Tag Archive: whales


Ah, Friday swims…best session of the week in my humble opinion! Last week was definitely no exception. I missed Tuesday training stuck late at work, and then didn’t make my Wednesday Can Too session (booo) as some idiot knocked over my bike where it was parked for the day and broke the clutch lever…making it a little difficult for me to get there. Anyway, a trip to the parts shop, a screwdriver, a shifter and a youtube video later and I’m back on the road and was back in the water. Yay!

I was running quite late getting out of the office so raced across and threw my gear down and literally ran down to the beach to join the group for the swim. We headed out on a swim safari to the boat ramp at North Bondi, then out and around Ben Buckler with a test of nerve to see how far we would swim out as a group!

I love doing this swim, it’s completely amazing to me to see that magical world under the surface, and it’s one of the charms of ocean swimming for me. I remember being so surprised, when I first took up this sport, to find all sorts of sea life flourishing in Bondi. I think because it’s so sandy in the middle, and quite small, and there had always been soooo many people, and I guess never having swum there with goggles and therefore been able to see properly, I had selfish(pun!)ly assumed there wouldn’t really be much in the way of sea life there.

How wrong I was!

Rarely is there a swim where I don’t see all sorts of fish and rays. At the North and South ends there are rocks and seagrass beds which are absolutely bursting with life. On lucky days I’ve seen whales not far off shore, and even luckier had a pod of dolphins come and swim with me, Jules and coach Kingy! On the unlucky days the place is overrun with bluebottles, and there are all sorts of jellyfish out there…luckily most of them seem to be the non-stinging kind.

Even though I’ve snorkeled heaps over the years, swum heaps in the past couple, and taken up diving in the past few months, there’s just something about being right in there checking out this completely different world that I never grow tired of. Luckily for me, I live somewhere where the geography and the climate mean I pretty much never have to!

As the winter swim season draws to a close, I’ve been reflecting on one of the most common things I hear when someone discovers I swim in the ocean every weekend, even in winter.

“Winter swimming? Are you insane?”

Funnily enough, I’m at a point where I understand their reaction about as much as they understand my swimming. I’m a total convert to winter swimming, and have grown to love its charms.

Aside from the question about getting into the ocean, I recently came across an article about Why you should keep on swimming through the winter. This was mainly about pool swimming, but had some good points that apply to all swimmers.

As for me, I have quite a long list of reasons why I do it, and why I’ve grown to love it. so here goes….

  • Less tourists at the beach (and therefore less parking issues) so less crowd-dodging in the water.
  • It’s really not that cold. Not where I live and train. so far the water temperature hasn’t dropped below 17C. There’s actually a lag in water temperature to air temperature, so funnily enough the really cold water tends to be around November when people start thinking about getting into the ocean. And if the water temperature really bothers you. Ummm…heard of wetsuits? No rules against ’em!
  • The water clarity is better. No idea why, but it is totally true.
  • Wildlife. I think it’s a combination of the cooler water and less swimmers around, but there’s more fish, and it’s only during winter swims that I’ve swum with dolphins and whales (and even a wolverine!).
  • Body Surfing. A good enough reason all on its own.
  • A surprising number of winter swim days are actually pretty nice.  A quick review of the icebreaker notes shows there was one horrid day, one overcast, and one where it came in started sunny, rained, and then went sunny again. Not too bad all things considered.
  • There’s really no better start to the weekend. Salt and surf and sand, enough of a workout to justify a few wines on Saturday night, followed by coffee and good company!
  • It’s a well-kept secret, known only to a select few, that we actually have a ball out there. Even when the weather is sub-optimal. There’s this whole perception out there amongst the general populace that it’s difficult and cold and you have to give up your Friday night plans…when really, it’s amazingly fun.
  • It’s great for your summer race form. Keeping up training over the winter really gets you trained up for bigger surf, rougher conditions and cooler water. you can work on strength and endurance, and you’re not starting from scratch fitness-wise every year.

I know. I’ve given away a few secrets here. So maybe we’ll see you in the water next winter….

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

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