Sunday, 21 November 2010

Let the ocean swimming season begin: Dawny Swim around Cockatoo Island

I love the Dawn Fraser Pool in Balmain because it feels like a step back in time to when the world was less complicated and everybody spent Sunday at the beach or on the harbour.

Nowadays, Sydneysiders scream around like mad ants and the weekend is a massive traffic jam that spills over to the weekdays.

That's life, I guess. But today I went to Dawny's to do my first ocean swim of the season. The sun shone in a blue sky as a couple of hundred swimmers assembled just outside the perimeter of the harbour pool to take on either the 1 km or 2.5 km swim.

Like last year, I chose the longer swim around Cockatoo Island, the location of a disused ship yard, which is now a tourist attraction. These days you can camp overnight in permanent tents on Cockatoo Island, which is something I've yet to to do because Spanner says, "Why would you want to do that?"

This year the swim around the island was anti-clockwise and run a bit earlier at 9.05 am because the ferry timetable to the island has changed. Apparently, a clockwise swim interferes with ferry movements. This is a  bummer because the tide was running out of the harbour this morning, so going in an anti-clockwise direction meant swimming around the back of the island against the tide.

Dawny is a fun swim for me because everyone starts in the water and it's flat (no bloody big waves) except for chop caused by harbour craft and a bit of wind.

Another reason why it's such an excellent swim is I don't have to wait to start through about five waves of swimmers with three minute intervals between them. Today, there were three waves of swimmers, with a one minute interval between each group. That's the way to run a swim.

It was so well organised that I didn't have time to panic or even think about the coolish 18 degree water temperature. No sooner had the first wave gone, then the 46-to-really-old codgers wave was off.

I absolutely love this swim, though I'm sure my time today sucked. But those who follow this blog (thanks for persevering with my rants) will be aware that I'm no Libby Lenton. More like Eric the Eel. 

But today I didn't care. As I was dragged like an old turtle back onto the pontoon after the swim, I marvelled that I had cruised around Cockatoo Island, through jelly blubbers in the murky harbour water and narrowly avoiding the gaping jaws of lurking bull sharks (that's my story and I'm sticking to it).

I'm all revved up, so it's on to the next swim around the eensy-teensy misnamed Wedding Cake island at Coogee next week.

See you at the swim.

PS: In the pic, you can see Cockatoo Island beyond the pool. All the industrial stuff is still there as the island is a heritage site.

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