forresters beach, oct 22, 2011
An early start to the season at Forries
The extremities of age... Big Arm Warrior, Steve de Lorenzo, and Lochie Hinds, both Bondi squaddies, head into the sea at Forries.
For the last couple of years, my ocean swimming season has started with Coogee or Bondi-Bronte. Not this year. The Forresters Beach swim ("Forries" as it is known) on the Central Coast caught my eye, and after mulling it over for a few days (am I fit enough? will I get cold?) I lobbed in my entry merely hours before online registrations closed. The 1.5km/3km combo for $40 including t-shirt was a bargain, and all I had to do was find my way up the coast on the F3.
Oh, the F3. One traffic disaster and you could be stuck there for days. Thankfully, the traffic was light and google maps told me it would take 90 minutes from the city. Perfect. The directions from os.c (take the Tuggerah exit, then 49,000,000 roundabouts to the Central Coast Highway) were also most helpful. With the sunroof open and tunes blaring, I was there in no time.
When I found Forries, I was impressed! It is a beautiful little beach, with a rocky outcrop about 150 metres offshore, rather like Coogee. I didn't realise we would be swimming around a reef, so I was instantly pleased that I had made the journey north. Don't get me wrong, swimming around buoys in an empty bay is ok, but I'd much prefer a destination or a reef to swim to/around.
Parking was a breeze, as was registration. I was pleasantly surprised to be handed a "certificate of achievement" for my swims, even before I had touched the water. It was show of confidence by the organisers and I felt the need to meet their expectations.
Did I mention that the 1.5km event started at 11am? That was another thing that tipped me over the line for entry. It allowed a little sleep in, even for those travelling from Sydney. With only a hundred or so entrants, we started in a single wave without much biff. There was no surf break to speak of at the start, so with one porpoise dive, I was off and swimming. Time to test the fitness.
As noted above, the swim was out and around a rocky outcrop. The water was shallow the whole way (I'm not good at guessing these things, but I'd say 2-3 metres at most). It was extremely clear, with good views of the reef, fishies, seaweed and the resident blue groper. Mini surf breaks either side of the rocky outcrop provided some challenges, with interesting currents to battle - particularly on the northern side when heading back to the beach.
Second event of the day was the 1.5km/3km board paddlers' race. This provided the swimmers with time for a yarn, a coffee/snack and reapplication of sunscreen. I think there was a BBQ operating, but I was too busy chatting to newfound friends Ben (fellow swimmer) and Anke (patient observer) and cooing with their gorgeous 4 month old baby. I also had the pleasure of meeting @swimbikeknit, @maitlandswimmer, @tacomajim and other ocean swimming tweeps. My dear friend Kingy turned up at this point, to exclaim "How good is this?!" and she hadn't even spotted the course yet.
Lochie Hinds and his trophies from Forries. Remember, Lochie, 16, is training to swim the English Channel in 2012. In the process, Lochie is raising funds for the Lifesaver
Rescue Helicopter. You should support Lochie... click here
The 3km event started at 12.45pm and I was dumbfounded -- where did everyone go? Most swimmers disappeared after the short course event, leaving a markedly depleted field. How could anyone resist another two laps of the reef? I actually enjoyed the challenge of the longer swim - the northern break gave me troubles, as I got stuck in a rip and felt like I was swimming through glue. I thought that was bad until I chatted to @RealDeal_Cat at the finish, who found herself so off course on lap 1 that she ended up ON the rock island. That was not part of her race plan, but it made for a funny story. I swam most of the way in the company of a yellow capped HOFFs swimmer, who kept me from completely slacking off on the second lap. Watching the beautiful ocean floor was so much more entertaining than the black line in the pool, and 3km was over before I knew it.
Presentations were a chilled out affair, with plenty of trophies on offer. The event has been run for many years in memory of Dave "Coke" Ward, a local boardie who died from leukaemia. All profits went to the Arrow Bone Barrow Transplant Foundation, and the organisers indicated that several thousand had been raised. Well done to Wamberal and Terrigal SLSCs, and all of their sponsors, for superb organisation.
All in all, a fantastic swim that harked back to the days before the masses discovered ocean swimming. The ultimate boutique swim, it had a relaxed and friendly vibe that tends to be missing from some of the larger swims on the calendar. I didn't get cold and turns out I am fit enough. Mark it in your calendars for next year, and start your season early.
Thanks to Stephanie Hinds, Lochie's mum, for the pics from Forries.