Sunday, 25 November 2012

Coogee Island Challenge Ocean Swim 2012: Remembering Estelle Myers

Lining up for the 1km swim at Coogee.
Happiness. Isn't that what we all crave? 

Well, today I had a moment of grace as happiness consumed me. It happened while I watched the bubbles flow through my fingers during the Coogee Island Challenge Ocean Swim.

The last time I visited Coogee wasn't such a happy occasion. I rolled up to the Coogee Surf Life Saving Club after work on October 9 to attend a memorial gathering for Estelle Myers. 

Estelle was the mum of my dear friend Jody. The Myers' are eastern suburbs born and bred. Jody and her sister Michelle grew up at Coogee. They were beach babies who were never far from the ocean. Today they both live on the coast.

Estelle was unconventional, iconoclastic, an ecofeminist, 'change agent', dolphin advocate and a pioneer in the water-birthing movement.

Sadly, she died in a car accident near her home in Ballina on September 21. She was 75 but had the energy of a 25 year old.

I thought of Estelle when I got to the beach at around 9. I think she'd had a word to the BIG MAN and WOMAN UPSTAIRS

Perfect water temp: 19 degrees; perfect air temp: 29 degrees; perfect everything else: Coogee, sort of being a bay, behaved like a bay should behave. And the water... you've just got to feel it on your skin and marvel at its clarity to know what it's like. You had to be there. 

Precious Princess is more photogenic than me.

For those who couldn't make it, here's the wrap from my water-logged POV. 

My eldest daughter Precious Princess came with me today. I registered for both the 1km and 2.4km swim but decided against doing the 1km. I wanted to relax and bob about in the ocean for a change. Instead of thrashing my way through the 1km, PP and I ducked and dived and played around before the main swim at around 10am.  

We checked out Wedding Cake Island, a clump of rocks about 1km out from the beach (I researched this for my post from last year's swim and I'm too lazy to double-check the distance - correct me if I'm wrong).

Conditions as flat as Mr Very Big's personal-trainer toned abs.

The idea is that punters swim clockwise around Wedding Cake Island and back in to the beach. The course was well marked - my favourite gi-normous cylindrical cans (for blind people like myself) were located at the main turning points but there were also smaller orange witches-hat cans in between to keep swimmers on-track. 

I found these smaller guide cans useful because I have a habit of heading off on my own meandering journey - I'm  a snail that leaves a wiggly trail. It's time and energy wasting as I'm always playing catch-up.

There wasn't too much chop today. I can't remember a lot about last year's swim (the water was colder) but usually you get caught around the back of the island. Today it was possible to strike out and find a rhythm. The choppy bits weren't too challenging. There were jellies before the island and I enjoyed poking my fingers through their squishiness. 

Getting back to shore was pretty cool, too. Two massive cans spoke to me, SWIM THROUGH US LOVELY LADY


Afterwards, I caught up with several die-hards who reckon the swim this year was more like 2.5km. Dunno. I did get tired towards the end but I always do. And it did seem long but it always does. 

All in all, a tremendous day with Estelle's free spirit flying high around us.

Score out or 10: 7.5

Value for money: $40 for one swim and $50 for a combo of the two is pretty good - you could have also entered the two Coogee swims in April (total of 4 swims) for $90 all up. Well-marked course and loads of water safety. Swim started right on time.

Any gripes? WHERE IS THE FRUIT? We got one bottle of water each - it was being rationed out at the end of the swim. 

Ocean swimming a sport that is growing in popularity, even as I type. I couldn't believe the number of people lining up for the 1km event. 

There's gotta be a little bit of money left over for a piece of fruit for the poor sods who empty their pockets every week for this caper.  It costs a bloody fortune to support this good cause.

Some smart pants should get the local green grocer on board. Seriously, if the Balmain Waterpolo Club can turn it on, why can't a much bigger surf life saving club that gets a much bigger turnout manage a banana? 

PS: Whale Beach. on the northern beaches, was closed today because of SHARK SIGHTINGS. It's gonna be a doozy of a summer. 






big al said...

yep- I enjoyed the swim today too - lovely conditions, well organised and slick, but felt like a criminal when sprung by the water monitor for requesting a second bottle...

Loved the jelly sensation between my fingers!

Shayne said...

Hi Big Al,
It was the only downer. I've never experienced the limit of one bottle per person.


Surfmuppet said...

Surfmuppet scores two bottles of water by diplomatically delivered controlled aggression

Shayne said...

Get outta here. It was the accent and natural charm (and maybe they felt just a bit sorry for you).