Archive for April, 2013


Hi everyone…sorry I’ve been a bit out of action with a non-swimming-related injury. I got back on the horse (Sea-horse of course!) on the weekend so posts are being drafted.

In the mean time, if you feel so inclined, feel free to pop over here and sign the petition for ABC pool to open longer over the winter. It’s a cracker of a pool with a great iconic location and ¬†it seems such a shame for it to be shut allllll winter.

Back soon,

ūüôā NQN

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You’ve read the review. if you’re¬†really¬† interested, and/or were there on the day, I actually took a lot of photos. Or handed my camera to a couple of people who took a lot of photos while I was swimming (that’s kind of the same thing, right?) so thanks to my delegate photographers who did such an outstanding job/

So here’s the link to the full set of pictures from the fabbo day!

If you enjoy them half as much as I enjoyed the swim you’re in for ¬†treat.

Ah Coogee…one of my favourite beaches and one of my favourite races. Swimming out and around an island is definitely fun. Once you get out near the island you can start seeing the bottom again, and all the fishies. And there just seems to be something kind of primal and basic about swimming out to an island. Inspiring the explorer spirit in all of us.

It was a beautiful day again. Autumn seems to be succeeding where Summer failed as far as delivering gorgeous weather for event days!

This was a pretty long day for me as I did the 1km event followed by the 2.4km. It’s the longest I’ve done, but the arms held up pretty well (despite a bit of a case of house-painter’s arm!).

The 1km was a bit of an interesting start. It was scheduled to start at 9.15 so just before 9 we headed over to near the start line for a briefing and a warm-up.

Well, it turns out the organisers decided to start the race early. 15 minutes early. Where was I when this happened? Out past the break still warming up! The start waves were divided into under 40 and over 40…so I had missed my wave start.

Well, there was only one thing for it, I cut across in a curve to intercept the pack. As this was a long event, I had already planned to take it a bit easier on the short course. The stuff up with the start wasn’t such a big deal for me, but it did mean I didn’t start my Garmin so there’s no map for that event.

The race went as expected. Plenty of breast-strokers…but you do tend to get a bit more of that with the short courses as those are the ones that the less -experienced swimmers tend¬†to¬†sign up for. Still, it’s the height of poor form in my book…I don’t care who you are. Breast stroke is for lanes in a pool, not ocean swims. I’ve been on the¬†receiving¬†end of more than one¬†frog¬†kick and can tell you it’s a downright danger to the swimmers around you. (Rant over!)

The 2.4km was much better on that front, and I managed to get to the line and start with the rest of the crowd this time!

Ah, I do love this race. There were a lot of people participating this year…all grateful that there are finally some swimmable events! I like the course, and it was well laid out. The water safety were plentiful and helpful. The only problem in the end was a stuff-up with results for a bunch of swimmers being left off. Oceanswims¬†have done a great job of trying to figure them out from the photos taken at the finish line, but it’s really, really bad to have a problem like that in the first place…hopefully lesson learned for next time!

So all in all, a great day out. The season is winding down now….no swims next weekend (well, none close enough to be do-able), then 2 more to go. Time to start thinking about off-season training and winter swimming!

Coogee 2.4

Another beautiful Saturday morning rolled around with sunshine and balmy water. For a bit of a change, coach Zoe conducted the session from a paddle board.

A group doing lifeguard training conveniently had a couple of cans out, so we mainly worked on sighting for the session. It all seems so easy. In theory.

In practice, however, when you’re only head-high out of the water, and if there’s a bit of a swell, those things can look tiny and be impossible to find.

The photos below were from the beach,and even from that perspective you can see just how small those suckers look!

DSCN0448 DSCN0449
You can only imagine how much ore difficult it can be on a rough day. However sighting well and therefore swimming straight can really make a lot of difference on race day, so we tend to seize any opportunity to practice the skills needed.

With a coach on a board it was the perfect opportunity to do the exercise where we swim towards a moving target. It’s a lot of fun, and feels just like being in a school of fish changing direction as a whole!

I’ve written a bit before about Zoggs. Firstly I reviewed my favourites¬†the¬†Zoggs Predatorflex polarised. Then recently a new model was released so I reviewed the slightly different black version.

Well, it seems that at the same time I bought the black model, I may have also accidentally bought the other new offering – a photochromatic or transition lens goggle.

Zoggs transitionsI wear transition lens glasses when riding my motorbike and am a huge fan of the versatility under different conditions, particularly when you’re in a situation where you can’t just take sunglasses on and off. So I was prepared to love these. I really hoped to love these because they’re also substantially more expensive than my usual goggles.

I’ve trained in them a few times now and raced in them at Queenscliff so thought these’s only one thing for it…it’s time for a review!

Here’s a list of the pros…..

  • These lenses are clear and the transition works pretty well. They are advertised as taking 2 mins to transition to new light levels. This is supposedly so you don’t get anything weird happening as you turn your head in and out of the water to breathe. I don’t know of any other company doing this type of thing, and I have to say it’s a great idea….especially for longer races where conditions may change and/or might be different at different legs of the course (ie facing into or away from the sun).
  • They do come in a very fancy and sturdy zippered hard case. It’s even big enough to fit a spare pair of other goggles inside! Plastic zipper so no rusting. All goggles should come with cases like this!
  • The lenses are quite big and give a good range of visibility
  • These fit nicely and have the ratchet straps that Zoggs never should have abandoned with their black model. Width is good again, like the originals.

And of course the cons…….

  • Not really many. I think the time it takes to transition could be a touch quicker. 2 minutes just felt a bit long as I came around a can and into full sunlight at Queenscliff. Just being picky here.
  • I know I can’t have everything, but can’t aI have goggles that are transitions lenses¬†and polarised? I have certainly noticed you can’t see as clearly or as deep into the water.
  • The big problem with these, though,¬†is¬†the price point. At around $60 these are around 3 times the price of my regular goggles.

So in summary – these are great.¬†Really¬†great. Clever idea and executed very well. Buuuut….are they 3 times as good as my regular goggle? Well, I can’t really say they are. I love them, but I’m not sure that I love them enough to make them my regular goggle. If I was a millionaire or sponsored or something, I’d always keep a pair handy for those days when you don’t know which way the weather will go, but for now, honestly, I’ll probably stick with my old faithfuls.

If you want my general thoughts on goggles, I’ve written about them in a ¬†previous post.

In case you’re wondering, this is not a paid endorsement, just my opinion. I imagine I’m about as far from commanding paid sponsorships as you can get…short of not swimming at all!

I’ve already done my race review of the Bondi Bluewater event from Easter. Seems a very clever someone immortalised the race their own way and did a magnificent job of it!

If you haven’t already seen it doing the rounds, please hit play on this…it’s a wonderful lens on the ocean swimming experience, complete with 4SEASons¬†and Can Too swimmers and wardrobe malfunctions (fortunately not on the same person!).

If you happen to have come here wondering what it’s all about the video above is the best thing I’ve seen to show you (short of jumping in the water and giving it a go!). Well done to the very clever fellow who made it.

Ah Queenscliff. Finally. ūüôā

After recent craziness in my life, I took the afternoon off after training Saturday morning, napped on the couch and actually watched a DVD. It was heavenly. In the evening Mr Nemo was out of the house, leaving me with sole responsibility for the remote and menu choices for the evening. Healthy dinner, no alcohol (after Freshwater I learnt my lesson) and an early night.

As a result, I woke up feeling like a million bucks!

Even better, the sun was shining, and the ride to Queenscliff was gorgeous. I arrived at the beach found my crew, and together we marveled at the beautiful day.

The first race was touted as an 800m event. In the end I think it was a little longer than that…and for me a little longer again as I managed to come in way wide of the finish line. Not entirely sure how I managed that as I had no idea I’d even done it until after. No excuses, either, the conditions were pretty friendly. I went hard in this and treated it as a sprint. I am so¬†not a sprinter it was perhaps that that threw me out!

The toughest part of the Queenscliff event was the start/finish. I haven’t swum there before, so not sure if it was¬†just¬†because of a low tide, but the run out (and then back in at the end) was loooong and very bumpy. Anyone who managed to not stack in one direction or the other was definitely the exception rather than the rule, and I was certainly not one of them! It was also pretty hard work for¬†people¬†like me who are definitely more comfortable putting in their effort in the water instead of the sand!

The other trick was in the short course – keeping your cans in order. The way the course was laid out had one of the cans ready for the long course in a very awkward spot. Differentiating the difference in colours between orange and red wasn’t really that easy once you’re in the water and only head height!

Other than that, though, it was a cracking day. The longer course was also very enjoyable and it was so nice to be swimming in the sun again! It was a little odd for a while as there must have been a delay in getting the last wave started. 20 minutes in and I hadn’t been passed by the leaders of the age group behind me…I was starting to get a little paranoid that I was swimming way off course or something!

Overall a great race!

 

I have written (probably more than once) about my favourite goggles, the Zoggs Predatorflex polarised. I love them, and have converted many people to the joys of polarised lenses and a good fit.

You can imagine my excitement, then, when I discovered there was a new model of¬†Zoggs Predatorflex…different colour option and everything.

Next time I did a wiggle¬†order, a pair may have just happened to accidentally slipped into my shopping cart……

Zoggs black

I’ve had a chance to wear these a few times now and have raced in them once, so thought it might be time for a review.

 

Here’s a list of the pros…..

  • These have the polarised lenses I love. You can see so much more, particularly if you’re interested in checking out the local inhabitants below the surface. Plus they cut glare without sacrificing clarity.
  • The lenses are actually a bit darker than those on the older model of predatorflex. This is good for super-sunny bright conditions, and I feel like when I’ve worn them in those conditions they have helped my eyes not get sore.
  • The lenses are quite big and give a good range of visibility
  • Like the previous model, they seem fairly resilient. They don’t seem to scratch or wear too badly.

And of course the cons…….

  • These goggles come with a cloth pouch instead of a plastic case. I’ve put them in a different one, because nothing lasts long in the bottom of my swim bag without decent protection. Sand is amazingly abrasive.
  • The lenses being dark, they wouldn’t be much good for pool sessions, or in really low light.
  • For some reason, this model replaces the ratchet strap with a double elastic string around a plastic closure. I cannot fathom why as I hate that and think it’s a big step backwards. I like to be able to tighten and loosen the straps for different conditions. In particular this worked badly for me at the Freshwater race where they came off my head (I would have tightened them up at the start of the race if it hadn’t been such a pain) and I had to finish with no goggles (they turned up later, thanks sea-gods!).
  • These seem a bit wider than the previous model. This might actually work well for the bigger blokes out there, but I found they were a touch wide for my face and this affected the sealing ability. I had a bit of a leakage problem when I wore them at Freshie. I can’t see myself racing in these again, so might give them to one of the guys I train with to test out.

So in summary Рnot a bad goggle (apart from the straps!), but probably not very likely to make their way into my shopping cart again. If I were a guy or had a wider face, the story might be different, though.

If you want my general thoughts on goggles, I’ve written about them in a ¬†previous post.

In case you’re wondering, this is not a paid endorsement, just my opinion. I imagine I’m about as far from commanding paid sponsorships as you can get…short of not swimming at all!

Despite my best intentions, the ongoing home renovation saga and the inevitable post-public holiday workload, I missed training all week this week.

Thanks god for Saturday mornings, and training this week did not disappoint!

The water temperature at the moment is so stunning. It really makes swimming such a pleasure.

The session was my second favourite thing (after body surfing!) to do…a swim safari!

Today we headed to the South end, which we do less commonly than the North. I think it’s a little more technically challenging (Wikipedia just told me that ”¬†While the northern end has been rated a gentle 4 (with 10 as the most hazardous), the southern side is rated as a 7″), and the south end is where the surfers tend to be, and that can be a challenge for us (nobody wants to get hit in the head by a surfboard).

Like the North end, there is a famous rip that can give you a sweet ride out if you know what you’re doing. It’s known as the “backpacker express” because of the Backpacker’s hostel across the road. Or the numbers unwary backpackers who have taken a ride on it! If you look closely at the first picture of us getting our briefing on the beach below, you can see the “Dangerous Currents” sign in the background…and if you look even harder at the second picture you can actually see the rip itself…the deceptively calm looking spot where the waves aren’t breaking.

The joy of a rip, though , for ocean swimming, is that if it’s going in the same¬†direction¬†you are, it gives you a significant boost in speed. And if you know not to swim¬†against the rip, when you’re coming back in, that’s a significant gain.

Once we were out in the rip, we did a swimming tour of the reef along the edge of Bondi Icebergs. There were loads of fish around. Schools of surface-swimming silvery garfish parting around the swimmers, tiny stripy things darting around, a massive blue groper darting out from under a rock to give me a bit of a start, and all manner of¬†speckled¬†and coloured fishies sharing the warm waters. Glorious! (I tried taking photos, but the sky was a bit overcast and they were moving pretty fast…not sure my blurry shots add anything so I’ve left them off).

We did our swim, into the “boot” (a boot-shaped rock), and out and around to the point, back again, and then were faced with two options…

First option was to swim out to the other side of the rip to get back in. Benefits: Safe, flatter swim, chance of catching a wave in. Risks: Surfers!

Second option was to shave along the very edge of the reef inside the rip. Benefits: Shorter distance, lots of fish, more to see. Risks: Running into rocks.

The group split. I had a think about the high tide and caught a flash of Zoe’s orange rashie heading down along the reef, and decided on that option. And it was completely worth it.

I swam with Fiona (I think everyone else took the surf option) and we skirted the reef pretty easily most of the way, surrounded by fish. There is one kind of hairy bit, it’s a narrow channel between two shallow rocks, where we had to swim in single file. It was pretty fun, though, as coming out the other side there was a massive school of fish right underneath you.

The risky option paid off, as well, as we were back on the beach well before all but the fastest swimmers who took the other option.

Ah, such a good session. Good for the soul!

The Bondi Bluewater seems to have been a long time coming this year.

Originally it was slated to be the 1km and 2km Can Too goal swim in February. There was some sort of problem with the council so it was rescheduled for later, only to have it postponed again due to poor weather and conditions.

The thing is, this race is to support the Bondi surf club (as opposed to the North Bondi Surf club who run other Bondi events). So this is to support the amazing men and women who volunteer their Saturdays all summer to provide the all-important water safety for the Can Too swim program. So even though the Easter Sunday swim wasn’t the¬†most convenient, I was still very keen to do this event.

Since there was a combo entry to this with a previous event, I have also been entered forever to double up. However, when Sunday actually rolled around, I was (due to an insane number of things packed into my Easter) kind of exhausted. I did manage to drag myself out of bed, but took an executive decision with myself to bail out of the earlier 1km event, and show up for the 2.1km long course.

Once I arrived at the beach, it was, well, a little somber. The usual buzz and atmosphere of an ocean swim event was a bit lacking, and numbers were definitely down. To add to that, it was a little overcast and grey.

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But you know, it was home turf and once in the water, all was right with the world.:-)

I’ll start with the water temperature….it was just perfect!

The water was clear, and there were a few little rolling waves into the shore for a nudge at the end, but no sign of chop or anything too tricky at all.

The race was well organised and the course was clearly marked, and the fruit and water set-up at the end of the race was excellent.

I raced, well, OK. Not bad, and last season I would have been happy with my time. this year, however, a little quicker might have been possible, but there are a few events left on the calendar for me to see what I can do about finishing the season with a PB.

A very good effort from Bondi surf club, though, despite all the challenges…well done!!

 

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