Friday, 16 November 2012

Great Barrier Reef Ocean Swim: a 3km loop around Heron Island - What would Alexander Popov do?

Looking back at Heron Island over the coral
To say we had a great time on Heron Island is an understatement. 

It was a HUGE four days organised by the island in conjunction with everybody's swimming mate Paul Ellercamp, the bloke behind

Okay, so occasionally the organisational side of things went awry but overall the program did it for me.

This wasn't just a turn-up-and-swim holiday. Written in to it were swim clinics with swim coach and former Olympian swimmer Graeme Brewer. I found these to be incredibly informative and since returning to Sydney I've been trying to put Graeme's advice to good use during swim squad. 

Graeme is a big boofy bloke with shoulders as wide as a bloody door frame. He's also a bit of a rugger bugger, but he can be forgiven for that because in the water he is beautiful to watch.

More importantly, he's a good coach. 

He ran a theory session with video and handouts.His main example of how to swim properly is Alexander Popov. Now, when I swim I think: "What would Popov do?" because Graeme constantly referred to the former Russian champion's perfect technique and body alignment in the water.

Graeme then put the theory into practise when we gathered in the 22 degree 'harbour' next to the jetty for a stroke correction class (because there were so many people we were lumped into group A and group B). 

This was worth attending - though, you wouldn't believe it, everyone got cold because we were standing around watching the demos a lot. 

Graeme's daughter, Carly, demonstrated the drills and then we had to do them. It will take me a while to learn some of them because a couple were complicated (haven't done any yet and I've been back for over a month). 

Paul Ellercamp filmed the whole thing. I was really self conscious and I think it caused me to screw up a couple of the drills! I'm not the most coordinated person in the pool.

The next day we were taken out in boats and dumped in the ocean. It's not that bad. We were close to the island and only had to swim 1km around the front of the island and to the jetty. It was a warm up for the 3km swim around the island the next day - Sunday. 

On Sunday, the 3km start was delayed because some boof-head didn't take the tide into account. We had to wait until it started to come back in because we were doing a beach start. At low tide it's very shallow and you'd have to walk along way out, over coral some of the time, to get deeper water.

Rocks exposed at the gantry at low tide on Heron Island

Rather than start in one wave, we could choose to swim in the fast, medium or slow group. I chose the medium and it was just right for me. 

The swim around the island was pleasant but uneventful. I didn't see much sea life at all. The water is clear and sparkling though, which made it a pleasure. 

I haven't checked my time but I think I did the 3km in just over an hour. It didn't feel at all hard but maybe that is because there wasn't any swell or waves to negotiate. There was a current we all had to swim against at one stage of the swim but it wasn't that bad and I handled it.

Afterwards, some people said the course was longer than 3km. 

Even though this is the second year of the annual Great Barrier Reef Swim, this was the first time swimmers circumnavigated the island. Last year the strong current made it way too dangerous to attempt. 

I've blathered on too much so I will have to talk about sharks, rays and bird poo in my next post. 

This weekend the Dawny swim is on in Balmain, Sydney. For me, this signals the start of the open water/ocean swimming season. 

Hoo roo!   


1 comment:

Деян Кривошеенко said...

Ocean Swims was created to bring together and promote all of our beautiful
ocean swims in our awesome state of Queensland. We hope you find our
website helpful. We love swimming, just like you!
The Queensland Ocean Swims Team