Sunday, 6 January 2013
My first official swim in 2013: Newport Beach Pool to Peak
This will have to stop - the writing about it, not the drinking.
As it turns out, I only indulged in a minor tipple last night - I wouldn't have drunk anything if Spanner wasn't such a lush. He insisted on opening a bottle of champagne I was saving for a special occasion, such as ...? Ah, just drink it.
Like yesterday, today was and still is the most beautiful day. A day for embracing everything that's good about life.
However, let me preface this by reporting that I do have a summer head cold (my excuse for not swimming faster today).
Like the majority of ocean swims, Newport's Pool to Peak has two events on offer that allow punters to compete in both. Enter online, and you get a discount if you do the two.
I only entered the 2km at 10am. The 800 metre swim started at 9am and I didn't want to rush to the beach, leap in the water and get anxious before the second event - it's what I tend to do.
I wish I didn't get so hyped up but, as my mother used to say, "you're such a drama queen".
I arrived at Newport, a 1.3 kilometre stretch of sand that faces due east, around 9.15am. At the southern end is a headland and rock platform that has a lovely lap pool. Apparently, this is where Max Dupain took many of his famous photos of Australians at the beach. In the other direction is the northern headland, aka The Peak.
I wasn't worried about sharks, though they've been in the headlines lately.
There have been numerous shark sightings on the northern beaches.
Recent shark encounters: A shark left a nice arc of teeth marks on a surfer's board at Dee Why, and way up the coast at Port Macquarie a surfer lost a bit of his finger when a shark mistook if for a fish finger. I can't tell jokes.
I found this story on shark myths; you might find it interesting. It also refers to the recent incidents: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/dont-get-bitten-by-a-shark-myth/story-e6freuy9-1226548060374
The Hiss went to Manly with her girlfriends (and a couple of dorky boys) last week and had to get out of the water after a shark alarm went off. How quintessentially Sydney is that?
Even funnier was the Hiss's recounting of her friend snogging one of the boys in broad daylight. The Hiss, a huge fan of the recent TV series Puberty Blues, found this scarier than the thought of swimming in shark-infested waters.
I'm getting distracted. Back to today. The bloke on the PA assured punters there were "no visitors" loitering offshore and it was perfectly safe to go in the water.
Mmm, that's what they said at Amity beach. And talking about Amity, one of the TV networks has programmed Jaws for this week. It gets a re-run once a year and always in summer.
The good things about this swim:
1. The first good thing was pointed out by one of my swim squad friends The Lawmaker (he's a solicitor). As we watched the wave of swimmers in the age group before ours head into the surf - many of them walking and generally chilling out - he noted that there is more of a relaxed attitude to ocean swimming on the northern beaches compared to the eastern suburbs.
His view is the eastern suburbs swims are more competitive and aggressive, whereas the northern beaches swims are more laid-back. Up north it's not so much about the winning but more about the experience.
I'm sort of leaning towards his argument (after all, he is a solicitor) though the eastern suburbs swims always attract way more entrants which, in turn, creates more turbulence in the water, especially at the start. In that respect, there's definitely more testosterone action in the east.
Also, this swim, and Bilgola before it, fall on either side of Christmas. Everyone is in a holiday mood. Wait until tomorrow when lots of Sydneysiders head back to work.
2. Like last year, today's conditions were perfect. A south-running current was a minor issue getting out through the surf. It was a little wavy out the back of the break (which was barely there) but not a tad on Bilgola or Bondi to Bronte late last year.
3. I am so pleased that surf life saving clubs are clearly marking their courses. This one had just enough buoys to make it a comfortable event for me. Even though I swam too wide of the buoys, I could always see the next buoy on the horizon. Thanks Newport!
4. The fruit. Harris Farm gets a plug for this. They supplied watermelon, oranges, bananas, nectarines and grapes. I was also pleased to see cups of water rather than bottles. Next year it would be good if they were paper cups and not plastic.
Score out of 10: 9
Gripe 1: After the swim, the man with the microphone said we would only have to wait 10 minutes until the presentation. I thought, "I'll stay if it's only ten minutes away." Around 40 minutes later (well after the last swimmer had finished) still no presentation. I left.
Gripe 2: Bronwyn Bishop. Don't you northern beaches people have any minor celebrities up there who know how to use a starter gun?