Tag Archive: races

After months of planning and preparation and training, the day of my 2013 goal event – the South Head Roughwater – had finally arrived.

I woke up easily – the nerves got me up and going without even pressing the snooze button.

Best news of all was that the weather was looking bloody fantastic! I checked approximately 74 gazillion weather and surf reports, and all signs were pointing to conditions being ideal…a southerly swell to push us up the coast, and a change of tide around the right time to push us around the heads. Brilliant!

I had done all my packing and preparation the night before, so the morning was devoted to breakfast….scrambled eggs with plenty of white bread toast. As I was doing the second leg and therefore wouldn’t be swimming for a couple of hours, I really tucked in to get those carbs into my system, without having to worry about digesting in time.

Then I dressed and grabbed my gear. I picked up Ronene and headed off towards Rose Bay where I was due to meet the boat and then head around (giving me a nice preview of the course) to meet Bel at Bondi.

I managed to take wrong turns 3 times on the way to Bondi. You know, that place I drive to every single weekend. I may have been nervous.
At Rose Bay we met Bel and her sister Karen and Brother-in-law Simon who were to be our crew for the day. I hopped on the boat and Ronene then took Bel in my car to the start line at Bondi.

We set off around the headland. I was looking backwards off the boat, checking out the course and looking for things to sight off during my swim, so it was a great opportunity to get a sneak peek of what I was in for.

That process of concentrating on something was also a good distraction from the fact that I was feeling pretty nauseous at that point…I really don’t get seasick, so I think it was all down to nerves.

It took us about 40 minutes to get around to Bondi…the fleet of support boats was easy to spot…and completely chaotic! Luckily the marine rescue guys knew what they were doing so we were soon checked in and had our team number 51 registered as there. We stayed outside the main area since there were about 60 soloists that would be clearing the area in the first wave, figuring we would move in a bit closer after there was a bit more room. Only about a dozen duos were registered, so that turned out to be an advantage. Still, I couldn’t believe just how difficult it was. There were boats everywhere. I think when you’re the one swimming, it’s such a different visual perspective. Since you’re head-high out of the water, everything seems larger than lie. When you’re the one on the boat, everything in the water seems smaller.

Then, after what seemed like an eternity, but was probably closer to 20 minutes (from when we arrived there) we spotted our fearless first-leg swimmer Bel…looking strong and powering through the water.

DSCN0702Once we cleared the flotilla, which happened surprisingly quickly, it was time to settle in and let Bel just swim.

She looked amazing in the water, strong and consistent. The sights were absolutely worth seeing as we settled into a routine of keeping the boat close to Bel in the water.

Meanwhile I was in the boat. It was quite cool, but I was well rugged up. I had a million types of supplies with me, but really stuck to water and coconut water, and a couple of jelly beans. I was tracking Bel’s progress via Garmin and we had bright signs to hold up as we passed each kilometre.

Bel did a fantastic job, coming in at pretty much the same time as her pool swim, and she swam what looks to me like a pretty good course.

SHRW - BelThen, before I knew it, it was time for me to switch over. I figured it was too late to pull out now, so geared up and jumped out of the boat into the water.

Watch this space for part two….



Last Sunday, though I did the Shark Island race, I saw neither an Island nor a shark.

Seems the term “Island” is a bit of a misnomer. It’s more of a rocky outcrop, that’s exposed at low tide. It wasn’t low tide for the race, so all I saw was a bit of white water as waves were breaking on my right when the coast was on my left (ie I was swimming between the “island” and the shore.

Ah Cronulla, I do love a good race South of the bridge. There was a bit of competition with 3 different races on in the greater Sydney area for what is effectively for most (sane) people the last racing weekend of the season. The 4SEASons crew were split and managed to represent at all three locations. For my money, though, being from the inner west and making so many treks OTB (Over the Bridge) to the North shore every summer, I do like to support any events on the South Coast.

I can’t say I was disappointed.

Autumn put on yet another fabulous display of weather and conditions. I was still not 100%, but I had a very good reason to represent. the 4SEASons summer challenges consisted of individual and team challenges…individuals were challenged to complete 20km total race distance across the duration of the season, and teams of four were challenged to make 100km tota

Given the number of races scheduled pretty much every weekend over the summer and early autumn, it seemed like a pretty reasonable thing. In reality, however, with the crazy conditions, postponed and cancelled events this season, that was tougher than it had looked. Last weekend of the season and Ro needed to do the double up to hit her 20km, and if we both did a double we could hit our team goal.

The race itself was a good one. The pre-race registration was a little odd…the 1km and 2km registration and tag pick-up venues were in different locations. And there were different messages for double-ups in different age groups (Ro was given her timing tag and cap for both event, but told to come back after the 1km to have her second number written on her arm! Huh?). I caused all sorts of confusion (in both locations) because I headed straight to pick up my tags before heading down to the beach. As I was still wearing my motorcycle boots, I declined the  offer of the volunteers to put my tags on my ankles for me. It’s OK, really, I’ve done it before and take full responsibility for my own tag, guys.

On the up-side, I did really like the idea they had, which I haven’t seen elsewhere before, that we wear both tags for both races and  then get them both cut off at the end of the second event. As someone who has lined up for the start of the second race only to realise I hadn’t put on my second tag, I thought this was a stroke of genius.

Of course, this was offset by the second “bright” idea of having different cap colours for categories in different events. Yes, two crappy latex caps in different colours and needing to remember to change them in between. Gold. Or not.

Admin aside, the race itself was nicely done. The course was well marked and water safety was plentiful and helpful. I had planned on going out super-easy in the 1km event, but around the first can I found myself next to Ms Priceless, who is usually much quicker than me, but was struggling with both a touch of the lurgy, and the fact that she had attended a wedding the night before. And had flown back in that morning only to head straight down the coast to Cronulla to race. That girl is dedicated!!

I do love having someone to pace off, and in particular love it when it’s someone I train with. (In fact it was the early-seasons Cronulla event I swam entirely with Ro…coincidence?) I resolved to see if I could keep up for a while, and ended up pushing myself quite hard as I found myself sticking with the pace all the way to the finish line.

The second event was particularly lovely. The “island” may not have technically been an island, but the rocks provided a perfect playground for critters and there was plenty to see. I was pretty happy and comfortable and managed to have a lot of fun for about the first 2km. On the home stretch I noticed a nasty twinge in my right shoulder. It got reasonably painful towards the end, so I didn’t finish quite as strongly as I would have liked to. I’m blaming the house-painting (it was my right shoulder) and praying it’s nothing serious 3 weeks out from my team tilt at the South Head Roughwater.

The day was so lovely, in fact, that Ro, Sonja and Marty (Sonja’s husband who is yet-to-be convinced to join in himself, but is a regular supporter) found ourselves some take-away burgers and chips and had a pretty divine lunch in the park. What a day!

You’ve read the review. if you’re really  interested, and/or were there on the day, I actually took a lot of photos. Or handed my camera to a couple of people who took a lot of photos while I was swimming (that’s kind of the same thing, right?) so thanks to my delegate photographers who did such an outstanding job/

So here’s the link to the full set of pictures from the fabbo day!

If you enjoy them half as much as I enjoyed the swim you’re in for  treat.


Ah Coogee…one of my favourite beaches and one of my favourite races. Swimming out and around an island is definitely fun. Once you get out near the island you can start seeing the bottom again, and all the fishies. And there just seems to be something kind of primal and basic about swimming out to an island. Inspiring the explorer spirit in all of us.

It was a beautiful day again. Autumn seems to be succeeding where Summer failed as far as delivering gorgeous weather for event days!

This was a pretty long day for me as I did the 1km event followed by the 2.4km. It’s the longest I’ve done, but the arms held up pretty well (despite a bit of a case of house-painter’s arm!).

The 1km was a bit of an interesting start. It was scheduled to start at 9.15 so just before 9 we headed over to near the start line for a briefing and a warm-up.

Well, it turns out the organisers decided to start the race early. 15 minutes early. Where was I when this happened? Out past the break still warming up! The start waves were divided into under 40 and over 40…so I had missed my wave start.

Well, there was only one thing for it, I cut across in a curve to intercept the pack. As this was a long event, I had already planned to take it a bit easier on the short course. The stuff up with the start wasn’t such a big deal for me, but it did mean I didn’t start my Garmin so there’s no map for that event.

The race went as expected. Plenty of breast-strokers…but you do tend to get a bit more of that with the short courses as those are the ones that the less -experienced swimmers tend to sign up for. Still, it’s the height of poor form in my book…I don’t care who you are. Breast stroke is for lanes in a pool, not ocean swims. I’ve been on the receiving end of more than one frog kick and can tell you it’s a downright danger to the swimmers around you. (Rant over!)

The 2.4km was much better on that front, and I managed to get to the line and start with the rest of the crowd this time!

Ah, I do love this race. There were a lot of people participating this year…all grateful that there are finally some swimmable events! I like the course, and it was well laid out. The water safety were plentiful and helpful. The only problem in the end was a stuff-up with results for a bunch of swimmers being left off. Oceanswims have done a great job of trying to figure them out from the photos taken at the finish line, but it’s really, really bad to have a problem like that in the first place…hopefully lesson learned for next time!

So all in all, a great day out. The season is winding down now….no swims next weekend (well, none close enough to be do-able), then 2 more to go. Time to start thinking about off-season training and winter swimming!

Coogee 2.4


I’ve already done my race review of the Bondi Bluewater event from Easter. Seems a very clever someone immortalised the race their own way and did a magnificent job of it!

If you haven’t already seen it doing the rounds, please hit play on this…it’s a wonderful lens on the ocean swimming experience, complete with 4SEASons and Can Too swimmers and wardrobe malfunctions (fortunately not on the same person!).

If you happen to have come here wondering what it’s all about the video above is the best thing I’ve seen to show you (short of jumping in the water and giving it a go!). Well done to the very clever fellow who made it.


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!


email from the organisers:

“Ocean Swimmers,

After careful consideration of forecast ocean conditions for this week end
the Homeloans Caves Beach Ocean Swim organising committee has made a
decision to postpone the event to Sunday March 10th.

Ocean swimming is a challenging sport and as an organising committee we need
to define when challenging becomes dangerous.

Our event insurance is based on criteria .The forecast swell and wind this
week end exceeds an acceptable level of risk for the committee.

We appreciate this could be disappointing to some swimmers but also a
welcome relief to others.

In calling the postponement at this time we hope to avoid complications for
those travelling some distance to swim

All current entries will be automatically entered for the March 10th swim.

If you are unable to swim on this day please contact Caves Beach Surf
Lifesaving Club at oceanswim@cavesslsc.com.au

Forecast from Bureau of Meteorology

Forecast for Saturday 2 February

Winds: Southeasterly 25 to 30 knots turning southerly early in the morning.
Seas: 2 to 3 metres.

Swell: Easterly 2 to 3 metres. The chance of thunderstorms in the morning.
Large swells breaking dangerously close inshore.

Forecast for Sunday 3 February

Winds: Southerly 20 to 30 knots decreasing to 15 to 20 knots during the
morning then turning southeasterly

10 to 15 knots during the evening. Seas: Up to 3 metres decreasing below 1.5
metres during the afternoon.

Swell: Easterly 2 to 3 metres. Large swells breaking dangerously close

I didn’t pike on the swim. The swim was scared of me

So I had an unexpected Saturday night off and…..

  1. Ro has just had a minor op (she’s fine)
  2. Significant other was working all weekend.
  3. Sister P and Steph were out of town for a wedding
  4. Fiona just had a baby.

So I sat at home and had an early night  on a Saturday. As usual.

Wish I could tell you I enjoyed the unexpected sleep-in. Except apparently my body doesn’t understand the concept any more. So i woke up early on a Sunday morning. As usual,

Sigh. #Swimmerproblems,



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!

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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.

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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…..




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