Category: Friends


You can read Part 1 of this story before continuing along here….

The TLDR version is:

  • 4 teams
  • 60 swimmers
  • 24 hours
  • Themes, costumes, crafts and colours….

Fast forward to the day before the event. I was riding my bike to work, as usual, via my usual route. Half way to work it started raining, and well, wet road, corner, next thing I knew I was on the ground. Pretty minor. People stopped to help and put me on a chair while I checked out my skinned knee. I felt pretty fine, though, and the bike started. Pretty much a non-event so I hopped back on the bike and headed off.

And then I went to change gears. For those of you who don’t ride, you change gears with your right foot. One click down into first, then 4 clicks up for the next 4 gears. I was fine in first, but when I went to change to second gear, something felt pretty wrong. I realised there was no way I’d be able to park and walk the 5 mins to my office, so when I hit the point I usually turn left into my parking spot, I turned right instead…a road that took me to the back entrance of the Sydney Eye hospital emergency room.

9am on a Friday morning is a pretty good time to go to the emergency room, apparently, they had me straight in, no waiting. Examination and X-rays. I was trying very hard to believe that it wasn’t that bad, that it would pass, that I was just exaggerating things.

Apparently not. The X-rays came back with the bad news. One fractured ankle. Absolutely no swimming for me. This was the point at which I started crying.

20130622-112906.jpgTerrible luck, terrible timing. I posted , quite optimistically at the time, with intentions of liveblogging the Megaswim (spoiler alert – didn’t happen). One of our team captains, Bel, called me about some last minute Megaswim planning while I was still in the emergency room waiting on my moon boot and crutches. We had kept a list of backup swimmers (an essential part of planning an event like that) and she was soon onto the case of finding someone to fill my swimming shifts. Lucky for me, because they soon drugged me up to the eyeballs, wrapped and booted me, gave me prescriptions, a referral to the fracture clinic, crutch-lessons, and instructions to put no weight on my ankle at all, then sent me home. I immediately passed out from the effort of getting there (crutches are a major workout) and the painkillers and wouldn’t have been much good to anyone.

So there’s my tale of woe. Even the best laid plans can be thrown out at the last minute. And this sure threw out my plans.

Luckily, the universe, and that event in particular, did not actually revolve around me and my participation. The Megaswim went ahead as planned…..

Watch this space for part 3.

 

“From little things, big things grow”.

It’s a very Australian lyric, and a very Australian sentiment.

I’m not at all suggesting that what we did compares, but in terms of things I’ve done in my little life, the Megaswim ranks up there as a pretty amazing thing that I’m very, very proud of.

The background…last year, my sister (who swims well but mostly on her own) sent me a link with an idea. A 24 hour pool-swimming relay event and fundraiser for MS.

I tapped into social networking and we soon fielded a team of 15 fellow swimmers and the challenge was on.
By the end of last year’s event, the following statements were all true:

  1. We were all exhausted
  2. We had all had an amazingly excellent and truly fun time.
  3. We all knew each other a bit better than we had at the start (well, apart from me and my sister…that’d be a tough call)
  4. We all wanted to do it again next year.
  5. There was a crazy idea floated, that took hold amongst a heady atmosphere of sleep-deprivation, chlorine and nespresso….4SEASons=4 teams.

Fast forward to 2013 and the crazy ideas started to run into a reality. Coaches Zoe and Kingy were on board and Bel May threw her experienced Can Too captain’s hat in the ring so we have 4 team captains for 4 teams. Deep breaths and fingers crossed we’d get enough people to cover the relay for the whole time!

Once again, social media was integral and we signed up the maximum 60 swimmers: 15 per team. My personal (albeit ancient) experience in scheduling was pushed to its limits and we figured out some teams and mini-teams to ensure everyone shared the load, worked around their commitments, and generally got to swim with their good friends and loved ones.

One aspect that’s often overlooked, but is nonetheless a huge part of the Megaswim experience is the highly prestigious “Best Dressed Team” competition. WE organised a craft day prior to the big event to work on decorations and costumes, and discovered some fantastically talented people with skills we never knew about. Big shout-out to Chrissie, who conceived of the costumes, sourced the materials, and pretty much ran the show. My big talent in the area of arts and crafts was bringing my mum along!

The craft day was a big success, complete with catering and post-crafty wines at Gloria’s place!

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We were all completely set for the big event. What could possibly go wrong?

I blame the drugs.

I cannot believe I haven’t posted about the Megaswim here!!!!

In my defense I did break my ankle the day before the event and I was on some pretty heavy-duty painkillers for the duration.

I even actually started writing the review of the event, but for some reason put it in a word document on my work laptop (drugs!). The reason for that escapes me now, but I imagine it had something to do with the drugs. I think somewhere in my head I actually thought I’d written all about it.

I have a low tolerance for these things. Clearly.

So, we can all pretend it’s a week after the megaswim, not months, right? Right? It was too good not to write about!

Watch this space…

Sunday Swim – 13th October

Whew, it’s been unseasonably hot this spring, and Sunday continued the trend by being crazy hot.

I had plans to meet my friend Kate for a motorbike ride through the Royal National Park, down to the beautiful town of Bundeena. We’ve done this ride a few times (it’s a very popular motorbike route) and usually we have to rug up pretty well. Most of it is through forest and it’s shady and pretty cold. So when I was packing and preparing the night before, I laid out clothes for the next day and included my thermals.

Luckily, I checked the weather before getting dressed. It was already 30 degrees and rising. I left off the thermal layer, and pulled out the removable padded lining of my jacket.

We still sweated our way down the highway and into the national park.

Kate had been let me know beforehand she probably wouldn’t be joining me for a swim at this time of year, but by the time we arrived we were both so hot and grimy that the water was a blessed relief.

IMG_2120That grass there was quite full of bindies, and I somehow managed to pack everything except a pair of thongs, so it’s possible I may have committed a major crime against fashion by having to wear my motorbike boots with my swimmers down to the sand. I know, I know. Such a trendsetter. Next season all the cool kids will be doing it!

 

I’ve been doing a bit of house-hunting lately. Sadly that seems to involve Saturdays which is a horrible clash with training. Someone should do something about that!

This weekend I wanted to attend an auction. I was cutting things a little fine, but figured I could still train…until my bike battery went flat and I had to do a tricky jump start to get me to see the helpful guys at Battery World Tempe instead. With that out of the way, and an unsuccessful auction behind me, my friend Steph and I decided there was nothing for it but a trip to the beach. She’s moving back to the States this week (despite me not so subtle hints that she should stay) and this was a last-for-a-while visit to Bondi.

Wowee! Bondi beach on a hot day on a long weekend is crazy-town! Let’s just say that there were a lot of people there. And all their friends and family.

The main Bondi flags section was particularly packed and there were no waves at all, so we headed for the North end. There was a cute little break running off the bank. Perfect for catching a long ride into the shore!

After a while, we retired to do the tourist thing and lay on our towels and read for a bit. It was different for me. As much time as I spend at the beach I really tend to send it in the water (or at the coffee shop afterwards), so lying on the sand to dry off is a bit of a novelty. Of course I realised the implications of this afterwards, in the locker room, when trying to dry off after a shower with a soggy sandy towel!

Anyway, it was a fabulous day, wrapped up with raw vegan cakes and icecream and a fitting farewell to my scuba buddy and all-round top-chick….

Super-Steph!

Super-Steph! Not actually from the October Long weekend….

See you in San Francisco!

This week was the latest in a line of gloriously sunny Saturdays. Sadly my camera is still out of action (probably dead) and I discovered after I arrived at the beach that my Garmin had a completely flat battery.

I love a good gadget, but Saturday’s swim was gadget free and technologically unfettered. I have to admit it was kind of nice to swim it out and not have to worry about fiddling with the camera or remembering to start the timer.

There were two choices for a swim today….point to point, or half of that and then some time back at the beach body-surfing. It was a tough call, as the water looked gorgeous out the back, but I’m pretty much always going to choose the latter if there are waves there worth surfing.

We’ve had a few days like this recently, and I really like the way they really show me one of the best things about this crazy bunch of people I swim with. We really love being in the water. We don’t have to be great athletes or super competitive (although that’s OK too) because even being out there enjoying the day, enjoying the waves, the water, the sunshine and being outside is enough.

How many other sporting groups out there hang around after training is finished, just for the sheer joy of doing some more?

Saturday lunch with the successful Icebreakers was lovely, but the day wasn’t entirely beer and skittles. Or wine and pasta, as it were.

Seems there was another horribly atrocious difficult, challenging, bad-wather swim beforehand.

Or not!

OK,  it may not have been the most challenging session ever, but we did do enough to earn our lunch, nonetheless. The set consisted of ins and outs. These sorts of sets are great for a number of things. They’re pretty good cardio workouts, they’re great when the conditions aren’t suitable for longer swims, and they are fantastic for developing the skills you need at the start and the finish of an ocean swim race.

At their simplest, they involve just what you’d expect…in the water, out of the water. Repeat.

I think my Garmin map for Saturday shows we did a pretty good job of that. What do you reckon?

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 10.34.59 PM

This year, with the whole broken ankle thing, I didn’t make the icebreaker challenge. Luckily, that doesn’t mean I had to miss out on the lovely lunch and celebrations yesterday!

Such a lovely time in the sun with such lovely swimming friends!

A big congratulations to all the 2013 Icebreakers! I’ll be up there with you next year!

Full photo set over on Flikr

DSCN0975 - Version 2

Party Wave!

God, I LOVE bodysurfing. It is my absolute favourite thing about ocean swimming. Saturday’s training was all about catching some sweet, sweet waves. They were bloody amazing….picking up around chest high so you could jump straight off the bank and ride them right up until the sand starts exfoliating your forehead.

We may have peer-pressured coach Tamera into deviating from her recent hardcore ramps sessions (using the ramps from the boardwalk to the sand as markers for ins and outs up and down the beach – lots of sand running and cardio) and taking us for a journey swim. Really, the weather was glorious, the water was stunningly clear, and the day was crying out for a swim safari to see some fish!

Ignore the bit where I forget to stop the GPS until I'm in the Bondi Surf Club change rooms!

Ignore the bit where I forget to stop the GPS until I’m in the Bondi Surf Club change rooms!

It was pretty glorious. And then we started catching waves. They were perfect! The conditions are a big part of catching a decent wave, but there are a few tips that have helped improve my enjoyment and the distance I manage to surf a wave. So I thought I’d share my top tips.

  1. You need to be in the right spot. Watch the waves. It is possible to catch a wave that’s not yet about to break, or one that is already broken, but ideally, the best waves are the ones you catch just as they’re about to break and the top is just starting to spill over.
  2. Speed. You want to be going as close as possible to the speed of the wave when you catch it. That means springing and diving forward if you’re catching a wave from a bank, or swimming hard if you’re deeper.
  3. Timing. Too early you’ll miss the momentum of point 2, too late and you’ll miss the wave. I can’t 100% explain this with words. It’s partially watching the wave (and the other sets on the day) come at you, partially hearing it, partially feeling the tug ahead of it, part luck and a lot of practice.
  4. Head position. Most of the time you want your head tucked down with your chin against your chest. this puts your body and legs higher in the water, on top of the wave instead of dragging inside it. The exception of this is if you’re on the face of a wave where you want to pull up so you don’t end up with your legs pushed up into a somersault and a spectacular dumping.
  5. Kick! A lot of people get caught up in the excitement when they catch a wave. If you keep kicking, and possibly even some one-armed swimming strokes, you’ll stay on that wave a lot longer.
  6. Don’t panic, and hang in there. The longer you can avoid lifting your head to breathe, the longer you’re going to stay on that wave.

You’ll absolutely know when you get it right, and I promise you it’s one of the most exhilarating feelings in the world!

After operation return to swimming got me back into the pool, and back to 4SEASons, part 3 consisted of a couple of Tuesday night regular 4SEASons session in the pool.

I continued to swim with the pull-buoy and band and with a bit of an assist to get in and out of the pool. Stock standard.

Then finally, after 7 weeks a follow-up x-ray and yet another visit to the fracture clinic…the good news was in: I could take the bloody orthopaedic boot off!

Unfortunately, there was still much work to be done to get enough strength, flexibility and stability back. The idea of walking on soft sand was pretty unthinkable for a while yet. I would have to be patient.

Then finally 2 weeks ago, after lots and lots of physio and exercise, it was time!

Part 4 of my return to swimming has involved getting back to my beloved Bondi beach and swimming in the ocean!

I have to admit I’ve chickened out and worn my wetsuit – the extra buoyancy (in my mind, at least) reduces the chance of coming down hard on the ankle. I’m still not up to running, let alone running on soft sand, and I lean on my lovely swimming friends as we head down the beach, just in case….

I’m not quite there yet, and I’ve obviously lost a bit of condition and fitness, but I’m back at the beach, baby, and loving it!

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