Monday, 25 March 2013

I bin away so long: weather and demented middle age take their toll on my season swims' tally

Another perfect beach. This time it's Caves Beach.
It all started, or should I say ended, on February 24 when the Bondi swim was postponed because of crazy weather and massive swells along the eastern seabord.

A week later on March 3 the Freshwater swim was put on hold, again because of lousy weather contributing to rip-laden surf conditions at around 22 Sydney beaches.

I lost my way during this swimless period, figuratively and literally, when Ms Fivestar and I thought it would be a fine idea to cruise up the coast to my first swim in two weeks on March 10.

The Caves Beach swim, near Lake Macquarie, had been postponed weeks earlier due to inclement conditions. This was the organisers' second attempt to get it right, and they were on to a winner. It was a beautiful day. 

I got to Ms Fivestar's place in Sydney's inner-west a little after 7.30am, cock sure we'd make Caves Beach well before 10am. It's supposed to take one hour and 40 minutes to get there. Like NOT.

The problems started when we turned on to the F3 at Hornsby and decided to find our own way to Caves Beach without the assistance of the GPS. My GPS has a chick's voice, and she tends to interrupt the conversation with inane comments about speed limits, road conditions, traffic hold-ups and the like. She's a bit like an annoying friend who's always butting in.

And because Ms Fivestar and I both think we know everything about everything we resent being told where to go by a disembodied voice.

That was our first mistake. The second was that I called Spanner and asked him where we should turn off. He should know because he and The Hiss often head to Belmont to sail on Lake Macquarie.

He told us to use the GPS.  Yeah, whatever.

His second suggestion was to look out for the sign: Lake Macquarie East. We zoomed past the Lake Macquarie West sign but by then we were heading for bloody Brisbane.

By the time we got back on track, after turning on the car GPS and Ms Fivestar's phone's GPS, it was around 15 minutes before the swim. We arrived at the beach at 9.59am, just before the 10am start.

I ran from the car and Ms Fivestar moved to the driver's seat. Once on the beach I could see orange buoys in the far distance. READ: FAR DISTANCE.

I approached a friendly surf life saver. We were on the wrong beach and needed to head further south. I scuttled back to the car and Ms Fivestar hit the gas. It was after 10am. I wasn't sure how many waves (starting groups, usually grouped by age) there would be so thought I might still be able to make it.

We arrived at the beach - Caves Beach - and I ran on to the sand holding on to my goggles while Ms Fivestar went to find a park.

Swimmers negotiating the shallows to get to the finish line.

But something was amiss. I could see the finish line but not the start. Another friendly surf life saver informed me the swim started further south beyond the breakwater. 

Despair and resignation mingled in my deflated heart. Too late, too late. Moan. Inner sob. Mea culpa.

I watched with longing and envy as the swim's participants negotiated their way through the shallows towards the finish line after having completed the 1.5km swim.

Not fair. Not fair. Not fair.

Then I got over myself.  

In the end, it wasn't all bad. Ms Fivestar and I had a leisurely swim in clear, 21 degree water and I got the chance to have fun in the surf without the pressure of having to 'compete'.

Afterwards, we bought a counter lunch at the Caves Beachside Hotel, an attractive steel, glass and corrugated iron structure that overlooks the beach.

Another week passed and I missed the Balmoral Beach 1km swim on March 17. This time my decision not to swim was intentional. The money raised from entries to this swim goes to a good cause - children's cancer research - but I've done the swim before and it's too much like hard work.

Too many swimmers confined to a teensy part of Balmoral makes for an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situation. This is a harbour beach and so attracts all level of swimmer.

I find it's too crowded and too stressful. I worry about getting kicked and punched by fellow swimmers caught in the melee at the start and around the turning buoys.

And don't get me started about finding a car parking space that's not miles away- all of it up steep hills - from the beach. I heard that 1200 people participated in the swim. 

On that same day, the 9km Dee Why swim was cancelled - the 2012/13 swim season's contrary weather and its impact on the ocean has caused big headaches for swim organisers.

I'll write about North Steyne in my next post as this one is already too long.


Richard said...

Writing whims NO ocean swims. Another chapter about not swimming.

Shayne said...

Go back to your own blog!