Around 100 bushfires burnt throughout NSW and the temperature soared, but for the crowd gathered at the Dawn Fraser Pool in Balmain this morning, it was all about the swim.
There was a strong turnout for what is officially acknowledged as the first Sydney ocean swim of the 2009/10 season. This has a lot to do with the growing popularity of ocean swimming. I think lots of people in mid-life crises (such as myself - in my case, the crisis is ongoing until death) are deciding a 2.3 km dip in the harbour is the way to go.
As a result, there's lots of older blokes and 'women of a certain age' taking up ocean swimming as a hobby. It beats scrapbooking.
Balmain Water Polo Club organised the gig like clockwork, with the 1.1 km swimmers heading off from the wharf outside the pool just before 9am. The 'over-56 years' boofy blokes - who look as though they drink like fish, but they also swim like fish - went off first.
I was in shortly after the old codgers.
In summary: it was fun. Visibility in the water was zilch, but I didn't even think about bull sharks as I ploughed out to the first buoy in front of Cockatoo Island.
A larger jelly blubber caromed off my goggles as I swam through hundreds of smaller single-celled creatures. I thought it would feel yucky, but in their element the jellies felt silky and soft, not slimy.
I enjoyed swimming around the island and, out of the corner of my goggles, spotted the Sydney Harbour Bridge and CentrePoint Tower in the far distance.
My dad (old codger in bottom pic), in the role of support person, estimated my time to be around 46 minutes. Fingers crossed for when the results go up next week.
The next challenge is Coogee - if the swell isn't too formidable for this chicky babe who wears the 2009 Mollymook swim as a bloody, battered badge of honour.