Sunday, 16 December 2012

Manly Blue Dolphins Ocean Swim: the morning after the night before

The second wave of the 1km swim at Shelly Beach.
Fragile. I'd gone out with Ms Fivestar for a Christmas slap-up on Saturday night. I swore on the Good Book that I would behave and not over imbibe.

Who was I kidding? Moi.

Ms Fivestar's partner, Mr Cuddly, is a pushover. He drove us to the restaurant in Glebe and back home again from the wine bar in Glebe. I had totally forgotten about my promise not to drink more than two glasses of wine. I had pretty much forgotten my name and what day it was by the time Cuddles poured me out of his car at my front door around midnight. 

This morning I blamed Ms Fivestar for my cotton-wool head and sandpaper mouth. She is a bad influence and I will never ever allow her to force me to drink again.

Fragile. I shook my head and my brain rattled. Dice in a cup.

My tummy felt soft and queasy. In no mood for a 2km swim at Manly.

Ate two organic Weetbix with lots of sugar and full cream milk. Drank one cup of old people's coffee (Nescafe) with milk and sugar. Swallowed two Panadol and a mega Vitamin B. Guzzled 1 litre of water. 

The heat. The sun scorched my bruised eyeballs. Sucked the life out of my shrivelled cerebral cortex. Drove shakily to Manly and parked in my secret spot.

Sunglasses on, I walked gingerly down to the beach - without moving my head. Still not better. Even worse when I saw the friggin' surf pummelling the sand like a beast.

One of the club officials at the registration desk at Manly Lifesaving Club told me the 2km swim course had been changed. The swim would now start at Shelly Beach and end there too. I could have kissed the sand. Thank you great spirit in the sky.

This has happened for, like, three consecutive years at the Cole Classic, which is held in the first weekend of February. I can't remember if it happened at the Manly LSC Blue Dolphins swim last year. I wrote this swim up last year but haven't revisited my report. I hate reading my old writing.

Gorgeous day. I strolled along the coastal path from the wildebeast surf at South Steyne to the calm cove that is Shelly Beach, though on the way I noticed frisky conditions at Cabbage Tree Bay. A roiling swell and waves smashing into the sea wall at Fairy Bower.

About 200 punters were ready to go off for the 1km swim when I arrived. It should have started at 9.30am but ran late.

Shelly Beach is another of Sydney's magical protected beaches, and a marine reserve. Here's a link to Wikipedia that has a good description of the beach's location. I didn't realise Shelly is the only inland facing beach in Australia.

After the 1km punters headed off I went in for a "warm up". The cold water (around 20 degrees) jolted my system into wakefulness. A light switch flicked on in my head.

I chatted with a couple who frolicked alongside me - they weren't competing, just enjoying the day. Turns out their daughter won a bronze medal at the 2012 London Paralympic Games in cycling. Her name is Alexandra Green. Here's the link to her website. Her home page is a pic of the ocean pool at Fairy Bower.

I'm not sure if the 2km swim started later than the designated 10.30am. But there were long waits between the waves. Finally, us old codgers ran in. The last wave.

Invigorating. Out to the first two yellow cans - swim through those. No worries. Then a bit of 'lift and look' to find the next can way towards the middle of Manly. I swam a bit too wide.

I thought that this far into the swim (around 1km) I'd feel buggered but my stamina held up and I ploughed around another buoy and turned back towards Shelly. My breathing felt good and I tried to focus on staying relaxed - that sounds pretty tense, doesn't it?

I powered past some of the swimmers in the younger cohort - my group wore orange caps, the younger ones wore red and the even younger ones yellow. It always feels good to pass someone younger. Maybe that helped me maintain a strong solid pace. Who knows? It's a mystery.

Swimming back into Fairy Bower, the swell kicked in. I veered too close to the sea wall and got rocked about. Then another bloke in an orange cap snuck up beside me. The bastard. He started pacing himself against me. I tried to pull away but he went with me.

This backfired on both of us because we came in to the beach way too close to the wall. The swell knocked us around and slowed us down. Then the bloody old codger sprinted out of the water and across the line before me.

Old blokes have a hide. And it's not pretty.

A good swim. Pink lady apples for all at the end, but no water. That's not a problem because bottled water is an environmental hazard.

Rating out of 10: 8

Any gripes? If you check out the blob at the dissatisfied customers are out in force. I had pre-registered for the swim so I picked up my cap and ankle timer without having to queue with those who registered and paid on the day. The room was crowded but I sauntered in and out. No worries.  I am special. I am queen of my own imagination.

Also, people complained about the bloke with the loud hailer on the beach, who issued the instructions before the swim. They said they couldn't hear him. Seriously, if ocean swimming has taught me one thing it's to hustle your way to the front if you want to get the gist of it. That's what I did - got in noice and tight so I could hear every word. Give the poor man a break; it's almost Christmas and he's not getting paid to do this job.
PS: Mr Very Big pretends he doesn't read my blog but I know he occasionally has a peek. I beat him again. But I must clarify this - he did both swims. I only did the 2km. But I still beat him.

PPS: Does drinking alcohol (including a mango Bellini, Andrew Thomas Semillon and Amaretto on ice) the night before help one to swim faster the morning after? I might have to start experimenting with this theory.

PPPS: The conditions were murky near the beach and the only marine life I saw were squid during my warm up. No sharks, though Mr Very Big thought he saw a turtle. I thought he was pulling my leg but I just googled 'turtles at Fairy Bower'. And they have been seen in the area. Amazing!


Richard said...

I was disappointed they changed the 2k course to an easy swim around the bay. A highlight for me the last couple years has been pushing out into big surf from Manly beach and the long swim out to the first buoy.
Hey by the way no need to go into your archives for last year's swim report. I can tell you wrote you taking a long detour off course to a bommie not on the map to check out some baby sharks. Looks like your navigation is better when you are hung over.

Shayne said...

Thanks Richard! Yeah, I agree. They're really playing it safe at Manly.

Maybe I would have done well in the big surf!

See you in January. Are you doing Newport or Blackhead? Will post on your FB page if I don't hear back because why on earth would you return...