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August 19, 2020 - The fos tallies issue

Youngest swimmer ever to top the fos tallies...

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Emailed to more than 41,000 ocean swimmers weekly in season.

 

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A metaphor for his mood... Glistening Dave has a penchant for capturing the season at Bongin Bongin Bay. Photograrph by David Helsham (@glistenrr)

Look below...

fos tallies 2019/20... And that's final!

West dominates in season cut short by Covid

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Max Coten (2nd left) with fellow Kwinana swimmer Sienna Cunnins (l), local mayor Mayor Carol Adams (2nd r), and swimming club head coach Kareena Preston (r). Pic by Chloë Fraser, Sound Telegraph

It's official: the fine ocean swimmers' tallies for season 2019/20 are dominated by swimmers from anywhere other than NSW. Swimmers from Western Australia fill 13 of the highest 20 positions in terms of distances swum over the course of the season, with Victorian swimmers filling another four positions and Kiwis another two. NSW's sole representative in the highest 20 comes in at 17. 

But the results in 2019/20 were notable for another reason: the highest ranked swimmer was also the youngest swimmer ever to top the fine ocean swimmers' tallies: Max Coten, at 16, is the only teenager ever to figure so prominently since we've been running the tallies over the past-15-odd seasons.

Swimmers from the West and NZ have been ranking for years, but this is the first time that mugs from NSW have not figured prominently. The highest ranked NSW swimmer in season 2019/20 was last year's top-ranked swimmer overall, the ubiquitous Jim Donaldson, who did 79.6km from 22 swims, averaging 3.62km per swim. Jim was 17th on the list in 2019/20. In contrast, the highest ranked swimmer overall was Max Coten, from WA, with 121.6km from 21 events at an average of 5.79km. Another swimmer from the West, Tara Grout, was 2nd with 116.7km from 17 swims (6.86km average). Eveready Kiwi Mike Cochrane is 3rd with 106.7km from 35 swims (3.05km).

The reason for the difference this season is --  you'll be surprised to hear -- Covid-19, which closed off all states and national swim seasons in mid-March. At that point, some areas, such as Victoria, South Australia, Tassie and Queensland, were pretty well over for the season -- Queensland has swims over winter, so their season is weighted differently anyway -- whereas NSW, and to some extent New Zealand, still had events to run. Indeed, with the dramatic growth of ocean swim events in NSW over the years, late March and April have become the sport's busiest period there; the Covid curtailment cut off the opportunity for as much as 45-50km in further event distance in  NSW.

Indeed, as one delves into the figures (see link below), the effects of the pandemic are stark: season 2019/20 saw 658 individual swim events, after 957 in season 2018/19. There were 45,071 individual swimmers, after 53,025 the previous season. Total distance swum was 172,853.55km, after 200,887.38km in 2018/19; and 81,347 swims (by individuals) after 96,113. The only key stat that remained constant was average distance swum, which, at 2.1km, has remained constant now for four seasons, up from 2km for four years prior to that.

It is what it is. As this is not a competition, none of this really matters, but it is interesting, and it's important, we feel, to acknowledge the efforts of all swimmers.

(It's important to understand that the fine ocean swimmers' tallies are not a competition. We simply tally up everyone's distances as a matter of interest, and to recognise the effort that all swimmers put in over the course of the season, irrespective of whether they are or how they figure in individual event results.)

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A flight over the Sahara? Or the sandy bottom off Forster? Nature is a wondrous sculptor.

Propellor-head

We had a few swimmers come to us after we posted preliminary tallies a few months ago, and our tallist, propellor-head Colin Reyburn, has made a couple of adjustments as a consequence. But if there are still issues for individual swimmers, please let us know... Click here

Understand that many organisers, and many timers, are sloppy with their reporting of results. They record only name, usually — but not always -- gender, sometimes age, but only rarely other identifying data, such as where a swimmer is from. Often, too, their input of data is misspelt or otherwise in error. This means that it is often very difficult to identify swimmers, and to separate swimmers with similar names. Thus, some swimmers will appear several times in these lists as if they are different swimmers. We need you to check the lists and to draw these anomalies to our attention, so that we can then edit the master list to ensure the final tallies are as accurate as we can possibly get them.

Thak you to Colin Reyburn for his work in compiling the tallies. It's an enormous job, but Colin is a dab hand with Excel and makes it easier than it would be for most, including us.

To check the fine ocean swimmers tallies and all the relevant data… Click here

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Blind Vision

Extraordinary bloke done good

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James Pittar on the beach on Marthas Vineyard after swimming the Muskaget Channel in 2000. Pic from Getty Images.

We’ve talked before about James Pittar. Just an ordinary bloke, an ordinary swimmer, and if you ran into him in the street, the chat would be ordinary, street chatter of the kind you get from a regular person whom you may not have seen for a while. How are the kids? What are you up to? How’s your swimming going?

James is a little different, though. He works at the Tax Office. And he’s completed major swims all around the world, on every continent, often several-to-many swims on some continents, with distances up to 60km. And, one other thing that makes him stand out: James Pittar is blind.

James will be standing there, on the street, with his white cane, but the subject of his blindness is unlikely to come up. That is because, while James has learnt to deal with his condition, which became noticeable to him at age 8, and a problem by age 10, he doesn’t make it his defining characteristic. At the same time, it is his defining characteristic, in a reverse kind of way, because every remarkable thing James has achieved in life has been despite his condition, without allowing his condition to qualify what he wants to do, and what he actually achieves. To James, blindness is his everyday thing. It’s special to others; but it is everyday to him.

pittar james ice swim 350Over the course of his career, James has had to deal with others’ responses to his blindness – for example, his pilot on his English Channel swim initially did not want to take him across because of his condition, although he relented eventually. But for James himself, he just gets on with life.

James’s is an inspiring story of getting on with life despite the vicissitudes that life throws at you. Who could imagine doing what he does in his condition? But he does, and for years, he has backed up for more. By the time James was in his early 20s, he had done what no other person had done since 1908: he had represented Australia internationally at two different sports: swimming and rowing. Now, retired from major international swims, he looks back on an extraordinary career of which most sighted swimmers could only dream.

James Pittar now has written his story. It’s a fun, rather rollicking, chronological narrative of experiences from his first major open water swim, Rottnest Island in 1998, followed by the English Channel later the same year, through to his final international swim, Robben Island, in South Africa, in April, 2014. Along the way, James completed what’s been dubbed the Triple Crown of ocean swimming – The English Channel, Catalina Channel, off southern California, and Manhattan Island, as well as Cook Strait in New Zealand, the Strait of Gibraltar, and a string of swims on every continent, all remarkable in their way.

Officialdom

James did six Rottnest Channel swims, although he swore off Rotto after his treatment at the hands of officialdom in 2003.

After a difficult swim in horrendous conditions, there was confusion over times, when a half-hour delay in the start back at Cottesloe was not added to the allowed finishing time at Rottnest. Instead of finishing 12 minutes within the allowable time, it was claimed that he had finished 18 minutes outside.

“When I got to my feet to walk up the winning chute, I was shoulder charged out of the way by an official saying I hadn’t made it in time,” Pittar writes. “I hadn’t officially finished the swim. He stood there resolute, refusing to let me through. In the end, I had no choice but to back down.”

Pittar appealed, and eventually his completed swim was recognised.

“I kept up my tirade, and six weeks later, a trophy and shirt arrive on my doorstep. I had finally been acknowledged as the sixty-sixth (solo) finisher.

“But I would never do the Rottnest swim again. It went from being one of the best organised swims I’d ever been a part of in 1998 to one of the most disappointing experiences of my life in 2003.

“Even if someone begged me, I would never go back. The way I was treated that day was appalling.”

pittar james blind vision cover 250Interestingly, Pittar’s only other notable negative experience – apart from a couple of swims when conditions turned against him – also was at the hands of officials at a Disabled Games in Beijing in 1994. After a series of disappointing swims, he writes, “everyone else had won gold, and broken world records. But not me. My best hadn’t been enough. I’d poured everything into this, and still fallen short”.

Later, “the night after swimming ended, all the blind athletes got together for a function. One of the managers got up and called a toast. 'You’ve done well as a team,’ (the manager) said, but there was something about the way his voice rose at the end that told me there was something more he wanted to say. Then he said in a loud voice, and I quote: ‘We’ve got four blind swimmers representing Australia, and three of them are good’.

“There was no doubt in anyone’s mind what he meant. I just sat there, beer in hand, completely stunned. I wasn’t even embarrassed. I was just disgusted. It was wildly inappropriate…

“I gritted my teeth, took a sip of my beer and resolved to keep quite. But as we walked out, I vowed to my parents, ‘The Australian administration will never get the chance to humiliate me again. I’ll never let them come out on top.

"One day they’ll eat their words.”

He adds, “I used the situation as a motivator. From that point on, every time I got in the water, it spurred me on.”

Doin' good

This is not to dwell on negatives, for the overwhelming theme of the James Pittar story is positive.

We became aware of James in 2000, after he swam 26km across Muskaget Channel, off Massachusetts in the north-eastern United States. Strangely, we had been sent a tip from an American living in London, who’d been visiting his mum on Marthas Vineyard, one of the islands off Cape Cod. In early 2001, we invited James to be guest of honour at the first inaugural oceanswims.com annual dinner, held at a seafood joint on King Street wharf, harbourside Sydney.

By November 2001, James had become an ambassador for the Rainbow Club, and scheduled a swim from Palm Beach along Sydney’s Northern Beaches to North Steyne, by Manly. There was a heavy sea running that day, my friends, and an electrical storm, but Pittar swim through it, with the swell behind him, to arrive at North Steyne two and a half hours early, and two and a half hours before the Governor of NSW, Marie Bashir, was scheduled to welcome him. With his brother, Tony, and others from North Steyne SLSC, James’s club, he took refuge in a café across the road from the club, then went back out to sea from Queenscliff to come back in again when the Governor had arrived.

James Pittar is remarkable, too, for the good humour with which he takes his condition. We have come, over the past 20 years, to know a few people who pursue their sport and their lives with an equanimity that belies particular disabilities, some of them dramatic. They often turn out to be some of the best adjusted people we know. Pittar jokes about his condition; and people can joke about his condition with him, assuming, of course, that it's done in good faith. On Mana Island in Fiji, in 2006, Pittar whipped out a disposable camera and held it up, generally towards the ocean. "Is this a good picture, Suanne?" he asked Mrs Sparkle. "I promised Jenny (Pittar's wife) I would take some photos."

"Let me just adjust if for you, James," Mrs Sparkle replied, as she raised the camera, gently, out of the back of someone's head.

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Jamie Harkins, a talented artist and musician from New Zealand, has been keeping busy creating fun optical illusions and 3D images on beaches that keep passers-by bewildered and delighted. Pic tweeted by Massimo (@Rainmaker1973)

Authentic

A notable thing about this book is that the blind author actually "wrote" it himself. That might seem a superfluous point to make, but it's a worthwhile thing to point out in this case. Many, if not most autobiographies are ghosted by "progressional" writers. In Pittar's case, he told us, "The way I did my book was that every night over a four-month period, I would spend 20-25 minutes speaking into a dictaphone, and this was done from memory. Every week, I would get Jenny to download the week's worth into the computer system and then we sent all of the files to a scriber in the USA, and then the typed version came back to us. Then I sourced a Editor to edit the book.

"It was great to have an editor who knew nothing about swimming, and neither did her partner... The advantage of having the editor was that she could get the actual quotes or correct spellings or facts about people and get them correct.

"Obviously, doing things from memory means that you are not going to get everything correct and the precise facts and spellings."

So it's not just done authentically, by the author, the blind author, but it's all from memory, at least the original draft.

A word of warning about James Pittar: don't swim on his left side. Pittar breathes only to the right, which means his left arm, with minimal left body rotation, whizzes across the water, round arm, like a scud missile. He's a tall lad -- he was a rower, too, remember-- and his arms are long. Anyone getting within cooee' of that left arm will be taken out.

Pittar is a remarkable lad. He concludes his story, “You know, I’ve never been one to blow my own trumpet, and telling my story has been a huge personal challenge. But my hope is that with the publication of this book, my journey can inspire others to reach for their own goals. Hardship or disability shouldn’t be an obstacle – it should be a motivator. I should know.”

Blind Vision, by James Pittar (Inspiring Publications, 2019) ISBN 978-1-925908-12-1

To buy the book… Click here

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Swipe Wide-Eyes, Selene

New Swipes in stock now

V630ASA AMBK 300We've been deluged with orders for the new View Swipe gogs. View is moving most of its goggle styles to Swipes, but we have so far two models available -- the Selenes, which were our most popular gog even before the Selene Swipes were released late last year, and now also the Wide-Eyes. Both come in both regular and fully-sick mirrored versions, each in various groovy colours. The Wide-Eyes cater to swimmers who prefer an adjustable nose bridge, and a slightly wider field of vision than offered by the Swipe Selenes. 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 in a change room. Now, we're using the new Wide-Eyes Swipes. Our back up gogs are Selene Swipes, brown (model colour BR), which add a warm tinge to our winter swimming.

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. Be careful, all gogs will fog if they're not looked after, and all gogs will collect scum from the water in which they are used. They must be kept clean. They must be respected.

We've sold 350 pairs of View Selene Swipes since we launched them just prior to Xmas.

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.

Find out more and order Swipes... Click here 

Goggle Respect

For advice on looking after your gogs... Click herenewsletter divider clear bgrd

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When we ran this pic on social meeja during the week, we mused whether this anonymous swimmer could not afford string for his cossie. As it turns out, he lost his cord inside the waistband of his cossie when attempting to tie it, and couldn't get it out. And he was too shy to ask for help. So he took a punt, and this is the result. Johnny Goldfinger should be grateful we didn't publish his left rotation.

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Covid-19

Uncertainty reigns

We received late last week advice of the first cancellation of a major swim late this year in Sydney, the Island Challenge at Coogee, which normally would run on the last Sunday in November. Coogee awgies are hoping it’s a postponement to a date to be fixed in 2021, but it’s too early to be specific.

That’s understandable. We expect Coogee won’t be the last, but we have yet to hear.

We understand Hervey Bay in Queensland is cancelled, although we have yet to hear. It runs normally in early September – three weeks away.

On the bright side, entries are open to the WA Swimming open water series, which starts this coming season at Karratha, oop north, on October 3, according to their schedule, and runs through to Mindarie on March 6. Entries are open now… Click here

Some may regard that as optimistic, and it would be a brave, perhaps reckless punter who would spend money on entries just yet, with so little certainty about the immediate to medium term future; indeed, any aspect of the future.

The NZ Ocean Swim Series also has delayed opening individual entries. They are scheduled to start in Auckland on December 12.

We’ve been collecting links to information for awgies on running events in the Covid-19 era. We’ll update these listings as information comes to hand, and be aware, as the state of the pandemic shifts, so do the rules in each area.

If you have information on individual events, please let us know… Click here

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Facebook post by Shelley Taylor-Smith

Marathon swimming immortal Shelley Taylor-Smith (right) posted on Facebook...

taylor smith shelley 450Facts are facts! Now ain’t that the truth...

And nothing denies that Australian Chloe McCardel - Marathon Swimmer achieving her 35th solo crossing of the #EnglishChannel is a fantastic feat???...

Even more an amazing feat during the #Covid19 Pandemic when 100s of Aussies aspiring to achieve their own #Everest the #ECSolo were denied exemption to leave Australian shores with our borders closed.

Aussies are super proud of Chloe’s personal and solo achievements! #AussieAussieAussie stretching the Australian Best ever record for most solo EC crossings by an Australian to massive total of 35!

Remember

  • there is #noSOLOinMarathonSwimming
  • there is no representing Australia for personal solo open water/ marathon swimming endeavours.
  • there are no #WorldRecords in #MarathonSwimming despite the historical plethora of solo and relay achievements of legends in our great sport including Aussie Women’s powerhouse #AnnetteKillerman Englishman #MatthewWebb and American #GertrudeEderle and Inaugural Beijing 2008 Olympic10km Gold Medallist’s @LarissaIlchenko Maarten Van Der Weijden
  • There are #guinessbookofworldrecords which you would need to apply for to qualify

Just ask the #WorldOpenWaterSwimmingAssociation #MarathonSwimmingFederation FINA - Swimming Australia, Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame - @InternationalSwimmingHallofFame.

So let’s stand with patriotic pride as our Aussie Anthem says....

Australians all let us rejoice.... Chloe’s incredible 5 solo crossings in 4 weeks. Incredible UK weather!!!

mccardel chloe guardian 200817 450Chloe McCardel sets out on her 34th Channel Crossing a few days ago. (Pic from The Guardian)

Many marathon swimmers - like myself - dream about their impending EC swim for channel conditions like that.

Congratulations to ALL solo and relays on achieving your English Channel feats. I applaud your commitment to your goal during unheard of times. ??????

Special mention to the thousands who have been unable to achieve their solo; who had to withdraw due to the weather (yep Mother Nature is the toughest Mother of all), (sea) sickness and /or injury.

#LifeISaTEAMsport

Thank you to the phenomenal Captains who lead the way for us.

More Factual Notes:

  • There are TWO accredited English Channel Swimming organisations! ie @ChannelSwimmingAssociation #CSA and #CSPF @ChannelSwimmingPilotsFederation
  • Michael P. Read, MBE with 33 crossings logged by the CSA is the CSA King of the Channel® (a title the CSA has used for many many decades). The ® indicates a Registered Trademark symbol and has some legal significance. Kevin Murphy with 34 crossings between the CSA and CS&PF has the most by any male and several have called him the King of the English Channel to avoid a trademark clash with the CSA.

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Shelley Taylor-Smith

Oz Marathon Hall of Fame

But where's Cyril?

amshf logo 250Today is the 6th anniversary of Bondi's Cyril Baldock becoming the oldest person to swim the English Channel. Cyril was 70 years, 9 months, and 12 days old on August 19, 2014. It was an extraordinary achievement, not least because it also came almost 40 years after Cyril did his first Channel crossing, in 1985.

Now, at 76, Cyril has taken up triathlon. He is the Peter Pan of ocean and surf swimming.

Which makes it surprising that Cyril didn't make the cut in the inaugural intake into the new Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame. 

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Cyril Baldock is an obvious choice for the Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame. Pic by Danielle Smith, published in the Port Stephens Examiner 

This takes nothing away from those who were selected, but surely there should have been room for Cyril. There appear to be few of the initial induction with a background in surf and ocean swimming, as distinct from open water (Australian Swimming-type swimming). John Koorey makes it, for example, also deservedly. But perhaps those driving the Hall of Fame might redress an imbalance in future intakes, which are scheduled quarterly throughout 2020/21, starting in December. Ocean swimming in Australia is a little different to other countries in that many of our swimmers have a background in surf, not the pool or enclosed open water. 

The Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame recognises Australians who have achieved notably in their sport. (Marathon swimming is defined as 10km-plus.)

A statement from the Hall of Fame said Australia "has produced many superb marathon swimmers and contributors" since Annette Kellerman set the scene in the English Channel over a century ago.

"Recognition of them by our sport in one place is essential for history and the preservation of achievements in our sport."

A mangement group is convened by veteran swimmer and swim official, Chris Guesdon.

You can contact the Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame... Click here

You can also follow the Hall of Fame on Instagram (@amshofame) and on Facebook (Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame).

First inaugural intake

Anderson, Jennifer
Arndt, Lauren
Bates, David,
Berry Rickards, Clive
Brookes-Peterson, Kate
Bruce, Roger
Bruce, Tamara
Campion, Richard
Capell, Brendan
Carroll, Graeme
Cavill Family
Cunningham, Melissa
Ford, William
Gorman, Melissa
Grimsey, Trent
Guesdon, Christopher
Guesdon, Susanne
Holtom, Kevin
Kellerman, Annette
Knowles, Tracy
Koorey, John
Maroney, Susie OAM
McCardel, Chloë
McGill, Linda MBE
Mitchell, Joseph
Mortensen, Lynton
O'Brien, David OAM
Palfrey, Penny
Pittar, James
Renford, Des MBE
Robinson, Grant
Rottnest Channel Swim Association
Saliba, Mark
Santacaterina, Josh
Taylor-Smith, Shelley
Toner, Gary
Toner, Suzanne

Criteria

The AMSHOF immortalises the career achievements of those Australians who have distinguished themselves as a marathon swimmer or contributor in the sport in Australia and/or internationally

1. Criteria
The AMSHOF encourages any members of the Australian Marathon Swimming Community to nominate a fellow Australian outstanding swimmer or contributor.
Present a short history clearly outlining the candidate’s swimming or contribution. In a clear and concise statement outline the major reason why the candidate should be included in the AMSHOF as an Honouree
Inductions to the Honour Roll will not be annual but will take place quarterly in 2020 -2021.
Following the inaugural intake, the next intakes will be December 2020, March 2021, June 2021.
AMSHOF will receive your nominations at any time for consideration.

2. Swimmer:
a) Solo marathon swimmers and Racers careers are considered with equal status.
b) Swims presented in the nominee’s bio must be of 10K or longer. Non-marathon activities or shorter swims should not be included in the bio.
c) Swimmers must be those noteworthy participants who through their career achievements have made a significant contribution to the status of marathon swimming.
d) In a clear and concise statement, outline the major reason why the candidate should be included in the Honour Roll.
e) For racers, swim attire rules required by event organisers will suffice.
f) For solo swimmers, an independent observer’s report or swim organisation’s listed results of the swim must be produced on demand.

3. Contributor:
a) Contributors are marathon swimming team support staff, administrators, event organisers, coaches, pilots, technical officials
b) A noteworthy career as a contributor of marathon swimming events in Australia or internationally of 10k or over will be eligible for consideration.
c) Contributors will be selected for careers of excellence and outstanding achievements in roles supportive to marathon swimmers.
d) In a clear and concise statement outline the major reason why the candidate should be included in the Honour Roll.

4. Exclusions:
a) A positive official drug test or failing a doping control program or proven non-ethical behaviour prohibits a candidate from inclusion in the Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame. 

Controversy Corner...

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The team at Controversy Corner... (l-r) Alan Clarkson, Someone Else, Player, Rex Mossop, Col Pearce, and Ferris Ashton. Thank you to Big Chris Stephenson for sending us this image, which took us way, way back... We're still looking for a yellow turtle-neck with matching mustard blazer for our own use. There must be one on sale somewhere around the network of rugby league clubs. Or real estate agencies.

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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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.

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