Monday, 20 April 2009

Mollymook Beach Ocean Classic: the mother of all swims

About 200 mad men and women braved the wild Sunday weather to swim in the Mollymook Beach Ocean Classic on the NSW south coast. Davo and I wuz there and we dunnit.

Prior to the 2km swim, we stood shivering on the sand at North Mollymook while the race starter read the riot act, which always includes stuff about sharks, stingers and how if we die during the swim the surf club takes no responsibility, etc etc blah blah blah. He reached the end of the spiel, reminded us there was always next year, and asked: "Are there any questions?"

From the back of the pack came: "Why are we doing this?" Nervous laughter all round - it was Davo's minute of fame (You've got 14 minutes left Davo).

Why? WHY? WHY? would we battle three-metre swells, blinding rain and a massive surf on the way in and out?

Because we're flaming eejits, that's why. And because bloody Davo is soooooo competitive - he made me do it!

This should be an easy swim. It's what the ocean swimming crowd call a "journey" swim because it starts at one end of the beach and ends at the other. For the past three years the conditions have been idyllic - blue skies and crystal clear water with hardly any chop.

But the Southerly that blew in on the Saturday night had done its job and transformed the ocean from a benign creature into a scary beast.
It took me over five minutes to make it to the first can at the 300 metre mark. The swell was relentless and unforgiving. I could only breathe on my left side because I got a gut full of ocean if I turned my head to the right. As usual, I lagged behind and felt like the lone open swimmer - until I spotted another blue cap up ahead.

I followed that cap like it was a beacon. I had no idea where I was because the ocean was slapping me around like a rag doll. I couldn't see the orange booey at the one kilometre mark because the swell formed a wall blocking the view. My fellow blue-capped swimmer asked directions of a surf lifesaver in a rubber dinghy who had picked up an exhausted swimmer. We were instructed to swim out towards the heads as we were too close to the shore where the swell gathered even more momentum.

Finally, land was in sight as I battled my way around the last booey (the bloody thing kept banging into me). As I got closer to shore, visibility in the water decreased as the drag from the surf churned up the sand. I was careful and checked behind me, ducking under the breaking waves and letting them dictate my arrival. It was a relief when my feet felt the firm sand.

Davo finished two minutes earlier. My blue-capped friend arrived a couple of minutes later and said she was glad to have the company! I am no spring chicken but I would estimate this woman to be around 60. She is a legend.


PS: The photo is of the 500 metre swim held at the southern end of the beach two hours earlier. My 12-year-old, Miss Hissy, swam in this event.

1 comment:

Angelina Tanguera said...

And you think dancing tango looks difficult!