Two views of Bongin Bongin Bay, by Mona Vale, two days apart: the first by Jeffrey Quinn (@frontrunnerlea on Instagram), the second by os.c staff snapper, Glistening Dave (@glistenrr).
- Autumn: The best time of the season
- Who ya gonna call?
- Online entries this weekend: Stanwell Park
- Cossies on sale
- Babewatch: Who are they?
- Mana Fiji SwimFest
- Mental Health Swimathon
- 2019 oceanswimsafaris
- Swims open to online entry
- Swim results
- List your swim group
- Back issues
- Controversy Corner
Swims this weekend...
- Sat, Mar 16 - Port Elliott (SA), Rotorua (NZ), Leighton-Rottnest (WA),
- Sun, Mar 17 - Stanwell Park e (NSW)
- Mon, Mar 18 - Auckland (NZ)
Meanwhile, in Cabbage Tree Bay, by Manly... the dusky whalers are back, although, really, they've probably been there all along, but earlymorningswimmers couldn't see them in summer water. This image by Fifi la Stupenda (@fifi_dob on Instagram)
Season's most silken phase
It’s the equinox next week. It’s a week away, but it’s relevant to us now. It’s the technical marker for the change of seasons, when the sun crosses the equator on its way north for the coming winter.
The equinox means we really are in autumn. Never mind what the meeja tells you as February turns into March. The first 20 days of March still are summer, according to the Earth. Days already are shorter, but – all those early, early morning swim groups will be entering the water in the dark; breezes tend more towards offshore; crowds thin; skies and water clarify; dusky whalers are evident again in Cabbage Tree Bay. They’ve been there all along, no doubt, but swimmers report seeing them again, now the water is clearer. There’s a crispness creeping into the morning air. Some people think the season’s over. They’ve closed up half the house; sheets over the Chesterfields. But, in NSW, at least, the water remains warm, in the early 20sC, and will be till May or June, maybe even July.
The season ain’t over, see. Time was, the bulk of ocean swimmers regarded season’s end as the end of February. Time was, 20-30 year ago, that there was very little on offer after February. But as the caper has grown, the season has extended, forwards and backwards, as new events seek water, and even some established events seek more propitious dates. We now have a full calendar prior to Xmas in NSW, where the season for formal swims starts at the end of October. Queensland has a few swims throughout winter, of course, because it’s oop north, and warmer, and conditions are better than perhaps they are over summer. That said, there are two events on in S-E Queensland over coming months – Redcliffe and Noosa -- both of which are appealing (see below).
NZ has plenty prior to Xmas, and there remain another eight events on offer through March and April. One of our fave events of the entire season is March 24, on the Coromandel peninsula, the Cathedral Cove swim. We’ll have a peloton of 18 there for this swim as part of our oceanswimsafari to the Coromandel peninsula.
Elsewhere, the joints are quieting. There are another three events to come in Victoria, one in Tassie, three in South Australia – but, like Tasmania, they’ll be done by Sat’dee week – and four in the West running through Easter. As with many Queensland events, Darwin runs in winter when water conditions are more favourable: Fannie Bay is on June 23.
Disquieting image from Cabbage Tree Bay by Annew Henshaw (@annehenshaw on Instagram), of a shark with fish hook embedded in the pectoral fin. Cabbage Tree Bay is supposed to be a marine reserve, but there's nothing stopping the locals from venturing out.
In NSW, April will be the busiest month in terms of numbers of events. There remain 19 events on our books leading up to the Solstice swim at Mona Vale on June 16. In April alone, there are 14 events scheduled.
Those swims generally are not as large in terms of numbers of punters running into the water, but Coogee around Wedding Cake Island pulls over 1,000 on a good day. We reckon Coogee’s April Wedding Cake swim is a much better one than the November iteration because of the possibility of those wonderful autumn conditions. We also reckon that one of the best swims that you can do anywhere, anytime, around the world, is an informal schlepp around Wedding Cake in late autumn-winter, on one of those glorious sunny Sundees with clear skies, gentle breeze, and the sun warming the back. Sydney has those days in winter. Some winter days, you can walk around without a shirt on, so balmy is the weather. And on those informal Wedding Cake swims, in clear water with smooth seas, you can swim as close to the island as you like, unlike formal swim days where the mob is kept to sea by the marker booees.
So, there is lots on. Here are some of our highlights. (We list these with trepidation: if a swim is not listed here, then someone, particularly awgies, will get their noses out of joint. We’re sorry for that, but some swims do stand out. It’s a matter of courses and likely sea conditions, not a measure of awgies’ efforts.)
You may notice that this list, below, is slanted heavily towards country swims. That’s partly because there are lots of country swims on at this time of year, but also because country swims offer something exotice. They also tend to be journey swims rather than circuits, and we’ve long favoured journeys. One swim, in particular – North Steyne on March 31 – combines journey with circuit; it’s a circuit that is a journey, which means, logistically, awgies don’t need to operate two bases at the start and the finish. But the circuit course takes the mob way, away from the beach, through some of the prettiest water in Strã’a.
We offer this list partly also to those who do regard the season as finished, as a guide to highlights that will show them what a triffic time of the year this is in which to swim.
We all swim together in Cabbage Tree Bay (image by @fifi-dob)
Here’s our list of highlights, chronologically, so you can plan your autumn –
March 17 – Stanwell Park – The Big Swim of the South, returns this season after an hiatus of two years (awgie burnout). This is one of the most spectacular journeys you will ever do, provided you can breathe left, to appreciate the grandeur of the Illawarra Escarpment towering over you as you head north from Coalcliff to Stanwell Park.
March 24 – Cathedral Cove – This NZ swim is another of the prettiest, most spectacular courses that we’ve ever done, also with hills towering above you as you head north from the beach at Hahei to Cathedral Cove, to run through the arch, then head back to Hahei. Or walk through the bush to the cove, then just swim back. It reminds us of the Costa Brava. We’re taking a mob of 18 to Cathedral Cove this year.
March 31 – North Steyne – North Steyne is a journey circuit: it runs from North Steyne surf club across the ocean to Cabbage Tree Bay and return. A stunning city swim.
April 6 – Redcliffe, Auckland - In Queensland, Redcliffe is the first formal swim run by the Grimsey Brothers, English Channel record holder Trent, and Codie. Three distances offered, but the significance also is that it’s a swim run in Brisbane. We're pleased to be sponsoring this swim, too: there's a prize to the Mana Fiji SwimFest up to a random draw of all entrants. In Auckland, the harbour swim this year follows a course underneath the bridge. It should be spectacular.
April 7 – Balmoral, Shellharbour – Balmoral is a flatwater harbour swim in Sydney, but it's a pretty beach surrounded by Sydney's ritziest suburbs, and it offers a flat 5km, too. Shellharbour is a short swim (1.2km) on the NSW near south coast, but it’s a beautiful swim, out through the boat harbour and along the rock shelf into the Shellharbour beach, with mini-reefs and sea life all the way. Easy drive from Sydney, too.
April 13 – Mollymook – A bit farther down the coast and a week later, this season, Mollymook is a stunning beach with good water. Main swim runs from one end of the beach to the other. A great example of a country swim in autumn.
April 14 – Avalon, Coogee, Forster – We list them alphabetically to avoid arguments. Some will wonder at Avalon permanently shifting their date from January to mid-April, and with combining their initially two swim dates into one. Avalon is always a beautiful city beach, and the addition of the Around the Bends swim, from Newport, past Bilgola into Avalon, offers an adventure journey. It’s a wonderful course. Coogee is, well… see above. Wedding Cake in autumn. Wow! But the Club to Club at Forster, too: there’s a growing interest in longer swims and, whilst this one presents itself as 3.8km, it’s really more like 4.2. The course from One Mile Beach, around Bennetts Head into Forster Main Beach offers the chance of all kinds of sea life. We know the water at Forster reasonably well these days, and in autum-early winter, it’s at its best.
Fifi_dob is an artist. But you can tell that.
April 20 – Nowra Culburra – One of the great, stunning autumn country swims. Culburra is a famous beach, but rarely visited by city folk. But it’s everything you want in an exotic, country weekend. It’s 1.9km around Tilbury Headland. The water en route is dotted with reefs and swirls and sea life. It’s a beautiful swim.
April 21 – Pacific Palms, Auckland, Denmark– One of those glorious north-facing beaches on the North Coast. Easter Sundee, it’s an easy day out from Sydney, because the traffic going away is finished, and the traffic coming home hasn’t started yet. It’s a bushland swim, in generally crystalline water. In Auckland, the Central Masters end their season with their 10km swim from the eastern bays around Browns Island and back. Denmark? Long way to go for a swim, eh. We fancy swims in remote, country locations, and Denmark, near the sou'-western tip of Wessna-Strã'a, has always sounded and looked remote, country, and exotic, and we'd love to do that swim one day. You can bundle it in over the Easter weekend with Albany, just along the coast.
April 29 – Bondi, Caves Beach, South Curl Curl – The rescheduled Bondi swim runs again, and with all the cancellations and truncations at Bondi this season, this may be your one chance to get in a proper Bondi swim. Caves, up near Newcastle, is our alma mater: 1.6km along the course of the reef from the foot of the Spoon Rocks breakwall into Caves, cliffs and bush-covered hills along the way. We love it. We expect South Curl Curl-Freshwater to run this day, too. We're awaiting confirmation from the awgies.
May 5 – Byron Bay – The State of Origin of ocean swimming. More a weekend than a one-day event.
May 19 – South Head – Not for everyone, 11km from Bondi into Sydney Harbour. Once you’re out, you’re committed.
May 26 – Noosa – Some might say that if you want a Noosa holiday, just go shopping in Double Bay. But Noosa remains one of the most stunning collection of beaches in a National Park on the Strã’an coast. Nowadays, then swims start and finish on Noosa Main Beach, but the long event (3.8km) at least takes you out to Ti Tree Bay, although you get to sample the National Park only from the water.
June 16 – Mona Vale Solstice – Near the official start of winter (June 21, the winter solstice), it’s more often than not a clear, crisp day on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, with water still around the early 20sC.
That should do you for a while.
Your own emergency
We continue to be amazed at how many swimmers enter swims online, and list themselves as their emergency contact. Do they wonder, if they did get caught up in an emergency at sea, who ya gonna call?
Big Swim of the South
Its back: The Big Swim of the South, as the founding awgies liked to call it, along the escarpment from Coalcliff to Stanwell Park. Not this weekend, but prepare for the following Sundee, March 17. This is one of the most spectacular swims you will ever do, particularly if you breathe left, or bilaterally, with the Illawarra Escarpment towering above you. It's a pretty swim, too, with patches of reef and their inhabitants dotting the 2.3km course.
It's also a real ocean swim: both Coalcliff and Stanwell Park are exposed beaches. You will have the swell, if there is any, rolling through you all the way, gently rocking you into a cloud of bliss. Just remember to keep heading towards Bald Hill, off which hang gliders fling themselves with abandon. It's a multi-dimensional place.
Online entries to the Stanwell Park Ocean Challenge close on oceanswims.com at 3pm on Saturday, March 16... Click here
The Copeton Waters swim, scheduled for next weekend, will not run this season, according to the event website, due to "climatic conditions". This means, we're told, there's only 12 per cent water in the lake, and that ain't enough to run the swim.
The website says the swim will be back in 2020.
Solace: Our latest discovery
Our latest discovery gog: the View Solace. The Solace has been around for a year or two, but we've paid proper attention to them only with the ending of the Fully Sick line, which we'd worn for years. We tried the Solace when looking for a replacement.
What we found was a goggle with wide, comfy silicone seal, very wide breadth of vision, clear lens, and good sun protection and filter. Then we realised the price: one of the best gogs we've ever worn, and for $20!
Be aware, we've had a lot of orders for Solace gogs. They won't last at this special price.
Check them out, and all our gogs, accessories, goos, cossies, etc, and order now... Click here
Stocks of our oceanswims cossies are running down. We have only two sizes remaining available in the Gents' cossies (28 and 30), although we have all sizes available in the Laydees' cossies except 10.
To celebrate, we've reduced the cost of the Gents' cossies to only $40. Laydees cossies also have been reduced, now to $75.
Get them now, as they say, whilst stocks last.
We also offer View, the world's best, and best value gogs and swim accessories. We've been using View for years. In fact, we were using View well before they approached us to work with them. That's why we can say how good they are.
Now, with our new shopping cart, you can browse all that we have to offer - View gogs and accessories, oceanswims.com cossies, tow floats, and Cecily's Stinger Suits. Ordering and paying by secure server uses the same process as our online entries, which means it's tried, proven, safe and reliable.
To browse our ocean swimming boutique... Click here
But who are they?
Over the past eight years, we've become used to seeing the peloton from Babewatch flitting around the beach. Founded in 2011 by the Brothers Goswell (James and Alex), Babewatch started out as a bit of a lark amongst a bunch of lads with Babewatvh scrawled in pink sunscreen across their backs. But it morphed quickly into a self-managed youth group offering direction and swim training while they raised money for charities. The sunscreen scrawl has now become their moniker. While the Goswells have moved on (that happens as you age - James is at business school in 'mer'ca, while Alex still swims on our circuit), Babewatch was taken up by a fresh crowd and continues to do good for young people, both members and non-members, in one way or another.
We offered Babewatch space to tell us what they're about. We hope this will be the first of a series of columns by Babewatch...
Babewatch was founded in 2011 by two brothers and their friends. The team was created with two goals in mind:
- increase youth participation in the sport of ocean swimming; and
- increase youth participation in community events, including fundraising.
Babewatch started back up in 2017 by four friends who were involved in the original group. Babewatch is a group of young adults aged 18 – 35 who create a community which promotes healthy bodies and minds through a connection with the ocean.
Babewatch allows individuals to thrive and celebrates a culture of openness and vulnerability. We achieve this through organised swims, discussion groups, social events and fundraising.
We are based in Manly and swim every Tuesday and Friday Morning with the Bold & the Beautiful at 7am and then on Sundays we swim at 9am. We meet near the third tree from the SLSC or just look out for the bright pink swimmers… they are hard to miss.
We wish to reduce social isolation and promote a friendly, inclusive and supportive community. SO, this season we are partnering with One Eighty, a suicide prevention charity founded in Avalon. One Eighty are a Mental Health charity run by young adults for young adults! The organisation’s primary activity is to fund, develop and implement local projects that equip young adults with skills in mental health care. They undertake initiatives including educational programs, mentoring support, and life-skills training. Our fundraising will be used by One Eighty to further help young adults on the Northern Beaches and beyond!!
On Sunday, April 7, head down to Manly and support the Babewatch Crew as we swim as many kilometres as possible in 6 hours! Everyone is welcome to jump in and swim with us. Other initatives will also be occurring throughout the day.
Keep up to date by liking us on facebook @babewatch and following us on Instagram @babewatchcrew or check out our website for more information.
Cya at the beach soon!
Don't be confused
We have our packages online now for the Mana Fiji SwimFest, this year from October 15-20. But don't be confused by another swim event happening in Fiji over the southern winter; There are major differences between the two.
Which event you prefer depends on what you're looking for in a Fiji swim experience.
In the "other" event, you're based on the mainland in a busy resort and bussed or ferried out to swim venues each day. You can swim off the beach at your resort, but it's estuarine water... Not like it is on the reef. You stay at busy, ritzy resorts on the mainland, but that ain't the same as staying right on the reef.
In the Mana Fiji SwimFest, you're based on the island, next to the reef, and life is quiet, slow. You're right at the swim location. No diesel fumes or crowded buses from dail;y commutes. And the water! It's correct that, the farther out you go from the mainland, the better the water, and Mana Island has some of the best water in Fiji. And you won't see the sea life that you see off Mana at your busy resort on the mainland, or even in the daily swim locations.
We reckon there really is no comparison. But we would say that. We say it also because we know the difference between the two.
Look for Mana Fiji
In the Mana Fiji SwimFest, there are two swim days: the 10km (solos or 3x3.3km relays) on Thursday, and 5km, 2.5km, and 1km on Saturday. Packages include accommdoation, all meals on Mana Island, ferry transfers and swim entry packages for both swim days. They also include a 30 per cent discount off Mana Island Resort's normal nett rates until July 31.
Plus a whole lot of other fun in Ocean Swimming Stadium, the best spot in the Pacific for an ocean swim (see pic above).
Packages start at $A1,909 pp Twin/Double share and $A2,772 single.
Add the Yasawas on to your visit to the Mana Fiji SwimFest Oct 15-20... Click here
More info... Click here
To book... Click here
Next weekend, Head Above Water is running a swimathon in the Collaroy rock pool to raise funds for mental health programs, this time in support of Gotcha4Life, a locally based mental health foundation. The Swimathon runs from 9am Saturday, March 16, through 9am Sunday, March 17. $30 to take part, and you can nominate the time you'd like to swim over that 24 hour period on their website.
Our Head Above Water 24 Hour Swimathon is just that. A 24-hour swimming event held at the Collaroy Rockpool, starting at 9am* on Saturday, March 16th and finishing at 9am on Sunday, March 17th, 2019.
Swimmers pay an entry fee by registering on our website, headabovewater.com.au and booking their preferred swim time. There will be 4 lanes to cater for all levels of swimming ability. People can choose to swim as few or as many laps as they like, as long as it falls within their allotted time slot.
The registered swimmer can then go on to raise money via their own sponsor page or form a team to raise even more money.
The event will be manned for the duration by a team of professionals who will marshal swimmers in and out of the pool. There will also be an onsite MC to maintain the energy and positivity of the day, as well as catering, merchandise, music and of course, safety, medical and security officials.
Find out more and sign up... Click here
The start of the swim around Isla Santa Clara, in the Basque country.
Food and wine, and swimming in the Basque country - San Sebastián (Spain, Aug 21-27, 2019 - bookings open soon) - This oceanswimsafari just keeps getting better and better: we have a week in San Sebastián, one of Europe's most interesting cities, culminating in the swim around the Isla Santa Clara. In 2019, we're adding a day's excursion into French Basque country, too. Packages online now... Click here
Wild swimming, food, adventure, history, and culcha on the Costa Brava - (Spain, Sep 6-14, 2019 - bookings open soon) - One of our most popular oceanswimsafaris, along Catalonia's "wild coast", where the water, the swimming, the food, the wine, the history and the culture all clamour to be the highlight. Packages online now... Click here
The best Blue Lagoon in the Yasawas - One of our most popular oceanswimsafaris, to Fiji's remote Yasawa island group, will follow the Mana Island swims: October 20-28. Packages available now. Add the Yasawas on to your visit to the Mana Fiji SwimFest Oct 15-20... Click here
Whale sharks off Oslob... Our day excursion during our Philippines oceanswimsafari...
Pristine reef and whale sharks in The Philippines (June 22-29, 2019, Open for bookings) - Come with us on another exotic oceanswimsafari, and swim with whale sharks. Our visit to the island of Negros Oriental includes swims over some of the healthiest, most abundant coral reef that we’ve ever experienced. And that part of the ocean – the top of the Celebes Sea – boasts the greatest marine diversity in the entire Indo-Pacific region. (Our Sulawesi oceanswimsafari, at the southern end of the Celebes Sea, also gives you the chance to experience this.) In The Philippines, our accommodation is 5-star, with food, wines and luxuriance to match. We’ll also go on a day excursion to the neighbouring island of Cebu, where the local fisherfolk offer a chance to swim with whale sharks, which come in each day to feed. Bookings coming in now.
More info and to book… Click here
Swim with whales in Tonga (July 23-Aug 1, open for bookings) – Hot on the heels of an inspiring three weeks in Tonga, with three oceanswimsafaris to swim with humpback whales, we’ve opened bookings to our 2019 Tonga series. Two are full. The middle Tonga oceanswimsafari has four places remaining. Packages are on oceanswimsafaris.com now.
More info and to book… Click here
- Mar 17 - Stanwell Park (NSW, 2.3km)
- Mar 31 - North Steyne (NSW, 2.8km, 1km)
- Apr 7 - Balmoral (NSW, 1km, 5km, 200m Jr, Relays)
- Apr 7 - Shellharbour (NSW, 1.2km, 400m Jr)
- Apr 13 - Mollymook (NSW, 2km, 500m)
- Apr 14 - Avalon (NSW, 2.5km, 1.5km, 1km)
- Apr 14 - Coogee (NSW, 2.3km, 1km, 800m)
- Apr 14 - Forster (NSW, 3.8km, 500m, 250m)
- Apr 20 - Nowra-Culburra (NSW, 1.2km)
- Apr 21 - Pacific Palms (NSW, 800m, 1.5km)
- Apr 28 - Bondi (NSW, 2.1km, 1km, Nippers Challenge)
- Apr 28 - Caves Beach (NSW, 1.5km)
- May 19 - South Head (NSW, 11km)
- June 16 - Mona Vale Solstice (NSW), 1.
New - Mollymook (Apr 13), Mona Vale (June 16)
Coming - Terrigal (Apr 20)
For swim results... Click here
If you have a link to results that we have not listed, please send it to us... Click here
List your informal morning swim group on our directory, so that travelling swimmers will always have a place and a peloton to swim with... Click here
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