Saturday, 26 January 2013

The Great Sydney Swim 2013 on Australia Day: closing in on the boofy blokes and the great diet challenge

After The Great Sydney Swim in Sydney Harbour Mr Mild Mannered, Mr Very Big and I went for a coffee at a cafe in The Rocks, which featured a display of cakes and pastries in the window.

Over two apple strudels - Mr Very Big had ice cream with his - the two revealed they'd recently been dieting. Is that irony?

They also discovered, having scoffed down the calorie-laden pastries quicker than my dog can lick clean a 350g yoghurt container, they were almost the same weight.

Mr VB is 105 kilograms and Mr MM 106 (it might be zee other way round but vhat iz a kilo between strudels?).

Mr Very Big then had a bright idea - he and Mr Mild Mannered would make a bet to see who could get to his goal weight first and the loser (and this was my bright idea) would take the winner and his spouse out to dinner at a nice restaurant. The details of the challenge have yet to be confirmed.

Turn the clock back to the end of the swim - a 2.2km hike from the Man O War Steps at the Opera House and back.

Usually Mr MM leaves Mr VB and me in his wake. He's a powerful graceful swimmer.

But today something strange happened. As I finished the swim and queued to climb up one of the two ladders to get back on to the pontoon, I noticed Mr MM just ahead of me. I couldn't believe it. What was he doing there? He usually cruises past me like a sleek ocean liner overtaking a rust-bucket fishing trawler.

Mr VB was just as shocked. He finished 9 seconds ahead of Mr MM.

Mr MM made excuses for this anomaly. But at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what went wrong in the water.

There was not a lot of seconds between the three of us. For once we were almost equals. I finished 16 seconds behind Mr VB and 7 seconds after Mr MM.

I got the feeling Mr MM wasn't too comfortable when Mr VB likened us to a tight little triangle! God, it's a hoot.

This year the main swim attracted 517 participants. Again, women are under represented at 179.

The day was beautiful and the Sydney Opera House shone like mother of pearl in the morning sun. Major excavations are taking place to build an underground loading dock but The House rose above the construction site, solid and serene.

My friends and I parked ourselves under a shady tree before the start and all was well with what is usually a very messy world.

Back left: Mr MM and Mr VB. All bets are on.

The swim requires punters to jump into the harbour for a water start. I've done this same course on many occasions (it's also run in March by a different organisation) so I'm used to putting myself out there as shark bait.

Still, it can be unnerving when you consider that last year around 17 tagged bullsharks were roaming around the harbour on Australia Day. Better not to think about it. BLOCK IT OUT. DENIAL.

Today, the organisers decided to lump the 40+ age group of men and women in together. The water churned and boiled with swimmers. I had no time to think about ravenous indiscriminate bull sharks because I was so worried about getting kicked in the head by a testosterone-fuelled bloke in budgy smugglers.

At the starter horn the biffo ensued, as I knew it would. A couple of hundred swimmers thundered across to Mrs Macquarie's Chair in Farm Cove and seemed to arrive at the first can at the same time. I got thumped a couple of times. I shut my mouth around every can to save my teeth.

During the swim I found the time to look back over my shoulder at the Harbour Bridge, flags stiff in the breeze, and those sexy flying nuns pissing in the harbour.

After the first can, we bolted up to the end of Farm Cove, where we hung a right and swam across to another can to take another right.

I first spotted Mr VB after passing the OpenAir Cinema Screen. He paced me and threw out that charming Irish smile I'd sometimes like to wipe off his mug. But not today. I handled the pressure well and had no trouble sticking with him.

I only lost him near the end when I went off course (the usual) and, as Mr VB said, "started swimming towards Kirribilli". Goodness knows what I might have achieved had I stayed on course.

I might have walloped Mr MM - that's a satisfying thought.

Score out of 10: 7.5
Each participant got a goody bag that included a towel and a pair of thongs/flip flops. I love free stuff. The water was served in paper cups - a big pat on the back to organisers for that. 

Any gripes: 1. Four portable loos for around 800 swimmers (there were two shorter events that boosted numbers). It doesn't work. I got in and out before they deteriorated into a major health hazard.

2. See complaint (in main story) about chucking everyone aged 40 and over in together at the start.

3. Some punters complained about the placement of the buoys/cans - apparently some missed the final can, which significantly shortened the swim.

4. We got the goody bags so there's no use complaining about a lack of fruit!

5. The commentator with the sand-paper voice did my head in. I bet he's the loudest bloke at the barbecue after a few cold ones. And he kept calling everyone "buddy". Whatever happened to good old "mate"? Americans say buddy and we say mate. I think I'll have to dedicate a post to this word creeping into the vernacular. It's bad enough that 4WDs have become SUVs and mobiles have turned into cell phones. RANT RANT RANT.

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