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Such a simple image, but it says so much about ocean swimming, and the multitudes who take to the sea early each morn to get their fix. The Forster Turtles head out, for a session dominated by the current obsessions of our conditioner and trainer, The Glebe Lout, with closed-fist drill, this day in 200-stroke efforts half with closed fists. The Lout, known to his mum as Noel, told us afterwards he is leading us into "Fitmas" -- getting us "fit for Xmas". Bless him. The day after, today, we did 100-stroke efforts out to the shark booee. The efforts coming back in were faster than the ones going out. Look at the water. We were just discovering on Choosdee that Dr Ekmann had returned overnight, following strong winds on Monday, and the water had dropped to 17.3C. But did we complain? You betcha, we did. Wensdee, it was back up to 19.1. What will tomorrow bring?
- Annals of flexibility
- It's back! Glistening Dave's oceanswims calendar
- Breath management: Where to find it
- New gogs don't fog
- Pittwater Ocean Swim Series
- Three good friends
- This weekend - North Curly, Stanwell Park
- 2020 oceanswimsafaris
- Swims open to online entry
- Odds 'n Ends
Swims this weekend...
- Sat, Dec 7 - North Curl Curl e (NSW), Auckland (NZ), Coolangatta (Qld), Rottnest Island (WA)
- Sun, Dec 8 - Stanwell Park e (NSW), Devonport (Tas), Mandurah (WA)
How are your shoulders right now?
Try this at home: stand erect, your very best posture, your back supporting your weight rather than allowing it to slouch down on your hips… Then, raise your arms, as straight as you can above your head. Your very straightest. Try to get your arms behind your ears, without bending your head too far forward, and keeping your arms straight. Clasp the hands, folding them one over the other… By this time, you should be doing the perfect streamline.
Swimmers generally can do this; some people can’t. Such as, according to Damir of Berowra, runners.
Try this at home: Random swimmer Mrs Sparkle always wanders around the house practising her very best streamline.
Damir, recently returned to swimming and recovering from a couple of years doing triaffalon, is a very handy swimmer. During his multisport days, he says runners sometimes came to him to ask him how to swim, and he would give them that exercise. Often, he told us, on the grass at Bronte last Sundee, they could get their arms up, but only as far as a diamond shape with their hands just above their heads; nowhere near straight, and nowhere near, Damir reckons, straight enough to show that they might be able to swim.
This exercise, really just a pose, demonstrates shoulder flexibility. Runners often can’t do it because they don’t use their shoulders much in running, and running and bike riding are more likely to leave the body tight unless countered regularly with stretching. Swimmers usually can do it, because they use their shoulders. But many swimmers often can’t do it well, especially as they age.
Damir says that if the runners could not adopt the streamline on land, he would send them away. “Come back when you can do it,” he said he would say to them.
We’ve been talking a bit lately about flexibility, about the need for it in order to swim more easily. We need it in our shoulders, arms, neck and back, and in our hips.
Another affliction Damir pointed out came from cycling which, we observed to him, left one tight. “Yes,” he said. “Tight hips, which affects your capacity to kick. You can’t kick with tight hips.”
This shouldn’t worry too many blokes, who don’t kick anyway. But that doesn’t mean that they should not possess the capacity to kick; the right to kick, as it were, just as we all should have the right, in principle, to give birth.
Even if you’re not a kicker, the kick comes in handy when you need a sudden surge, such as to get on a wave, or out of a tight spot, such as a melee on a booee.
After riding, he said, it would take stretching and time to return flexibility in order to kick from your hips. A lot of boofhead swimmers, especially those aging ones, and those aging ones who spend their workdays at a desk and a ‘puter, do not have flexible hips, and this compromises their capacity to kick. We’ve heard of swimmers who’ve have hip replacements say how much more flexible they are with their new hips. We’ve even heard a bilateral hip recipient say that he’s never kicked better than after he had his hips replaced.
What is it good for?
Back on the grass at Bronte, Damir lamented that, as a swimmer, he was at a disadvantage in triaffalon. He could swim his very fastest to get the maximum advantage from his strongest leg – his swim – but it would never be enough. A strong swim leg would leave him stuffed for his two weaker legs.
“Triathlon is a sport for runners who can ride a bike,” he said.
And so we see Damir back on the beach, swimming better than ever, too, looking at his results so far this season.
We had this chat at Bronte after musing to ourselves in the pool at Crummy Drummy last week about our shoulders.
Two weeks back, we wrote about flexibility. In the pool last week, we were schlepping along, thinking about politics, and our swimming, about whom was annoying us at the time, and the thought trail led inevitably, as you’d expect, to shoulder flexibility. Stroke is helped enormously by keeping your elbows high on the pull-through, minimising disruption to your streamline. In order to do this, you need flexible shoulders: you need your shoulders to allow your elbow to remain high – above your head – whilst maintaining your streamline.
Shoulders that don’t allow high elbows will force the elbow down, taking the shoulders with it, twisting your upper body, bringing your stroke across to the other side, and absolutely destroying your streamline.
After inventing a new genre of photographic art by specialising in images with poles in the middle of the pitcher, Mona Vale snapper Glistening Dave, ever the trendsetter, now is pioneering another new genre: Best Handrail through the Middle of the Image. It is art. We just can't keep up. Mind you, perhaps this is Dave's way of explaining life: Life is full of barriers, hurdles one must leap in order to survive.
Phenomena like this fascinate us. It makes us realise that swimming, when broken down into all its component parts – body position, stroke, kick, rhythm, breathing, subliminal co-ordination of all these things -- is more complicated than golf. But there are some core things that can be done independent of actual swimming that makes knitting all these aspects together more comfortably. Flexibility is one of these underlying things.
We knew a retired surf boat rower who did yoga three times a week. Surf boat rowing, like cycling, is one of the most efficient activities for tightening the body, and one of the best ways to stuff your back for the rest of your life. But this bloke was leading a full and active life, all of which he put down to yoga.
Yoga is not the be all and end all, of course. It’s not the only way to become flexible, but it’s a good way to become flexible.
The corollary of becoming more flexible is that your body is more relaxed. It means you sleep better, your stress levels are more manageable, and your health and your resilience should be better overall. We have our own little practices that, in recent times, have helped us with this, a couple of little stretches that we do before bed each evening, as the sun goes down. It’s made a big difference for us. Mind you, we’re still rubbish swimmers. But all things are relative.
Glistening Dave's oceanswims calendar is back by popular demand. Dave took a sabbatical in the last two years (yes, that's two sabbaticals, but Dave is no ordinary artiste), keeping his calendar only for close friends, relos, and some who just asked. But so many have asked, and he has so many regular calendees, that Dave has decided to go public once again.
Dave's calendar highlights some of his fave scenes from the previous 12 months. It carries pretty well every swim date, and is a daily inspiration to all ocean swimmers, everywhere.
The absolutely perfect Xmas present for the ocean swimmer, Dave's calendar will be despatched in late November-early December, but best order yours now... Click here
Last week's item about breath management led to a welter of enquiries to trainer Michaela Werner, who has now advised us of a preferred means of contacting her. To contact Michaela... Click here
Selene Swipe, no fog
Our most popular gog, the View Selene, now has a revolutionary, hi-tech version offering anti-fog capacity that lasts 10 times as long as existing goggles, the makers say. The Selene Swipe has technology in its interior lens coating that allows you to clear fog from the lens simply by "swiping" your finger across it.
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.
We've been wearing our new Swipes for 23 swims so far (at the time of writing) hoping they will fog so that we can try the Swipe technology, but the stubborn things refuse to fog. On our last two swims, there was a bit of fog, which went away instantly we swiped across it.
This is the third model of the Selene that we've added to our online store, after the regular Selenes and the Mirrored Selenes. We've sold a lot of swipes since we released them a week ago. Stocks available in Australia are severely limited at the moment, but we've bought up almost the entire current supply, especially of the more popular colours.
Selene is one of the best value gogs you will ever find. And made with an extra wide silicone seal, the Selene is probably the most comfortable low-profile gog you'll find, and it doesn't leave you with Rocky Raccoon marks around your eyes. The Selene Swipe offers anti-fog performance that's 10 times longer than normal, and a swiping lens durability offering 1,500 swipes without degrading performance.
Selene Swipe comes in Blue (BL), Light Blue (CLB), Lavender (LV), Black (Smoke) (BK), Brown (BR).
Find out more and order Selene Swipes... Click here
Awgies of the Pittwater Ocean Swim Series say -
Ocean swimmers will be reaching for their goggles with the news that the popular Pittwater Ocean Swim Series will again make a splash in January 2020.
The series will start on Sunday, 5 January, with the Newport Surf club’s Pool to Peak ocean swims. The following Sunday, 12th January, Bilgola will be firing the starting gun for swimmers, and then on Sunday 19 it’s the Mona Vale club’s turn.
The Big Swim, from Palm Beach to Whale Beach will be held on the Australia Day weekend on Sunday 26 January. The other club in the Pittwater Series, Avalon, have set their date for 29 March including the iconic Around The Bends Swim.
According to one of the organisers of the series, John Guthrie, each of the clubs now has shorter swims in addition to the traditional longer swims, ranging from 1.5kms to 3kms. In addition to the Big Swim, Avalon have introduced the ‘Around the Bends’ swim from Newport to Avalon so there are plenty of challenges for the experienced swimmers.
“The idea of the shorter swims is to get more people involved in ocean swimming so that they can gradually graduate to the longer swims. The shorter swims are also used as warm-ups for the longer distance swimmers.
“Each season we have a large contingent of ocean swimmers from other parts of the State as well as Interstate. Swimmers from around the world swell the entry ranks obviously combing ocean swimming in one of the best parts of Australia with a visit to this country” said John.
“Most swimmers bring their partners and friends as support teams and you will see them after each swim at the coffee shops, clubs and hotels. It’s a real boost for the area and we are delighted to have the support of Northern Beaches Council for the series in the form of a grant for the next three seasons.
“The ocean swims are important fund raisers for each surf club and all funds go towards the purchase and maintenance of essential life saving equipment. It’s a win/ win for the local community and the many visitors to Pittwater over the summer season as the beaches are kept safe,” John continued.
The Pittwater Ocean Swim Series will again be giving swimmers, who complete three of the five swims, the opportunity to win a trip for two to Byron Bay, including air fares, courtesy of Travel View and three nights accommodation at the Bay Royal Apartments in Byron Bay. The prize includes entry for two to the Byron Bay Classic Ocean Swim.
Entries and details for the swims will be via each club’s website or at oceanswims.com
Sat'di, North Curly: Swim, biathlon, and Skins
There's something for everyone in this event: the Mile swim, the 3 Points Challenge biathlon, and the Skins, pitting the best of each event against each other in a series of dashes. The course of the 3 Points Challenge -- the biathlon that's been at the heart of this event for years now -- also is adjusted to avoid the problems offered by South Curl Curl in even the best of conditions.
North Curl Curl awgies reported today that conditions forecast for Saturday were looking "ideal"... Air temp 19-26, swell 3ft from the south, and water temp 21C.
Online entries close on oceanswims.com at 3pm on Friday, December 6. More info and to enter online... Click here
Sundi, Stanwell Park: The Big Swim of the South
Awgies at Stanwell Park have reinstated "the Big Swim of the South" after an hiatus of three years. It's a journey swim beneath the Illawarra Escarpment worthy of the otherwise clichéd tag of "epic". Best to breathe left; if you breathe only right, you'll miss it all. This is one of the most spectacular swims you will ever do -- 2.3km along the foot of the Illawarra Escarpment.
There will be two Stanwell Park swims this season. This weekend's iteration is the postponed event from March 2019 -- last sesaon -- then there's planned to be the regular running in March 2020. All entries from last March's original date roll-over to this Sunday. Online entries are open again on oceanswims.com untll 3pm this Saturday.
More info and to enter online... Click here
March 12-16 – Coromandel New Zealand – A long weekend away in one of the most beautiful parts of the temperate Pacific, the Coromandel Peninsula. The feature event is the Cathedral Cove swim, but just being in this stunningly beautiful place is a tonic… Click here
May 12-21, and May 21-31 – French Polynesia -- Swim the Pacific; dine in Paris. That’s about it. Another stunningly beautiful paradise. We’ve already filled two oceanswimsafaris in 2020, although we have a spot now available for a single/twin/double on our first oceanswimsafari, May 12-21, 2020. Otherwise, you could take advantage of our Advance Deposit Scheme to book your place in 2021… Click here
June 12-20 – The Philippines – Swim with whale sharks in another paradise of some of the clearest water of the greatest marine biodiversity in the Indo-Pacific region… Click here
June 23-July 1 – Sulawesi, Indonesia – More of the clear water and great marine biodiversity at the other end of the Celebes Sea from our Philippines location. This is a place that hardly any Strá’an visits. It’s pretty well just us... Click here
A tender scene by la Concha, San Sebastián.
July 20-28, July 27-August 4 – Tonga – Swim with Humpback Whales (above) – One of the most unusual, special experiences you can ever have swimming in the ocean. The humpbacks migrate over winter from Antarctica to Tonga to give birth and generally frolic around. Tonga is one of the few places in the world where we’re allowed to get in the water with the whales (under rules, of course)… Click here
August 25-31 – San Sebastián, Spain – Swim the Basque country, with its rich mix of culture, food, and history. And the swimming’s terrific, too. That's San Sebastián, above -- A romantic evening on the bay of la Concha... A must-stop during anyone’s trip to Europe… Click here
September 12-20 – Costa Brava, Spain – Swim Catalonia, and France to Spain around the end of the Pyrenees. Another journey through history, art, culture and food, and some of the clearest water you’ll ever swim in… Click here
October 20-25 - Mana Fiji SwimFest - Packages will be ready soon, so watch this space… Click here
October 26-Nov 2 - Yasawas Fiji - Packages are online now… Click here
- Dec 7 - North Curl Curl (NSW, 2km, Biathlon, Skins)
- Dec 8 - Stanwell Park (NSW, 2.3km)
- Dec 15 - Mona Vale - Warriewood (NSW, Swim-Run-Swim Biathlon)
- Dec 28 - Glenelg (SA, 5km, 2km, 1km)
- Jan 5 - Gerringong (NSW, 1.8km)
- Jan 5 - Newport (NSW, 2km, 800m, 400m)
- Jan 5 - Yamba (NSW, 2km, 700M)
- Jan 12 - Bilgola (NSW,
- Jan 12 - North Bondi (NSW, 2km, 1km)
- Jan 25 - Nobbys-Newcastle (NSW, 2km)
- Jan 26 - Newcastle Harbour (NSW, 1.4km, 700m)
- Jan 26 - Palm-Whale (The Big Swim)
- Feb 2 - Cronulla - Shark Island (NSW, 2.3km, 1km)
- Feb 9 - North Bondi (NSW, 2km, 1km)
- Feb 16 - Malabar (NSW, 2.5km, 1km)
- Feb 23 - Bondi (NSW, 2.1km, 1km, 50m, 4km Beach Run)
- Mar 28 - Palm Beach-Shelly Beach (NSW, 27km, 10km, Solos and Teams)
- Apr 4 - Coogee - Bondi (NSW, 4.5km)
- Apr 5 - Balmoral (NSW, 5km, 2km, 1km, 200m Jr, 4 x 200m Relay)
- Apr 5 - Coogee (NSW, 2.4km, 1km, 800m Jrs)
- Mar 8 - Wollongong (NSW)
- Mar 9 - Port Noarlunga (SA)
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