Squad is being held at the beach over the Christmas holidays, which means I have to get up extra early to make it by 6am several days a week.
Fortunately I woke up before the alarm, which was set for 5.15am. This was not good for Spanner, who groaned his disapproval and rolled over. (Spanner's attitude to the early mornings may prove to be a problem over the break so I'll have to figure a way to butter him up)
Mistake #1: Because I have BIG issues with time I didn't realise it would take more than 10 minutes to get from my house to where my swim-squad mate Miss Freeasabird waited at a bus stop en-route.
Mistake #2: She leapt into the car and we tooled it down to Bondi but I decided to park a couple of blocks away from the beach.
Mistake #3: We arrived at 6am - on the bloody dot. I then made a 30-second detour to the toilet block, which was locked.
By then it was too late. Numero Uno Supremo Swimming Squad Coach, Mr Mean, was taking no prisoners. "You're late. Get out. You won't be swimming with us today."*
I looked at the digital clock affixed to the wall of the surf life saving club. It was still on 6am but Mr Mean didn't care. I was out. I was the example - this is what happens to those who arrive late to squad.
I made one attempt to get back in. "I tried to go to the loo but it was shut," I said, failing to keep that awful, crawly pleading tone out of my voice.
Mr Mean waved me away with a dismissive hand. The rest of the squad did what groups of human beings do when one of their own is being publicly humiliated by a head honcho. They suddenly found somewhere else to look. I didn't exist for them. I was no longer a group member. They were thinking: "Better her than me."
I wasn't upset because, as I've mentioned in a past post, Mr Mean has every right to be cranky when people are late. Because he's responsible for squad members, if they turn up late and wander into the surf without him being aware of it he could get into trouble if things go awry.
I swallowed my foolish pride and decided to walk along the beach, take a dip and meet up afterwards with Miss Freeasabird (who also got a talking-to but wasn't ostracised).
Fifteen minutes later, as I strolled back up the beach, I heard my name being called. Mr Mean is a bit of a softy and I reckon he saw my forlorn figure and took pity. I was allowed back into squad.
I know this story might sound pathetic to some but it's all a bit of fun as far as I'm concerned. What would life be like without people like Mr Mean (who isn't really mean at all)?
The rest of the session was wonderful. The water was warm at around 21 degrees (my guess), there was a reasonable surf and a strong north-running current. We swam out through the break and I looked around me. At that moment the sun came out and its rays coated the beach in a golden hue.
The water was clear and sand whiting (I could be guessing but it was milky white and on the sand!) were foraging for bits and pieces as we ploughed our way in and out trying to catch waves on the way in.
I hope you enjoy the pics I snapped during my 'warm-up' walk.
PS: I've found another good website for beach conditions. It's http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/beachapp/OceanBulletin.aspx
*This isn't verbatim but it's close enough.