Tag Archive: sh1t day swims


Yes, the weather was rubbish. Yes, I swam. I know this is confounding to a lot of people..but unless there’s a really good reason, I NEVER miss a Saturday session. Even when it looks like this:

Fact is, it was one of the craziest sessions I’ve been to. I had an [R]Adeladian friend staying and a fancy dinner the night before. Luckily my grown-up side prevailed and I refrained from excessive wine to accompany the over-the-top carbs…as did Ronene who was both out to dinner and made training in the morning. Seems that’s not a terrible combination for swimming…until you turn up and are the only people who have turned up for that particular session!

It was so bad, the unheard-of happened…Sejuiced coffee shop was closed!

Because of the previous night’s dinner, we had turned up for the late session…not my usual choice. And coach Kingy had done one of her usual impressive pre-swim performances of running farther than I will probably ever do in my life… as a warm-up to training, so was feeling a little unenthusiastic about changing out of rain-soaked clothes to swim and then get back into the rain-soaked clothes to run all the way home. I was thinking about some sarcastic sentence here, but knowing how awesome she is, I thing “fair enough” is the only appropriate response.

Coach Zoe was to the rescue, though and agreed to go out for a second session…for our part we suggested a short session would be just fine.

We braved the rain…the fun type of rain that’s like needles on your skin…and ran down to the waterline.

After that, despite of that, and even if that wasn’t the case, the ocean was like a warm bath. The temperature was divine. I think one of the big revelations for me when I started this sport was the temperature lag with the water…and realising that sometimes the crazy-looking days are the ones that give you the warmest water and the most fun.

I’m not going to lie to you, though. conditions were challenging. The surf was a bit rough and messy. Above all though, there were a hell of a current running from South to North. So much so that even wading in the medium shallows was a pretty decent workout and my legs were aching by the end of the session.

We stayed pretty shallow, and joined maybe half a dozen other swimmers out there. It’s kind of sad to really see the end of summer, but out of season swimming has it’s own joys and having a small beach not be crowded is a luxury of its own.

The session may not have been the longest ever…we wrapped it up at about 45 minutes, but true to form, it was a lot of fun and proved once again that it’s pretty much never a bad day for a swim.

God, I feel a bit like this blog, and my swimming, and the weather and everything else are all over the place at the moment?

What’s it all about? Well, a couple of things. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I love a list, so here goes:

  1. The freaking weather. it’s messed with way too many races this season. I haven’t raced in a month, and although a little of that is due to other commitments, the weather this year has been very inconvenient! Mostly on the weekends. It’s messed with a number of races I’ve been entered in. Bondi to Bronte and Bilgola were pretty hard work. Palmy to Whale was the worst I’ve ever seen it. Caves Beach was postponed and the Bondi double postponed til Easter. Freshwater just called things off cos the forecast was too scary and there were no days left free in the season.
  2. On top of that….Tamarama to Clovelly (my favourite race last year) told us early on they were going on hiatus for this year.
  3. Coogee to Bondi is postponed indefinitely.
  4. Coogee to Bondi is postponed indefinitely. I’m still trying to wrap my head around this.
  5. Coogee to Bondi is postponed indefinitely. Do they have any idea how long and hard I trained for this event?
  6. It’s not all bad news. I’ve been doing my advanced dive training. Pity the freaking weather got in the way so that I had to do it over two weekends instead of one!
  7. Work is just mental. One of those big corporate things that I wish didn’t affect my work/life balance but does at the moment.
  8. Coogee to Bondi is postponed indefinitely. How bloody hard is it to keep motivated when they take away your goals?
  9. There’s quite a lot going on with me this year. There was the camping holiday, I’m flying to Tassie in a couple of days (and again later in the year), I’m getting together the world’s most awesome team for the MS Megaswim (remember how cool last year was? think that multiplied by 4!)
  10. Coogee to Bondi is postponed indefinitely. Far out. Not happy, Jan!
  11. other stuff going on on the home front…just sold a house I’ve had in Tassie for a million years (or a decade of so. I forget which is longer), and we’re doing some reno work on the place we have here in Sydney, looking to sell up and move into something more aligned with our lifestyles. Negotiations are underway on exactly what that meansI can tell you right now that I am not a contender for the block. I’m OK with doing the work, I’m just really not gonna love it like some people do. Swimming on the other hand…..
  12. Phew, that’s a long list. Embarrassing much?
  13. Oh, OK. 5 points were pretty much the same thing. Probably time to move onto plan B, I guess. Watch this space!

So, the point is? Besides a bit of self-pity? I’ll be back on track shortly…I always get there. With my little hiatus down South to my hometown I’ll even have a go at getting up to date with the posts. In the meantime, 4SEASons is getting bigger and better so talk amongst yourselves. And if the weather would like to get its shot together…well that’d be just fine too!

After writing the post about Jessie’s experiences at Saturday’s training, I checked in with Jessie before publishing to make sure I had it right and that she was ok with her experience being put out there into the universe (OK, the internet, but it’s kind of the same).
Her response was so great I thought it deserved its own post! So here it is…..
[I’m] happy for others to learn from my experience!
Thanks for being so nice about it, and thanks again for your help!!
If you want to add something from me I think the main thing I learnt is was to swim to how you’re feeling in the day.
I got pretty cocky with the big waves given that I grew up swimming on the surf coast in winter. I figured nothing Bondi could throw at me would be worse than Bells Beach in July.
BUT, I wasn’t feeling 100% on Saturday [and]wasn’t as comfortable in the water as I am normally, in hindsight I should have played it safer.
Did milk it for all it was worth on Saturday night though, by the end of the night the waves where 30ft, I was under for 2 minutes and you were aided in my rescue by some pro surfers paddling past.

It was a Saturday morning and the sea was angry. I wasn’t even supposed to be swimming today…it was supposed to be the first day of my advanced dive training, but the weather was so bad they pushed that back! So apparently, if the weather is too bad to dive, you go swimming instead! It was slightly better than last week – less stinging rain, for a start. We did a similar training session…swimming the channel from the Bondi flags to the new North Bondi Tower (pictured below on a better day a couple of weeks ago).

Not in any way indicative of the conditions on the day of training!

Not in any way indicative of the conditions on the day of training!

It was tough, but as usual on rough days it was actually a lot of fun and nowhere near as bad as it looked. We did have one go at getting out the back. I was swimming along and using all my best rough day swimming techniques. I was very focussed on getting under the big waves about the back (and it was pretty dark and scary underneath them!). I’d assumed that I was following someone as usual, and was swimming Nicole who has swum the last 2 winters with me. At some point I stopped and turned to Nicole to check….was there anyone actually ahead of us??? As the waves were pretty big, it took a few sets for us to get a clear view up ahead and we realised that there actually wasn’t. For the first time, we were int he lead and responsible for deciding when was a good point to turn around…everyone was following us! At that point, an extra big set came in and the waves were looking really big! the first couple were OK and we turned and started making our way in. Then a really nasty one came along. I jumped on it, to catch a bit of a ride in, and realised it was a bit rough and tumble…and that there were a few people being knocked around in there.

When we came up for air, one of our swimmers, Jessie…who was one of my mentees this year so it’s her first year swimming, had taken a bit of a knock. Nothing major, just been thrown around enough to give her a bit of a fright. We were still a fair way out so it was a bit of work to get back to the shore. Jessie, despite being a newer swimmer, did all the right things for the situation, and so did the swimmers around her.

Firstly, Jessie didn’t panic. Well, she might have a little…but didn’t go into that panicky behaviour that can get you into worse trouble out there. Second, she let people know that she wasn’t feeling great…and gave them the opportunity to help her out. a bunch of swimmers stuck around to make sure she was comfortable and supported as we slowly swum in, and to give plenty of warning as new waves approached…there’s nothing worse, when you’re already still a bit shaky from a wave, than to get slammed all over again!

The last thing Jessie did was to just keep swimming, She’s been doing this long enough now and is a good enough swimmer, to get herself out of trouble so long as she simply does what she’s been doing all along….swimming!

It’s really that simple. I loved that when we got back to shore, I asked Jessie how she was and she shrugged it off…and pointed out where she’d gone wrong. She’s taken it on board as another experience and learned from her mistake.

We all have the odd moment when we get a little frightened or unexpectedly knocked around. It’s your attitude and how you react, that  determine how that works out in the end.

The weather on Saturday was rough. Really rough. Oceanswims had made an early call on Friday afternoon to call off Sunday’s Bondi race. Very sad as they’d already postponed once before (meaning they weren’t able to be the Can Too Goal swim) due to issues with the council. A lot of us Can Too swimmers were very keen to support this race, too, as funds go to Bondi Surf Club and it’s their volunteers who provide all those hours of water safety that are so essential to the program.

So it was rough. And raining. That kind of rain that feels like needles on your skin. Of course we went swimming anyway. I did concede to the weather by driving instead of riding over in the morning, so it’s not like I completely ignored the inclement weather.

It’s just that rough days are like a lot of  things that seem hard until you actually do them. The water was a balmy 26 degrees and we did channel swims…not even trying to get out the back…which would have been a bit tricky since there really wasn’t any proper “out the back” to get to since there were waves and whitewater all the way out.

these sorts of days are actually great…if you prepare, front up and give it a go, the big secret is that these can be some of the most fun days you’ll have swimming (especially as you’ll likely have the beach to yourself!). You should definitely know your limits, but feel free to push them a bit.

And next time there’s a bit of chop in a race situation, you’ll be well and truly prepared!

On Friday afternoon it started raining. Really raining. I really don’t have a problem with swimming in the rain (see: Palm to Whale swim), but I was at work, travelling on the bike and didn’t have my wet-weather gear with me. It would have been a pretty miserable ride to Bondi and an even more miserable ride home putting on wet clothes…so I bunked off. As did everyone apart from the coach and two other swimmers. Can’t say I’m even sorry…

Saturday morning, however, there was no way I was going to miss. Even though it was still raining. Although it was the final Can Too session, it was definitely the roughest day we’d had this season, and i had plenty of messages and emails asking about whether we were still on. About the point I was heading ot bed, I thought I would head the queries off at the pass and sent of an email to my mentor group letting them know that there’s always training on.

So many people don’t get it, don’t get training in suboptimal weather, cooler water, rain, or anything other than what we grow up with thinking of as “beach” weather.

Well, have I got news for you.

Revelations galore.

  1. Big surf is where you learn to handle…ummm…big surf. Practise makes perfect and all that. I talk a bit about how to deal with rough conditions on here, so it may surprise you to know that it was definitely not something that came easily to me. There was a really lot of hard work and two winters worth of swimming in tough conditions to make me comfortable and confident. then one day you turn around and realise that you have somehow become one of those crazy people who enjoy the rougher conditions. And you’re not entirely sure how that happened!
  2. Once you get in, you pretty much never notice whether it’s raining or not. OK, there have been one or two days I’ve trained where it was raining so hard that I couldn’t see the waves coming at me. but that’s a different thing altogether and I’m really just talking here about the sort of weather that you might think gives you an excuse for a sleep in…not a national emergency!
  3. I know you’re going to be dubious here…but whether you believe it or not, the truth is, those crazy surf days tend to be some of the most fun you will ever have. Overcoming your fears, discovering the joys of surfong a big wave, getting through to the back and realising how beautiful it is out there, and skipping the whole tourist crowds….those are only the beginning. I wouldn’t have believed it from anyone else a couple of years ago….but it’s true, regardless. It just is.
  4. As evidence, there was a particular Can Too person who posted about assuming training would be off and organising an alternative pool session. A certain mentor may have kind of done a bit of a guilt trip. And they came along. AND LOVED IT!!!!
  5. A good coach is never going to do anything crazy or dangerous. Yes it was rough, so we put our efforts into embedding some of those roughwater skills. “Hold the line” was a good example. We spent a good part of the session standing in one spot, well within wading depth, in a long line. the goal was to stay where you were, despite the waves rolling in. We had to learn to dive under those waves, stay down long enough to not get dragged backwards, and get under early enough. I can’t even tell you how many people told me how much they’d learned. Simple focus on one particular skill. It should never be underestimated. *One day I’ll fill you in on how I mastered these skills in detail….but the short version is that it was one little thing at a time.

so…don’t be scared….have a little faith. That’s where things really start to make sense: outside the comfort zone.

Ah, Palmy to Whale. It’s such an event and such a big part of the Can Too journey, It’s literally the “Big Swim” (unless you’re doing the Big Little swim). Advertised as 2.5km, it’s generally longer along one of the most beautiful courses you can possibly imagine. It’s tough enough to be a challenge for just about anyone and just achievable enough that anyone with a decent training plan, good coaches, proper preparation and a bit of a stubborn streak can manage it. It is also the long-course goal swim for the Can Too Swim program.

I loved this race last year. It took everything I had to finish it ( it was my goal last year) but I was really elated at the end. I was feeling fitter and better prepared this year, plus a few of my mentees and some of my friends were attempting the race for the first time so I was really looking forward to it.

Then I woke up and looked out the window and saw this.

20130205-161507.jpgNot just raining. Pouring. Absolutely bucketing down. windy and cold and wet and miserable. And definitely not what I had wished for my nervous new swimmers.

Still after double checking everything was still going ahead I channeled that stubborn streak of my own, added a brolly, and headed down to my lift.

It’s a fair old drive up there from the inner west and took a while, but thanks to our ever-patient driver Ean we were there in plenty of time to register and set ourselves up and check bags and cheer for the 1km event swimmers. Lovely to see so many orange swimmers in the brand spanking new shorter event as well, and I was so proud to see so many of them survive what was a really, really tough event. Possibly the toughest 1km event I’ve ever seen!

I’ve had more camera issues (new one bloody well leaked! Again!) so I’m afraid I’m a bit low on photographs from the day. There are a couple from my phone…but with it being that wet you really needed a waterproof feature even on the beach!

Here are a couple I snapped back up the beach while under the marquees set up for registration and pack collection:

Umbrellas. Yep.

Anyway, what can you do, but what we train for.

I did a bit of a warm up and watched the earlier wave starts. It was quickly obvious that there was quite a sweep from right to left, so my place at the start line was definitely hard right. And then we were off.

Funnily enough, although the start was pretty rough, I must have timed it just right and gotten the line spot on. It felt like a couple of porpoise moves and I was through the worst of it and off and swimming.

This seemed to be backed up by the fact that for the first part of the race I saw several people pass me who I know are much faster swimmers than me. Only a good run through the break would have put me in front of them

Before I knew it I was at the first can, feeling good, pulled around it and I was off and headed south.

I found this out-the-back part pretty hard work last year. It was pretty much the first event I’d ever down that was out around a headland and there was quite a swell, so I was swimming in conditions that I wasn’t really used to.

What a difference a year makes.

This year, I have a number of swims like this under my belt. I’ve trained all winter, and trained hard with races like this in mind. I’m fitter and stronger and have been working on my technique. It wasn’t a matter of whether I would finish, so I decided to put the boot in and see if I could push myself. I spent a lot of the race counting strokes and doing regular surges. I didn’t want to completely wear myself out, so I’d count out 30 strokes at my regular pace, and then 90 hard. Over and over. It wasn’t a bad way to stay focussed, and it kept me from getting distracted by the view!

The view…ahhh…even in the rain that is one beautiful swim.

I had hoped to finish the event in under an hour. Around the last can I had a peek at my watch and realised it wasn’t going to happen for me (not this year, anyway 😉 ). Undeterred, I decided to finish as though I was just about to make it!

I went out very, very hard. I may have slightly gone off track a bit as I discovered a little late I was sighting at something that wasn’t actually the finish line. D’oh! Rookie mistake! I came in a bit to the left of the finish line..which wasn’t too bad in the end, as from the reports of other people, coming in right at the finish line was pretty tough work.

I did manage to kind of catch a couple of waves for a nudge in where I was, though. They were already broken and really, really frothy and messy, but they were all going in the right direction so I figured I’d jump on for whatever ride they’d offer.

I learnt my lesson from last year, and did a few foot flexes before trying to stand up. It certainly helped as I managed to navigate my way from horizontal to vertical without planting my face in the sand on the way. Win!

As usual, there was a noisy orange-clad cheer squad. It is so great to have that motivation at the end when you’re tired and just need a little extra boost to get you out and over the line.

Despite the weather, it was a great race, as usual. People who were scared at the start were smiling at the finish line, and we managed to brace the rain and celebrate at the Can Too tent afterwards! I wouldn’t miss it for the world!

Finally, a massive congratulations to any and all of the Can Too participants, particularly those who were doing this race for the first time, and even more particularly those who were in my mentor group and stepped up from their initial plan to do the Bondi 2km and pushed themselves to take on this challenge. I am so proud and have found the mentoring journey one of the most rewarding things ever.

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!

Urgh, I don’t say it very often, but I really didn’t enjoy training tonight. I’d had a kind of weird day at work, and the weather was crap (really crap) and as much as I’d like to blame it on those things, I think it just came down to the fact that I was just in a bit of a mood. I like to believe it happens to us all. Crickets? ? ??? ??? Just me then? *Sigh*

Anyway, I’ve had the odd day like this before, and usually I know myself well enough to know that if I make myself go to training, all those feeling seem to melt away as I dive under that divine first wave, and the quiet and the challenge and the focus on just keeping swimming take over…and I have never yet had that not work.

Not until tonight.

Well, it was working OK. I was swimming without a wetsuit, as usual at the moment…it’s too much of a hassle getting the thing on and off, the water is warm enough I don’t even miss it, and I have enough trouble carrying around stuff for work, for swimming, and stuff for motorcycle riding (including all the required wet-weather gear for today) that it was the last thing I wanted to pack.

So the training session would have been fine, except for the bluebottles. Yep, the nasty things, good for nothing other than the dubious honour of being turtle-food (and not even terribly good at that) were infesting the beach. Out of the group swimming today (8 of us, I think) Allison was the only one who wasn’t stung, and the ratio of wetsuits to news was 5:3.

I’m a bit lucky, I suppose, in that I don’t actually seem to react too badly to stings from the nasty blue guys. I’ve been stung plenty of times at Bondi, and plenty of times as a kid (perhaps that’s part of it) and it never seems to be too bad after the initial shock of the sting. Tonight, however, I discovered that getting stung in the underarm with the tentacles wrapped down around my arm, over my shoulder, and up around my neck, is a touch more painful than in other places. In fact, it hurts quite a lot!

I pulled the perpetrator off my skin, and I did keep swimming for the rest of the session…which I’m kind of glad to admit didn’t go for the full hour tonight (something about the rain and the recurring jellyfish stings, perhaps?). I can’t honestly tell you that I enjoyed the rest of the session though, The thing is, once you’ve been stung, the rest of the session you do have a bit of a tendency to get a bit jumpy and edgy at every bit of seaweed, and every stray wave that laps at your toes. I know it’s all a bit pathetic compared to some of the full-on marathon ocean swimmers who get stung repeatedly by much nastier creepy crawlies than that, but I’d like to make the disclaimer that I’m saying I didn’t enjoy myself, not that I couldn’t have kept going if I’d really had a good reason to.

Anyway, we did call the session off a bit short, and then everyone pretty much split and headed straight home. I had an equally miserable ride home in the pouring rain and freezing cold, and was feeling more on the verge of a Claire Danes Cry Face than my usual post-swim sense of happiness, joy, wellbeing and elation.

After a hot shower to help with the stings and thaw out, one I was perched on the couch in my dressing gown and slippers I did have a bit of a chance to reflect on the evening. Even though it was one bad session, it doesn’t mean there were no lessons in it. Here’s what I came up with:

  1. It’s interesting to note that even when you love something, it’s never perfect all the time. Helps put in perspective the things that are perfect less of the time.
  2. Ocean swimmers are tough! And brave! We kept going several rounds even after pretty much everyone had been stung and was hurting, and not one person gave up, stopped swimming or opted out til we called the session (admittedly a touch early) at the end.
  3. Tough training days like this help keep things in perspective during races. It may be a little rough or not as nice a weather as I hope or somehow suboptimal, but I’ll still know I’ve survived worse!
  4. Bluebottles are actually kind of interesting creatures when you’re out of reach of their tentacles. My trivia-loving partner had a bit to do with that one when he got home. He knew, for example, off the top of his head that they are actually made up of two different organisms, and that where the bubble part of their bodies (the sail, apparently) joins their tentacles, they can change the orientation to ‘sail’ with the wind. Also, according to the combined efforts of the 4SEASons crew, I now know that they are popular food for turtles (and a few other things).
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