Ocean swimmers were spoilt for choice this weekend with Sydney events at Manly and Freshwater, and up the coast at Lake Macquarie (Saturday), Caves Beach and Coffs Harbour.
Davo and I chose the Manly Daily Ocean Swim. Let me tell you fine people from around the world who occasionally stumble across this blog, not many things compare to a sunny day at the beach in Sydney. Bliss.
The angels blew in on a north-easterly wind that teased up soft, foamy waves. There was a smattering of weed and a bluebottle warning, but we managed to avoid the nasty translucent creatures and their wispy, stinger tendrils. Whew (blueys freak me out).
As we arrived at South Steyne (Manly's southern end), the first of the 1 km swimmers were pounding up the sand to the finish line. There are more and more people doing ocean swims, with most dipping their toes into the shorter course.
We strolled north to the starting line opposite the Corso, where a much smaller group of nutters waited for the 2 km event. Davo and I were in the same wave. When the starter gun went off I followed him in but he was soon out of sight - smarty pants.
OK, here's the report in full. Because it was low tide and shallow, it took a little while to get through, under and over the white-wash waves. My cossie had collected a fair amount of weed by the time I got to the first buoy, about 800 metres offshore. This is my excuse for not beating Davo (again) this time.
Next, a right-hand turn and out to sea -sort of. That's how it felt swimming across to Fairy Bower (Manly Point?) and over the shark net that runs the length of Manly beach. How cool is that? The net is way way down and appears affixed to the ocean floor. It's not that high. That was the first swim highlight.
The second was the leg to Fairy Bower, a popular diving spot off Shelley Beach. On the reef I saw small fish (Davo saw big ones, of course). Down below, scuba divers blew air balloons that rose up to meet me. Initially, I thought the bubbles were sea creatures, some sort of jelly blubber. But then I noticed the disembodied divers' fins. Mystery solved.
I was buggered by time I rounded the last buoy, but the swell gave me a gentle nudge towards my destination.
Because I'm not a runner (I used to love it but had to stop because of a dodgy hip) the lengthy exit along the sand was annoying and other swimmers passed me.
As usual, Davo was on the beach to wave me in as I 'shuffled' the 30 or so metres to the finish line (BASTARD - I forgive you).
In summary, Davo and I have declared the Manly Daily Ocean Swim one of the best this season - a swim that challenges, enthralls and contains small surprises at every turn.
La vita e bella!