North Bondi beach was the site for my 50th swim, after the swim at Caves Beach last weekend was postponed. This is the beach where our squad does a number of sessions in the surf, so I have become quite familiar with it. I have also undertaken this races a few times before, so I decided to only enter the 2 km event in order to savour my milestone.
The morning was a fantastic with a gentle breeze barely ruffling the surface of the water when I arrived just before the one km race was starting. There was a very gentle shore break, but a bit more of a swell out past the heads. I wished my fellow squad members well as they wandered off for the start of their first race of the day. I especially wanted the muppet to swim hard and push the reporter so that they would be fatigued for the longer swim later in the morning.
I enjoyed sitting in the sun watching the passing parade on the beach. I noticed there were lots of swimmers from a charity group here today. They wear their black and orange swimming costumes and swim together, as for a lot of them this is a big challenge. They also raise a lot of funds for charity, so well done to you all.
Before long those who had competed in the first race made their way back to our team tent. They all looked happy with their efforts. I continued to try to mess with some minds in a good-humoured way. After applying sun cream and making sure I had my cap goggles and timing chip, I wandered down towards the start line to do some warm ups.
I was in the wave with the male and female 40 to 49 years and there looked like about 250 as we waited patiently for the start. I stuck to the right hand side of the start line, and got an excellent start, soon swimming just behind some others at a good steady pace. Out to the first can off Ben Buckler and the water was so clear I could see the boulders on the bottom. Round the can, and we had already caught some swimmers from the previous wave that had started three minutes before ours. Turn right and head down towards MacKenzies Point with the NE swell gently pushing us along as we moved up and down. Lots of fun. I was happy with my pace, and concentrated on keeping the elbows high on the pull through as I passed slower swimmers. By this time some of the fast ones from the wave went past me like a dolphin chasing bait fish, and I admired their style as they went past.
Round the next can and I was amazed at the number of swimmers who seemed to appear from nowhere at this point. There is an art form to getting round the cans quickly: sometimes you go tight, sometimes wide, and sometimes dive under. It all depends on what those around you are doing.
Heading back towards the beach past Diggers pool and another right turn for the swim back to the finish. At this stage I changed to breathing on my left to keep the small swell away from my breathing side. I found once again that I could pass others more comfortably this way, but I have to learn to keep it up for longer.
One of the features of this swim is a pink banner on a unit at North Bondi which can be used as a guide to get back to the last turning can. By the time I turned at this can, I was getting tired, but I tried to focus on getting past slower ones ahead of me. It was easy to sight the finish line with the large banner on the clubhouse under construction. Once again for this swim there was little or no assistance from waves as I swam against the outgoing tide. I got to the water’s edge, and was surprised to find I had enough energy to run up to the finish line.
I had completed my 50th race. It was a gorgeous day, the surf was gentle, and I had swum well. My time was just over 34 minutes for the two km, which was not bad. I managed to beat the muppet and the reporter, though the fall guy had managed to beat me for the first time this season.
As I walked back to the tent I reflected on my achievements since my first swim. It was in late 2008 that I kicked off my ocean swimming with a race in my then home town of Newcastle. I can still remember that I wanted to stop after getting to the first can, but I finished. Since then I have done five swims in New York, and another 44 in and around Sydney. I have more confidence in the water, and have swum in some awful conditions. I have finished every race I have started, and made some good friends from around the world.
Now onto my next target of 100 swims.
We waited for the presentation as there was hope that one of us would win the prize of a trip to Hawaii for a race in September. A pity that a fellow Lane 7 did not wait as she could have been on the plane.
Just thought I would share a photo of people skiing on Coney Island Beach in New York after a snow storm. To think I was swimming there last summer.