Sunday, 6 March 2011

I saw a REAL shark during the 2 km Manly swim

Sometimes life hands you a gift. And for me, that happened today. But more of my encounter with the man in the grey suit later in this post.

Since my swimming partner, Davo, has been out of action with a broken wrist I tend to wait until the morning of an ocean swim to make a decision about whether to participate. Today three swims ran in Sydney.

1. TamaCloey 2.5 km Cliffside wrote a glowing report on this swim in an attempt to dismiss many punters' fears that it is a perilous excursion for the foolhardy and elite swimmers. 

Go to for a detailed history of this eastern-suburbs beach, where it refers to the Surf Life Saving NSW description of the 100-metre long beach as the most hazardous patrolled beach in NSW. SLSNSW warns that Tamarama's 'energetic wave climate ensures that at least one and often two rips are present on the beach. This means the surf zone is essentially all rip.'

Call me a coward. Call me anything. I don't care. Count me out of this one.

2. Barney Mullins Swim Classic at Freshwater. My guess is that 'Freshy' is one of Sydney's safest beaches. On one website this northern beach is described as a horseshoe-shaped cove just over the headland from Manly. I was considering this 1.5 km swim, but was discouraged by the late registration fee of $40 - the normal entry fee is $25. That's a nasty price hike. Forget it.

3. Manly. Do I have to describe it? One of Sydney's 'iconic' beaches. The registration fee is $25 and for latecomers like myself, $30. That's more like it. The only disadvantage is finding a parking spot that isn't limited to 2 hours. It's impossible, so I ended up risking a fine.

What can I say about this swim, except that I made the right choice today.

It had the warm embracing feel of a community event, unlike so many of the swims these days that attact well in excess of 1000 entrants (the Cole Classic is ridiculous, with 5000 entered in the two swims).

When I arrived, the 1 km swim was in progress. The Nippers, so cute, were on the beach getting their medals and certificates, the barbecue was fired up, the Banana Boat tent was handing out free sunscreen and the surf was perfect.

The punters assembled on the beach just down from the steps that lead onto Manly's Corso. Way, way, way out was an orange buoy. After taking a right turn at that buoy we were then to swim to Shelley Beach and take another right turn before heading along to Fairy Bower and then back into South Steyne. The course looked longer than 2 km to moi.  

Not for a long time have I started a swim along with ALL the female competitors. The men went off first, then we plunged in five minutes later. It took me forever to get out and around that first buoy. I did the usual swimming wide thing (I can be so dumb - I slap my wrist over this after EVERY swim) but for once this turned to my advantage when I passed over the reef at Fairy Bower. Because I was a bit further out, I saw A SHARK. 

He was small but not tiny. I'd guess, looking down on him from a height of around six metres (my maths is appalling) he would've been around one-metre long - I just joined several rulers to check the measurement.  

When I spotted him I wasn't concerned at all because he was so far down and looked content to be going about his daily business. I guessed he was a bronze whaler as they supposedly breed in the area. 

I was tired (when you swim wide all the time you get tired) but seeing this amazing creature - he was elegant and graceful - was exhilarating and gave me a renewed burst of energy. Hey, I wonder why. SHARK!         

Alas, my sighting of the man in the grey suit didn't improve my time.  

Afterwards I had coffee with my friend Mrs Snorkle, who saw some teeny-weeny sharky critters as she pottered around Fairy Bower earlier.

Icing on the cake? No parking fine!  


Richard said...

Well done spotting the shark.
See, they are not so scary underwater.

Bit worried about your navigation though. That reef at Fairy bower wasn't part of the swim course.

Shayne said...

Can I follow you next time? I'm sure I add a couple of minutes on to my time because I drift. Dumb. No other word for it.