Tag Archive: megaswim


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.

 

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“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…

Well, the good news is that my flu has gone.

The bad news is that I’m a clutz and a possible danger to myself.

So yesterday (the day before the MS Megaswim) this happened:

20130622-112906.jpg

A seemingly minor drop off my bike on a wet road turned out to be a broken ankle. Far out.

It totally sucks and is atrocious timing.

There might be a slight change of focus here for a few weeks, but this weekend I’m choosing to see it is freeing me up to get carried away live blogging the MS Megaswim.

Stick around, join the conversation, and requests will be considered, if you drop them in the comments.

After that, well, swimming as rehab? Dry land training and upper body strength building for swimmers? Guess I’ll have to get a bit creative. Wish me luck (and a speedy recovery).

When I talk about ocean swimming to my non-swimming friends, especially if I’m trying to convince them to give it a try, most people’s reactions are pretty similar. Along the lines of “I couldn’t do that”, “I’m not a strong swimmer”, or “I’d be too scared”. That and concern about sharks, but that’s probably a whole post all on its own.

I have one story I like to tell about a woman I’ll call Natalie. That’s her name, after all.

The first day I turned up to training for Can Too I was a touch nervous. We all went around and told the group why we were there and what we wanted to get out of the experience.

I had my own story, but one definitely stood out. A lady named Natalie was there for two reasons. Her mother had terminal cancer and she wanted to do her bit for cancer research. Also, Natalie was English and had never learned to swim as a child. Natalie wanted to do the hardest thing she could think of to show her sponsors how serious she was about wanting to fundraise.

And Natalie had certainly chosen a challenge! That first pool session Natalie struggled so much the coach took her off to the kiddies pool to have some one-on-one coaching. It can’t have been easy being that far outside her comfort zone.

Natalie stuck with it, though, she turned up to training and worked hard and started to make progress. And then the worst happened. her mother in the UK started going really downhill and Natalie had to fly back in the middle of the program. She was gone a couple of weeks, trying to find the odd open swimming pool in the UK in the middle of winter, until her mother’s hard and sad journey ended.

When things were settled, Natalie returned to Sydney and came back to training. With persistence and hard work and a good attitude, Natalie competed in the 1km Cole Classic and successfully swam in her goal event that year.

And not only that. She signed up again for a second year and did the 2km event! And she’s done a stack of other swims and events and still swims regularly. She was a member of our MS Megaswim team, and has said she’s signing up this year for Can Too again, to do the demanding Palm Beach to Whale beach 2.8km swim!

In short: she’s amazing.

After the Megaswim, I sent out thankyous to all of the team members. They earned them. In Natalie’s I mentioned that she was one of my inspirations. I thought her response was so sweet I wanted to share it. Natalie responded by saying

“…I also really appreciate your very kind words about me – I’m not sure I really do anything that is inspirational, I just refuse to give up or give in – hopefully that won’t cause me to drown one day!! Meeting an amazing group of people including you has been the highlight of the whole CanToo experience for me, having so much support really makes a difference – so thank you to you!

See you in a pool soon 🙂
Nat xx”

Love it. I wish there were more people in the world who just refused to give up or give in.

Event Report – MegaSwim!

Wow, I can’t believe a week has gotten away from me before I managed to get to writing about this. I kept going to get started, but the whole thing was such a massive and fun undertaking that I wanted to take a bit of time and do it justice.

Last weekend was the MS 24 Hour Megaswim Sydney event. This event is a 24 hour swim relay, where teams of up to 15 people keep one swimmer in the pool, doing laps for a whole 24 hours.

My sister Pia came up with the idea a couple of months back, but as she has only been in Sydney for a year or so and all her swimming friends are back in Canberra, she wasn’t up to pulling a team together. Well, I figured that all the friends I’d made through swimming like a madwoman over the past few years stood me in good stead to be able to find 13 like-minded souls.

So we harnessed the power of social media, and I put the feelers out through a couple of my swimming groups on Facebook, and asked for expressions of interest. It soon became clear that we would well and truly have enough people to float a team, so I went and registered and set up a team and we were off and racing in no time!

I could go into endless points on logistics and how we worked out all the details of what we were going to do and when and how, but in the interests of not boring anyone, I’ll just say that creating a Facebook event and running everything through there was a lifesaver, and then move onto the excitement of the day!

It was a bit of a hectic start to the day for me, as I’d decided to push things a bit and go to a training session at Bondi in the morning before heading to the Megaswim. I made it in time to meet my other-half J who had come across directly from our house and brought a carload of supplies.

I registered and met up with the other members of our team who were there. Teams are limited to 15 members, and the rule is that you need one swimmer in the pool at all times. We had organised to have 4 mini-teams (3 with 4 members and 1 with 3 members) and had divided up so that each team did 2 3-hour shifts. That way each team got one easy and one difficult shift…starters were 12-3pm, then 12-3am the next morning. My mini-team was on the 3-6 o’clock shifts, but as team captain I was keen to be there most of the time, particularly at the start when everyone was trying to figure out how it was all going to work.

We had a table and chairs area set up at the far end of our lane. Decorations were going strong due to the efforts of Pia, and our “Storm” theme was looking good with lightning bolts all over the place and posters and banners. Bandanas were underway thanks to a template and a can of pray-paint (flouro orange and black…very stylish!). J was out the back setting up tents and inflating mattresses for naps and a few hours of snatched sleep later in the show.

The way it was set up to work was that there were two teams at each end of each lane: 4 swimmers per lane total, and each with different colour caps. The event was being held at the Sydney Olympic aquatic centre, so there was a massive screen..and at 12 noon the countdown began!

Timing Clock counting down 24 hours at the 2012 MS Megaswim

Oh my god, it turned out to be such a fun event! Everyone pretty much stuck around as much as they could and everyone was keen to have as much of a go as possible!

There were a LOT of snacks. Ranging from the super-healthy to the decidedly-lacking-in-nutrition. I don’t know what it is about swimming but it does tend to make people super-hungry, so the snack table was an invaluable addition to the smooth running of the event.

Funnily enough, each of our teams had different approaches to how they ran their 3-hour shifts. There were some teams who preferred longer swims, and some medium. Our team did 20 minute sets for our first shift. However, for our 3-6am shift we decided a different approach might be good and did 15 minute sets to keep things moving fast and so we didn’t fall asleep!

Having extra people guaranteed to be around was definitely the way to go, as there was also a requirement for someone to be beside the lane counting laps on a trusty clipboard.

Counting laps at the MS Megaswim As the swim progressed and we had more time to kill (posting photos to Facebook and instagram obviously high on the priority list), a poll was taken on how many kilometres team Storm the Pool would swim.

It was so lovely to be able to spend some time chatting to my fellow team members. This was really one of the highlights of the event for me, and a little unexpected. Although I see my swimming friends regularly, and we make it a rule to do as much post-swim socialising as possible, being able to really spend some extended time together meant I got a chance to sound some time chatting with just about everyone and I do so love the chance to hang out with lovely people.

On top of that, there was a fundraising element to the event. we had a bit of a slow start to that aspect. Not because any of the team aren’t altruistic, but almost the opposite. Almost everyone got into swimming the same way I did…through the Can Too swim program which has a very big fundraising side to it. Others in the team have been fundraising for Oxfam through the trailwalker event, and pretty much everyone had done quite a bit of fundraising over the past year. It is hard to keep your friends and family focussed if you ask too often for these things, but I have to say I was thrilled to discover that people still have plenty of generosity left in them. To my surprise, we collectively raised over $6.5K!!! A very exciting effort and one I’m truly proud of.

The most fun, though, was definitely the final hour. Coach Zoe (who had been full of good advice for the whole event, despite being there in an unofficial capacity as a team member like everyone else) came up with the idea of running the final hour as a relay with as many of the team as we could muster having a turn. We had asked everyone to come back if they were able for the end and for any supporters to come along for a big finish. Well…a big finish is what we gave them! We were certainly the noisiest team at this point and took turns doing 100m laps. I was lucky enough that they suggested I do the final lap and did a few somersaults and weird strokes on the final hundred to ensure I got the end of the pool right at the finish. People were cheering and photos were being taken and it was such a great feeling…as close as I’ll ever get to a glory finish I suspect!

                              

So, all in all a fabulous event…all the photos from the big day (including some  cool underwater numbers) are available on flikr:

Photos from the event

And the final numbers were…..

  • 24 hours
  • 15 team members
  • 68 Kms swum!
  • $6875 raised for MS!
  • a serious lot of food!
  • about 3 hours sleep (explaining why it’s taken me a week to recover)
  • and more fun than I could possibly have wished for

Can’t wait for next year!

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