may 21-22, 2011
Noosa, Sat, May 21, '11
Bondi, Sun, May 22, '11
Into winter, the swimming still easy
Two different swims over two days -- Sat'dee, the Noosa swim, then Sundee, the 2nd Inaugural Bondi Bluewater Challenge. Smooth water with slight offshore breezes at both, but very different in setting and water.
Noosa's water was muddy. Indeed, when we swam on the Fridee, literally you couldn't see the hand in front of your face. It was slightly clearer on race day, but not by much. They've had a lot of rain up there, and it washes out through the river and in run-off. But we had a lovely couple of days staying with friends. We've done this swim four times now, and we've always struck murky water. It's not dirty or polluted, just cloudy, murky. They tell us it was perfect last year, but we missed it. But for a Sydneysider coming out of the cold that's been Sydney the last week or two, it was reassuring to exit the plane at Maroochydore into such balmy, near summer temperatures. Rained a lot, especially overnight, but the setting at Noosa is idyllic, with the national park forming a backdrop to the swim which, despite the murk, was run in very good water.
Main swim was 2.48km, according to the oceanswims.com GPS-in-plastic bag, not 2km as advertised, but there's nothing wrong with that. We like a bit of extra distance. The booees were set very far out to sea.
The grupetto heads out from Ti-Tree Bay.
Sand models survive from the day before. But not for long. Very clever.
Mrs Sparkle, who swims a straight course -- "dead-eye straight", as she puts it -- swam 2.48km for the 2km course, according to the oceanswims.com GPS-in-a-plastic-bag.
Click on Thumbs For larger size shots and Click on Page Number For more shots
Parking, roundabouts, and kooks
The main problem I have with Noosa is parking.
Parking and roundabouts.
The two main problems I have with Noosa are parking and roundabouts.
And the Noosa Parks kooks.
Yes. It almost feels like Monty Python and the Spanish Inquisition. Here we were, not another park user in sight, tramping along the fire trails to get to the start of Saturday's Noosa Blue Water swim. I guess it was all the damage we caused last year to the normal walking trail to Ti-tree in our bare and thonged feet that the swim crowd was relegated to the fire trail again this year.
The USM folks grin and bear it. You can almost feel the strain beginning to tell in their so-polite thank-you's for the privilege of being allowed to blah blah blah.
Just as well the good parts outweighed the ordinary. And for a start, we all got a 2.5km swim instead of the 2km listed in the brochure. The distance comes courtesy of the oceanswims.com technology department - the GPS strapped to the togs trick. So there's the mystery solved as to why everyone's times were so slow.
The water was murky and cold and everyone came ashore with scum over them but there was an offshore breeze and some nice swell pushing across the bay. With the calm early morning conditions and these gentle pushes, it made for fast swimming especially if you were prepared to work the swells. The hard bit here is getting back going again after each bump has dropped you off the back.
There was a small wave at the start but nothing like the battering that the folks in the paddling events took from their start at Stumers Creek near Coolum. Then we seemed to be heading out to sea for quite a while but at least the course was well marked. I appreciate a well-marked course having stuffed up in the past (Burleigh Heads a couple of years ago. I say poorly marked, the other 499 people in the swim felt it was okay though).
With all the obstacles in their way at the weekend, both from the Noosa Parks kooks and the weather, USM ran a tight ship with good prizes and a reasonable entry fee. The same goes for the Weekend Warriors who have their third and final event this Sunday, May 29, at Caloundra. But at the biggest event in this neck of the woods, northern NSW, southern Qld, is Byron Bay and there has been considerable debate in the peloton about the jump in entry fee to $65 despite them getting close to 2,000 people.
If there is just one of you doing Byron, maybe it's not so bad but if two from the same family want to give it a try - there's $130 straight up before accommodation, a meal or two, shopping. Byron is run by the Winter Whales but in partnership with the surf club and the whole town seems to get behind it with sponsorship from the bus company, printing ‑ all their major costs but they still want their $65 - with the profits going to charity.
These other swims, privately run and with much smaller fields, seem to do very well without such a hit to the hip pocket. And it was noticeable this year at Byron that people had voted with their wallets as numbers were back down under 2000.
I don't know how to end this rant. I'll still be doing Byron but many are not.
PS: It's wet suit time for the 3.8 race at Caloundra on Sunday. I think it's wet suit time. I will if everyone else does. I'm taking my suit with me. You never know. The water might actually be cold.
Then Sundee at Bondi...
The Glistening Dave Pano. See Dave's Photo Gallery (below) for a larger, more inspiring version.
Cooler, urban backdrop, smooth water still which was clear through the break, but murky once you moved out to sea, not a muddy murk, just a white, opaque murk. Nothing unpleasant about it out there. It just wasn't clear, although we did see the stark white float of the shark net marker hovering a couple of metres below the surface just past the far out turner off Mackenzies Point. It seemed like farther than the advertised 2.1km, but the GPS on Mrs Sparkle's back told us it was absolutely spot on 2km.
A triffic thing they did at Bondi was to award little prizes to what swim spirit Cyril Baldock referred to as "the average swimmer" in each age group -- the average time. What they did was to take the swimmer in the middle of the age group, say 15th out of 30 swimmers in the age group, and give them a prize, too. If that swimmer wasn't present, then Cyril read down the list until they got someone who was there. It wasn't really the "average" swimmer, more the median swimmer. But the difference is immaterial. The gesture recognised the rank and file. "We want this swim to be the swimmers' swim," Cyril told the mob over the electric microphone. Indeed. We applaud the move.
Cat in a hat. The wool is called Tortoiseshell, and the model is known as Cat. How apt. Another creation from @swimbikeknit.
A melancholic feel at the end of the day. We have two more swims in NSW -- at Evans Head on the June long weekend and Mona Vale on June 26 -- and Queensland has the 3.8km Caloundra swim next weekend. But the season now is as good as over. Noice to have life a bit easier, but sad to miss the good times over the past eight months.
Into winter now, into the Pacific... another favourite part of the year. Come to think of it, it's always our favourite part of the year. Not a bad way to be, perhaps.
The rank and file knows its place.
Mrs Sparkle swam the longer course at precisely 2km. She swims pretty straight, and where she seemed slightly off course, she says it's tactical.
Now for the good photograrphs...
Check out Glistening Dave's photo gallery of the Bondi Bluewater Challenge...
Click on Thumbs For larger size shots and Click on Page Number For more shots
Check Sevadevi's Flickrstream from Bondi... click here
Pics by Glistening Dave), Sevadevi Glover, and oceanswims.com.
oceanswims.com uses Olympus cameras, this time the Tough TG-810 and PEN E-P1 (and an iPhone 4).
Follow us on Twitter - @Aquagirl72, @glisstenrr, @thesevas, @oceanswims
Have your say and tell us what you thought of these and other swims on the oceanswims blob... click here
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