My next swim………..Caves

Now that I had completed my first swim it was time to look at doing another swim. The best place to find out about ocean swims was oceanswims.com which was a website listing details of all the swims in Sydney and surrounds, and also let you enter them. I saw that there were not many swims in Newcastle, and I did not feel ready for a trip to the big smoke to swim against the hot guns there. There were three swims left in Newcastle: the Harbour swim on Australia Day over 1.4 km; the Cross the Lake swim a 3.8 km epic that had been running since Menzies was prime minister; and a 1.5 km swim at Caves Beach in March.

I knew I was not up to a 3.8 km swim, and did not feel like swimming in Newcastle Harbour which had a reputation for pollution. So that left the Caves Beach swim. I had grown up on this beach so I was very comfortable with the prospect of competing there. I knew that the beach was protected from southerly swells by a breakwater built by a dreamer to load coal for export to Japan. This dream never eventuated and it was now used by fishermen. There was also a couple of reefs which moderated any NE swell.

I decided to up my training schedule and for a few months swam in the pool four times a week.

The day of the swim arrived. It was sunny and warm and only a small swell running. I registered, said hi to some work colleagues who were on water safety and then walked down to the start line.

I was in the third wave with all the other males over 35. I looked around and thought some of these looked fit. I watched the earlier waves start and they were fast.

My turn to go. I entered the water and was happy that there was no swell to battle through. A large number of swimmers in my wave swam off and I was left in their wake. I knew that the course went near a reef and the swell direction would make it interesting crossing it, so I went wide. By the time I turned for home I felt fresh. I swam to the beach getting little assistance from the samll swell.

Now one of the features of Caves Beach is that a low tide it is a long way from the water’s edge to the surf club where the finish line was. And it was low tide. So then there was a run that seemed about 500m long to get to the finish.

I had finished. I grabbed some fruit and drinks pleased that I had completed my second swim. I had done a faster time (24.35), but of the 292 swimmers I had come 170th. I knew that if I wanted to get better results I had to lose some weight and get fitter.

My first season was over: two swims with a distance of 3.0 km. I was hooked, and I knew that I wanted to get better at this.

As part of my fitness drive I went on holiday to Europe and did a Camino walk in Spain covering 500 km on foot. I did swim in the Orkney Islands in late June. The water was 11 degrees, and my speedos provided little protection against the cold. I could not feel my feet after 10 seconds.

I also swam at Brighton in early July and the water was a lot warmer there, though the pebbles sure were hard on the feet. In both places I was the only person swimming.

What would be next on my swimming adventure?

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