past between Lonnoc Bay and Champagne Beach, both ways, but this time we're heading between Lonnoc, around the reef and Timmy's Place, farther along the shoreline. It makes it a slightly longer swim and a much more diverse swim of around 2.5km.

We've also included other local excursions on the beautiful island of Aore, and local swimmers are running the traditional Espiritu Santo Aore Swim from Luganville across the channel to Aore Island Resort, all of which will be available to oceanswimsafarists who come with us to Santo.

Come with us... More info and to book... Click here

manta ray 01
Manta rays... We're heading to Fiji's Yasawas in June to swim with them. Come with us... Click here

In Fiji later in June, you can come with us to swim with manta rays. Anyone who has ever swum with Mantas will have been struck by the grace of these creatures. You may be lucky enough to witness a Manta mating train. On this oceanswimsafari, we'll spend part of our time at Blue Lagoon Resort, and part at Paradise Cove, from where we'll join the Mantas.

We're taking bookings now. For more info and to book... Click here

Our oceanswimsafaris in 2017

We've had tremendous interest in our oceanswimsafaris in 2017, so much so that five of them already are SOLD OUT, and one more (Spain's Costa Brava) has just a couple of places left. If you're interested, get in quick and smart.

Swims open to online entry...

New entries here... Mona Vale-Warriewood (May 6)

In the works... Narrabeen (Nov 4), Cronulla (Nov 19)

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March 8, 2017

heron great barrier reef swim photopia 1611 13
Bookings are open for the 2017 Great Barrier Reef Swim on Heron Island, November 4-8. Wouldn't you like to swim right on the reef? See info below...

This weekend's swims...
  • Sat, March 11 - Nil - Season's winding down in many places, except NSW
  • Sun, March 12 - Broulee (NSW), Coogee (WA), Rotorua (NZ)
  • Mon, March 13 - Port Noarlunga e (SA)

Open at last!

Heron Island bookings open now

We've been inundated in recent weeks with queries from punters about when bookings would open for the Great Barrier Reef Swim on Heron Island in November. Now, we are here to tell you: bookings are open now.

Dates this year are November 4-8, Saturday to Wednesday, which is a little different from previous years. It means your stay includes Melbourne Cup Day. That will be the day of the 2.8km swim around Heron Island, to be followed by a slap up awards dinner and party.

Heron Island Resort operators block the resort for the period of the swim. It's dedicated entirely to us. That means you get to hang out only with ocean swimmers and their towel carriers. For four days. Can you imagine the joy of being able to talk nothing but ocean swimming for four days? No, we can't, either. But it's a lot of fun, swimming daily in perhaps the world's best water. It's not for nothing that David Attenborough chose Heron Island as the location for most of his pieces to camera in his Great Barrier Reef series on the telly last year.

You'll be joined by lots of turtles, nesting, reef sharks, big rays, the odd very large grouper, and lots of other sea life. It is the most magical swimming place. The program includes two swim events, 1km (around the wreck in the Heron Island harbour) and 2.8km (around Heron Island), a course tour and swim back, and swim clinics with Olympian and topline swim coach, Graeme Brewer, one a dry land session and the other in the water.

heron island 14 20 600

We'll be announcing special offers for the Great Barrier Reef Swim in coming weeks, including -

  • A photographic competition in which each month's winner will receive an upgrade on their room booking at this year's swim; and
  • Special rates for nights before and after the swim period. Why not head to Heron Island a few days early? Or stay a few days longer? Or both...?

In the meantime, get in quick and book your spot now. The main rooms last year went very quickly indeed.

For more information and to book... Click here

This weekend...

port noarlunga aerial

We're taking entries for just one event this weekend, the Port Noarlunga Reef Swim in Sarth Australia. We haven't done this swim, but it looks interesting in quite a pretty location (see above).

Two distances on offer: 1.5km or 2.5km. The two run at about the same time, so it's not possible to do both events, unfortunately.

The Port Noarlunga Reef Aquatic Reserve was the first proclaimed reef reserve in South Australia, being established in 1971 to protect the reef life and adjacent river estuary. It is a popular scuba diving and snorkelling location, with more than 200 marine plant species and over 60 fish species. So if you have time, bring your snorkelling gear (just goggles will do), walk to the end of the jetty, step off onto the reef and see the inhabitants for yourself. A small piece of banana will attract them!

This swim offers prizes to wettists, too, separately from newd swimmers, although wettie wearers will not be given official times.

Online entries close at 5pm (CDT) on Saturday, March 11.

To enter online and for more info... Click here

Here's a noice new one...

Around the Bends

avalon bends course

Sometimes, a new swim comes along that shrieks: "This must be done!" So it is with the Newport-Avalon swim, Around the Bends, which has its first outing on Sundee week, March 19.

When we first heard of the swim, we thought it would be like Coogee-Bondi, resurrected by Coach Neil Rogers as the 5 Beaches Swim, and around 4.5km. But no, said Volker Klemm, the awgie at Avalon, which club is running the event. It's about 2.5km, he said. Volker knows his course, and he has done the course, but we remained sceptical. So we measured the course on Google Earth and, sure enough, while it depends upon where you set the buoees, the distance is around 2.5km. Not that we ever really doubted you, Volker, but it seems farther than that when you drive from Newport to Avalon. But then, driving from Newport to Avalon does take you "around the bends" behind Bilgola, hence the swim's name.

What a spectacular course! High headlands, rocky cliffs and rockshelves, exposed beaches along the way. It's a stunning course. Start at Newport near the carpark, by-pass Billie completely, and around the big headland into Avalon. Mind you, it's spectacular if you breathe left. Breathe right and you see nothing, just like Stanwell Park. And as with Stanwell Park, it's a good reason to teach yourself bilateral breathing. We all should be able to breathe bilaterally. It should be one of the basic skills of ocean swimming. Never mind all this cantankerous, curmodgeonly whining about "... too old to change now... " We all can do it if we put our minds to it.

And autumn -- we are into autumn now -- is the best time for a swim like this. Now is the season of gentle offshore breezes, clear skies, crystalline, bluey-free water, with a crispness to the air while the water itself stays warm for some months yet to come.

Go to the event page for Around the Bends on oceanswims.com and find out more. Online entries are open, and close on Sat'dee, March 18... Click here

freshwater mullins swim 170305 storm clouds
Not storm clouds at Freshwater.

Rescheduled postponements - Bondi, North Curl Curl

The other postponement due to seas in Sydney two weekends ago was the Bondi Bluewater Challenge. This event has now been rescheduled on Sunday, April 30. This means punters will have a choice of a swim in the Eastern Suburbs (Bondi), and a swim on the north side (South Curl Curl-Freshwater).

North Curl Curl has re-opened for online entry and existing entries will carry over to the new date.

Online entries to both events have re-opened, and existing entries carry over to the new date.

The other cancellation from this weekend is Narrandera, the Lake Talbot swim, which has been cancelled due to weed in the lake. Let's hope this one comes back in 2018.

Admiral of the Swim

lawrence col radmThe Tilbury Classic at Culburra, on the near Sarth Coast, on Easter Saturday, offers something this season that no other swim -- perhaps any in the world -- offers: it's run by an Admiral. A real admiral. Well, a Rear Admiral, but that's as good as, we reckon. Swim awgie Col Lawrence is a naval officer and Culburra resident who has been stationed in local naval facilities for years. For the last four years, though,Col has commuted each week to Canberra, where he's worked as Chief of Staff to the head of the Navy. Last December, Col was promoted to Rear Admiral.

"Many things (are) chewing up my time, but I really enjoy organising the swim," Col... er, Rear Admiral Lawrence tells us. That's Col, below, the taller bloke, receiving his promotion from another Shoalhaven local, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Tim Barrett.

This sort of thing is a bit of a tradition in the Shoalhaven, which hosts two significant Naval faclities: the Naval Air Base, HMAS Albatross, near Nowra, and the Naval Training College, HMAS Cresswell, at Jervis Bay. (As a corollary, the land including HMAS Creswell -- the college and its curtilage, as it were -- is legally part of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Who knew that?)

We did, but some may not. The organiser of the Gerringong swim for the last couple of years was another Naval officer, Simon Bateman, but Simon is a Captain, a much more senior rank in the Navy than in the Army. Simon was base commander of HMAS Albatross for the last three years, but he has just been posted to New Delhi as the Strãan Naval Attache.

One of the nice things about ocean swimming is to see so many people with fancy pants handles still mucking in to work for their local communities.

Great news for medium-sized punters

New os.c cossie sizes available now

bs cossies both bothGood news for medium-sized punters frustrated that we'd sold out of some sizes of our oceanswims cossies: we've been able to obtain more stock in all sizes from our cobbers at budgysmuggler.com.au.

And all sizes are still on special! 10% off as the season winds down - Laydees' sizes for $A76.50, Men's for $A49.50.

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

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

We love them. And you can buy them now on special while stocks last... Click here

freshwater mullins swim 170305 600 03
Freshwater last Sunday.

Learn how to predict the surf

Coastal Watch Plus Rec WOBWould you like to be better at anticipating what the surf may be like at next week's swim? One of the great traditions of ocean swimming is leaving your entry to a swim as late as possible so that you get a better idea of what surf conditions are likely to be on swim day. Now, we've teamed up with Coastalwatch to bring you the opportunity to learn how to better forecast surf conditions. It won't give you perfect vision forwards, but it should make you better equipped to make that often difficult judgment.

Coastalwatch offers a range of online tools to help you forecast surf conditions in your area. Over the next two months, they're running a series of workshops on using these tools in Sydney (Queenscliff, February 25), on the Gold Coast (Rainbow Bay-Snapper Rocks, March 15) and on the Victorian Surf Coast (Torquay, April 15). The workshops follow the surfing pro tour. They are run by Coastalwatch's lead forecaster, Ben Macartney (whose dad is a regular on the ocean swimming circuit), and surfer and writer Nick Carroll, former editor of Surfing and Tracks magazines (the latter one of our bibles as adolescents -- we had several, the others being Surfing World and Surfabout), whose own dad briefly was our boss, sort of, when we were a younger hack.

We're giving away a double pass to the workshop of your choice. This means the competition is opened up to ocean swimming mugs in NSW, Queensland, and Victoria. All we ask you to do is to tell us, ideally in 25 words or fewer, why you like to ocean swim. A lyrical approach will earn you greater points. We did already draw a winner of this competition, but they couldn't make the workshop in Sydney last weekend. So we'll keep it going till we get one. So get your entries in. We'll publish the best of the entries.

See the link here to find out more about the surf forecasting workshops, or click the Coastalwatch logo above...

To enter... Click here

Controversy Corner...

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

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

We call our feedback section Controversy Corner in memory of the late Rex Mossop, a pioneer in the art of sporting debate, who blazed the way for Roy and Haitch-G, Bruce McAvaney 'n all. Rex had Controversy Corner on his Sundee morning footy show on the telly. It was formative in our upbringing.

Swim with Mantas

manta ray 01
Manta rays... We're heading to Fiji's Yasawas in June to swim with them. Come with us... Click here

Our three oceanswimsafaris to Tonga to swim with whales in 2017 have long been filled, but you still can come with us to Fiji to swim with Manta rays. We're offering a new oceanswimsafari to Fiji's Yasawa islands in June. Come with us.

Anyone who has ever swum with Mantas will have been struck by the grace of these creatures. You may be lucky enough to witness a Manta mating train. On this oceanswimsafari, we'll spend part of our time at Blue Lagoon Resort, and part at Paradise Cove, from where we'll join the Mantas.

Come with us... More info and to book... Click here

port vila harbour

Our Vanuatu oceanswimsafari is different in 2017. Port Vila is a five-day package from Wednesday, May 24-Monday, May 29, with Santo running from Monday through Friday, June 2.

The organisers of the 3.2km Port Vila swim (this year on Saturday, May 27), now the Port Vila MasterBathers, have returned to the swim's original Port Vila Harbour home at the old Rossi Restaurant now once more named the Rossi following a recent change of ownership, as swim HQ (the inaugural original home was when the swim was an informal event in Port Vila's Second Lagoon, but no-one really wants to swim there these days). Around the swim, we have arranged a series of events to offer you a five-day stay in Port Vila with swimming, dining, exploring and lazing about.

Then we're heading up to Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu's "Adventure Island", for a four night/five day oceanswimsafari which this year features the trial of a new swim course past the famed Champagne Beach. We've swum most of this course many times in the past between Lonnoc Bay and Champagne Beach, both ways, but this time we're heading between Lonnoc, around the reef and Timmy's Place, farther along the shoreline. It makes it a slightly longer swim and a much more diverse swim of around 2.5km.

We've also included other local excursions on the beautiful island of Aore, and local swimmers are running the traditional Espiritu Santo Aore Swim from Luganville across the channel to Aore Island Resort, all of which will be available to oceanswimsafarists who come with us to Santo.

We're taking bookings now. For more info and to book... Click here

Our oceanswimsafaris in 2017

We've had tremendous interest in our oceanswimsafaris in 2017, so much so that five of them already are SOLD OUT, and one more (Spain's Costa Brava) has just a couple of places left. If you're interested, get in quick and smart.

freshwater mullins swim 170305 600 02
Through a peephole at Freshwater.

Website not working for you?

A few people contact us from time to time to report things like, "The website doesn't work". Or, "the entry page is broken". Almost invariably, it turns out to be an issue with their own 'puter, and even, in some cases, they're going to the wrong page to enter. Some punters claim it's all broken, and it turns out they have Googled a swim and have been using a link relating to a past event. Little wonder that that link did not work. Others try to "enter" through other websites that purport to offer entries to swims, when in reality those websites use old or incorrect links. And they don't follow up when links or info changes.

The only reliable way to find a swim's event page in order to enter online is to use the link on our Featured Swims list on our home page (oceanswims.com), or on our calendar (in rare cases, if we are taking entries but the event has not chosen to become a Featured Swim).

Remember to leave your mobile phone number when you enter. If a swim is cancelled or postponed, often we are able to sms you to let you know, if you've entered online. But we can't send you an sms if you've left a landline number. A number of entrants to Bondi and North Curl Curl last weekend did not receive an SMS informing them of the postponements because they did not use valid Strãan mobile numbers with their entries.

Remember, too, you collect your "swim pack" for all swims (other than the Cole Classic) at the beach on swim day. Most swims' "swim packs" are your timing chip (if applicable) and your swim cap. That's all.

Swims open to online entry...

New entries here... Nowra-Culburra (Easter Sat, Apr 15)

In the works... Hervey Bay (Qld, Sep 10), Toowoon Bay (NSW,Nov 25)

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