North Bondi 12 February 2012

Back to North Bondi for their second swim of the season. As this was my home beach for surf training I was familiar with the landmarks. I had also swum at the race in January so I knew the course. However, you never know what conditions the ocean can bring. Race day was warm and sunny and Lake Bondi was at its most benign with a gentle one foot swell, warm water and no blue bottles. A great day for a swim. And there was a chance to win a trip to Hawaii to compete in the Waikiki Roughwater.

As this was our home beach the vast majority of our squad showed up for the races. It is always good to be competing with those who get up early and train with you in the pool year round. Once again I had entered both races, partly for the chance of winning the prize, but also to continue my development as a swimmer.

The one km race was a swim out to Ben Buckler and return. Their was no swell so the rip along the rocks would be of no use to get out the back today. I started next to my coach in my age group, and even managed to beat him to the first little swell (only because he fell over). But quite quickly he sprinted past me, along with what seemed half the wave. I wanted to swim hard, but I also wanted to hold some in reserve for the next race. But as always my competitive nature took over and I tried to keep up with those in front of me who were slightly faster.

On the way back to the beach I managed to yell hi to Ainslie from work who was on board rescue for this event. She had the honour of guiding an eighty year old lady for the last 30 yards into the beach.  Oh but back to my race. I swam ok and raced out of the water and over the finish line. Once again it was an effort to stay upright as I bent over to take off the timing chip. But the refreshments provided to the competitors in the form of fruit and water helped with the recovery. My time of just over 17 minutes was in the top third of the nearly 600 swimmers, and I was in the top third of my age group as well.

The longer race was on quite quickly afterwards. The question was whether I had enough energy left to swim well in this event after my races the previous weekend, and a week of hard training. I had an incentive though: Ainslie’s wave was about six minutes before mine, so that would give me someone to aim for.

This time I started towards the rear of the wave, and let others go ahead. As I rounded the first buoy I did feel tired, but I told myself that I had done the training and I should concentrate on my stroke. Luckily conditions today were suitable for me with hardly any chop to deal with. I had noticed that when I breathed on the left I pulled away from other swimmers, and when I breathed on the right I stayed with them. A pity I could not breathe left for longer.

I had no problems navigating as I had picked out landmarks behind each marker to aim for. Once again the organisers had arranged for a pink banner on a unit at North Bondi in line with the last turning buoy. As I turned that buoy I noticed a woman about twenty metres in front of me wearing the swimmers worn by Ainslie. Suddenly I had extra energy and in no time I had caught her, and it was Ainslie. I quickly past her on her left just to make sure she saw me.

By the time I had made it back to the beach without any assistance from the non-existent swell, I looked back and saw her well behind me. I crossed the line quietly pleased with my efforts. As she past the line I congratulated her on her swim and told her that she would have to think of days like this when she is in a grey dreary London later in the year.

My time of thirty-three minutes placed me in the top half of the field of 850 swimmers, and also in the top half of my age group. Once again I had done better overall in the shorter swim. But I realised that most of the better swimmers only did the longer swim, and I handicapped myself by doing the warm up race. Who knows what I could achieve after another year of training?

Went to the presentation with my wife and lots of others, only to find out that someone else won the trip to Hawaii. I suppose if I wanted to swim there I would have to get there myself.

Gentle surf sunny sky

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