Stanwell Park (NSW) – ACTUAL e
Chris Ivin's course preview of The Big Swim of the South (@1worldimages)
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The "Big Swim of the South"
Awgies at Stanwell Park have reinstated "the Big Swim of the South" after an hiatus of four years. And we're glad it's back. It's a journey swim beneath the Illawarra Escarpment worthy of the otherwise clichéd tag of "epic". Best to breathe left; if you breathe only right, you'll miss it all.
This is one of the most spectacular swims you will ever do -- 2.3km along the foot of the Illawarra Escarpment. Dramatic, moving, stunning... provided you breathe to the left. If you breathe only to the right, you will get the Stanwell Tops headland up ahead, with people hurling themselves off it at regular intervals on a Sundee morning, as they launch into the big blue in hang-glider harnesses.
This is a stunning swim at one of Sydney's most beautiful beaches. Stanwell Park is on Sydney's southern edge, so it is a city swim in a regional or country setting. You know that from the relaxed, down home atmosphere of the Stanwell Park club, very proud 'burghers (Helensburghers), Stanwellians and Stantoppians who patrol one of the region's most treacherous beaches -- when the seas are up -- and one of its most beautiful beaches.
Most of then time, however, it's just a very beautiful, interesting beach with a stunning stretch of water. The escarpment towers over you as you plug along. The bottom alternates between clean sand and reef, and reefs mean sea life. We've seen some pretty amazing creatures on the bottom down there. And, being out of the city area, the water is cleaner and clearer than you get generally on Sydney beaches. If the water is clear -- three years back, as organiser Andrew Perrin remarked afterwards -- "you were in eight metres of water, but you could count every grain of sand on the bottom".
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