Friday, 6 May 2011

Four seasons in one day: The Byron Bay Ocean Swim Classic 2011 (with brief reference to snoring)


A gouge in the sand: the result of torrential rain and rough seas
 Rain. Rain. And more rain. Truckloads of it, accompanied by blinding camera-flashes of lightning and cracking thunder. This was Byron Bay on Friday night.

When Ms Onyabike and I met up with the well-informed Mr and Mrs Snorkel, they told us the swim's organisers were worried about Sunday. Huge swells were predicted, with waves up to four metres. In surfer terms that's "gnarly". For me it's plain scary. 

On Saturday morning, I joined the end of the traditional conga line of swimmers who stroll up to The Pass, a rocky outcrop at the southern end of Clarkes Beach, to swim back to the surf club on Main Beach.

It wasn't the most pleasant of swims. Although the water was warm, it was murky green and I was alone for the journey, apart from a brief encounter with the real (deadset) Thor who, after a chat about the crap weather, sprinted away never to be seen again. Story of my life. 

On the beach at the Byron Bay Ocean Swim Classic


Later that day, the Snorkels and I moaned at Ms Onyabike. We'd been coming to Byron for four years and it had never been this bad - rough surf, intermittent rain squalls and brisk winds. We blamed her for this meteorological abnormality.

Fortunately, Ms Onyabike sent out good vibes (it must have been her high-frequency snoring, which brings tears to the eyes) and the clouds parted on Sunday morning to reveal a glorious blue sky.

One of the fun things about the Byron swim is getting on the bus, in our cossies, at Main Beach with other swimmers (we're herded onto the old codgers' bus, though we're sure we look much younger). The bus drops us at the swim's starting point - Wategos Beach.

Another fun thing is not starting last. With the Byron swim, the older age groups go off before the younger swimmers and the elite SuperFish. For me, this is wonderful because there are still spectators on the beach when I toddle out of the water at the end of the swim. And I get to see the elite swimmers finish.   

Back to the start - I was relieved to make it through the surf and to the first buoy without too much trouble. But from then on it was a hike. The surf was pumping at The Pass, so the swell rose and fell in grand sweeps as I tried to push through it like a worm trying to burrow into clay. The water was eerily opaque in contrast to previous years, where its  crystal clarity allowed swimmers to ogle turtles, stingrays and schools of fish.   

Running out of the surf at Main Beach after the swim 

I managed to avoid getting dumped on the way in, but a powerful north-running current almost ripped my legs off when I stood up and tried to wade across the sandbank towards the finish line. 

Mr Snorkle was there waving me in, having pulled out of the swim after feeling that his heart just wasn't in it. Aren't men funny?

Mrs Snorkel and Ms Onyabike were there, too, but they swam using 'swimming aids' - goggles, snorkels and fins. Am I big noting? 

It's my blog. 

Afterwards, we kept our bragging to the mimimum because we didn't want to upset Mr Snorkel. No jokes were made at his expense. We didn't question his masculinity, fitness or mental stamina to complete such an arduous swim. Nope. We're bigger than that.
      
Next year the Byron Bay Ocean Swim Classic celebrates its 25th year. We'll be back.

1 comment:

Richard said...

Well done finishing another tough swim. And winning the race-within-the-race, by the sounds of it. Good that you surrendered to the conditions on the day and trusted your experience and ability to get you through.