Tag Archive: rips


Saturday training marked the end of the winter, and more importantly the end of the Icebreaker season!

I know it’s actually a couple of weeks into spring here, but for reasons one can only assume were to do with being in tune with the natural seasons rather than subscribing to the unnatural calendar construct devised by an egotistical emperor (or something like that) our winter season went from equinox to equinox.

Winter, spring, or any season, it was a cracker of a day! Sunshine and surfable waves and clear water and not too much wind. In celebration of the end of the winter season (and perhaps to gain a final few extra icebreaker points) there were a few more newd swimmers than usual, despite the water being a touch colder than it has bene the last couple of weeks….definitely a shock getting in!!!

Our session was quite similar to last week’s, with squares and a couple of rip swims. It was definitely a different experience to last week, though. The weather and the waves for a start. I firmly believe that, even swimming at the same beach at the same time every week, the ocean always gives you something new. Occasionally it’s a lesson in humility, but more often it’s a pleasant surprise.

This week it was a wolverine. Yes, you heard me correctly. Luckily I’m not referring to this kind of wolverine:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

so much as this kind of Wolverine….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, that’s right. Mr Hugh Jackman was at the beach, in all his beardy muscly glory. It’s just possible a couple of our beach briefings were a little more giggly, and a touch longer than they usually are while all the ladies may have indulged in anything from a few furtive looks to outright staring (or in Leanne’s case, obliviousness!)

So there you have it – winter swimming….whales to wolverines!

We went off and had a lovely lunch with certificates and awards and new timetables and new challenges now the icebreaker is over (and perhaps a little bit of champagne!). Watch this space for all sorts of new adventures….as the weather warms up the fun really begins!

Saturday morning was sunny and beautiful. I was packing up my swim bag and getting ready when I looked at my wetsuit. It’s so bulky and hard to get on and off and I really enjoyed swimming without it last week. A quick check of a couple of weather apps confirmed that there wouldn’t be much in the way of waves, and the water temperature wasn’t too crazy-cold.

Snap decision…left the wetsuit out of the bag.

I headed down and met up with Fiona and Ronene. We were talking about the weather and how nice it was on the way. The conversation moved on to how lucky we’ve really been this inter, with hardly any really cold, rainy horrible days.

And as we headed closer to the beach, we started noticing some dark and ominous looking clouds forming off the coast.

We had jinxed ourselves! By the time we got to the beach it was dark and overcast and starting to rain. And I had foolishly and prematurely decided not to bring my wetsuit! The waves, of course, had also picked up with the wind.

Ah well, there was nothing for it but to forge ahead and swim anyway,. It was a chilly entry, but really not too bad. We did some squares out, across and back to the beach, but with a bit of a twist where we had to watch for coach Zoe to turn, and turn at whatever point we were at (ie faster swimmers further out, slower ones not so much). Sometimes she was at the back of the pack, and sometimes out deeper. With the bigger swell it was hard work and at least once I had to actually stop swimming and look around…only to find her nowhere near where I thought she was!

This is actually a great activity for ocean swimmers. In a race swimming in a straight line towards a particular point, regardless of conditions, can mean huge gains, so this is a fun but important exercise.

For some of the circuits (square circuits…I hope this makes sense!) we caught the North Bondi rip out, and man that thing was FLYING!!! It also had a rare visitor in the shallows….a well camouflaged little wobbegong shark, who I caught a glimpse of (only as he moved) and who was no doubt startled and perplexed by the sudden influx of legs and splashes above him!

By the end of the session I was pretty stuffed. Those sets in the bigger conditions were definitely in the cardio vascular zone!

And then, wouldn’t you know it, after a quick shower and lining up for coffee…the rain stopped and the clouds cleared and it was a beautiful day again!

You know how after last week’s Saturday training post, (and the week before for that matter)I may have gone on a bit about how gloriously clear the water was and how beautiful winter swims can be?

Well this week’s session blew them all out of the water!

I should do a bit of a build up, but it’s too exciting to wait….we swam with WHALES!!!

We were on a bit of a swim safari down the south end near Icebergs. We’d stopped to regroup when Jules got a bit excited and told us she’d seen a whale!

There was a bit of swell, and whales do spend time under the water in between breaching, so it was a minute or two before anyone believed her (and there may have been the odd implication that she was hallucinating). We were all treading water and looking out to sea.

I’ve seen whales off Bondi before (from the shore) so was looking out towards the horizon and looking for splashes.

And then, about 400m away a whale breached. All I saw was this massive whale belly. It was un. be. liev. a. ble.

There may have been some squeals of delight….and that was just the boys! We stopped swimming and just watched as it made its way across the bay.

It was a truly awe-inspiring and breathtaking experience, one I won’t forget in a hurry.

It was almost enough to make me forget how cold the water was…still sans wetsuit!

Whales at Bondi

Credit to Coach Zoe

It was raining and cold and dark (not because the sun wasn’t up, but because of the rain clouds) when I woke up this morning to get ready for swimming. It’s been quite a week at work and I admit I may have been tempted, just for a moment, to stay in bed where it was warm and cosy and sleepy.

Just for a moment.

Instead I was up and about and getting ready.  My usual carpooling buddies Ronene and Fiona were depending on me to drive. Plus another swimming buddy Vanessa (who lives in the same apartment complex as me) had asked the night before if she could have a seat in the car. She hasn’t been swimming for a little while, but she was at the charity trivia night last week and we may have put a bit of peer pressure on her to come join us for a swim. In my experience, no matter how much you love an activity, whether it’s ocean swimming or extreme ironing, it’s always good to do it with a friend (or two, or three or more) as there are always going to be days when you aren’t 100% sure you want to get out of bed. Having someone else relying on you being there can sometimes just be enough to get you over the line.

So off to the beach we went. It rained even more as we headed off, but the swimming gods were with us and it cleared by the time we got there.

Last week I discovered a hole in my wetsuit. Luckily it was pretty discrete, like right on the butt. *Cue all sorts of jokes that I’m sure you’re capable of imagining all on your own*. So, I was swimming sans-wettie again. *Cue cold shivers!* It may have stopped raining when we arrived, but the air was colder than it’s been so far this winter, and it was pretty breezy.

I maaay have even had a few misgivings as we walked down the beach towards the water. And then a few more as we walked out to our acclimatisation/warm-up to find that the water was pretty damn refreshing!

After a few minutes of procrastination and whingeing, I managed to get my goose-bumpy body under the waves and finally started swimming, Within moments I was past that stinging and tingling cold and had started going nicely numb. Initially when the water is cold like that I find that I get a bit short of breath while my body adjusts. Unfortunately this tends to be right about the point where you generally start having to get under the biggest of the waves to get out the back. Ronene hadn’t been particularly well during the week and I knew she had also been a little apprehensive about the swim. As we were heading out on the warm-up I looked over at her and she commented on the same thing. Ronene and I have been friends for years, but for various reasons she started swimming a year later than I did and this is her first winter season. Although she’s now generally faster than me, on the odd occasion I still have a word or two of advice to offer and I suggested that she relax, that it’s normal to feel short of breath and to just slow down and swim through it. Then I decided to take my own advice, relax, slow down and swim through it.

Before long I was acclimatised and having a ball. The sky may still have had some dark clouds over the horizon, but the water was crystal clear and green and amazing. The conditions were pretty much exactly what I dream of…waves with a bit of power, rolling sets in one direction that drive along into the shore (without smashing you down into the bank). With all the movement of the surf up top, and the clear water I could not believe the way it looked under the surface: it was truly amazing. There were shifting sands and currents and fish…all looking like it could be trapped on the inside of an emerald. I don’t even know how to describe how gorgeous it was.

The set was a good one too – some longer swims interspersed with a bit of wave-catching action. We also had a go at catching the backpacker special: the nice quick rip up the North end of the beach. Rips often get a bad name, but if you know what you’re doing they can be a lot of fun….we jumped in at the start and took a nice quick ride out the back, then swam parallel across the beach and safely back in further south of the rip. It can be quite exhilarating getting zipped along like that…and there are sea grasses and lots of schools of fish to look at along the rocks there….too much fun!

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