After my appalling performance at last year's Big Swim my expectations were low for 2010.
In 2009, the surf was really rough and it took me forever to get past the massive dragging breakers. By the time I made it, I was so far behind the pack I decided to doddle to the finish line. I think I stopped and had a chat to every one of the surf lifesavers in the rescue craft, which was reflected in my placing in the bottom 40 out ot 1500 or so participants.
But yesterday's conditions were totally different. The surf was gentle and inviting. A practise run proved it was easy to slice through to the first buoy. My hopes rose.
This year the turnout for the event was huge, at almost 1900. My wave of swimmers went off third last. The swim to the first buoy was pleasant enough, but it was just the beginning of a 2.5 km test. There's always a swell out around Little Head, which can make swimmers seasick. I was fine, but my brother-in-law Davo said he felt pretty ordinary as he turned the corner from Palm to Whale Beach.
I did my usual stupid habit of stopping occasionally to see where I was because I tend to swim all over the place (I'm trying to cut down on this and keep swimming while I look).
There were three buoys planted along Whale Beach, but I missed the first two. When the swimmers in front of me turned at the third buoy to swim into the beach I wondered if they were heading in too early. Like a lemming, I followed. I had lots of energy left when I hit the beach, energy I could have used in the swim!
I still finished in the bottom third, but this time there were over 400 swimmers behind me including the leader of the Federal Opposition, Tony Abbott.
When I met up with Davo after the swim he said: "I whopped Tony Abbott's arse."
Not everyone can make that claim. Maybe Malcolm Turnbull should sign up for The Big Swim in 2011. Or KRudd could wriggle into a pair of budgie smugglers for maximum exposure.
PS: This wonderful photo is from http://www.oceanswims.com/ where you can find more pics and read about the swim.