Tag Archive: spring


Sunday Swim – 13th October

Whew, it’s been unseasonably hot this spring, and Sunday continued the trend by being crazy hot.

I had plans to meet my friend Kate for a motorbike ride through the Royal National Park, down to the beautiful town of Bundeena. We’ve done this ride a few times (it’s a very popular motorbike route) and usually we have to rug up pretty well. Most of it is through forest and it’s shady and pretty cold. So when I was packing and preparing the night before, I laid out clothes for the next day and included my thermals.

Luckily, I checked the weather before getting dressed. It was already 30 degrees and rising. I left off the thermal layer, and pulled out the removable padded lining of my jacket.

We still sweated our way down the highway and into the national park.

Kate had been let me know beforehand she probably wouldn’t be joining me for a swim at this time of year, but by the time we arrived we were both so hot and grimy that the water was a blessed relief.

IMG_2120That grass there was quite full of bindies, and I somehow managed to pack everything except a pair of thongs, so it’s possible I may have committed a major crime against fashion by having to wear my motorbike boots with my swimmers down to the sand. I know, I know. Such a trendsetter. Next season all the cool kids will be doing it!

 

I made it back to a pool session this week for the first time in a few weeks. Work and illness and a birthday got in the way for a couple of weeks, so it’s the first time in a while I’ve done an endurance set.

I felt as though I was doing pretty well. I got a bit excited when I was moved out of the slow lane after a few laps, that maybe magically I’d been promoted to the fast lane. Til I recognised swimmers the next lane over and realised we had expanded into 3 lanes and I’d been promoted to the medium lane.

Based on my Garmin results (did I mention I’ve upgraded to the 910?) , though my times are pretty dismal at the moment. The whole broken-ankle hiatus, and general slackness in getting back into it on my part have really left me coming into the new season well off my peak form. The geek in me loves the Garmin, but my self-deluding side hates it as there’s no lying to yourself in the face of all that measured data.

There are a couple of things that I think might help get me back there, though, so I’m trying not to get too depressed.

  1. I had my final physio appointment earlier on Tuesday. I have been cleared for all activities, including starting to jog, even on sand. Guess I no longer have any excuse for skipping the hard part of those ramps sessions.
  2. Daylight savings! This changes a lot of things – later opening hours for pools, and opportunities for after-work swims!
  3. Spring training timetable changes. 4SEASons October pool sessions will be on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from next week, instead of just Tuesdays. My chances of getting back to a minimum of 3 swim sessions a week just got a whole lot better.
  4. It’s only a few weeks until the first couple of ocean swims of the season. Nothing motivates like a looming deadline!

Let Operation get-Jacki’s-lazy-butt-back-into-shape begin!

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to this!

Wednesday saw the second week of Can Too training at ABC pool. The weather was kinder to us this week (just) and we were only faced with grey skies and a bit of drizzle…admittedly a vast improvement on thunder and lightning, but a bit of a break from the weather gods might be nice at some point!

Luckily, though this pod of ocean swimmers in the making seems brave and hardy on not to be out off by a bit of dodgy weather! Great to see the positive attitude already starting to shine through.

The coaches once again put up a good set, appropriate for week two but challenging enough to start people getting their fitness up and getting used to swimming a bit of distance.

I find with me, every time I add to my training routine, either distance, time or intensity, it takes about 2 weeks until I start feeling like I’m making progress, so I’m looking forward to hitting that point where people are past the “new and scared” and heading into “proud and amazed” territory.

So fingers crossed for some decent weather ahead!

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Wow! I’m exhausted but too elated to go to bed without just getting down on paper (virtual, ok) just how amazing tonight’s Can Too session was.

I turned up early to help Captain Bel carry in welcome packs for the whole group. That all went well, including the fact that my motorbike (which has sadly been in the shop for repairs for the last week) finally was done this morning so I could get there and home easily.

Then, as with any good drama, there was a bit of drama. Drama of the disaster movie kind, in fact.

Our pod is training at Andrew Boy Charleton pool. It’s a pretty amazing pool as it’s an outdoor pool, salt water, and a pretty spectacular view. Down-side is that outdoor pools are a bit vulnerable to the weather.

And the weather did this:

Storm over ABC

Storm over ABC

Yup, thunder black skies, pelting rain…and lightning. Lightning is a very bad thing at an outdoor pool….see how there’s nobody swimming in there? That’s because nobody was allowed to swim in there.

In addition to that, there was very little shelter. The amazing lifeguards were kind enough to offer us their office to keep our welcome packs dry, but we were feeling kind of nervous about the prospect of having 50+ swimmers rock up for their first night to stand in the rain and not be able to get into the pool at all.

Luckily, however, the weather gods were with us, and the storm passed right as the bulk of people started to arrive. Hooray! We could swim!!

There were a few familiar faces, a lot of nervous ones, and a lot of hustle and bustle as we got everyone organised and forms filled in. Then we did an introduction and a briefing with a bit from Captain Bel, me and my fellow mentors (Maddie and Erin) and the coaches, and then we were off and racing!

It was pretty bloody amazing. There was a real buzz in the air, and everyone seems so lovely and so excited to be there and there was a good mix of swimmers of different levels of experience, ability and confidence and I’m so excited to see everyone learn and develop and find out how awesome this whole swimming thing is.

The pool was pretty amazing, too. I haven’t actually swum there before. It’s in an amazing spot with a pretty spectacular view over the water. It’s also a salt water pool…very salty. It was kind of funny to be bobbing around in the extra buoyancy, but a bit of a shock to the system if you accidentally copped a mouthful!

So all in all, i’m calling pool session week 1 resounding success! I can’t wait to see where the rest of the program takes us!

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Saturday training was good fun again, with very similar conditions to last week. Big waves but clear and fun and I had a fabulous time again. There was a kind of funky diagonal rip from the middle sweeping out to the North end of the beach so we started out doing circuits of catching that out and swimming back in at the north end.

 

 

Training swim

After the warm up the group was split into two groups…one group of people who were less comfortable with the bigger surf conditions, and one group who were a little more experienced. I started out with the more confident group, as I generally actually enjoy the bigger waves. It soon became clear, though, that Julie and I weren’t really quick enough to keep up with the majority of that group. After the first 3 circuits we let the coach know and headed back to join the other group.

They were doing straight ins and outs and practising their beach skills for getting under waves and swimming out (getting back ins n’t such a problem!). Julie and I stretched ourselves by swimming further out past the break for each circuit…our own “intermediate” stage!

This setup highlights an important point about ocean swimming. It’s good to push yourself and to work on developing new skills, but Coach Kingy has a saying that we “swim to our ability”. Although we know and love the ocean, and Bondi Beach in particular, it’s always good to have a healthy respect for it, and a clear idea of your own capability. That’s how we stay out of trouble.

And not one 4SEAsons swimmer has yet ended up in New Zealand (without a plane, anyway).

So that’s really it for the Spring season. Next week the chaos that is Can Too begins. The squad will be split up as many of us have positions within the pods as coaches, team captains and mentors, and out of the rest a good number are signed up to do the program as swimmers. The schedule has been revamped and extra sessions added, including Monday nights at Clovelly now daylight savings is here and the evenings are still light. Training is about to ramp up and it’s only two weeks til the first race of the season.

And I can’t wait!!!!!!!!!

After a week marooned on dry land, I was more than ready to be back in the sun and salty goodness at Bondi…and Bondi put on a cracker of a day to welcome me home! It was absolutely stunning…the sun was shining, the water was clear and blue (and warmer than it’s been in a good long while) and the tourists were out in force!

There were a few shore-breakers but it was basically flat out the back, so we started out with a medium-ling swim from the middle of the beach out the south head, then back again. We picked up some second-session starters (4SEASons has a second start time for people who do running training before they hit the beach), then jogged down to the North end. We caught the rip out to the North-end boat ramp and then headed diagonally back to the middle of the beach. We did some ins-and-outs for a big, catching a few of those waves. They were a nice size and you could catch a decent ride. There was certainly none of the rough and tumble of last week, but that didn’t mean the ride was without its own set of hazards.

The ocean may be big, but some days in some places, it can feel kind of crowded…we had to share Bondi (which isn’t exactly the biggest beach out there) on Saturday with:

  • The start of a surf ski race with the associated 164 starters, administrators, surf skis, briefing and start-line chaos
  • Regular surfers
  • Surf school
  • A bunch of tourists
  • A bunch of Sydney-siders who were taking advantage of the gorgeous weather with a day at the beach
  • Bondi fit, a different group that also does ocean swim training a bit later than us
  • Lots of fish, sand-rays and other sea-creatures

It was kinda crazy! In a couple of weeks as the weather heats up and the parking gets tougher we’ll start training earlier in the morning. Until then,  sharing the beach isn’t really too much of a trade-off for the glorious day’s swim.

And it was GOOOOD to be back in the water!

Wow, Bondi was messy on Saturday. Just when you think you’re out of the winter blues, spring throws a nasty one at you!

The waves were powerful, but lots of whitewater and a bit churny so weren’t as fun as last week for a body-surf.

There are a few things days like that are good for, however.

Firstly, they are a great cardio workout. No stopping, no faffing…just get on with it or you end up swimming backwards.

Secondly, they are great practice. The majority of the races over the summer season have pretty reasonable conditions, but some beaches and some days that’s a different story. Last year at Avalon….whew…I thought I was never going to get past the break! So training on days where it’s big and rough really prepare you for that. It can really give you an edge over swimmers who train only in pools or who skip training when the weather gets a bit bad.

Thirdly, you really need to concentrate. To avoid gobfulls of saltwater or getting dumped (or simply not being able to get any forward momentum), it takes concentration and all your rough water swimming skills. What you can’t do is over think things. Or worry about anything else in the world from the Syrian politics to what’s for lunch and everything in between. It’s a wonderful way to really clear your head.

Fourth….the coffee afterwards seems extra good!

It was a long weekend here in NSW and a bunch of the 4Seasons crew headed off North to Spring Training Camp. For those of us who were left behind (suffering from acute FOMO) for various reasons there was no scheduled training.

Not that we let that stop us!

Harnessing the power of Facebook, a sub-group of dedicated ocean swimmers decided to get together anyway and go for our own swim!

When we arrived at Bondi conditions were flat and cold. Cold enough that I resorted back to my wetsuit. After a few weeks without, it felt pretty toasty warm!

Given it was flat even out the back we decided to go on a little swim safari and swam to the North end boat ramp and then out and around Ben Buckler and into the deep water. I particularly like this swim – it’s rocky and there’s a lot of fish and things to see. It’s also hard to do most of the time as the waves get rough and can break pretty hard out there, so it was nice to take advantage of the conditions and go for an explore.

Once we were out pretty deep we decided to head back in, regroup again at the boat ramp and consider a point to point. When we got there, given the time and that I had other commitments in the afternoon I (and a couple of other swimmers in the same situation) decided to head half way and then in.

Which is what I started to do. Until I saw that there were some pretty nice looking waves breaking a bit earlier than I’d planned to turn in. I’m a sucker for a decent body-surf and haven’t really had much of that action lately, so I changed course and headed in.

I’m soooooo glad I did. The waves were amazing!!! They weren’t huge, but were breaking at the point on the sandbar where you could stand and throw yourself onto them, and they had this great power and forward momentum that meant you could ride these babies all the way into the sand! Most of the other swimmers came and joined me, and even a couple who weren’t particularly experienced with body-surfing managed to catch some of these killer waves. You could not get the grin off my face as we caught wave after wave after wave.

I could have happily stayed there all day, had I not jam-packed my weekend with other things to do (including a photography course and two dives), so I stayed in until the last possible moment, then headed off for the rest of my weekend with a smile on my face!

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