Category: goggles


With the end of the Ocean swimming season and my goal race now behind me, there will be no more race reviews for a while.

I did think, though, that it might be worth touching on a few more general things about racing, rather than the individual events.

Pre-race preparation is a big part of getting the best out of your performance at any event. I’m not talking about training or necessarily what it takes so that your fitness is up to scratch, but more the short-term lead-up to optimise your performance on the day.

Here’s a bit of an overview of what I did in the lead-up to my goal swim, the South Head Roughwater. This is the big prep I do for a big event. In the height of summer when I’m swimming every weekend, and the distances are shorter, I do an abridged version of this, but the basic principles are the same.

A week or 2 beforehand.

  1. Stop drinking alcohol. I probably don’t need to do this quite so early…but mentally it helps me focus and feel really prepared.
  2. Really focus on my diet being nutritious and high in protein. Cut out any junk food. I try to eat at home during this period so I can cook healthily rather than eating out and not knowing how much oil or fat or salt is in my food.
  3. Taper. About a week out I still swim, but start taking it very easy. At this point I don’t want to wear myself out or risk an injury, and any training really isn’t going to add to my fitness.
  4. A trip to my osteopath. I have a dodgy shoulder, and swimming generally helps, but if it needs a tune-up I’d rather do it a few days before a big event. Before the SHRW my shoulder was definitely niggling so I went on the Wednesday before. I see Grant Brush at City Clinic near my office and he’s a genius. He’s a keen swimmer as well so kind of gets what I do and how to work with it.

The night before

  1. Pack my bags. The last thing I need to be doing early morning before a big stressful event is looking for stuff (or worse…finding out I forgot something once I’m there and need it). I make sure I have everything I need, plus spares, and warm gear for after the race.
  2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Obvious, but easy to forget if you’re a bit nervous.
  3. Carb loading! I love my carbs, but generally try to keep carb-heavy meals as a “sometimes food”. The night before a big event, however, game on!
  4. Goggle prep. Goggles are a pretty key part of any event. If they leak or fog or are uncomfortable they can bother you the whole time. My pre-race routine may seem a little over the top, but it definitely works. I used this method before the SHRW and did not have to adjust my goggles a single time in 2 and a half hours of swimming.
    • Wash well in dishwashing liquid, focussing on the lenses and the seals. This gets rid of any residual sunscreen, sand or salt that can cause problems with the goggles sealing.
    • Thoroughly dry with a clean tea towel.
    • Spray liberally with anti-fog spray into the inside of the lenses. Rub around well with a clean finger.
    • Rinse well with clear water. The film will remain but you don’t want any of that stuff ending up in your eyes.
    • Let sit a couple of minutes and then dry thoroughly again with your tea towel, and you’re ready to go.
  5. Garmin – make sure it’s fully charged, any previous records are downloaded, and it’s ready to go.
  6. An early night. It may seem elusive due to nerves, but it’s good to have a decent night’s sleep behind you on race day. I find a cup of chamomile tea helps send me off.

The Morning Of

  1. Early rising. I like to get up earlier than I need to. I hate feeling rushed. It also gives me plenty of time to…
  2. Have a good breakfast. And let it settle. I need something in my stomach before I swim. My go to is a slice of toast and a hard boiled egg from the fridge (I usually do a batch and keep a couple handy for the weekend). Alternately, if I’m home on my own on Friday nights my go-to meal is a frittata or quiche. If there’s a leftover slice floating around they make a good pre-swim breakie too. The key is to not try anything new on the morning of an event…the same thing I eat for breakfast before training sessions is the same thing I’ll eat on the big day.
  3. Check the conditions. Actually this one belongs in all the categories… I have a collection of weather and surf condition apps and websites that I use. I don’t know that it helps, but I like to feel prepared, mentally, for what’s out there.
  4. Mix up sports drink etc. My philosophy is that I’ll only use sports drinks sparingly, and only if I’m swimming longer than an hour. My preference is for coconut water (Cocobella plain), but I’ll also use Staminade from powder as both are lower sugar than the other options out there.
  5. Leave early so there’s no rush to get to the beach (or wharf). The last thing I need on top of nerves is to be worrying about running late!

So there you go…mostly common sense, but it’s a routine that’s done me well in the 30+ events I’ve swum over the past 3 years!

 

Advertisements

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 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 – not 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!

I woke up on Sunday, and it could not have been brighter or better!

After the…errr…challenging conditions at the first Can Too Goal swim at Palm Beach, it was brilliant to see the sun shining, the tiny shore breakers the only waves lapping at the beach, and the smiles more common than furrowed brows on the orange-clad sea of Can Too swimmers buzzing on the beach.

As for the race, well the water was clear and the course was well marked. The main thing of note with the race was just how crowded it felt out there. In particular, in the 1km the wave start I was in was men and women 30-39. In a race this size that was a lot of people. It felt like you were swimming and being jostled the whole way along. I twas hard to overtake, and it felt like you were being pushed from all sides as faster swimmers passed. In the 2km this was slightly improved as they split the start group by gender, but it was still a big group. And it still felt super crowded out there. I’m normally a fan of not stretching the start times out too far (Cole Classic anyone?) so that the water safety people don’t have to be out there for hours, and people aren’t having to wait too long on the beach at the start and the end, but I did really feel this race went to the other extreme.

Other than that, though, the races were great. The water was clear and there was minimal swell.

As usual for me lately, I got no joy out of the 1km race. I’ve just been working too much on distance to have any idea how to sprint…and it was never my strong point in the first place. I seem to also overthink it…worrying about whether I’m going too hard so I’ll lose it in the longer race and then worrying I’m going too slow and don’t need to. then somehow I do these completely rubbish times.

The 2km, as usual for me lately, was a sheer delight. I felt good and strong and kept a fairly good line and came out with a PB for that distance even if you account for the fact that the course was a little short.

I’ve added the GPS maps for each race below…and thought it’d be interesting to add the 1km from a couple of weeks ago…just to show that a 1km course isn’t always the same thing…even at the same beach only a  couple of weeks apart!

I wrote a bit of a long post yesterday about the Palmy to Whale, and realised I spent a bit of time comparing it to last year. It did set off a bit of a lightbulb moment for me, that although I didn’t have this blog at the time, I did write about it. I sent out a race report to a bunch of people at work who supported me while I was training and raising money.

With only minor effort, I managed to dig up the report, so thought it might be interesting as a bit of a comparison!

If you’re even slightly interested….here it is (completely unedited apart from the comments with the asterisks and italics):

Hi everyone,

There have been so many generous people who have been supportive of my crazy swimming activities over the past months who have been wanting to know how it all finished up, so I thought I’d put together a little wrap up!

For those of you who might not have seen exactly what has been involved, here’s a little summary….

Since the start to November I’ve been training with Can Too, topping up with my regular squad training, doing a few(!) races to prepare for a goal swim, and even getting out under my own steam on occasion over the holidays. You know I’m a stats girl, so here they are:

  • 10 – Thursday Can Too Pool sessions
  • 9 – Saturday sessions at Bondi with Can Too (that’s 9 Friday nights wine-free!)
  • 8 – Tuesday squad sessions in the pool
  • 5 – Friday squad sessions at Bondi….admittedly a nice way to finish up the working week!
  • 2 – sessions under my own steam

And 6 races (make that 7 by next week), including my amazing goal swim last Sunday at the Macquarie Big Swim – Palm Beach to Whale beach.

And most importantly I’ve raised (to date) $1600 for Cure Cancer Australia to fund research into projects trying to, well, Cure Cancer. (It’s not too late if you still wanted to get in, as I’m participating in another event this Sunday. Click here if you’re keen) *Updated with 2012-13 fundraising page link in case you’re keen*

As for the big swim, for those of you who have been asking, here’s my Race Report!

Let me start by saying I’m not that good a swimmer. I’m actually pretty slow when it comes down to. I have too short a stroke and I may have squandered my 20s and a good chunk of my 30s drinking wine and working too hard and not doing anywhere near enough exercise. The good news is that a year ago a was an atrocious swimmer, and I’ve worked my way to just slow. What I do have going for me, though, is that I’m stubborn (I know, you’re shocked, right?). I keep going no matter what. Even when I’m tired and even when it’s tough.

I also trained through the winter and think I’ve had plenty of practice dealing with some pretty tough conditions.

So believe me when I say that the Palm Beach to Whale Beach was EPIC!!!!!!

I was nervous at the start. Very nervous. There may have been 3 visits to the bathroom in too short a space of time for me to have really drunk that much water!

Me, pre-race. Can’t even manage a smile for the camera!

Me, pre-race. Can’t even manage a smile for the camera!

I did a bit of a warm-up and that helped – getting off the beach, away from the chatter and into the cool, quiet water.

Then lined up and started!

I’m in there somewhere!

I’m in there somewhere!

I battled through some decent waves at the start, and made it to the first can (that’s what we call buoys in my sport) OK. Then I turned and headed towards the headland.

And I swam. And the waves rolled up and down. And I headed along the headland. And the waves rolled up and down some more. And more swimming. And more waves. You can see where I’m going with this, so I’ll give you the cliff notes version.

I swam for a really long time. The headland is quite long, and because of a rip they extended the course for us to come in the other side of Whale beach. In total, the race was about 2.8km long. And like swimming crossed with riding a roller-coaster.

This is what it look like from the air (last year…clearly not my own photo)…..for me it looked crooked a lot, and like bubbles and splashes and fish and other swimmers!

p2w12 course

Finally I reached the second can. Then shortly afterwards the 3rd and 4th…they were all grouped together just to guide you in.

I caught a monster wave. Big enough to loosen my trusty goggles….so rather than lose them I pulled them down around my neck and finished the race bare-eyed.

Eventually, I reached the shore. I could hear the rest of the orange-suited Can Too Crew (and supporters) cheering so rallied for a last dash for glory. And of course got a cramp as a I stood up and landed on my face in the sand. Signature Jacki-move!

Undeterred, I hauled myself up, and actually managed a run up the beach, hands in the air, and with a massive smile on my face! I’d done it!!! 68 minutes it took. Well slow even for the average for my division…but I felt like the biggest winner!

With my team-mate Sally at the finish line! Exhausted but grinning! And looking particularly styling in my orange swimmers and green cap! Hint – ocean swimming is not the sport for you if you want to look glamorous!

With my team-mate Sally at the finish line! Exhausted but grinning! And looking particularly styling in my orange swimmers and green cap! Hint – ocean swimming is not the sport for you if you want to look glamorous!

After a drink and catching my breath, I joined the Can Too tent for a celebratory BBQ. Tired and beyond happy!

So my next challenge is to join my friend and Can Too first-timer recruit (you may remember a girl named Ronene? *Who swam this event this year, instead of taking photos*) for her goal swim – 2km at the *Other event I boycott for reasons* this Sunday. She’s doubly impressive for swimming her goal swim on her (I’m not telling but it’s a significant) birthday!!!

So thanks everyone for the sponsorship and kind words of encouragement! I couldn’t have done it without you!

Ah, Palmy to Whale. It’s such an event and such a big part of the Can Too journey, It’s literally the “Big Swim” (unless you’re doing the Big Little swim). Advertised as 2.5km, it’s generally longer along one of the most beautiful courses you can possibly imagine. It’s tough enough to be a challenge for just about anyone and just achievable enough that anyone with a decent training plan, good coaches, proper preparation and a bit of a stubborn streak can manage it. It is also the long-course goal swim for the Can Too Swim program.

I loved this race last year. It took everything I had to finish it ( it was my goal last year) but I was really elated at the end. I was feeling fitter and better prepared this year, plus a few of my mentees and some of my friends were attempting the race for the first time so I was really looking forward to it.

Then I woke up and looked out the window and saw this.

20130205-161507.jpgNot just raining. Pouring. Absolutely bucketing down. windy and cold and wet and miserable. And definitely not what I had wished for my nervous new swimmers.

Still after double checking everything was still going ahead I channeled that stubborn streak of my own, added a brolly, and headed down to my lift.

It’s a fair old drive up there from the inner west and took a while, but thanks to our ever-patient driver Ean we were there in plenty of time to register and set ourselves up and check bags and cheer for the 1km event swimmers. Lovely to see so many orange swimmers in the brand spanking new shorter event as well, and I was so proud to see so many of them survive what was a really, really tough event. Possibly the toughest 1km event I’ve ever seen!

I’ve had more camera issues (new one bloody well leaked! Again!) so I’m afraid I’m a bit low on photographs from the day. There are a couple from my phone…but with it being that wet you really needed a waterproof feature even on the beach!

Here are a couple I snapped back up the beach while under the marquees set up for registration and pack collection:

Umbrellas. Yep.

Anyway, what can you do, but what we train for.

I did a bit of a warm up and watched the earlier wave starts. It was quickly obvious that there was quite a sweep from right to left, so my place at the start line was definitely hard right. And then we were off.

Funnily enough, although the start was pretty rough, I must have timed it just right and gotten the line spot on. It felt like a couple of porpoise moves and I was through the worst of it and off and swimming.

This seemed to be backed up by the fact that for the first part of the race I saw several people pass me who I know are much faster swimmers than me. Only a good run through the break would have put me in front of them

Before I knew it I was at the first can, feeling good, pulled around it and I was off and headed south.

I found this out-the-back part pretty hard work last year. It was pretty much the first event I’d ever down that was out around a headland and there was quite a swell, so I was swimming in conditions that I wasn’t really used to.

What a difference a year makes.

This year, I have a number of swims like this under my belt. I’ve trained all winter, and trained hard with races like this in mind. I’m fitter and stronger and have been working on my technique. It wasn’t a matter of whether I would finish, so I decided to put the boot in and see if I could push myself. I spent a lot of the race counting strokes and doing regular surges. I didn’t want to completely wear myself out, so I’d count out 30 strokes at my regular pace, and then 90 hard. Over and over. It wasn’t a bad way to stay focussed, and it kept me from getting distracted by the view!

The view…ahhh…even in the rain that is one beautiful swim.

I had hoped to finish the event in under an hour. Around the last can I had a peek at my watch and realised it wasn’t going to happen for me (not this year, anyway 😉 ). Undeterred, I decided to finish as though I was just about to make it!

I went out very, very hard. I may have slightly gone off track a bit as I discovered a little late I was sighting at something that wasn’t actually the finish line. D’oh! Rookie mistake! I came in a bit to the left of the finish line..which wasn’t too bad in the end, as from the reports of other people, coming in right at the finish line was pretty tough work.

I did manage to kind of catch a couple of waves for a nudge in where I was, though. They were already broken and really, really frothy and messy, but they were all going in the right direction so I figured I’d jump on for whatever ride they’d offer.

I learnt my lesson from last year, and did a few foot flexes before trying to stand up. It certainly helped as I managed to navigate my way from horizontal to vertical without planting my face in the sand on the way. Win!

As usual, there was a noisy orange-clad cheer squad. It is so great to have that motivation at the end when you’re tired and just need a little extra boost to get you out and over the line.

Despite the weather, it was a great race, as usual. People who were scared at the start were smiling at the finish line, and we managed to brace the rain and celebrate at the Can Too tent afterwards! I wouldn’t miss it for the world!

Finally, a massive congratulations to any and all of the Can Too participants, particularly those who were doing this race for the first time, and even more particularly those who were in my mentor group and stepped up from their initial plan to do the Bondi 2km and pushed themselves to take on this challenge. I am so proud and have found the mentoring journey one of the most rewarding things ever.

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photos courtesy of Steph!

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

Sunday was the Bondi To Bronte 2.3km event. I had my new camera and was keen to take it for a bit of a swim before and after the event, so I thought what I might do here is a bit of a run-through of how an event like this actually works for a competitor. If you’ve never swum in an ocean swim race, I’m hoping this might give you a bit of an idea of how it all works. Obviously, all events are different and they all have their own special way of doing things, but this is the story of how it went on Sunday…..

page1

page2

page3

I’ve written here a couple of times before about goggles. They’re such a key piece of swimming kit, and a poorly fitting or fogged up pair can make swimming a miserable experience. In fact, my first ever proper post here was a general piece on goggles!

I’ve also previously reviewed my favourite type of ocean swimming goggles, the Zoggs Predatorflex, but as you’ll have noticed I train in pools as well as the ocean, and I do find that my requirements are a bit different for those session.

In the pool, I prefer something with only a slight or no tint, and I definitely don’t need the polarised lenses I use in the ocean.

So my goggles of choice for my pool sessions are the Aquasphere Kaiman Goggles (not to be confused with the Aquasphere Kayenne – they’re quite different designs, believe it or not).

These were the first goggles I bought after I first started this whole journey 2 years ago…d been swimming with some super-cheapo nasty leaking speedos that had been floating around my bathroom cupboards for years. It was pretty life-changing to suddenly put on some decent quality goggles and be able to see! No fiddling every 50 metres, clearing out fog, adjusting and ending up with stinging chlorine eyes! It was a whole new world.

So what are the specifics here?

  • These are specifically designed for women’s faces…narrower in general and less space across the bridge of the nose. There are a few goggles out there that claim this, but these are the only ones that seem to have nailed it.
  • Anti-fog properties. I’d give them a 9 out of 10 for the first 15-20 swims, then a 7.  As a comparison, the Zoggs predator flex get a 10 when they’re new, and a 9 after that. Most other goggles I’ve tried are a lot lower than that.
  • Super comfortable. The silicone seals are very soft and don’t rub and don’t leave as much of a “panda-eyes” mark as some of the tougher ocean goggles.
  • Durability. These last pretty well. I’ve had a couple of pairs and have sacrificed them to the sea gods before completely wearing them out. They do noticeably wear out over time, though, so if I had to guess I’d say I could probably get about a year of pool training out of them. Less if you’re wearing them in the ocean, and more if you swim less than me and/or look after them better than I do.
  • Adjustability. These are like my Zoggs in that they have adjustable ratcheted straps with a release. Other options for goggles are the ones where you have to take them off and undo a complicated series of figure-8 type closures and then put them back together. That’s probably OK for pool swimming where you can set and forget, but I like to tighten my straps in big surf (god knows I lose enough goggles in the course of a year) and loosen them in the pool and it’s just so much easier if you can do it while they’re on your face.
  • Good seals. These do a pretty good job of not leaking, Probably best out of every goggle I’ve tried. Like I said, though, they do degrade a bit over time, and this is one of the first signs that has started happening.
  • Reasonably priced. Even full price from Wiggle, they’re $22.22. At the moment they have a special on the tinted version at $13.95 a pair plus postage (worth bulk buying with friends until you get enough for free postage…or you could be like me who usually has enough kit in their basket on their own). If you’re in a hurry and can’t wait for postal orders, Rebel sports stocks them for around $40 a pair.

So there you go…my choice of pool swimming goggles. As always, different people have different preferences and different shaped faces, so goggle choice is personal and you may need to try a few until you find what you like, but in my opinion these are a pretty good place to start.

%d bloggers like this: