Category: Spring


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’m not going to get tooooo ambitious and start making proclamations about summer having arrived. I will, however, go out on a limb and say that it looks as though winter is definitely over.

10 signs winter is over at Bondi:

  1. The car park is full.
  2. There are 2 sets of flags – Bondi and North Bondi
  3. Bikinis everywhere (winter tends to seem wetsuits and one-pieces)
  4. Ditto on the Budgie-smugglers
  5. The queue for coffee gets out of control
  6. We have to fight for a table at the coffee shop
  7. The Cyclists come out to play – you can tell by the full bike-racks.
  8. The tour buses get out of control. On the upside, less people taking our photos as there are other people swimming, not just us.
  9. You have to fight for your body-surfing waves
  10. It’s hard to avoid mowing down tourists in the shallows when you do catch a wave in. Not on purpose of course, but once you’re on that wave…..

The set consisted of getting away from the crowds a bit, with a swim to the south end point and back. The faster swimmers went via the north end as well, and there was a shorter option as well for the swimmers who are just coming back after a winter hiatus (*cough* *chad!*), but the focus was on trying to swim in a straight line.

I don’t think we did toooo badly…

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I did the shorter course, not out of laziness, but because I may have had some very special sisterly duties to perform after training….assistant wedding-dress-shopper! Squee!

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!

I made it back to a pool session this week for the first time in a few weeks. Work and illness and a birthday got in the way for a couple of weeks, so it’s the first time in a while I’ve done an endurance set.

I felt as though I was doing pretty well. I got a bit excited when I was moved out of the slow lane after a few laps, that maybe magically I’d been promoted to the fast lane. Til I recognised swimmers the next lane over and realised we had expanded into 3 lanes and I’d been promoted to the medium lane.

Based on my Garmin results (did I mention I’ve upgraded to the 910?) , though my times are pretty dismal at the moment. The whole broken-ankle hiatus, and general slackness in getting back into it on my part have really left me coming into the new season well off my peak form. The geek in me loves the Garmin, but my self-deluding side hates it as there’s no lying to yourself in the face of all that measured data.

There are a couple of things that I think might help get me back there, though, so I’m trying not to get too depressed.

  1. I had my final physio appointment earlier on Tuesday. I have been cleared for all activities, including starting to jog, even on sand. Guess I no longer have any excuse for skipping the hard part of those ramps sessions.
  2. Daylight savings! This changes a lot of things – later opening hours for pools, and opportunities for after-work swims!
  3. Spring training timetable changes. 4SEASons October pool sessions will be on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from next week, instead of just Tuesdays. My chances of getting back to a minimum of 3 swim sessions a week just got a whole lot better.
  4. It’s only a few weeks until the first couple of ocean swims of the season. Nothing motivates like a looming deadline!

Let Operation get-Jacki’s-lazy-butt-back-into-shape begin!

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to this!

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?

What a different a week can make. Last week it seemed the water was warming up, and winter (what there was of it this year) was a distant memory.

This week it was foam sweet foam.

DSCN1059There was a lot happening at the beach. Some sort of surf lifesaving competition, helicopters and banners. And a lot of foamy, foamy waves.

We did an initial swim to acclimatise (side note – the water has dropped a couple of degrees!) and found it was pretty hard work, but the waves were catchable, although not easily.

We tried the north end, and then split into two groups. Thos who weren’t as comfortable with the waves stayed further north, and the brave/foolhardy souls headed back to the middle of the beach to tackle the surf. I’m usually one to err on the side of the foolhardy, so I headed back south, and am glad to report I didn’t come to regret it.

The waves were messy. It was foam galore out there like I’ve never seen. It was definitely hard work, the kind that takes your mind off everything else in the world and keeps you completely present in the moment. Well, it’s that or cop a mouthful of salt water.

Sadly, I’ve somehow managed to have my 4th “waterproof” camera in 2 years leak on me. I at least had the forethought to go with the extended warranty (consider this lesson learned). Apologies in advance if the posts are photo-challenged for a couple of weeks while I tackle the red tape of a warranty claim. Sigh. I guess waterproof doesn’t necessarily mean as waterproof as it takes for someone like me to use a camera as often as I do the way that I do. I bloody loved that camera, so i’m going to have a go with a third incarnation, but feel free to add to the comments if anyone has a better suggestion.

In the mean time, get ready for the next best thing: Garmin maps!

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Birthday Bliss

It was my birthday this week, and it was sensational. I wouldn’t normally mention it on here, but this year I’m hoping the Easter Claus Fairy (hedging my bets) brings me my latest object of lust, the recently announced Nikon 1 mirrorless waterproof.

I’m not sure exactly how I’d fit it down the front of my swimmers/wetsuit, but both my latest waterproof point and shoot and my DSLR are Nikons, and I love them both dearly, and the new release looks pretty damn awesome.

But seriously, the real reason I thought I’d mention it is that I took a couple of days off work to have myself a little “staycation” for my birthday this year. The day of my birthday was reasonably busy, but the day after I had to scoot over to Coogee to drop something off for a friend.

So what’a a girl to do? Pack the togs and go for a swim of course!

My brag text to my friends stuck at work.

My brag text to my friends stuck at work.

I have to admit, the water was a touch chilly, I was on my own, and pretty much nobody knew where I was, plus the waves were a touch on the wild side. So I played it safe. Well, safe-ish. I headed out just to the edge of the break and spent an hour or so body-surfing. Have to admit I was a little proud of being the only woman out there with the one serious body-surfer, the half-a-dozen late-teens daring each other to catch a wave (standing in the wrong spot and squealing like girls at the cold water), and a couple of surfers I suspect took a wrong turn and ended up at the wrong beach.

The waves were great, but unforgiving. If you hopped on in the wrong spot or didn’t quite catch it right…well, let’s just say I got dumped once, and tumbled even getting under waves a couple of times. You know what, though, the more time I spend swimming in the ocean, the more I’m convinced that one of the main differences between a good swimmer and one who struggles (not necessarily talking about fast and slow here) is their ability to not panic. It’s totally the worst thing you can do but totally the first thing you turn to if you rely entirely on instinct and not experience. A couple of winters swimming through have really shown me that every time I’ve been dumped and found myself a little anxious, within a second or so (if I’m really unlucky it might get up to 5 seconds or so) that pesky wave has broken, the white water passes, and you figure out which way is up. The air in your lungs pops you up like a cork, whether you’re thinking about it or not, and you fill your lungs with sweet, free air. Easy!

No guarantees you'll have glamorous hair afterwards, though!

No guarantees you’ll have glamorous hair afterwards, though!

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?

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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!

Vote 1 Bondi Beach

It’s Election Day today, and Bondi Surf club has turned poll booth.

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If you’re eligible, don’t forget to vote. And if you’re a reader here because you love the ocean, think about voting for a party that has a sound policy for looking after the environment.

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