July 3, 2018

donaldson jim 600 tele
2017/18 tallies topper, Jim Donaldson (2nd left), at Bondi with fellow sexagenarian, Clive Dowdell (65, left), mentoring whippersnappers eager to learn from the experience of their elders. (Pic: Daily Telegraph)

This issue...

Swims coming up

Donaldson manages to top tallies

Our apologies, that our initial attempt, on June 12, to bring you our fine ocean swimmers' tallies for season 2017/18 was blighted by getting the leaders wrong. Now, we're confident that we have them right...

Jim Donaldson, who topped the fine ocean swimmers’ tallies for 2017/18, approached his season with the premeditation of a project manager, which he is. Even so, his “plan” bore fruit earlier than he’d planned.

“With the Kiwi ascension (in recent years), I have focused on the Australian tallies,” Jim told us, having topped the Australian tallies for the last two years. “I did, however, have a plan to have a crack at the Kiwis in the near future. Now I can kick back a little.”

Jim Donaldson topped the tallies for 2017/18 by swimming 126.35km over 35 events, averaging 3.61kms per swim.

donaldson jim noosa 1805 250Following were six Kiwis then four from Western Australia. Second and third on the tallies were previous tallist toppers Mike Cochrane on 125.1km also from 35 events (ave 3.57km) and Raewyn Barker on 110.8km from 27 events (4.1kms).

We asked Jim how he’d brought his professional skills to bear on his swimming, bearing in mind the planning that Cochrane, another project manager, applied when he swam 307.8km in season 2014/15.

“Professionally, I develop project schedules and mitigate risk,” Jim said. “When selecting swims, I use these tools at the base level, in particular the likelihood of swims going ahead.”

An interesting insight, particularly given that, it seems to us, Jim just turns up at everything.

Tyranny

“I set personal milestones during the season, kilometres completed by end year/half season, etc.

“A previous tallies winner completed 60kms at the season half way point in his championship year (Duckenfield’s Michael Fox), and I use this as a benchmark.”

Donaldson drives “several thousand (kilometres) per season” in pursuit of his ocean swimming, although not as far as first inaugural tallies topper Andrew Burke, who swam 73km or thereabouts over the course of the season in about 2005/06, but drove over 14,000kms from his home in Bathurst, in the NSW Central West. Not quite the outback, but almost, particularly if you have the perspective of Sydney’s inner city.

“In any year I need to travel interstate or overseas at least once to remain competitive. I have the luxury of living near the M1/M2,” Donaldson says, referring to Sydney’s expressway network.

Donaldson, 62, has been ocean swimming only since 2011, when he did the 1km at The Roughwater at North Bondi. In that first season, he swam a total of 13.5km.

“I enjoyed the challenge of varying conditions,” he said. “I soon realised that there were others who were also cautious around big waves.

“Later the social interaction of meeting new people, creating and maintaining long term friendships became an added benefit.”

Prolific

Worthy of note is that, in many cases when swimmers achieve extraordinary distance tallies over the course of a season, they do so with the help of a few long swims. Wessna Strãan swimmers, for example, benefit from the series of swims up to 10km mounted by WA Swimming, as well as from Rottnest Channel, over 19km. The highest placed swimmer from the West in season 17/18, Nicola Fraschini, for example, swam 83.8km from 13 swims, averaging 6.45km. Hardly in the water compared with Cochrane and Donaldson, but a triffic effort, nonetheless.

Codgers rule

Two more Kiwis are 5th and 6th in the tallies, Jacques de Reuck and Roger Soulsby. We note, too, that Donaldson is 62, de Reuck is 65, and Soulsby is 70.

These are extraordinary efforts from older swimmers, although they illustrate one of the great truths of ocean swimming, and of swimming generally, that it’s the ideal caper for mature punters. When the hips and knees have given out from years of running and cycling, they all come over. It’s just a matter of time.

Parenthetically, we have no idea how long any of these seasoned characters have been swimming, although we do know that Soulsby has been swimming for many years.

The point is that we can keep doing it as we age, and so many mature punters are. Ocean swimming is at the forefront of the wave of fitness activity by older mugs. Because we can.

Well done, all you mugs.

Regional leaders

Region

Whom Age Distance (km) Swims Ave dist.

NSW

 Donaldson, Jim

62

126.35

35

3.61

NZ

 Cochrane, Mike

36

125.1

35

3.57

Qld

 Midolo, Tony

56

76.14

13

5.86

SA

 Astley, Julie

52

44.7

5

8.94

Tas

 Brocklesby, Andrew/Hughson, Douglas

 

24.3

12

2.03

Vic

 Harwood, Michael

 

70.5

20

3.53

WA

 Fraschini, Nicola

 

83.8

13

6.45


Stats, stats, and more stats
  • Swims recorded - 868
  • Total swimmers - 51,290
  • Total distance swum - 196,635.73km
  • Total swims by all swimmers - 92,809
  • Average distance - 2.1km

For all the details... Click here

All the tallies...

Fairfax acquires Sydney Harbour swim

Fairfax Events, which owns the Cole Classic, as well as a stable of running and other events, has acquired Melbourne-based sports event company, SME360, which owns, amongst other events, the Sydney Harbour swim.

The Harbour swim operated formerly on Australia Day as the Great Australian Swim Sydney Harbour, before being sold to SME360 a bit over two years ago. In season 2016/17, SME360 did not run the swim, saying it lacked a sponsor. When it ran again last season, 2017/18, the Australia Day spot had been taken by another event at Rose Bay, so the event ran instead on the weekend ahead of Australia Day.

Mana Fiji rates reduced

Swim with Trent & Codie Grimsey, Brent Foster

mana fiji 1610 06 600

The Mana Fiji SwimFest is the original ocean swimming carnival in Fiji, indeed in the South Pacific. It's the only ocean swimming carnival that take splace completely in pristine reef waters. It offers a range of distances and a complete swimming and holiday package where you can do all your swimming and relaxing at the one location, without having to commute by bus or ferry from place to place each day.

It's also the only ocean swimming carnival in Fiji supported by trained and experienced water safety staff, who've been watching over this event now for eight years, some of them for over ten years.

Mana Fiji is the only ocean swimming carnival that gives you the opportunity to swim with the English Channel record holder, Trent Grimsey, his equally talented brother, Codie, and New Zealand triathlon and ocean swimming legend, Brent Foster. All three are pre-eminent coaches in their fields, and you could come away better ocean swimmers than when you arrived.

If you're setting yourself for Rottnest Channel swim in 2019, you can also use the 10km event at Mana as your qualifying swim. While Mana falls just prior to the official qualifying period, Rotto organisers ask that you keep a training diary to demonstrate that you're kept up your regimen. Best to check with them directly, as well, of course.

There are two days of swimming at Mana: Thursday for the 10km either solo or as part of a 3x swimmer relay, each swimmer doing c. 3.3km; then Saturday, when you have a choice of 5km, 2.5km and 1km.

We have special swimmer packages online now offering free spa treatments, all meals, and 20 per cent off room rates all included. The inclusion of all meals -- a compulsory meal plan, as some other Fijian resorts have been doing for years -- makes the rates a little higher, but then you now don't face the added cost of food once you get there.

Check for info and booking... Click here

Swimmer's Shoulder

Apart from being dumped in the break, or being thumped by an over-zealous rival whilst rounding a booee, about the only injury that ocean swimmers -- indeed, any swimmers -- can get from swimming is swimmer's shoulder. Here, physiotherapist and ocean swimmer, Jerome Murphy, takes us through it...

swimmers shoulder graphic 350

Q. Which stroke is the most common cause of shoulder problems in swimming?

A. Freestyle. Regardless of the stroke performed in competition, over 50 per cent of swimmers in an elite Australian swim squad perform freestyle in training. As it’s highly repetitious, the shoulder is at risk to overuse and overload injuries. Elite swimmers and those training for distance swims (eg English Channel) can be swimming 50 to 90 km per week.

Q. Prevalence of shoulder pain reported at elite level?

A. Between 40 per cent and 90 per cent.

Q. Why the shoulder?

A. In contrast to most other sports, the shoulder and arm are the principal generator of forward momentum, not the legs.

The anatomy of the shoulder is similar to a golf ball sitting in a golf tee: the humeral head is 4x bigger than the socket (glenoid). Therefore, at any one time and position, there is only 25 per cent of the humeral in contact with the glenoid. Consequently, stability is compromised for greater mobility.

In return for greater mobility, the labrum (cartilage lining of the glenoid) and rotator cuff (four muscles from the scapula) are put under increasing load to stabilise the humeral head in the socket.

Freestyle stroke

The Freestyle stroke is divided into 4 phases --

  • Hand entry
  • Pull
  • Push
  • Recovery

swimmers shoulder freestyle 600
Source: Dr. Alex Jimenez, El Paso Back Clinic

Q. Which phase causes problems?

A. The recovery phase is where problems can occur in the shoulder. The shoulder is above water in a flexed and internally rotated position.

If the rotator cuff muscles are fatigued they cannot hold the humeral head securely in the socket as the hand enters the water for the next critical phases... hand entry and catch.

The catch position also can present problems to the shoulder if the entry is not correct ie hand first parallel to the water followed by the wrist, elbow and shoulder.

The all important angle of entry will dictate the resistance of water experienced at the shoulder. If entry is too shallow the shoulder will experience a large moment of force as the water provides resistance.

Over a period of time this will cause the rotator cuff to fatigue especially supraspinatus resulting in an impingement.

Impingement

Swimmers shoulder was coined by Hawkins Kennedy in 1974 for anterior shoulder pain following swim workouts and termed impingement. It has been since found to be just as common in the general public.

G Murrell et al 2008 looked at an elite group of Australian swimmers and found volume was a major cause of supraspinatus tendinopathy, not impingement. The hypothesis was high volume swimmers developed laxity in the joint soft tissues (ligaments and capsule). This laxity caused an unstable joint where the humeral head impinged upwards into the path of the supraspinatus tendon.

Laxity in the shoulder can be divided into two types --

  • The first is genetic, often involving more than one joint in the body having greater flexibility; often referred to as hyper mobility.
  • The second cause is repetitive swimming which can cause the static structures to become more flexible.

Results of the study showed swimmers who swam greater than 35km per week were 4x more likely to have tendinopathy than those who swam less. Laxity levels in the shoulder did not change with increased volumes of swimming when measured.

Take home points to prevent shoulder injury during swimming are --

  • Watch the volume of kms per week: over 35km will increase the risk of shoulder tendinopathy.
  • Maintain a strong robust rotator cuff that can tolerate fatigue.
  • Consider all aspects of the swim cycle from hand entry to recovery.

Happy ocean swimming!

Spots available for 2018

Whales off coast now

tonga whales 2018 oceanswimsafaris 600
Tickle my belly: some whales in Tonga get playful. It's been a long way from Antarctica, and if they want to get up close and personal, there ain't much we can do to get out of the way. This image from our oceanswimsafaris to Tonga in 2017.

The whale migration is on. Up and down the coast, meeja and tourist excursion companies are frothing about sightings from headlands and beaches, of spouts, of tail-slapping, of breaches, etc, etc. But why stop at just standing back and watching? Why not hop in the water with the whales, and enjoy an unrivalled experience in close-up? Swim with whales... Swim with mother whales and their calves... Listen to them singing under water... You can't do this in Strã'a, but you can do it with us in Tonga.

There are plenty of operations up and down the coast that can take you whale watching whilst the humpbacks head north to give birth, then back down sarth for the summer later. But there is none that can take you swimming with them. In Tonga, though, it's possible to jump into the water with the whales. There are strict rules -- size of groups, how long in the water, how close you can get (but if the whale comes to you, there's not much you can do other than back-pedal a little), how long swim tour operators can stay "on" a whale, etc -- but you can get into the water in close proximity to watch, and to listen (they're very talkative, and over long distances). Some contact, inadvertent, often is inevitable, but whales seem to have a good spatial awareness, and a knack for getting close, but not uncomfortably close. They're not going to run you down. Sometimes, they just want to play.

We thought we’d pretty much run out of space on our three oceanswimsafaris to Tonga to swim with whales in July-August, but we now have a couple of rooms available in our second group (July 24-August 1), and our third group (July 31-August 8). If you’re wondering what it’s like to swim with whales, check out our video from last year’s oceanswimsafaris in Tonga, then book with us while space remains available… Click here

Controversy Corner...

What do you reckon about any of this stuff?

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

(See posts at the end of this newsletter.)

Swims open to online entry

Most swims remaining this season are open to online entry on oceanswims.com, as you'll see below, as well as a couple of season 2018/19 swims.

New... Nup

Coming up... Be patient; it's only July.

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  • Jerome Murphy Comment Link
    Jerome Murphy
    Thursday, 05 July 2018 10:58
    Hi Peter

    I’ll do a couple of videos for the next newsletter on how to strengthen the shoulder.

    Jerome
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  • Roger McMillan Comment Link
    Roger McMillan
    Wednesday, 04 July 2018 03:53
    I was fortunate enough to swim with the great Shane Gould at Margaret River for many years and she gave us a very simple tip that prevents shoulder injuries - the hand should go into the water with the little finger first. In other words, contrary to what many of us were taught as kids, with the thumb up.

    To see why this is good advice, hold your arm at your side and raise it laterally with the thumb down. Feel the tightness across the front of the shoulder? Now do the same thing with the thumb up. Feel how much looser it is?

    I passed on this advice to a co-worker who was suffering from swimmer's shoulder and she reported that it immediately alleviated the problem.Y
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  • Patrick Thompson Comment Link
    Patrick Thompson
    Tuesday, 03 July 2018 22:53
    Congratulations to big Jim - fantastic performance 2 years in a row.
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  • Peter Nickless Comment Link
    Peter Nickless
    Tuesday, 03 July 2018 20:32
    So what exercises are recommended to prevent shoulder injuries by the physios?

    Peter Nickless
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