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Feb 14 - North Bondi (NSW)

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Emailed to 41,000 ocean swimmers weekly in season.

 

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The mob at Bongin, on a bewdiful autumn morn... Image by David Helsham @glistenrr

Look below...

Authorities over the top

Open our beaches! (Please.)

Imagine this: It’s morning. Clear, crisp, a touch below balmy; a gentle breeze whispers offshore from the beach. Swell is up, but in the breeze, it stands up, high, proud, upright, shoulders square, its snowy hair feathering behind as it rolls towards the beach, defiant of the wind; translucent, the sun behind outlining every ripple on its face. Ashore, on the water’s edge, a peloton of codgers and younger boofheads, and laydees, approach the water, their toes digging into the sand, squeaking as they grip. In the backs of their minds, quietly, they calculate and recalculate the time between dumps of the shorebreak onto the edge, the timing of their dive into the sea. It is a personal call: Everyone’s timing is their own, and no calculation need interrupt the morning repartee. At 7, the sun is above the horizon, but it’s not enough yet to soften the air. They are all, all these codgers, they are thinking the same thing: Early autumn morns really are the best time to swim…

We are watching this in our imagination, through a broad-gauged, wire-netted wall, for there is no-one on the sand; no-one approaching the sea; no-one gazing wistfully at the spray thrown back from the erect swells in the offshore breeze. There is no-one on the beach at all. It is deserted. The waves are ignored. The sea is empty, at least of wo/man.

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Northern Beaches Council has, kindly, decorated the picnic tables at Mona Vale to make them more festive for early morning swimmers. Photograrph by Glistening Dave (@glistenrr)

Over the top? Leur?

Many punters will recognise this feeling at the moment, particularly in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, where councils have closed beaches completely as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the top? One might argue so. Indeed, we do. No reasonable person would argue with the need for precautions to constrain the spread of this virus, against which we are pharmaceutically defenceless. It is good that “the authorities” have recognised that, whilst necessarily restricting contact amongst humans, humans still need to get out a bit and stretch themselves. Both are in the interests of their health. A daily outing will make a prolonged lockdown easier to endure, and to manage. It’s a question of balancing the needs. But local councils have gone over the top in closing the beaches completely. You don’t need to close the beaches in order to stop the silly behaviour of a few.

It’s not just in Sydney’s eastern suburbs where they have closed the beaches completely. It’s happening in many other places, too: Sydney’s southern beaches around Cronulla; the northern beaches, particularly in the more populous areas closer down towards the harbour – Manly, Dee Why. But you can swim farther up the northern beaches, and we understand the Sutherland Shire beaches have reopened post-Easter. MidCoast Council even closed the beaches around Forster. Thank heavens we weren’t there at the time. How about the Melbourne Bayside beaches? The Goldy and the Sunny? Freo, Cott to Swanny? Glenelg? Et al? Are they doing this in Auckland?

The closures are in response to large gatherings on beaches in defiance of the need for social distancing. Bondi has had particular problems, especially with the preponderance of backpacker hostels there, and the random crowds that gather there habitually on warm, sunny days. Since that notorious Sunday a few weeks back (see below), Bondi has developed its own coronavirus cluster. Yes, we understand the need for action.

This is largely a council thing, it seems. State rules don’t compel beach closures, although the police appear to be enforcing them. Where the authorities – the councils involved -- are wrong is in their application of the balance. The closures, and the erection of barricades because we can’t be trusted, also recognise that people need to exercise, all the more so in a contemporary economy with such a preponderance of sedentary jobs. There’s not much incidental exercise in office work. So we’re allowed to run and to walk and to cycle, provided it’s not on the beach. Ironically, the temporary barricades actually crowd the runners and the walkers and the cyclistes into a narrower space on Sydney’s beach promenades, making social distancing more difficult to achieve.

That said, the local authorities have a difficult job in managing their areas in response to state and federal restrictions on movement and gathering. This is new territory for everyone. They are doing as well as they can. But in the great Strã'an tradition of deference, they can always do with gratuitous advice.

The error is in the authorities assuming that the only exercise their communities need is walking or running or cycling. As we know so very well, there are many punters who don’t or can’t walk or run or cycle. We swim. Because we prefer to; because we have to; because we can’t, for one reason or another, do the land-based stuff. Whither us? What about me? Personally, we walk because we live inland a bit, when we’re not at Forster. But we prefer to swim. We get a bit of both. But we cannot run, and we don’t have a bike. And it's an hour to the beach.

This is not an argument against restrictions aimed at constraining the spread of the virus. It is a plea for commonsense in how they are applied; to cater to the large number of us who swim. We need our exercise, too. Those authorities are wrong to think that running, walking and cycling is all that matters.


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Bondi beachgoers practise social distancing in the age of coronavirus. Image tweeted by Isabelle Truman (@isabelletruman). Next day, Waverley Council, with the Bill, closed Bondi down. Be aware, the telephoto lens used for this image has the effect of compressing the distribution of beachgoers, so many of them are not as close to each other as they may seem. But there certainly are lots of them.

Our voting strength

In season 2018/19, Australia racked up 53,000 entrants in organised ocean swims, about a quarter of us in Sydney. Including those who swim informally – early morning swim groups, etc -- there are probably more than double that around the joint. Many others use the beaches for daily exercise, although they might teabag at the end of a beach walk or a run. It's not just swimmers who are being dudded. And don't forget surfers; they need their fix, too.

A solution?

We beach users are not in the habit of gathering in large groups on the beach having a drink and a party and spreading coronavirus. We don’t even hang around on the beach much after our swim. We generally turn up, swim, then go home, or off to work. We might go for a cuppa at a beachside café. But we don’t sit around in groups on the sand passing around a flagon or a durry or having a chinwag so boisterous that it infringes the amenity of neighbouring beachgoers. In the ocean, there’s little risk of infringing social distancing rules. And if the authorities feel the need to police our usage, then beaches are far easier to patrol because they are clearly identified, defined spaces, unlike the many kilometres of bike and shared paths, and parklands.

It’s wrong on the part of policy makers to, on the one hand, recognise that we all need our exercise, but on the other hand, to block many of us from getting it. It’s not so much that it’s discrimination; it’s ignorance, and it’s bad policy. There could at least be defined hours for swimming, beach walking, and running -- say 6-9 in the mornings and 4-6 in the evenings -- with restrictions on group numbers.

We all need our exercise, but there is more to the world than joggers, walkers, and cyclists.

What you can do

You can make your views known to your local councillors. Don't be shy about it. Their phone numbers usually are on the council websites... Randwick councillors... Waverley councillors

Only the strength of numbers is likely to force change.

There are petitions circulating online urging both Randwick and Waverley councils in Sydney to think through their blanket bans. You can see these petitions – and sign them, if you like – For Randwick Council (Clovelly, Coogee, Maroubra) … Click here… And for Waverley Council (Bondi, Tamarama, Bronte)… Click here

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Proud swells stand upright, snowy hair feathering behind... Photograrph by Glistening Dave (@glistenrr)

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Calling crusty old sea dogs

pitt helen 250Attention all ocean baths swimmers: an ocean swimming journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald, Helen Pitt, is seeking ocean baths swimmers for a coffee table book she is doing with photographer Chris Chen, to be published by Thames and Hudson. Helen is seeking baths swimmers to talk to about their favourite ocean pools, and why they are their favourites. Ideally, Helen says, she would love the subjects to agree to be photographed in their cossies at their favourite pool.

Please email Helen (link below) with 100 words on what you love about your ocean pool (more if it has an interesting history).

If you are not willing to be photographed, Helen says she is open to suggestions of swimmers to photograph or talk to... Crusty old sea dogs, please apply.

Many will know Helen from The House (Allen & Unwin), her history of the Sydney Opera House, which won the Walkley Book Award in 2018.

Contact Helen Pitt... Click here


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New Swipe Wide-Eyes

More Swipes in stock now

V630ASA AMBK 300There's a new model Swipe: the Wide-Eyes cater to swimmers who prefer an adjustable nose bridge, and a slightly wider field of vision than offered by the existing Swipe Selenes. They come in both plain and fully sick mirrored versions. They will be more suitable, perhaps, for punters who need a longer or narrower nose-bridge.

We wore our original View Selene Swipes for 56 outings, until we lost them at Bondi a few weeks back. Left them in a change room. Now, we're using the new Wide-Eyes Swipes.

We had been cautious about promoting the Swipes when we heard about them from the folk at View. We wore them 30 times before we were comfortable with flogging them to you. If they do fog at all, generally it's in one corner of a lens. Each time, we took them off, wiped the foggy bit gently with our forefinger, and no more fogging for the rest of the session. No goo, no spit, no nothing, except wetting them and wiping them carefully

We've sold 310 pairs of View Selene Swipes since we launched them just prior to Xmas; so many, in fact, that we'd sold out of four colours and we'd almost sold out of the fifth. New stocks have arrived, and we have plenty of gogs in all available colours and styles.

The revolutionary Swipe technology offers anti-fog capacity that lasts 10 times as long as existing goggles, the makers say.

According to the makers, the "10 times as long" refers to distance they say you can swim before you start to see some fogging with new goggles. They say the standard is 4km, but the Swipes will go 40kms. Whatever, all gogs will fog if you don't respect them and look after them. The issue also is how to deal with the fogging if and when it does occur.

For advice on looking after your gogs... Click here

Find out more and order Swipes... Click here

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oceanswimsafaris 2020

It's all over for now, baby

philippines 190625 whale sharks 600 04

No-one should be surprised to hear that our early-season oceanswimsafaris this year have been cancelled. Or rather, they've been rolled over to next year, 2021. Our French Polynesia oceanswimsafaris will be in May, 2021, and our Philippines oceanswimsafari will be in June. We're lucky that our providers in both French Polynesia and in The Philippines have been happy to defer our bookings. They're suffering, too, at the moment. That's our mob, above, playing with whale sharks in The Philippines in 2019.

We're not sure yet about late season oceanswimsafaris in 2020. We're keeping a watching brief and we're communicating with those who've booked.

Enquiries... Click here

Controversy Corner...

What do you reckon about any of this stuff? We received a lot of feedback after last week's newsletter. Check it out... Click here

Let us know and we'll facilitate the debate... Click here

(Also see posts at the end of this newsletter.)

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Early morning autumn choob at Forster.

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Advertise...

We email this newsletter to over 40,000 swimmers weekly in season, and less frequently out of season. If you'd like to advertise with us, please give us a yell.. Click here

If you're not receiving our emails...

... even if you believe you're on our list, chances are they're going into your Spam or Trash/Bin folders. Some email providers do that to us; gmail and Hotmail, for example. So check your Spam, your Trash and/or your Bin, and you might find us trapped in their, lonely, with no-one to talk to.

You might also add oceanswims.com to your email whitelist. This should help them to come through.

Results...

For swim results... Click here

If you have a link to results that we have not listed, please send it to us... Click here

Emergency!

Don't be an emergency eejit. It's 'strordnry how many punters enter swims online and list themselves as their own emergency contact. Just say something happens to you out in the sea, who are awgies going to contact? You? Get real. Think about it, and enter someone else as your emergency contact, event if it's your boss at work.

List your swim group...

List your informal morning swim group on our directory, so that travelling swimmers will always have a place and a peloton to swim with... Click here

Check our swim maps...

For a quick idea of what's going on around your area -- formal events, informal swim groups -- check our swim maps. You'll find them for each area under Swims/Calendar on oceanswims.com.

Buy gogs...

You can buy your fave View gogs and other swim needs from the oceanswims.com boutique... Click here

Check our back issues...

For all our back issues of the weekly oceanswims.com newsletter... Click here

Subscribe

If you wish to receive our newsletters by email, or you know someone who would like to receive them... Click here

This newsletter...

We send this newsletter to a mailing list of over 39,000 swimmers, mainly in Australia and New Zealand, around the south-west Pacific, and even around the world. If ou'd like to advertise with us, give us a yell... Click here

Share this post

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Emailed to 41,000 ocean swimmers weekly in season.

 

bongin dhd 2003 600 01
Look carefully, although you don't need to look too carefully. This is one of the most beautiful images we have ever seen. Glistening Dave at the Mona Vale pool. Image by David Helsham @glistenrr

Look below...

Just like that... It's all over

Season 2019 snuffed by a virus

And, just like that (snaps fingers), it’s gone!

Our season. Gone in a flash.

Just over a week ago, Sat’dee, the COVID-19 issue was still nascent. It was building, but surely it wasn’t all that serious. Things like this don't happen in first world countries in modern times, do they? We live in Strã’a, and Strã’a is protected from all these nasties from overseas. Aren’t we?

There had been plenty of talk about it. Last weekend week, Stanwell Park had just cancelled, in light of the prospect of rising seas, and nothing else was open for online entry that weekend. But we were struck by how, in the face of the rising clamour about coronavirus, people continued to enter swims online. That Sat’dee, there was a steady stream of entries to swims that wouldn’t be held for over a week, at the earliest. There was absolutely no need at all to enter swims that day, particularly whilst there was so much of the unknown about the immediate future.

We expect punters to watch events themselves and decide whether conditions are right to enter. Over the past few years, we’d noticed how, if weather conditions were not propitious, entries would slow. We are loath to proffer advice ourselves, because we are not experts on individual beaches, and conditions can change dramatically from forecasts. These days, people know how to watch the weather for themselves. But not pandemics, apparently.

Bear in mind, this was the day after the Prime Minister announced a limitation on public gatherings, to take place from three days hence (not from straight away), due to coronavirus concerns. That, particularly, made us take more notice of how the situation was developing.

It alarmed us that these entries for swims at least a week into the future continue to roll in. We wondered, in our head to ourselves, Aren’t these people reading the papers and listening to the news on the electric wireless? Apparently not. And it struck us that we needed to do something to protect people from themselves, at least put a pause on entries until we could confirm with individual swim awgies what their intentions were. After all, there is no central authority in this caper, handing down decrees from on high. There was no-one to tell individual awgies what to do in light of a developing situation.

We made a decision. We halted entries to all swims. And we contacted all awgies of swims scheduled over the rest of the season and asked them, with the COVID-19 situation developing, what they intended to do. Would they still run? Or would they cancel? If there was any real prospect of a swim not going ahead, we figured it was unfair to continue to accept entries to it.

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That's the last we see of her... Random swimmer heads around Second Head, Forster.

Cancel… cancel… cancel…

Some responses came back straight away. On the oceanswims.com home page, we have a list of 18 swims that have cancelled. One swim, South Head, scheduled for mid-May, paused entries for a fortnight, hoping for clarity. But now they have cancelled for season 2019/20. Two swims have "postponed", thinking they might be able to run the postponed event early in the next season, 2020/21. We're not naming them right now because they are thinking about it still. But as news of individual swims is confirmed, we shall update their event pages on oceanswims.com. We will also update the event's date, so you may need to find it further down the Featured Swims list than you might have been expecting.

Thus, the 2019/20 ocean swimming season is snuffed out. Just like that.

March and April normally are our two busiest months of the season in terms of numbers of swims. While most swims around the country are well and truly over, on Sunday, April 5, there were five swims scheduled in NSW alone, including one of the biggest of the season (the autumn outing at Coogee). Now, we’re sitting here, twiddling our thumbs, self-isolated (we’re not sick, but we are being careful), wondering what we’ll read next. (Actually, we’re not reading anything much because we now have tidying up to do for 14 swims for which entries were coming in. But after that, we’ll be wondering what to read, we hope.)

Most swims have decided to cancel and roll-over entries to next season, when, we trust, COVID-19 has been brought under some kind of control.

We also noted the comments of the Prime Minister on Thursday last week when, for the first time, we heard someone in “authority” say how long they expected this situation to last. “These conditions will last for six months”, the Prime Minister said, or words to that effect, when outlining yet another tranche of pandemic measures. Then, the next day, on Friday, the same Prime Minister said, “…six months at least”. Since then, it's been consistently "six months at least".

Will we have a next season?


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Bondi beachgoers practise social distancing in the age of coronavirus. Image tweeted by Isabelle Truman (@isabelletruman). Next day, the Bill closed Bondi down.

oceanswimsafaris 2019

The road less travelled

It’s not just domestic ocean swims that have been affected by the pandemic. We had an entire winter of oceanswimsafaris planned over the next six months – French Polynesia (May), The Philippines (June), Sulawesi in Indonesia (later in June), Tonga (July), Spain (August-September), and Fiji (October). That’s all gone, too, at least the earlier oceanswimsafaris. At this point, the only oceanswimsafaris that we’re not ruling out entirely are to Spain’s San Sebastián (late August) and Costa Brava (mid-September), and Fiji’s Mana Island (late October) and the Yasawas (later October). We haven’t ruled out Spain and Fiji yet only because they are so far into the future.

But, right now, they ain’t looking great, other than on paper, where they look tremendous.

We work with some very good providers in all these destinations, and we have been able to roll over all our bookings in the first part of our season. Instead of being 2020 oceanswimsafaris, they will be 2021 oceanswimsafaris. Those providers are suffering, too, of course. All of these resorts, hotels, and other providers themselves will be shutting down completely. Spare a thought for all these businesses whose cash flow has just dried up, in an instant. We know how they feel.

The effects of this pandemic will be profound. Society always is a dynamic thing made up of mixes of trends and influences, and constant changes. But how will they be influenced by COVID-19? When everyone realises they can work from home productively, what effect will that have on the future of work and industrial relations (which we don’t have much of in Strã’a these days)? What effect will it have over the long term on transport planning? On social interaction? On hospitality? On our expectations of government?

Only one thing is for certain: Only time will tell.

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Calling crusty old sea dogs

pitt helen 250Attention all ocean baths swimmers: an ocean swimming journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald, Helen Pitt, is seeking ocean baths swimmers for a coffee table book she is doing with photographer Chris Chen, to be published by Thames and Hudson. Helen is seeking baths swimmers to talk to about their favourite ocean pools, and why they are their favourites. Ideally, Helen says, she would love the subjects to agree to be photographed in their cossies at their favourite pool.

Please email Helen (link below) with 100 words on what you love about your ocean pool (more if it has an interesting history).

If you are not willing to be photographed, Helen says she is open to suggestions of swimmers to photograph or talk to... Crusty old sea dogs, please apply.

Many will know Helen from The House (Allen & Unwin), her history of the Sydney Opera House, which won the Walkley Book Award in 2018.

Contact Helen Pitt... Click here

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All these persons from that person

mccreery cover 250We always like to celebrate the contributions of ocean swimmers to culcha, particularly to ocean swimming culcha. And so we tell you now about a book of short stories by Wollongong swimmer, Susan McCreery. Mind you, This Person Is Not that Person, McCreery's collection of stories, is not so much a book of short stories as a book of 22 portraits, of relationships. Many of those relationships are unsuitable, but that is the story of life, isn’t it. Life is grappling with a series of transient, often inappropriate relationships in the search for something meaningful and enduring; something that will feed your soul; something that will help you to leave your mark on the world. If you don’t conduct a search, you won’t find anything.

In this sense, McCreery’s book is a life manual in recognising relationship atrophy, forcing the reader to face up to it -- are they talking about you? -- and, perhaps, prompting them do something about it. You might wonder how much of this is autobiographical – all writing is autobiographical to some extent, particularly creative writing – and how much is picked up along the way from friends and acquaintances. We hope it’s not all from the one source.

McCreery has an eye for the detail of life which most people might notice, but she has stitched it fluently into her stories to add dimensions that many writers would struggle to describe, and so pithily. This, when hubby arrives home from work: “... I happen to glance up at our house, smiling, to see that my husband is home early. His face looking down from our bedroom window is grim and grey, and I deflate in an instant. Our smiles are no longer for each other.” 

That said, it’s not all bad news. There is plenty of uplift in this book, not least from the pleasure of its style. McCreery is an observant writer, and it is the detail noticed by observant people that gives life its colour.

It's also an eminently easy read. McCreery has an accessible style; none of the word portraits are a chore – one of them has a small dose of saccharin, but that's just one from 22. The reader will grimace as, so often, they might recognise themselves in the situations she writes about. We've all been there.

For a swimmer, only two of the 22 stories reference ocean swimming or swimming, one of them in passing, the other as the catalyst of a relationship situation. But don’t let that put you off. There is more to life than swimming.

When the book was published, on March 1, McCreery posted on Twitter (@SusanMcCreery2), "This ss collection, written by me, is out today, w means if you care to you can wander into your local bookshop (or distant one) & ask for it, & the person at the desk, after looking at you blankly, will check screen & say, Ah yes. Like us to order it in? Then you get to decide."

This gives you a feel for it.

This Person is Not that Person, Puncher and Wattman, March 1, 2020. ISBN 978-1-925780-44-4 


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New Swipe Wide-Eyes

More Swipes in stock now

V630ASA AMBK 300We have new stocks of the very popular View Swipes just arrived this morning. Even better, there's also a new model: the V630ASA (we call them Wide-Eyes) offer a wider field of vision, an adjustable nose piece, and both plain and fully sick mirrored versions. They will be more suitable, perhaps, for punters who need a longer or narrower nose-bridge. The Wide-Eyes also come with the latest Swipe technology.

We wore our original View Selene Swipes for 56 outings, until we lost them at Bondi last week. Left them in a change room, didn't we. We're now onto our 2nd pair, although now we're also looking forward to trying the new Wide-Eyes at our next swim.

We had been cautious about promoting the Swipes when we heard about them from the folk at View. We wore them 30 times before we were comfortable with flogging them to you. If they do fog at all, generally it's in one corner of a lens. Each time, we took them off, wiped the foggy bit gently with our forefinger, and no more fogging for the rest of the session. No goo, no spit, no nothing, except wetting them and wiping them carefully

We've sold 290 pairs of View Selene Swipes since we launched them just prior to Xmas; so many, in fact, that we'd sold out of four colours and we'd almost sold out of the fifth. New stocks arrived this morning, so get your orders in now.

The Selene has long been our most popular gog. A year or two back, View introduced a mirrored version of the Selene, and now they also offer the revolutionary Swipe, offering anti-fog capacity that lasts 10 times as long as existing goggles, the makers say.

According to the makers, the "10 times as long" refers to distance they say you can swim before you start to see some fogging with new goggles. They say the standard is 4km, but the Swipes will go 40kms. Whatever, all gogs will fog if you don't respect them and look after them. The issue also is how to deal with the fogging if and when it does occur.

For advice on looking after your gogs... Click here

Find out more and order Swipes... Click here

Controversy Corner...

What do you reckon about any of this stuff? We received a lot of feedback after last week's newsletter. Check it out... Click here

Let us know and we'll facilitate the debate... Click here

(Also see posts at the end of this newsletter.)

forster 2003 barrel 600 01
Stare down the barrel: Forster Main Beach, last Sat'dee.

Advertise...

We email this newsletter to over 40,000 swimmers weekly in season, and less frequently out of season. If you'd like to advertise with us, please give us a yell.. Click here

If you're not receiving our emails...

... even if you believe you're on our list, chances are they're going into your Spam or Trash/Bin folders. Some email providers do that to us; gmail and Hotmail, for example. So check your Spam, your Trash and/or your Bin, and you might find us trapped in their, lonely, with no-one to talk to.

You might also add oceanswims.com to your email whitelist. This should help them to come through.

Results...

For swim results... Click here

If you have a link to results that we have not listed, please send it to us... Click here

Emergency!

Don't be an emergency eejit. It's 'strordnry how many punters enter swims online and list themselves as their own emergency contact. Just say something happens to you out in the sea, who are awgies going to contact? You? Get real. Think about it, and enter someone else as your emergency contact, event if it's your boss at work.

List your swim group...

List your informal morning swim group on our directory, so that travelling swimmers will always have a place and a peloton to swim with... Click here

Check our swim maps...

For a quick idea of what's going on around your area -- formal events, informal swim groups -- check our swim maps. You'll find them for each area under Swims/Calendar on oceanswims.com.

Buy gogs...

You can buy your fave View gogs and other swim needs from the oceanswims.com boutique... Click here

Check our back issues...

For all our back issues of the weekly oceanswims.com newsletter... Click here

Subscribe

If you wish to receive our newsletters by email, or you know someone who would like to receive them... Click here

This newsletter...

We send this newsletter to a mailing list of over 39,000 swimmers, mainly in Australia and New Zealand, around the south-west Pacific, and even around the world. If ou'd like to advertise with us, give us a yell... Click here

Share this post

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