Sunday, 4 December 2011

Bondi to Bronte ocean swim 2011: a bugger of a swim but worth it in the end

If the day had started the way it ended I wouldn't have done the Bondi to Bronte swim. But this morning the sun was out and the surf was, according to .8 of a metre. I thought, 'I can do this.'
Before: Bondi around 8.30am

I arrived early at Bondi - that's the trick to getting a parking spot. The wind was already blowing in at 8am and the surf was mimimal. I think it's kind of cute that even when there's barely a wave, the boys on their boards are already out there... wishin' and hopin' for the curly ones to arrive. Hope springs eternal for the old farts with their long boards (because at that age, size does matter).

I'm going off topic! The water temperature was supposedly 18.2 degrees. I'll get back to that later.

With the swim scheduled to start at 9.30, I was worried the Southerly buster was going to kick in with a vengeance and shove up the wave height. That turned out not to be so much of an issue compared to the challenging conditions it caused out the back of the break.

Bronte after the swim

The swim started slap-bang in the middle of Bondi Beach and we headed towards New Zealand before taking a sharp right at Mackenzie's Point.

Bear with me as I indulge in a stream of consciousness in order to sum up the swim: up and down and up and back down and up again swallow some ocean and swallow some more and someone's kicked me and I hate this no I love it but how can I when I'm drowning I'm tired I'm cold yo ho heave ho and up the swell we go and now we slide back down again yo ho heave swallow more water ho... 

Once I made it to Mackenzie's I turned right with the mob and travelled south past Mackenzie's Bay (apparently, it's a nice place to take your dog and have a dip when the conditions are mild) and then past the notorious Tamarama Beach. I didn't see a whole lot of beach action because I breathe to the left. I tried to breathe right but I'm useless at it.

Coming into Bronte, I followed the stream of coloured caps and swam over a few people and had a few swim over me. I accidentally clipped some bloke in a black cap (I think black means 'fast wanker') who was swimming aggressively - a man thing. I didn't mean to hit him but he just charged over me like I wasn't there. That's ocean swimming and I guess you've got to cop the biff occasionally.

I got into the beach okay but I was pretty stuffed as I ran up the sand. There was lots of aluminium foil being wrapped around some of those swimmers who couldn't manage the cooler water temperatures.

Coming in at Bronte: can you see the aluminium?

By the time I found my bag among the thousands of others that had been transported from Bondi and dumped on the grass in a big disorderly heap at Bronte, I was bloody freezing. The weather had turned nasty and I felt sorry for the swimmers still coming in.      

An ambulance, siren blaring, was wending its way towards Bronte as I walked back towards Bondi. I suspect it was going to pick up some poor person with a severe case of hypothermia.

Did I enjoy this swim? There were moments of absolute joy before I got sick and tired in the swell. No matter. On a perfect day the Bondi to Bronte swim is a beautiful journey along a magnificent coastline (even though I didn't get to see much of it). I was out in the open ocean, swimming in cool clear water to a different destination. I don't think you can ask for anything more. 

PS: My guts are full of ocean. Not a good feeling.
PPS: My mum just called and said it is the coldest day in Sydney in December in more than 40 years. The thermometer here at home puts it at 16 degrees. You call this summer?

After: Bondi at lunchtime. Brrr...

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