Sunday, 21 March 2010

Balmoral Swim is short but bitter sweet

Before the first wave of ocean swimmers pelted into the water this morning at Bamoral Beach, a minute's silence was held to remember Saxon Bird, the 19-year-old junior ironman, surf lifesaver and ocean swimmer who died in a freak accident on the Gold Coast on Friday.

Bird had been competing in the Australian Surf Lifesaving Championships when he was knocked unconscious after falling off his surf ski in rough surf. It took rescuers one hour to find his body.

Members of Bird's surf club, Queenscliff, were out in force today, sporting black armbands to honour his memory. It was a powerful gesture, reminding us all of the fragile nature of life and the loss of a beautiful young person who was clearly loved and admired by his peers.

It was a glorious day, hot and sunny, and the water was pure and clear and teeming with fish.

If you don't know Balmoral Beach, it has more of a European feel, except without those awful pebbles and the congestion that goes with English and on-continent seaside resorts. So, I take that back! It is uniquely Australian, but minus the waves.

It also attracts a well-heeled crowd - lots of merchant banker/stockbroker/solicitor (take your pick) blokes with well-maintained, 30-something wives and pretty children dressed in designer gear. They live up the hill in Mosman, but aspire to move it on up to an architect-renovated mansion on the hillside in Balmoral. Of course, this is a vast generalisation, so I extend my apologies in advance to any poor, ugly people without kids who live in Mosman or Balmoral.


Because the swim is only 1 km I reckon lots of punters checked the conditions and decided to enter on the day - so did Davo, my nephew Little Prince and I.

Because of the overwhelming number of late entries, the anti-clockwise swim started 15 minutes late at 10.15am.

It was fast and furious. Right from the start, I was embroiled in a melee of thrashing arms and legs. At one point, a swimmer's foot connected with my chin, which caused my teeth to 'clack' together. I never lost sight of any swimmers because I was in the thick of the peloton, a strange feeling for someone who considers herself a plodder with a tendency to swim wide of the buoys.

Davo reckons he did it in 19 minutes. I started three minutes after him, but I'm hopeful my time is the same - OR FASTER!

Little Prince, aged 11, competed in the 250-metre swim for the 12-and-under group. He did a good job and sprinted with another boy to the finish line. However, this extra exertion led to an impressive vomit as he walked up the beach - banana and sea water combo! Thirty minutes later he managed to consume a chocolate milkshake in about three chug-a-lugs.

You've got to admire the boy's stamina.

A great swim was had by all, and next week will be even bigger as there are two excellent longer swims to choose from - either North Steyne or Stanwell Park.

Swim on.

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