Ocean swimming is something that scares a lot of people. Regardless of what real and/or percieved dangers there are, there are times when that fear is possibly well-grounded.

I’ve been doing this for a little while now. Do you want to know what scares me?

Here’s the surf forecast for tomorrow at Bondi….what do you think?

Bondi Suf forecast

Bondi Suf forecast

Yes, that’s metric, not imperial. 5 metre waves!!!!

That is enough to make me a little nervous. Apprehensive, even. Those are some big waves, baby!

But I’ll still go, and I’ll still swim. And here’s why:

  1. 5 metres isn’t necessarily 5 metres all the time and evenly across the whole beach. There’s a reason the surfers all crowd at particular spots on the beach. Often you can pick your spot for the type of training you want to do.
  2. Not all 5 metre waves are created equal. Some are messy, some are dumpy, some are strong, some are fast, some are slow and weak. Sometimes it can look like hard work and be pretty easy, and other times it can look like it’s straightforward but there can be a rip or a sweep or an undertow. Knowing there will be big waves isn’t really enough information to make an informed judgement about what it will be like to swim in. Getting down and having a proper look helps, and then going in slowly to literally test the waters is how to find out what the true conditions are.
  3. I trust my coaches. This one is the most important. I know they will have had a good look around before we arrive. They are knowledgable and wouldn’t put anyone in a situation they thought was actually dangerous.
  4. Not all training is the same. Tomorrow looks to be exceptional, but every week the conditions are different down there. Training is always adapted to the conditions. If the surf is really bad there’s always beach running. We can chose how far out to swim. Ins and outs close to the shore build race start and finish skills and are good for cardio, so it’s by no means a waste of a session to adapt that way.

…and to demonstrate, here’s a direct copy and paste of the email I just recieved from Coach Zoe:

The conditions and forecast for tomorrow sound very rough and tumble at Bondi Beach.
Here’s the plan for tomorrow;
Step 1. go to bondi beach
Step 2. look out at the waves from one end to the other
Step 3. have a chat about how crazy we all are for being at the beach
Step 4. go and jump in!
Seriously though, we will assess the conditions and determine if there is a suitable area of bondi to swim. If there isn’t we will not swim.
I can only remember one day at Bondi that there was absolutely no where to swim.
Often the days when the conditions are the worst are the most fun!

I will make one concession, though. I’m going to find my oldest scratched up pair of goggles to wear! It’s days like this the ocean claims more goggle sacrifices than usual!