Monday, 9 April 2012

Bondi Bluewater Challenge: a beautiful swim and baitfish everywhere!

The usual suspects - before the 1 km swim

Afterwards the clouds blew away and heaven came to Bondi

Mad people who swim a lot
Bait fish can only mean one thing as far as I'm concerned. SHARKS.

I'm not paranoid.  Just ahead of myself - so let me backtrack.

The day got off to a chilly start and I wasn't in the mood for swimming. I'd overdosed on Easter eggs over the weekend; my nose was blocked and I had a mild headache.

Chocolate, they say, is good for you but not when you consume kilograms of the stuff like the world is about to end and this is the last time you will ever taste chocolate before you're zapped out of existence. Once I start, it's impossible to stop. Familiar story? 

Back to the beach.

I rugged up and cruised down to Bondi in Sydney's eastern suburbs on this day, Easter Monday. It was a lovely drive - it's rare to see Sydney traffic-free. Got my usual park and strolled to the surf.

It was also a lovely day but there was a stiff breeze and the clouds blotted out the sun for a while around 9am. The cosy bed I'd left behind was the best option but it was too late. I'd already paid up to swim in both the 1 km and 2.2 km swims and wasn't about to waste $65.

Mr Very Big expects a mention in all my blogs on swimming so I'll get him out of the way now. There. Done.

At the start of the 1 km the Irish bloke with the Irish tan said he was going to "take it easy". Like, whatever. I learned the hard way that this is code for: "I'm gonna swim my milky-pale Irish arse off."

The surf was neat and small, the course straightforward and as I swam out towards the first buoy I spotted a school of mullet. Now, mullet may not be the most appetizing fish (though it's probably one of the most nutritious fish in terms of omega 3 oils) but to witness hundreds of big black fish about 20 cm in length swimming beneath me was a privilege. It was the highlight of the swim.

Afterwards I was buggered but, because a lot of the good swimmers in my age group must be on holidays, I finished in third place. Woo-hoo! The chocolate binge strategy obviously paid off.

I don't know if many people who read/stumble upon this blog have ever been in an ocean swim, let alone the ocean (someone from Libya checked in the other night. My bet is there's not much ocean swimming going on there) so for your enlightenment let me explain how the 2.2 km course looked from the beach.


Before every ocean swim I do I wonder, "How the .... will I manage this?"

That Irish guy with the big feet stood next to me and we both whinged about how tired we were. Then, as soon as the starter horn hooted, he bolted into the deep blue sea like his milky-pale arse was on fire. I followed, albeit with a delicate skip.

Once in, I started to enjoy myself. The water was around 22 degrees and the fish were out in force. Everywhere. Even though it pelted down in Sydney last night and the storm uprooted trees in some suburbs, today the water was clear and I could see the sandy bottom for most of the swim.

Out the back of the break I encountered thousands of bait fish. Deary me. Please don't let there be sharks out here today God. It's Easter Monday, please save me for I am really a nice person who just likes to enjoy my life... etc, etc, as the rant in my head is never-ending.

For me, the most testing part of the swim was getting back in. I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere and wondered if I might have wandered into a rip. I got through it in the end but ended up swimming into a part of the beach occupied by recreational swimmers. I then had to trot along the sand and through to the finish line.

By the time I was back on the sand, the sun was out and the wind had dropped. It was one of those Sydney days you see on postcards. All brilliant blue and golden.

Later, in the surf club I claimed my Bondi SLSC T-shirt for third place in the 1 km event.
The season is almost over and I thought I was over it but next weekend several swims are being held. I usually do Mollymook on the NSW south coast but this year I might have to give it a miss. There's another swim at Coogee on the same day.

Maybe... I'll have to check on that Irish git with the big nose to see if he's entering.

Have a good week. Speak soon.

No comments: