Archive for January, 2013


The eve of a long weekend, One of Australia’s most hallowed and revered.

The weather? Divine. Hot, but not stinking hot. Not horridly humid. Just right.

And I’ve been sick on and off for a couple of weeks now. Boo! ūüė¶ So I decided to act like a grown up and take myself off to the doctor. Well…a new diagnosis (you mean self-diagnosis isn’t the way to go? who new?) and new drugs, and within a couple of hours I felt a million times better. By the end of the day I was even ready to leave he house and try a bit of a dip. Salt water helps cure what ails you, right?

Seems it was true. I wasn’t quite sure how I’d go, but the cool of the water and the weightlessness made me feel better than I had for a while.

It wasn’t a big set, but the water was super, super crystal clear and there were just fish everywhere, Not big ones, but the tiny little stripy ones, and silvery shimmery garfish swimming in formation near the surface, parting without a care in the world and dividing into smaller schools as the swimmers passed.

There were families and snorkelers and surfers and swimmers, and the joy of feeling so good after really not for a bit. We did a north end swim safari out to the point and then back along the rocks. And I have never ever ever seen so many fish. They must have been gearing up for a long weekend too!

There was bit of shortage of slower swimmers there, and lord know i wasn’t really feeling up to pushing things too hard, so I really swam for the joy of it. Seems I wasn’t the only one…as I spotted one Coach Kingy diving down to frolic and have a look at the natural aquarium…on more than one occasion!

It really was Bondi at it’s best and finest.

 

What a privilege it is to live somewhere I get to do this. All the time!

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Graduation Night!!!

After months of hard work it was time to make sure everyone had their swimmers to try out and get used to before their big events. That, and have an embarrassing photo!

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Not to be outdone, the mentors got to have photos wearing crazy hats! (Thanks to Captain Bel for the Arts and Crafts). Sadly the Wednesday weather curse threatened to send them off on their own adventure.20130130-145328.jpgWe also had a very special guest. None other than Can Too founder, director and dead-set-legend, Annie Crawford, who has done so much for such a good cause, and is perfectly lovely to boot.

Annie came along for a bunch of reasons, all of them good. One in particular stood out, though. The awesome and inspiring Tamera has been a participant in swim programs, a half marathon run program, a mentor, a team captain and now a coach for our wonderful premiere ABC pod. Just to add a little sugar, she’s a hero of mine for completing the Rottnest Island channel swim last year, embarking on the adventure of motherhood this year, and being just one of the nicest people you could meet.

And she’s now raised $10,000 for cancer research.

20130130-145415.jpgChampion!

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I’ve never done the Mona Vale swim before. It has a reputation as being a tough one, but¬†definitely¬†didn’t live up to it’s bad boy reputation this year.

The usual carpool suspects were all out of action – Ronene’s been jetsetting for work, Fiona’s been out for a little bit (something to do with a ¬†big story about having a baby), Vanessa has been sick, Sonja had plans, and Allison already had a ride. So I rode the motorbike up the coast for a change. Made parking a breeze!

There wasn’t a huge contingent of 4SEASons swimmers there. I kind of get it – it’s a fair way to go for a 1.6km event.

I rocked  up and spotted the motley band in orange and blue waiting for the shuttle bus to take us to Warriewood (race is a destination swim from Warriewood to Mona Vale). I ducked into the change rooms to get my motorbike gear off and my swimming gear on, and when I came back out the bus had arrived and was full so I had to wait for the next one. All on my own!

By the time the next bus came, we got down to the beach, did a bag drop and a quick dip, it was time to start! All a bit of a rush really…I usually like just a little time to collect my own thoughts! Should have walked around if I’d known how long that second bus was going to be, so it was my own fault really.

The race itself ran smoothly. There wasn’t much in the way of surf or swell or chop. The buoys were easy to spot and the course well marked. I felt pretty good and arrived at the other end before I knew it!

So all in all it was a pretty good event. I just came away from a bit dissatisfied and it took a bit of thinking to figure out why. I think that really where i’m at right now, a 1.6km isn’t enough of a push for me. Or I need to really dig in and consider that sort of distance a sprint. Just something to mix it up and make sure I don’t phone it in. Time to make sure I push myself in the shorter races as well, I think!

Smooth sailing - Warriewood to Mona Vale

Smooth sailing – Warriewood to Mona Vale

After a hot and steamy Friday night, the cool change was welcome. The big waves that come with it were a mixed blessing, though.

I did the early 4SEASons session before Can Too training, and after coming along to spectate at last week’s North Bondi Roughwater¬†I had finally gotten my friend (and dive buddy!) Steph along to an ocean session. Talk about being thrown in at the deep end!

Super-Steph!

Super-Steph!

 

 

 

It’s been smooth seas for a while now, and I think it was a shock to they system of a lot of the Can Too swimmers to find themselves in pretty big surf.

Although it was tough and challenging, it was a really good chance to get back into those big surf skills – porpoising, getting under waves, swimming hard between the sets, and learning to judge the waves as they were coming at us fast and strong.

I personally love these conditions….lots of fun and bests of all is the¬†body surfing! It did take me a long time to get there, though, plenty of winter Saturdays with Coach Kingy standing in the break giving instructions (mostly “Keep swimming!”) or literally holding my hand as I dived under the waves to give me a sense of when to go under and when to come back up.

I know there were a lot of people there who found the big waves quite challenging, but one thing I know for sure is that dealing with that sort of surf is a skill you can learn like any other. It doesn’t have to come naturally, and in fact some of the best things to do when encountering these conditions are actually quite¬†counter-intuitive.

I’ve written about big waves before, and my favourite tips. Might be time for a bit of a review!

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This was Sydney on Friday.

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Read aaaaalllllll the way to the bottom. Yup, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you, That says 45.8. Celsius. Or a smidgen over 115 degrees Fahrenheit if you’re from one of those logic-resistant places. So regardless of whatever measurement system you use, the laymen’s term for the weather is “hot as hell”. It was an all-time record for Sydney and the hottest I’ve experienced (if you include the humidity factor) since a beyond crazy couple of days I spent back in ’94 in Namibia…but that’s another story…possibly one I should share at some point because there were a whole lot of swims in the time I spent there and I’m sure they’re at least somewhat relevant to this blog. Not Quite Nemo: The Formative Years, perhaps.

It was hot. Hot it was. Hot. Hot. Hot. Hot. Hot. Sorry..the temperature addled my mind for a bit. When It’s¬†that hot it’s a bit hard to focus properly on anything else. All you know is that it’s hot. Really, really, indescribably hot.

Days like this are just made for swimming though. There was a pretty decent turn out of 4SEASons swimmers and plenty of punters on the beach.

The water was refreshingly cool, and the temperature had already started dropping into a cool change in the evening, so the swim was even more heavenly than usual. We headed up the North end and did some ins and outs using some pretty impressive inflatable watercraft as markers…trying not to get too distracted by the beer-toting occupants!

It was kind of strange to be swimming and inhaling these breaths of such hot air, though. Kind of like if you were sucking on the end of a hairdryer. Or how I imagine that would be…not something I actually recommend you try!

Ahhhh, thank goodness for beaches and swimming. Made a crazy situation into a joy.

Back in week 4 we did a time trial, for a bunch of good reasons. The first one on my list is that doing regular time-trials gives you a benchmark so you know how you’re doing and can check your progress.

In week 9, after 5 weeks of training (plus hopefully a few swims over the Christmas break) we did a second time trial to give us that second point of comparison.

So how do you think we went?

Well, amazingly of course. Our ABC swimmers have put in the hard work, trained hard, (not to mention raised funds for a great cause and had a great time along the way) and the results speak for themselves.

Everyone improved on their first times. Everyone. 100% of the sample! There were some spectacular successes…up to 10% improvements, and a few people who did the shorter 500m trial last time who felt strong enough to do the 1km trial this time instead.

Words cannot possibly express how proud I am at how far everyone has come. Great coaches and a great program definitely work, but consistent hard work, that’s the real key, and our ABC group have been doing plenty of that!

What a bunch of superstars!

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You may have noticed that there’s not a Can Too pool session week 8 pool session post. There was a Can Too week 8 pool session and I would have loved¬†to have gone to the Can Too week 8 pool session. As a matter of fact I was on my way to the¬†Can Too pool session week 8 pool session. I left work in plenty of time to make it to the¬†Can Too pool session week 8 pool session. I arrived at my bike in time to ride to the¬†Can Too pool session week 8 pool session. To discover some jerk had knocked my parked motorcycle over and driven off. Grr. Broken clutch lever – not a big problem, but it did make the bike unrideable til I could get nd fit a new one. No training for me.

Not to dwell…sounds like it was an awesome set, and I’m sad I missed it, but lucky to have been part of the rest of the program. Onto week 9….

Wardrobe Malfunctions

“Ocean swimming is a glamour sport”

Said nobody, ever.

Between caps and goggles and lycra outfits that cover the bare essentials, not to mention the joy of the wetsuit dance, and apres-swim requirements, I’m guilty of many, many crimes against fashion. I admit it, I’m a repeat offender.

There is one thing, though, that stands in a class of it’s own. The wardrobe malfunction. I imagine it’s possible for guys, but I’ve not come across it. Just about every girl, though has a story about it, and almost everyone has been witness to a bad one. I personally was subjected to a particularly bad case in the North Bondi Roughwater last week. I was swimming alongside a woman in what looked like a perfectly sensible speedo one-piece who was completely oblivious to the fact that every time I I breathed to my left I was copping full view of well, ummm, let’s just say it was a Janet Jackson superbowl moment. I kept thinking surely she would realise…I didn’t really want to stop, but eventually I tapped her one the shoulder and gasped “fix your swimmers!”

She thanked me and adjusted as though she had a wedgie. *Sigh*

This is an unfortunate problem with ocean swimming. I think is has to do with the fact that there are currents and waves and other swimmers jostling. And most ladies swimmers are either made with fashion or pool-swimming in mind.

There are a couple of exceptions, though. I’ve raved about Funkitas here before. They are awesome swimmers with awesome patterns, and they are comfortable and *ahem* secure, and last well. The other swimmers I now recommend are Minnows. These are made by the gorgeous (and super-fast) Immie who swims with me at 4SEASons. She made our very special 4SEASons swimmers,¬†modeled¬†below by yours truly (in the middle)!

4 SEASons swimmers

4 SEASons swimmers

 

The Minnows feel different when you put them on. They have a very high cross strap at the back; basically across your shoulder blades. This combined with smaller armholes means the risk of a wardrobe malfunction is substantially reduced. Plus the material is really soft and stretchy which makes them super comfortable (and non-chafing!). They really are made by an ocean swimmer for ocean swimmers.

So if that woman from North Bondi happens to be reading….no more excuses!

Last Sunday was the North Bondi Roughwater. It was the first race back after Christmas (let’s just say I’m still struggling to get back into a decent training routine) and my first double up (1km and 2km race at the same event) this season. I’m hoping to be in good enough shape by April to swim the Coogee to Bondi 5km¬†¬†(like how I slipped that major bit of news in there without too much fanfare since I’m still kind of feeling a bit weak at the knees whenever I think about it) so I’m really needing to do distance swims wherever I can at the moment. That means double training sessions and race double-ups.

Doing a race double up is kind of a funny thing. It can totally mess with your head. Do you treat the 1km as a warm up? go hard? go easy? conserve your strength and energy or stretch out and try to find your pace early? Just so you now…those aren’t rhetorical questions! If you know any of the answers please let me know!

What I do know is that I didn’t get it right at this event. Well, the first part anyway. The 1km took me over 28 minutes. To put this into context, this was my very first event ever ever ever 3 years ago and my time was 29:20. My time for my third attempt was not a whole lot faster. You’d think I’d have some sort of analysis or theory to present as to why I swam so poorly, but I don’t. There was a lady swimming right next to me with quite a serious and distracting wardrobe malfunction, and I did find it kind of hard to focus during that part of the race….but honestly, that’s just clutching at straws as far as excuses go.

The truth is, it was a touch choppy out the back, and I didn’t really have a clear strategy about whether I would go hard or easy so i kept changing my mind. And I kind of went in with a bad attitude. I don’t know where it came from and I wish that nasty little negative voice that occasionally crops up in my head would shut the hell up.

Anyway, I knew it the whole race, and I knew it when i finished, and I knew it when I was waiting to line up and do twice the distance. To be perfectly honest, I was in such a crappy headspace that it would not have taken a lot of convincing me to give up and go home for a nap.

Fortunately (sometimes), I’m kind of stubborn. I put on my big-girl pants and figured I would hop in and at least give the 2km a go. Did I mention it was the first ever race for the inspiring first-season-swimmers Chad and Sonja who I had at least some hand in influencing into their idea to take up this crazy caper? Making me¬†apparently the person who was supposed to be the example or the good influence or something). I had also talked my dive buddy Steph into coming to support and a bunch of mutual friends of everyone was there. You might think that I’m about to tell you how that all shamed me into swimming properly for a change.

Well, not exactly.

What did happen, was that the combination of those things got me back in the water. The funny thing about swimming is that it’s very much your own race, every time. And somewhere around the second can, inexplicably, I realised I was having fun.

The awkward rhythm and inability to get into a reasonable pace were gone. All of a sudden i was focussed and enjoying myself. It was amazing!!

Others around me were stopping or breast-stroking to sight and figure out where they were, and where the were going. I felt like I was on track without any effort at all. I let go of overthinking things andmanaged to get full focus on my technique.

My internal monologue was going something like this:

  1. Toes – brush big toes together.
  2. Legs – 2 beat kick. (Yes, unlike pool swimmers, ocean swimmers generally do a 2-beat kick…various reasons I should write a whole post about!)
  3. Knees; Stop bending them too much. Kick with the hips for the love of everything that’s holy, Jacki.
  4. Back and shoulder blades. Up and back. Good body position.
  5. Elbows. High.
  6. Hips: Rotating.
  7. Arms….hold. hold. hold. Big thing at the moment for me is this so it was pretty front of mind.
  8. Over the barrel.
  9. Palms down: No stop signs!
  10. Don’t cross that midline with your arms, Jacki! And not too wide either!

And most importantly, don’t over think it! If you get too tense you sink!

Believe it or not, this is a good thing for me. It sounds like a lot, but remember this is over 44 and a half minutes. If I’m thinking about this stuff it leaves a whole lot less room in my head for negative bullsh1t like:

  1. thinking about how much it hurts
  2. or how tired I am
  3. or that I’ve been sick. however long it’s been
  4. or that I’ve been injured. however long it’s been
  5. or why I can totally justify giving up and getting one of those nice water safety fellows to tow me in.
  6. or what else I should be doing, or who’s cleaning my house, or whether my husband bought milk so I can have a coffee when I get home…or, or, or, or……

Yeah….so where was I? Negative self-talk = boo, focus on the moment = yay. Bondi roughwater 1km = boo. Bondi roughwater 2km (same day) = Yay!

So what’s the end verdict? Well…the day was actually about a lot more than just the ridiculous voices in¬†my head. For a lot of amazing and inspiring people it was their first race and they were ah.may.zing! Whatever my issues with a half-goo half-bad event day were quickly eclipsed by seeing so many people having so much fun.

Wort every second. 2 thumbs up!

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Photos courtesy of Steph!

Wow – I’m a bit behind due to a tricky gastro thing, followed closely by lots of swimming. I haven’t yet figured out how to both swim¬†and write.

What I can do, however, is (kind of) swim and take photos.

So here are some photos from¬†last week’s Can Too session. It was a lovely day and the coaches instructions were for everyone to hop in and swim point to point without stopping. So everyone¬†did! How far we’ve come..it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

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