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November 3, 2020 - Swimming in the Covid era

Swimming in the Covid era…

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Emailed to more than 41,000 ocean swimmers
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This is what happens when you stop suddenly with swimmers following along closely behind.

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Swim events limited

Ocean swimming in the Covid era

It’s been a long winter, and it will be a long spring and early summer, with very few formal swim events actually taking place over the remainder of 2020. We know of only one actual swim likely to take place in NSW prior to the end of 2020. The WA series has run two events already, with a third—Mandurah—due this weekend. The NZ series starts in Auckland in December. Things are picking up for the New Year, though, and some swims already are open for entry.

One iconic NSW swim, Bondi-Bronte, is running as a “virtual” event, not an actual swim on Bondi or Bronte beaches. (See our item below for more info on that one.) We expect some other swims also may opt to run as virtual events, so all eyes will be on Bronte to see how it goes.

With “actual” swims, there will be changes: all swims should be online entry only, so that awgies have complete details of all participants (in case of a need to contact trace); swims generally will ask that you turn up only close to swim time, and leave the beach straight after you finish; many, if not most swims will have participant caps (maximum limit on entrants); events will be conducted in clearly defined areas on their host beaches, to separate event participants from regular beachgoers; participants will be required to maintain social distance on the beach; and events are unlikely to offer services—such as barbies—that might grease the culchural interaction that is normally a critical part of these events, and that might encourage punters to hang abart afterwards.

All these changes are compelled by Covid-19, with swims, like all community events, compelled to operate subject to Covid Safe plans guided by their state or national governments. At the time of writing, community events in NSW, for example, are subject to a 500-person limit on participants. This includes event workers.

You will need to monitor the online information for any swim that you plan to attend to ensure that you are aware of requirements of you as a participant.

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Russell, we need to talk about your gogs…

This is what we know…

At this stage, we can speak only of events in NSW.

December 6 – Bondi-Bronte will be run as a “virtual” swim, with entrants able to swim the distances at locations of their choosing, then submitting their times. More info below.

December 13 – The Turimetta-Warriewood swim will be the only “actual” swim in NSW before the end of 2020. This event sees a return of the magnificent course around Turimetta headland and into Warriewood beach. This truly is one of the most spectacular courses in Strã’a. The Warriewood awgies ran this event a few years back, but it was plagued by weather and heavy seas. By our count, they got to run the actual course only once. But in those days, this event ran in late autumn. Now, it’s running in early summer, and we trust the ocean swimming god—Dolphy— twitters kindly on Warriewood this time. This swim replaces the biathlon between Mona Vale and Warriewood that the awgies have run for the last few years. As with all swims, entry is online only. We’ve had entries open for a couple of weeks already, and the flow of entries has been good. With a course like this, and being the only actual swim since Covid forced cancellation of our season last March, we’d expect this one to be supported heavily. More info and to enter… Click here

January 3 – The Newport swim, also on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, offers three distances: 2km, 800 m, and 400 m. This is another beautiful beach on Sydney’s north side. This swim has been receiving strongly growing support in recent years, since it confirmed its position on the calendar the first metropolitan swim of the New Year. Newport is also open for online entries… Click here

January 3 – Yamba is an iconic, holiday event on the NSW North Coast. It was confirmed just in the last few days, awgies encouraged by the re-opening of the Queensland border. Yamba gets plenty of starters from Queensland. Two distances: 2km and 700 m and a Dash for Cash that’s open only to swimmers who also swim one of the two main distances. We expect to be accepting entries to Yamba within the next couple of days.

February 21 – Malabar is ready early, Covid Safe arrangements already confirmed. And Malabar this season offers a 5 km swim, along with the existing 2.5km and 1km distances. Malabar raises funds for the Rainbow Club, which provides learn to swim classes for kids with a disability. Entries are online only. More info and to enter… Click here

We’ll update our calendar as swim info comes to hand, so keep your eyes on

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Quite the eye-opener to see how water is displaced when you barge through it. We call it 'water sculpcha' and, like snowflakes, each sculpcha is different.

Full calendar

Remember, too, that there are many, many swims listed on our calendar as well as those listed on our home page under Featured Swims. For the full calendar, see Swims/Calendar on
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Bond-Bronte goes virtual

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A message from the organisers, Bondi to Bronte Ocean Swim…

bronte swimmers 300The 2020 Macquarie Bondi to Bronte swim has gone virtual! We encourage ocean swimmers around Australia to get together with your regular swim buddies and swim locally. With ever changing restrictions on travel and gatherings organisers concluded that times were too uncertain to hold a live event that traditionally attracts 2000+ swimmers.

This year swim at a location that works for you, anytime between Saturday 5 and Sunday 13 December. The nine days, including 2 weekends, allows you to complete your swim in the best possible conditions. Rumour has it a few hardy swimmers are aiming to swim the distance at a different beach every day for nine days!

Importantly, you need to sign up this week so your unique event swim cap can be posted out to you in time. Only $20 for entry, with $5 going to the swim charity partner The Kids Cancer Project: Enter online… Click here


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Glistening Dave's oceanswims calendar 2021

os calendar 2021 banner 150 x 211We're almost ready to take orders for Glistening Dave's oceanswims calendar for 2021. Dave has assembled some of his fave pics from the year just gone, and some from earlier years, in his memorable calendar, which has assembled quite a following over the last few years. It's a perfect Xmas gift for ocean swimmers, and a great way to fill that space on your wall.

Due to Covid-19 uncertainty, however, it's not been possible to cram all the swim dates into this year's calendar. But it's image-rich.

Available very soon on the online boutique.

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Our hypothesis…

Managing the shark risk

Plenty of punters responded to a research program run by the NSW Government on options to manage the risk of shark attack along the coast. We were one of those punters. Our view of this issue is a little less interventionist than some other people might support. We reckon they're there, they have a right to be there, you're not going to stop them being there, and they have to survive by eating stuff, so it's hardly surprising that, as sharks nose about looking for stuff to satisfy their hunger, interactions will occur. But people who swim or do other things in the ocean should be better educated about how to manage their own risk.

For what it's worth, we have an hypothesis about sharks and ocean swimmers, and we're happy to share this with you…

So, what is it?

We reckon ocean swimmers are safer in the ocean than board riders, boogie boarders, ski paddlers, scuba divers and spearfisherfolk, etc.

Why? If you look at all the incidents that happen up and down the east coast, very few (we can think of only three) have involved interactions with ocean swimmers. One was the tragedy in 2014 at Tathra, way down south; a second was another fatal attack, also in 2014, at Clarkes Beach at Byron Bay; and the third was the incident in the very early morning winter dark at Cabbage Tree Bay, near Manly, in 2019. Plausible explanations might be given for all three. There've been plenty of sightings, of course—sightings and passive interactions are quotidian—but these three are the only fatal ocean incidents on the East Coast of which we're aware in recent times.

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Water wasn't the clearest this day, last week, when Fluffo—Fluffy's adolescent offspring—accompanied us around the island at Forster. Lots of sharks in the water there. We're all friends. Touch wood.


There've been incidents involving spearfisherfolk, which some of their number put down to the habit of such folk to store their catch in bags attached to their waist. Sharks are attracted by the catch and try to steal it for themselves. There may also be some learned behaviour with sharks "knowing" that there might be food in that region, so they make a lunge in anticipation. We had a long conversation with one such spearfisher who himself had been attacked, some time back, off the NSW North Coast, in just these circumstances. As he cleaned that day's catch, an herd of fascinated pelicans hovering around him, he told us he now fishes with his catch stored in a bag at the end of a 15 metre line. He argues that the sharks are "going for" the catch, which explains why many of those attacks are focussed, he said, on the lower torso-upper leg area of the body. If a shark wants his catch that badly, he reckons, they can have it, but he will be left alone.

But all other east coast/NSW incidents of which we're aware involved punters with craft, not simply us out there swimming. As we say, touch wood.

The hypothesis

Parenthetically, we swim regularly at a beach reputed to be one of the sharkiest on the east coast (see Coastalwatch story linked below). We—our informal swim group—see sharks regularly, including whites (Bubbles, etc), sometimes bulls, and often the docile, cute grey nurses­—Fluffy and family—Port Jacksons and the occasional Wobbie, but—touching wood again—none have ever, to our knowledge, made threatening advances to swimmers off our beach. Indeed, they usually take off at a rate of knots when we disturb them, for they are busy fishing when the Forster Turtles trundle along and aren't interested in us. The nurses and the Port Jacksons ignore us, as did the 3 metre bull that swam beneath our peloton two years ago. Around the same time, one of us, standing on a sandbar in the lake, was approached by a small bull, but she was wearing one of those anklets that are supposed to repel sharks, but this anklet seemed to attract the shark first before repelling when it came "too close". Half a dozen or more of us were in the adjacent channel at the time, and none of us saw this creature, yet we would have been easy game had it been a'huntin' swimmers.

Our hypothesis is that, because we are in the water, not floating on top of it on a fish-shaped craft with arms and legs dangling beneath, and we don't have bags of fish hanging from our waists, then it's easier for sharks to discern that we are not their fave diet. They're not out to eat us, after all. They're opportunistic predators on other sea creatures. Even in turbid water that is less than clear, perhaps they can discern enough about us to know that we're not good eating for them, and we're no great threat to them. We have no empirical evidence for this, mind you. We're not statisticians or scientists; we're hacks. Hacks have an opinion on everything, formed usually by anecdotal evidence and experience, long yarns over the bar, lots of spinning lies over a cuppa at Beach Bums after the morning swim, etc, not by peer-review research. So we may be completely wrong, but this is what our experience suggests to us.

Coastalwatch report

A number of measures have been introduced or confirmed as a result of the NSW gummint research, most of it revolving around educating people about managing their own shark risk and improving the flow of information about sharks that might be in the area: detection buoys placed of beaches to follow tagged sharks and to alert punters to them, etc. Bear in mind, too, that detection booees are detecting only tagged sharks; they're not detecting untagged sharks, of whom, we suggest, there are many more.

To keep up with what's happening, you should check Sean Doherty's very excellent report on the Coastalwatch website... Click here

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2021 oceanswimsafaris

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Can't wait to get in with those whales in Tonga... Click here

As we indicate above (see Swim with Whales in Tonga story, above), we're not sure yet whether we'll be able to run our oceanswimsafaris in 2021. But we are optimistic that a Pacific travel bubble will be possible allowing us to travel to New Zealand and the Pacific Island states. We are planning oceanswimsafaris to New Zealand's Coromandel Peninsula in March 2021, to French Polynesia in May, to Tonga in July, and to Fiji in either August or October. (We're also hoping for The Philippines, and Sulawesi, in Indonesia, in June, and Europe in late August–September, but it's way too early to be optimistic with those locations.)

What we offer for now is the chance to secure your spot with an Advance Deposit (A$500 per head), which will be fully refunded to you if the oceanswimsafari does not go ahead.

See for more info about our ocean swimming holidays

We don't take you just anywhere… Click here

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What's the best GPS watch for ocean swimming?

Christopher Williamson asks… "Can you offer an opinion on the best most economical gps swim watch to buy?"

We use an Apple Watch, and it suits us just fine. The only thing it doesn't do is tell us the water temp. We rely on Couta Greg and his device to tell us that. We've also tried four or five different Garmin watch models over the years, but none of those measured up. The Garmins would lose the signal every time our wrist entered the water,then they would guess where we'd been when the signal was recaptured. The result was a jaggedy course which no sane person could have swum. No doubt the Apple Watch loses the signal, too, but the course reported by the Apple Watch is much smoother and more stable. Perhaps it's something about how the software is written.

Anyway, what do you think? Tell us your experience in Controversy Corner… See the bottom of the online version of this newsletter… Click here
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Tonga - We don't take you just anywhere

Swim with the whales

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We don't take you just anywhere. Tonga is "not just anywhere". And swimming with humpback whales is something that you can in very few other places around the world. Others now offer tours to Tonga, but be careful: Ours is the only oceanswimsafari that takes groups of ocean swimmers to Tonga in humpback whale season, so offering you the chance both to pursue your passion, and to swim with the gentlest of giants, the humpback whales. In the ocean alongside them, not watching from a boat at a distance. Our week-long oceanswimsafaris include three days out swimming with whales, and two days ocean swimming in some of the most beautiful swim courses you will ever do. 

We have been running our oceanswimsafaris to Tonga since 2015. That means we have built up experience with the location -- Vava'U, Tonga's northern island group --  and its operators that no other ocean swimming tour company can match. 

We can take only eight swimmers/towel carriers at a time with us to Tonga. This makes this oceanswimsafari especially suitable for small groups, as well as singles and couples.

At this point, of course, we don't know whether travel to Tonga will be possible on our appointed dates in late July, 2021, but we're hopeful that a Pacific travel bubble will be possible by then. What we offer for now is the chance to secure your spot with an Advance Deposit (A$500 per head), which will be fully refunded to you if the oceanswimsafari does not go ahead.

If you'd like to share in this extraordinary experience, contact us quick and smart… 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 

Controversy Corner...

What do you reckon about any of this stuff? We received a lot of feedback after our last 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.)

Swims open to online entry…

  • Dec 13 - Warriewood (NSW, 2 km)
  • Jan 3 - Newport (NSW, 2 km, 800 m, 400 m)
  • Jan 3 - Yamba (NSW, 2 km, 700 m)
  • Feb 21 - Malabar (NSW, 5 km, 2.5 km, 1 km)

Coming soon - Others

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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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