Category: training


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…

swim_straight

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!

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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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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!

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!

Yesterday I wrote about what it took to get back into the pool.the next step was to get back to actual training. Like many things, it’s far more productive to have someone telling you what to do, to push you further that you will on your own, and to pick up things that you might not notice yourself.

Lately the 4SEASons coaches had devised a plan for something different – a Sunday long session solely dedicated to specific technique training.

I emailed in advance to check on whether they thought it would be possible for me to do the session, and to make sure that I wouldn’t be disruptive to other people doing the session. Luckily, I have some of the most awesome coaches in the world and they assured me it would all work and encouraged me to come along.

The session was on a sunny but chilly Sunday morning. The session was held at the brand-spanking-new Prince Alfred Park pool, which I have to say is a pretty nice pool with great facilities…and has free entry until the 12th of November.

I had to switch out a couple of the drills, but it did give me the opportunity to play with one of my favourite pieces of kit – hand paddles.

I love training with hand paddles, and they are the perfect piece of kit for winter. There are two benefits to training with paddles. The first is that they increase the surface area of your hands, and therefore increase the resistance against the water. This is good for building extra strength in your arms…and feeling like you’re swimming really fast!

The second use of paddles is what I was focussing on during the technique day. They really exaggerate any technical flaws in your stroke. For example, if your hand entry isn’t fingers first, if it’s out by a little bit (think like making a “stop” signal with your hand” you’ll know about it…from the bottom edge of the paddles catching and kicking up water. The idea of the paddles is to help identify these little flaws, and to practice and embed the correct behaviours for a bit before taking them off. I certainly found myself with a couple of things to focus on about my hand entry.

Another thing that was great about the longer session, and running it on a Sunday (rather than racing against the clock of when the pool is closing on a weeknight) was that once we had finished the technique session, we took the time to do a 1km swim, no pressure around speed or times, just focussing on excellent technique and embedding the things we had learned at the session.

Then we had lunch and coffee at the cute little cafe there at the pool in the sun! It really was so nice to be back training, to be back hanging out with swimming friends, and to be able to enjoy a post swim coffee!

As I mentioned when I was writing about last Saturday’s training, winter is finally here..and that  means the new Icebreaker Challenge!
This year the rules have been tweaked a little this year….
The challenge runs from the 1st of June – 31st of August 2013.
You will earn points as follows:
  • 4 points – nude ocean swim ( aka no wetsuit ) with water temp under 20 degrees
  • 2 points – nude ocean swim ( aka no wetsuit ) with water temp over 20 degrees
  • 2 points – ocean swim in wetsuit with water temp under 20 degrees
  • 1 points – ocean swim in wetsuit with water temp over 20 degrees
  • 2 points – Icebergs Monday session with water temp under 20 degrees
  • 1 point –  Icebergs Monday session with water temp over 20 degrees
  • 1 point – Victoria Park Pool session.
Bonus points may be awarded by coaches for any swims deemed difficult or for acts of bravery or craziness.
You will qualify as an Icebreaker when you meet 20 points over the three month period of the challenge – and we will celebrate at the end of the challenge.

Last year I swam without a wetsuit whenever possible and ended up with loads of points. I wonder if that means I have a reputation to defend? Should I be setting myself a stretch goal? Or is that asking for trouble?

Regardless, it should be a good winter with the extra souls in the squad and a new challenge to keep me motivated!

Icebreaker!

This Saturday’s training session at Bondi was a particularly special one for me.

My little Sister Pia has featured on here a couple of times with the odd cameo. But did you know I have another sister? You wouldn’t have seen her on here before because she lives all the way over the other side of the country. On a farm. Inland from the ocean. And she has never been ocean swimming.

Well this weekend the little one had her engagement party and the bigger one came over…and I somehow convinced them BOTH to come along for a swim!!!!

I love those girls! I love that they came along and gave it a go because I asked them to. I love that they loved it, and I loved spending that extra time with them!

It was  a fantastic day. The water is still warm, we had a great crew of people (who didn’t even get too overwhelmed by the family reunion contingent), and the conditions were great. Mel was initially apprehensive…swimming on the West coast is a little more hazardous as there are more sharks…but the most dangerous thing on the beach was the risk of getting too carried away! Then to top off a magical swim, there was body surfing! Right off the shallow bank and straight onto the waves…brilliant!

What a way to start the winter…and the new IceBreaker Challenge!

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