Tag Archive: swimming


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!

 

Universal Truths

  1. If you swim a lot, at some point you will forget to pack underwear.
  2. Nobody looks glamourous in swimmers, a cap and goggles.
  3. You get over caring about looking glamourous when you’re into swimming. Possibly something to do with points 1 and 2.

I came across this article online. It really resonated with how I’ve experienced people react to learning about the sort of swimming I do.

The bulk of the article goes like this:

When open water swimmers tell others what they do, they often are the recipient of the following question:

Why?

Non-swimmers want to know why another human would subject themselves to swimming marathon distances, or in the cold water, or with sharks, or subject themselves to jellyfish stings, currents, and waves. Or why someone would willingly swim at night or without a wetsuit?

Why do you do that? Why would you do that? Why you?

And many times, swimmers cannot eloquently articulate why they swim in the open water. They know instinctively why, but it is hard to explain their motivations succinctly and clearly to non-swimmers. Tell another marathon swimmer that you are doing the English Channel and they say, “Great! When? Who is your pilot?” They don’t ask why. They instinctively know why.

In contrast, tell a non-swimmer that you are going to swim 20 miles in the cold ocean at night with sharks and jellyfish and they ask, “Why?” But even with a reply, non-swimmers remain puzzled. They often continue their inquiry of you, “Aren’t you scared? Worried? Won’t you be tired? Cold? Stung? Eaten?” In general, the risk-oriented response from non-swimmers is completely different from the approach of encouragement, support and wonder from swimmers. Instead of facing questions of why, swimmers face statements grounded in optimism from other swimmers whether the planned swim is 1 mile or 20.

I loved this. There’s a great video on there looking at the more philosophical general concept of “why”, but this article inspired me to think about why I do this sport.

I’ve gone into detail about the how and what the process was of finding myself in this sport, so here’s a list of my top 10 reasons why I do this crazy thing.

  1. Ocean swimmers are nice people. Most people get into it through charity events or programs, and it just doesn’t be the sort of activity that attracts dickheads!
  2. I keep surprising myself with what I can ask of my body and have it actually do.
  3. It’s different every single time you go out there. My attention span isn’t always that good, especially for exercise, and yet I’ve been doing this for 2 and a half years now without a break and I love it more than ever.
  4. Swimming is very meditative. Whether I’m pushing myself for a particular pace in the pool, focussing on a particular part of my technique in a drill, or fighting my way through big surf, swimming is an activity that is by nature very “in the moment”. You really can’t be stressing about the bills or that unfinished piece of work on your desk when you need to concentrate on fundamentals. Like breathing. And not drowning.
  5. As far as exercise goes, one where I don’t have to be hot and sweaty the whole time works pretty well for me.
  6. It keeps me out of the pub. (Most of the time.) I can’t imagine being in surf with a hangover and wold never do it to myself. Since I like swimming more than I like drinking, it’s a pretty simple choice, and one that makes me feel good and doubles the health benefits of the activity.
  7. I feel brave and strong and capable out there. I do something regularly that makes most people at least a little nervous.
  8. I feel a little smug sometimes. Especially in winter and in horrid weather. I don’t back down or hit snooze on the alarm clock. I get up and go to the beach and give it a go. I’ve pretty much never wished I’d stayed in bed, and some of those days have actually turned out to be the most fun and memorable.
  9. There are some pretty amazing things to see out there. A whole world under the water…rays and fish and aquatic plants and rock formations. Even just the light dappling the sand moving around with the water, and the breaking of the waves above you. It’s beautiful.
  10. I just love being in the water. It feels amazing…the weightlessness, the buoyancy, the gliding and the diving. It’s just a little bit like magic.

You know, in case you were wondering.

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Technology and swimming

Swimming itself has been around probably asking as people have needed to cross rivers and stay above water if they fell in. Open water swimming as we know it is generally credited to Lord Byron Swimming the Dardanelles in 1810

Just because its been around a while, doesn’t mean that all the joys of modern technology have no place in the sport. Far from it, in fact.

There are a couple of categories of technology that are particularly useful for me in ocean swimming.

First category is weather technology. The weather is super important because of how it affects conditions in the water. I have the Surf-forecast website bookmarked at Bondi, and use it for advance warning on race conditions at other beaches. iPhone apps I find useful are Hurley Surf for real-time condition information including regular photo and video updates, and Magic Seaweed for info on patrols and hazards.

The second category is tracking. This mainly refers to sports watches that I’ve written a bit about before. Garmin and Swimovate are big players in this field for. GPS, lap timing, and tri watches.

The third category is for just one website. It’s Oceanswims and pretty much all the races I do are on there with a planning calendar, race information, maps, links to individual race websites, race entries and race results. What more could you want?

Then we have the category of ordering kit online. Wiggle is usually my go-to, but eBay, Surfstitch, Amazon and Funkita have all seen me with items in my shopping cart from time to time.

The last category is social networking. I use Facebook extensively for organising and connecting with other swimmers. 4SEASons runs pretty much everything out of the Facebook page, including event planning for races. I’m reasonably new to Twitter but I do follow a few elite swimmers, in the hope that some magical tweet will prove the key to all of a sudden turning into a gun swimmer. I also follow @BeachwatchNSW for updates on ocean quality.

Oh, I may have missed something. like, say, this blog! Including this post that I’m writing on my phone whilst waiting for a bus. How technological is that! I also follow a few other swimmer blogs and the Daily News of Open Water Swimming for plenty of inspiration.

Week one.

Miscalculated the weather and wore a maxi sundress. Plus jeans and motorbike jacket and boots for the ride. Ended up wearing all of the above.

Week two.

Had a presentation at work for which I wore a kind of fancy dark blue wrap dress and heels. Discarded the heels, added waterproof motorcycle pants, motorcycle jacket, and boots. Factor in make-up (not waterproof) apres swim & goggles.

Week 3.

Super hot weather today, so wore a jersey knit short sleeved bright green top and brown knee-length flowy skirt for work with sandals. Add to that 3/4 pants (to protect my knees and insure against my skirt flying up unexpectedly), motorcycle jacket and boots.

Upsize all 3 with post-swim short hair, headbands, my crazy flouro sparkly motorbike helmet, and it’s possible I’m creating my own fashion trend. I’m extra fashion forward. Like Dr Who!

love the Friday swims, but the combination of having to dress for work, get to the beach on a motorbike (safely), cope with the weather, and get home post swim is ending up with me combining more than one outfit at once. Or parts thereof.

I strongly suspect myself of committing crimes against fashion.

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