Tag Archive: race


Well, that was quite a cliffhanger, wasn’t it? Sorry – the post was getting out of hand and I wanted to give you all something to read around here!

So here goes the rest of the story.

I hopped in the water straight off the boat…Bel swam in and we did a high-five to tag half way and then I started swimming.

First thing I noticed was that the water was a great temperature. It was pretty windy and cold on the boat, but it was beautiful in the water…I’d say a touch above 20 degrees or so, which I think is perfect for racing in.

I did find the boat entry a little strange. Probably just because I’ve never done it before in a race. I didn’t think too much about it beforehand, as I’ve spent a bit of time on boats and dived off them, but I think it was really just a bit of a psychological thing. I’m used to entering and getting a feel for the water…usually with a warm up to acclimatise and calm the nerves, and and settled in  then the actual beach start. I did find myself feeling a little anxious as I struggled to find my pace. I think jsut not having that other stuff to think about and having to get straight into it.

Soon enough, though, I found my rhythm and settled in for a long swim.

The water was cloudy and deep, so there wasn’t much to see at all under the surface. the view to the left, though, was another story. Words really don’t do justice how gorgeous this course is. The cliffs are stunning and there are two picturesque lighthouses.

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After I settled into a rhythm following those few inital anxious moments, the next 4kms or so were just great. I felt good and strong and  happy with my pace. I was sneaking peeks to the left checking out the view and to the right making sure the boat and I were still inseparable friends. I found myself in a bit of a zone, actually, of just me and the swim, thinking about technique and trying to keep it on track, making small adjustments to the course and to my swim, and trying to keep up a consistent pace.

At about the 4km mark my shoulders started feeling a little tired. I’d made it to the heads, and the currents meant I had to swim harder to stay on track, and that lovely southerly swell that had so generously pushed me along up the coast now deserted me. I also suspected I had swum a little wide out around the heads. I could see a bit of chop and swell and waves breaking at the point, and had deliberately planned on swimming a little wide, but I felt like I had overdone it (and the GPS later confirmed this to be true).

As we rounded the headland I had an initial surge of (false) hope as I spotted camp cove and thought I was nearly done. It didn’t last long as I realised that I still have further to swim.

It was becoming increasingly obvious, too, that the swim was going to be longer than the 5km I had signed up for…and trained for.

I was pretty right up to about 5.5km. Things started to get quite stressful for our little team. There was a lot of boat traffic around that area and they were all oblivious to a swimmer in the water. I couldn’t see any of this, but the team on the boat saw some vessels heading right towards me in the water. they then tried to wrangle me in closer to the shore to keep me safe.

I, on the other hand, could see under the water that we were getting into shallows territory and that there were some big rocks that could have caused some problems, so I was trying to head out deeper.

A few hairy moments there, but luckily nothing went wrong on either count.

After about the 5.5km mark I definitely started feeling it.  hadn’t trained for this distance and it was the furthest I’d ever swum. My shoulders were aching and I was feeling dead tired.

then we passed the point and suddenly we were in the bay! Bel hopped back in the water to swim into the sailing club together. we stopped and got clearance from water safety to cross the ferry path, and negotiated the two buoys, and then the finish line was in sight!

I normally get a little sprint up at this point in a race. Any fuel left in the tank should be used to put the pedal to the metal. Today though, I was (to continue the metaphor) running on fumes. I kept pace but couldn’t find it in me to sprint to the end.

As we got closer to the slipway and the finish line banner we could start to hear the cheers. One awesome thing about this type of finish was that we could actually see people to either side on the jetty to the right and on either side of the slipway. I spotted some familiar faces amongst the cheers and it made my heart glad.

Then finally, 4 hours and 12 minutes from Bel’s strong start from the beach at Bondi, we crossed the finish line together at Watsons Bay.

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I may have been tired and sore, but all the supporters  there, their cheers and smiles, coach Kingy who I squarely credit for teaching me all the decent stuff I do when I swim looking proud as punch, and Mr Nemo taking photos at the finish line, and the sense of achievement…well…I can’t remember ever being happier!

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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…..

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Let the games begin!!!!

First race of the season…it was very exciting, a bit nerve-wracking, and the beginning of what should be a great summer ahead!

Apologies in advance…I’ve been on work training for the last couple of days, and would have liked to have finished writing this up a touch quicker. That whole work thing interferes with my swimming so much, It’s outrageous!

Highlights

I carpooled with the gorgeous Vanessa, who lives in the same apartment complex as me. a) she’s a superfish fast swimmer b) she’s lovely and c) she grew up in the shore and had a bunch of local knowledge to share about Cronulla…including parking options!

Thanks again to Vanessa for the local knowledge, but the perfect timing of the race was a major win. Too early you can stress out, overthink, wear yourself out or feel like you need to wee when you don’t actually have to go. Too late and you can stress out, over think, under think, wear yourself out, or feel the need to wee when you don’t have to go.

Beautiful day. After so much crap weather it was nice to have a bit of sunshine, and the 1-foot waves seemed like a walk in the park compared to recent conditions.

Free goggles!!!!!! Yep, lots of exclamation points for this one. Seems a nice silicone cap and a pretty decent pair of goggles were included in the entry fee. Score! Made for really good value for money! Us ocean swimmer go through more goggles than you might imagine, and these were pretty good. A very pleasant surprise indeed.

Low numbers. I think total swimmers in the 2km event were about 102 total. this meant very little hassle with start line tussles and the usual argy-bargy.

I felt pretty good with this race…strong and consistent and I didn’t feel negative or struggle at all throughout the race. In general I’m feeling like I’m pretty much ready for this season!

Well organised. Registration was easy, kit collection was even easier, the course was well marked and there was adequate water safety. All good.

The single wave start. Small race, meant for the first time ever I got to start with all my friends! And since I’m one of those people down the back, mot of my friends were also there to cheer me on at the finish (makes me feel a bit like a rock-star!)

Best of all, somehow, by total chance, for the first time ever, Ronene and I swam almost the entire race pretty much side-by-side (yes, I am aware there were quite a lot of commas in that sentence. Why do you ask?). I’m normally a touch slower than Ro, but the crazy training regime is obviously paying off and I was doing pretty good time (for me) and keeping up. It was pretty awesome having someone to swim with, and worked out in the end when a nasty calf cramp right at the end pulled her calf muscle (yes, again! The other one this time). I’d gone in for a dual arm raise for the glory dash up the beach to the finish line, but it ended up being handier as a crutch as she hopped there instead!

Here’s a photo Paul snapped in that exact moment….

First place = Friendship!

First place = Friendship!

Room for Improvement

The 2 lap course. I dunno, jut personal, but there’s all that ocean out there…were you short on buoys? I don’t get it. I just prefer a bigger course with one loop instead of doing the same thing twice.

Condition-wise, the water was a touch chilly. And one side of the triangular course had a bit of chop. Nothing really problematic, but since we’re here…

How did I do?

2km = 44:47. Not bad for me (and the same time to the second as Ro!). It’s not a great time int he scheme of things, but given where I came from, I’m super-happy…and I had a brilliant time overall!!!

The verdict?

Sensational start to the season! Can’t wait to see how it all unfolds! Nice work Cronulla, lovely race.

More?

More photos on Flikr

Hot and Cold

What sort of water temperature is too hot for an ocean swim race? Or too cold? And for what sort of race? How long? With or without wetsuits? Surely safety must be an issue?

To be honest I’d never thought tooooo much about the topic. I know that there’s a point where they (not sure I’ve ever thought about exactly who “they” are) call it too cold to race without a wetsuit. In my head it varies between 15 and 16 degrees celsius.

Luckily, someone have given these things a lot more thought than I have, and even luckier, they are the people in charge of these things!

Seems there are international standards for these things, and then there is a NSW body that is far more responsible than I am. They’re called Swimming New South Wales, and they have some very comprehensive Water Temperature rules.

Apparently the general guide is 16-32 agrees Celsius range of water temperature, give or take a bit depending on air temperature over time. Please, check the link and don’t trust my vague reading of it if it ever comes down to anything influencing any decision-making…but it is interesting to know.

I does make me realise just how lucky I am (again!) to live in such a temperate region where this is such a non-issue that I have never actually been faced with conditions outside of these parameters. Best place in the world? Well….I don’t know if I can entirely say that. I haven’t been everywhere yet… Seriously, though, I do know how lucky I am to train week in and week out at beaches like Bondi and Clovelly and to race up and down this gorgeous coast. Grateful. That’s what I am every day for that fact.

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