Monday, 30 January 2012

Palmy to Whale ocean swim: I beat Tony - again

Before: lining up for ankle timers and caps at Palm Beach
Woo! Just made it in time to post about the Palm Beach to Whale Beach swim before it becomes 'dead in the water'. 

I think I've lost the mood so let me limber up to recall the feeling of swimming out the back of the break to Little Head off Palmy at around 10.30am on a muggy, overcast Sunday feeling like I'd never ever get to the right-hand turn that would reveal a glimpse of Whale Beach. 

I breathe left, and this 2.5 km destination swim runs south from the northern-most beach on Sydney's 'insular peninsula'. This means I don't get much of a view because I breathe towards the horizon and not the headland and beach. 

After: Whale Beach. A perfect pocket of sun, sand and surf

The choppy conditions weren't as wild as the Bondi to Bronte epic (see my post from December 2011) but still challenging. Imagine the wool cycle on your washing machine. The agitator doesn't toss the clothes so much as slosh them about. I was sloshed around like an old wool jumper in sudsy lukewarm water. 

The other problem was not really knowing where I was. I didn't see the two small red cans (buoys/booeys) placed as guides on the course along Whale Beach to the finish line. Instead, I had to rely on my fellow swimmers for direction. I know this is bad form but it was hard to look and lift. When I did all I saw was chop. I swallowed ocean and at times I felt alone. How sad am I today? 

And so it came to pass that I finally made it to the breakers at Whale Beach, with the finish line in sight. The waves washed me in to shore. I am flotsam (can there be flotsam without jetsam?)

Ah glory days. An old Holden ute. I remember bouncing around in the back of one of these before it became illegal

Here's a few numbers: I finished 1035 out of 1501 competitors. Not happy Jan. In my age group I came 19th out of 37 women (not so many older chicks do it). Last year I finished 17th out of 27. Does this mean I did better this year or that other older women who are slower than me have started to compete?

Still, I did beat the leader of the opposition Tony Abbott who finished in a time of 1.02.58. Hey Tone, ya better shape up or ship out!  

The best fun came after the swim when I raided the free fruit stand for competitors, ate four sweet, juicy nectarines and pocketed another three for later. Then my swim squad friend Miss Freeasabird and I went for another swim in the blue Pacific. God, it was beautiful. 

This Sunday I expect chaos at the Cole Classic in Manly. I don't care if some of the diehards shun the event because it's gone a bit corporate - I'm excited. 

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