Sunday was the Bilgola 1.5km event. It’s about an hour’s drive away and OTB (Over the Bridge) from my house, so Allison and Ronene and I carpooled and drove up to the Northern beaches.

There had been some internet chatter about a “southerly” couched in terms of doom, but we were pretty happy on the way up. The sun was shining, it was so warm we needed the air conditioning on, and we could see the sun sparkling off the flat water.

We made it in good time and pulled up into the rugby club carpark and lined up for the courtesy shuttle bus down to the beach.

And then the southerly arrived. Just. Like. That.

The cloud rolled in, and the air turned cold and the wind picked up. Literally in the time it took us to get to the beach, things had turned nasty.

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Most importantly, the wind was whipping up the waves. And then blowing the tops off them spraying water all over the place.

After last week I did my best to calm the nerves and assure myself that I do relatively better in rough conditions and that I would be totally fine. That I know what I’m doing when I’m out there. That it’s just one buoy to the next, and one arm in front of the other.

And that’s kind of what happened. Plus mouthfuls of water, and not being able to see the buoys because the waves were too big and the wind was blowing so much water off the top of them that it felt like it was raining hard.

I actually had to stop 3 times during the race…and I can’t remember the last time I had to stop even once. The first time because my goggles were a bit fogged…and I was having so much trouble seeing anyway I needed all the help I could get.

The second stop was because I managed to inhale/swallow what felt like the contents of a small lake. I swallow a bit of water on a regular basis and it doesn’t really freak me out any more…but this was a different volume altogether. Enough that I had to stop and cough. And maybe gag just a little.

The last stop was literally because I was so horribly lost. I knew I’d gone off track after the first main can and had gotten myself back on track to get out the back and that had cost me too much time already. The field was so spread out, and no matter how much I sighted I couldn’t see a buoy. I kept swimming in vaguely in the direction I thought I was supposed to be going, but when I started seeing waves breaking onto rocks ahead of me, I decided that wasn’t a course I wanted to continue. 2 guys who had been swimming nearby also stopped for a look. “Where the hell is that can?” one asked. “No idea” was my response.

Not exactly a straight line....

Not exactly a straight line….

Next minute a really big wave came along and from the crest all 3 of us spotted the buoy at the same time. A quick swear word later and we were all off back in the right direction (and swam basically together for the rest of the course).

So in the end, I finished. That’s about the best that could be said. My time was atrocious (47:45) and I was sloshing full of seawater.

A couple of our 4SEASons swimmers didn’t finish and there were plenty  of people who obviously struggled as much as I was far from last.

I’m off on holidays from next weekend so that’s the last swim for me until the new year. Let’s home the conditions give me a decent one soon, because that Billie swim with a southerly felt like hard work!

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