Swim Is A Go

I have just met with the captain and the swim is good to go for tomorrow morning (Tuesday) UK time.

Will be be meeting the boat at 3:15am for a 4am swim start. First hour will be in the dark with the rest in daylight. The weather here has been improving all day with the forecast tomorrow being a light north westerly hopefully pushing me towards France.

Just getting everything ready at the moment and then an early night.

No backing out now!

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You Legend

In the next day or so I am going to have a crack at the English Channel which both excites and scares me at the same time.

Its also special because I get to honour and remember my good mate Charles Erasmus. We was right behind me doing this swim from the first day I told him about it and we spent hours discussing it on the way to the ocean swims over summer. Unfortunately Charles isn’t here to see me achieve my goal but I know he is looking down on me from the training pool up in heaven with a big grin on his face just like the last photo we had together just hours before he passed away.

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Your a legend Charles. You always will be. You were a man of incredible integrity and you made everyone around you believe they could do anything they set their minds to.

When it gets tough out there (which I know it will at some stage), I will be thinking of you and the way you lived your life. You never gave up and always saw the positive side to every situation.

This one is for you big fella….

Support Water Aid

This is most likely my last post before leaving next Thursday for the UK so I thought I would provide a few quick updates.

Firstly a number of you have asked whether I am using my swim to raise money for charity. The answer is yes and the charity is Water Aid Australia.

Working in a water company, I am very attached to the work they do in the developing work, providing to water and sanitation services to people who don’t currently have access to them. This work saves lives on a daily basis, but due to the scale of the problem at hand (750M people in the world done have access to safe water and 2.5B don’t have access to adequate sanitation), their work is never done. If you can spare any money, it would be greatly appreciated. If you can’t that fine also.

https://give.everydayhero.com/au/glenn-wilson-s-channel-swim

Many thanks to Water Aid UK for promoting my swim over on the other side of the world as well as everyone at YVW (Anna and the Water Aid Team) for getting behind it.

Secondly, if you would like to follow the swim, I have now published the live tracking link on the “track the swim” tab as well as below. As mentioned, the swim will take place sometime between 22-29 June 2015 – hopefully more towards 22 June than 29 June.

http://www.channelswimmingassociation.com/pilots/viking-princess/

Finally, if I don’t get a chance to see you all before I go, I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for your support of me in achieving my goal. Long distance swimming is just about the mental as it is the physical and I feel like I am going over as prepared as I can be in both. A couple of special thanks you’s:

  • Paul Hoffman – thanks so much for the regular phone calls to check in and see how I am doing. You didn’t need to do that but the amount of information and support I have gathered from you over the past year has been incredible. Means a lot mate!
  • Steve Lennox – for getting out in the Bay all year round to swim with me. You have motivated me to get out of bed on the cold mornings and get out there. Your a champion!
  • Amanda Jacob – for supporting me across the Bay and again for the Channel swim. I literally couldn’t do this without you! Your a great friend and looking forward to a few drinks afterwards to celebrate.
  • Thea, Frank, Dave Mason, James, Millsy, Nic (my coach), Christos, Lex, Kendra, Declan, Kayla and the other guys I have been swimming with over the past 18 months – thanks for the support and hopefully I can do you all proud.

More updates to follow once we arrive in the UK.

3 Weeks To Go

Not long now.

Was just doing a bit of research on swims by Australian’s and put together the following summary:

  • 119 Australian’s have successfully completed the swim (as at end of 2014 season) – with both the CSA and CSPF
  • Des Renford holds the record for most swims – 19 crossings
  • Second most swims is Chloe McCardel on 7
  • 13 Australian’s have swum the channel 2 or more times
  • Australian’s have crossed 163 times since Linda McGill kicked things off in 1965
  • The earliest swim of the season by an Australian was John Jameson on 2 July 2013 – he swum a time of 18:16

 

Based on all of that, it looks like either myself, Grant or Brett will break the record for the earliest swim by an Australian as our window is from 22-29 June 2015. Probably the only record likely to be broken though as looking at the top 20 times, there are some very impressive efforts in there. Its a roll call of Australia’s open water swimming elite. I’m still in awe of the Trent Grimsey effort – absolutely incredible.

Full Name Ratifying Organisation Time Swim Date
Trent Grimsey 6:55:00 08-Sep-2012
Tamara Bruce CSA 7:53:00 02-Sep-1994
John Van Wisse CSA 8:17:00 20-Jul-1994
Susie Maroney CSA 8:19:00 22-Jul-1991
Susie Maroney CSA 8:29:00 31-Jul-1990
Tammy Van Wisse CSA 8:32:00 20-Jul-1994
Tammy Van Wisse CSA 8:35:00 26-Aug-1993
Susie Maroney CSA 8:55:00 22-Jul-1991
Baden Green CSA 8:59:00 22-Jul-1991
Stuart Johnson CSA 9:02:00 08-Aug-2014
Chloë McCardel CSA 9:03:00 25-Jul-2011
Peter Tanham CSPF 9:04:00 15-Aug-2005
Paul O’Shea CSA 9:04:00 20-Aug-2014
Chloë McCardel CSA 9:12:00 07-Sep-2014
Greg Shein CSA 9:18:00 31-Aug-2014
John Van Wisse CSPF 9:23:32 07-Aug-2010
Shelley Taylor-Smith CSA 9:27:00 27-Aug-1990
Mark Scanlon CSA 9:30:00 31-Aug-2010
Chloë McCardel CSA 9:30:00 08-Sep-2012
Kelly Dixon CSA 9:38:00 31-Jul-1994

 

A sub 10 hour swim would put me in the top 30 Australian’s and around 220th of all swimmers who had successfully completed the crossing.

More updates to come over the next few weeks.

Port Phillip Bay Done And Dusted

Well its been over 3 weeks since the swim and its time to write down a quick account of what happened before it escapes my mind.

 

Friday 6 March 2015

We set off at lunchtime, collecting the support crew (Steve, Amanda and Andrew) on the way down to Martha Cove to meet Rohan and our boat. With the weather forecast not turning out as we had expected earlier in week, Rohan decided to upgrade us to a brand new Jenneau Merri Fisher 695. What a fantastic boat and without it we would never have been able to complete the crossing. The boat was so new we had to remove the plastic from the seats before setting off.

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After some instructions from Rohan and how to operate the boat, we set off. Initially as we motored out of Martha Cove, it felt like we were going on a leisurely cruise as the photos above indicate (last time I saw Andrew smiling on board the boat). However as we exited the harbour, we encountered some pretty big seas. Rohan advised us to try and hug the coast, heading north only when we got around to Rye. This turned out to be solid advice and after 1 hours and 45 minutes on the water, we managed to motor into Portarlington harbour and moor the boat for the night (see photo below).

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We checked into the Grand Hotel, dropped off our bags and headed downstairs for a meal. Over dinner, we ran through the plan for the following day. Although I felt we were under prepared, we actually had a good plan in place, all the right approvals, and all the necessary equipment.

After a quick game of pool and mixing up a batch of grease (lanolin mixed with vasoline), we all headed to bed with the plan to wake up at 2am and be at the boat by 3am.

I got very little sleep. All I could hear was the wind outside the hotel room and I was hoping it would die down by the morning. Some relief was that it would be behind me (from the north-west) however the weather forecast had not improved and I knew we were in for 10-15 knots with 0.5-1m seas.

 

Saturday 7 March 2015

We all woke up as planned and although I was extremely nervous, Steve, Amanda and Andrew were very calm and made me feel a lot more comfortable. We packed up our gear and headed to the boat. None of us knew what to expect but as soon as we were on the boat we all just went into game mode and started doing the little tasks we had set ourselves.

Steve guided the boat into Indented Head and after greasing up, I hoped into the water, activating my white flashing light and making my way to shore. Within minutes I was ready to go. The time was 3:40am and off we went.

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The first few hours were pretty uneventful and I felt great, covering 9.8km. Each time I had a feed I looked back at the lights and watched them slowly disappear into the distance. When we set off from Portarlington on the way to the start line I drank a 600mL bottle of water and that turned out to be a mistake. At the two hour mark, I was sick. My mind raced to all the stories I have heard about people being sick and not being able to recover from it but I knew I had to keep going. Hour three was tough. I felt ordinary in the stomach but kept the feeds going, adjusting the amount of water from 150mL to 100mL. That worked a treat and as we entered the fourth hour, I had a second wind and felt great again, lifting the pace back up.

Just before we reached the shipping channel, we must have been caught in the tide change as we stayed in the same place for around 30 mins. Luckily we broke through and had cleared the shipping channel at the 4.5 hour mark. The final half of the swim started off well with Rohan joining us in his other Jeanneau boat (the Cap Caramat). We seemed to be making good progress and before long, I could see the cranes working on the new South East Water head office in Frankston. The only problem was they didn’t seem to move for about 2 hours despite the guys telling me we were making good time.

The last two hours were the hardest. My shoulder started to get increasingly more painful. At first I tried to block it out but after a while I knew the pain was real. Unfortunately I had not packed any form of pain relief so just got on with the job. We moved to 15 minute feeds at this point, adding Powerade to the rotation to try and overpower the saltwater taste that had taken over.

Jeanneau Escorts Record 35km Swim

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With the Frankston Pier in site, Amanda and Andrew jumped on board with Rohan and went ashore. Steve guided me in perfectly and before I knew it I was on the beach, greeted by an incredible crowd of family and friends. It was quite an emotional experience to see my son Ben run up to me and say “did you have a good swim dad”. That was followed by seeing Charles’s brother and Thea who had come down to see me en route to the airport – amazing!

 

Wrap Up

In the end I ended up swimming around 37km in 10 hours and 10 minutes (35km in a straight line but I zig zagged behind the boat quite a bit). This was around 6 hours faster than the previous record and just under 1 hour shy of the overall record held by the Van Wisse’s who swam with the assistance of a shark cage (9 hours 13 minutes).

Steve’s efforts on the day were nothing short of outstanding. He fought the chop the whole way and somehow managed to keep the boat almost perfectly straight. I’m not surprised his arms were absolutely burning afterwards. You are a champion!

Amanda and Andrew are absolute legends. They prepared my feeds, updated social media, did radio interviews, updated the log book, and had an eye on me the whole time. Whenever I needed motivation to keep going I just looked up and thought about them giving up their weekend to help me out and not letting them down.

I learnt a number of valuable lessons:

  • lanolin is the nastiest substance I have ever come across – but it stops chaffing.
  • take pain killers to the English Channel – I will almost certainly need them.
  • Shark Shields are more frightening than actual sharks. After Paul demonstrated them to Steve and I, we were both so afraid of them we didn’t end up using them for fear of being electrocuted.
  • if you are in the support crew, take sea sick tablets before you set off. Andrew will confirm this!
  • we could have picked a better day for the swim weather wise – like the following day which was dead flat with virtually no wind.
  • my feeding strategy works. What a relief!
  • I’m not sure if there is any marine life in the Bay – I didn’t see anything other than seaweed.
  • Jeanneau boats are awesome. If I was in the market for a boat that would be my first choice!

 

I already knew it, but open water swimming is a team sport. You can’t do it without the support of your family, friends and support crew and I was blessed to have three of the best mates you could hope for on my boat. Can’t thank you guys enough and hopefully I can repay the favour sometime soon. I feel super confident about the English Channel knowing I will have Amanda supporting me, especially after what we learnt out there on Port Phillip Bay.

Massive thanks to Rohan for the boat, his support out on the Bay, and advice, before during and after the swim. Your a great mate and I really appreciate you being there for me.

Thanks to Chris White for the Shotz gels. They worked a treat and kept me full of energy.

Thanks to Chloe and Nic for being such great coaches and getting me ready for the swim.

Thanks to Cheryl West and Mandy Hay for organising all the media. You exceeded all my expectations and in the end the coverage was almost over the top!

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Thanks to Choose Tap for supporting the swim. The bottles were fantastic and the message about encouraging people to drink tap water (which in Melbourne is some of the best water in the world) is brilliant. Not a lot of people realise that you actually loose a lot of water from your body while swimming that needs to be constantly replaced.

The biggest problem with swimming is that you have a lot of time to think about things. Much of my time was spent thinking about my mate Charles and what he would have thought about this crazy adventure. At times I felt like he was swimming alongside me.

Finally, thanks to my beautiful wife Andrea and son Ben for supporting me. I know you were both incredibly concerned about my safety but I can assure you at no stage was I in any real danger.

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Port Phillip Bay Crossing Attempt

Well I can now confirm that its officially happening. This Saturday 7 March I will attempt to be the 8th person to swim across Port Phillip Bay, the 3rd without the use of a shark cage. Ironically its a more exclusive swim than the English Channel which has had over 1,200 successful solo crossings.

Based on all available information, the seven swimmers that have gone before me are:

No. Name Year Time Details
1 Linda McGill 1968 12 hours 54 minutes Shark cage
2 Michael Kennedy 1968 16 hours 28 minutes Shark cage
3 Noel Truscott 1982 ? ?
4 John Van Wisse 1993 9 hours 13 minutes Shark cage
5 Tammy Van Wisse 1993 9 hours 13 minutes Shark cage
6 Mike Gregory 2013 16 hours 20 minutes No shark cage
7 Andrew Vidler 2013 16 hours 20 minutes No shark cage

 

The swim is roughly the equivalent of the English Channel in terms of distance (35km in a straight line) although the water is significantly warmer (21 degrees at the moment as opposed to 16-18 degrees in the English Channel during summer) and the currents are much weaker. Despite this, previous attempts have reported strong currents, jellyfish, and weather as the major obstacles as well as the sheer physical challenge of the distance and time spent in the water. Legendary swimmer Des Renford attempted the swim and failed so I am under no illusions about the enormity of the challenge ahead.

I will be leaving Indented Head just before high tide (around 4am) and swimming to Frankston, hopefully with the help of an outgoing tide at the start and an incoming tide at the end. Current weather forecast is 24 degrees with a light westerly breeze behind me. We are staying the night in Portarlington so as we can eliminate the travel time in the morning and get the maximum amount of sleep.

Massive thanks need to go out to a number of people:

  • to the three absolute legends who will be supporting me throughout the swim and have given up the start of their long weekend – Steve Lennox, Andrew Gellie and Amanda Jacob. I couldn’t have hoped for a better team!
  • to my great mate Rohan Veal for the use of his boat – you made this whole thing possible.
  • Thea Erasmus for encouraging me to go ahead with the swim after the devastating events of 22 February 2015.
  • to my coaches Nic Campbell and Chloe McCardel for all their advice and guidance. Hopefully I can turn the plan into action!
  • to “Choose Tap” for supporting the swim and raising awareness about how good the tap water we take for granted in Melbourne really is.

 

I’m excited and nervous at the same time. I know that when the going gets tough, the memory of Charles will motivate me to keep going and that the only thing that will stop me completing this will be some form of medical emergency (I was actually planning on asking him to be in my support crew on the day he passed away so this swim now has special meaning for me). I will also be looking forward to greeting family and friends at the finish line. With any luck, I can snatch the record off Mike and Andrew for a non-wetsuit, no shark cage crossing!

My support crew will be posting updates to my Facebook page throughout the swim and for anyone with a disregard for their own safety, you are welcome to meet me on the beach at Frankston (to the left side of the main pier). We are roughly expecting to finish around 2pm but keep an eye on Facebook for a more accurate estimate on the day.

Vale Charles Erasmus

I’ll never forget Sunday 22 February 2015. It was the day I lost a great mate during the Big Bay Swim in tragic circumstances – a swim he had completed many times before and was doing for fun, partly due to my nagging.

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Charles was only 51, turning 52 this coming weekend. He was the fittest guy I know, always eating the right foods and putting everyone to shame with the sheer number of km’s he managed to punch out in the pool each week – a fair portion of it being butterfly! He was an incredible athlete, swimming from a young age in South Africa, giving ironman triathlon a go for a number of years, and then returning to the pool as a masters swimmer with great success. He loved open water swimming and was always at the pointy end of the field. Those who ever trained with him will remember his monster kick which was easy to follow in the ocean even when the water quality was poor. He always gave 110% to his training and racing.

His passing makes no sense and leaves a huge hole in many people’s hearts. I never came across anyone who didn’t like Charles – which was no small feat given that he was a local laws officer with Council and was known to hand out the odd parking fine from time to time, always doing so with a smile on his face despite occasionally being abused whilst doing so. He was kind, generous and always had time for those around him. He loved his family dearly and had never been happier since marrying his beautiful wife Thea almost a year ago to the day. I was lucky enough to share that day with them and still grin when I see the photo of the two figurines atop the wedding cake, a perfect replica of a photo shoot they had done the Valentines day before which featured in The Age newspaper. Charles didn’t stop smiling all day – see photo below.

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On Sunday, Charles picked me up to go to the Big Bay Swim in high spirits. I had seen him at training the previous morning and asked him what he was doing there given that he was racing later in the day. In true Charles form he was putting in a lazy 3-4km before going off and racing flat out over 1.2km. As it turns out, the warm-up must have worked as Charles had a great swim and almost beat Frank Christian (his friend, training partner and biggest swimming competition) home as the photo below shows. Charles was pretty chuffed with his efforts and looking forward to another good race across the Bay. I have to admit I was a bit worried he might beat me, even though I had chosen to rest the Saturday to be fresh for Sunday.

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In the car I told Charles about my plans to swim across Port Phillip Bay and he was genuinely excited for me. I told him about the three guys who were going to attempt the swim and that two of them were South Africans. Charles asked who they were and as it turns out, Charles competed against one of them, Steven Klugman in his younger years. Steven was kind enough to send me the photo of the podium from the South African National titles when he was second and Charles was third in the 200m butterfly – thanks Steven. What I love about it is it shows Charles being the first to congratulate the others – no surprises there!

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I loved the conversations we would have during the long drives to and from the swims. I think there was only one swim this season that I didn’t go to with Charles and despite my private frustration at his insistence to stick to the speed limit which usually added 15-20 minutes to the trip, I absolutely loved sharing swimming stories and critically reviewing our race performances on the way home.

On Sunday we got to the race early as usual and had a warm up. Charles was his usual self, offering advice to Kendra (one of the young guns in the female age group who swims with us at Doncaster) and chatting with everyone he recognised. As we huddled together on the start line, he wished me all the best and I reciprocated. I knew Charles would be right on my feet the whole way!

As it turned out, I had the race of my life, leading from start to finish. I dared not look behind in fear that Charles would be right there and overtake me with that powerful kick but when I finished, he was nowhere to be seen. Several years ago Charles and I both swam off course and I just assumed either this had happened or he had been caught up in the pack at the start. It wasn’t until Thea came over with a worried look on her face that I realised something was not right. Within minutes, it became clear that Charles had been pulled out of the water by the lifeguards and brought back to the finish line for treatment. Despite the best efforts of the emergency services staff in attendance, they couldn’t bring Charles back. I feel for the two young lifeguards who did there best to save him – they were devastated.

The whole day still seems like a bad dream. How could things change so quickly from having a laugh and joke at 10am to watching Charles be taken away by the police at 1pm? It just doesn’t make sense. He had so much life left in him and its just not fair that he wasn’t given the opportunity to fulfil his potential. They say everything happens for a reason but it is really hard to figure out what that may be in this instance.

This Friday night, Charles would have been picking up yet another open water swimming series title for the long distance swims. The photo below was from a couple of years ago with myself and Peta Harvey. There will be a small ceremony beforehand where we will be floating a wreath out and I’m sure there will not be a dry eye in the house.

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Swimming at Doncaster will never be the same again, nor will racing over the summer in the open water.

Charles. You may be gone but you will never be forgotten. You died doing something you loved and you will be forever in my heart. Like all your friends, I wish I could have spent more time with you but am grateful for the time we had. When I got home on Sunday I gave my family a big hug. I thought Thea’s words were absolutely perfect – “Hold your husbands and partners close today. Love them and tell them you love them. Live your lives fully and don’t sweat the small stuff. You truly never know how long you have them with you”.

Torquay – Round 5

I was scheduled to swim the Sorrento 2km on 3 January 2015 however due to the hot weather and high winds forecast, it was called off 3 days beforehand, leaving me with the decision of whether to go to Torquay or not. After some deliberation, I decided to enter the 2.5km event and sit the shorter one out.

On arrival, it was already well into the 30’s but relatively calm as the photos below indicate.

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However that was short lived. As the morning rolled on, the wind picked up and as a result, the organisers decided to change the course from the upside down L-shape as planned into 2 x 1.25km laps. The wind was really picking up and just before the start, there were plenty of whitecaps. The race briefing was completed and before I knew it, it was go time.

I really struggled from the word go. My wetsuit didn’t feel quite right and I didn’t get a clean start out through the breakers. Charles and I were side by side but the four guys in front had a clear break which they extended as the race went on.

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The only part of the swim that felt good was when you turned the top course buoy and swam towards shore. On this leg, you had the wind behind you and no chop to contend with. I tried to get into a rhythm and start to push however I couldn’t shake Charles and as we exited the water at the end of the first lap, we were still side by side.

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That is pretty much how’s things stayed for the second lap as well. At the top buoy, Charles edged in front but swam wide, enabling me to beat him to the line to claim 5th overall. The time of 31:03 was reasonably good and didn’t tell the story of how tough the swim really was. As the GPS trace below shows, I was all over the place as I couldn’t see the buoys going out. Charles ended up 6th although to be honest probably deserved 5th with his only mistake being the final leg.

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It was good to sit out and watch some racing and as the day went on, the chop seemed to reduce. Some fast times were had in the earlier legs with Charles backing up with a great swim to take 2nd in his age group.

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All in all, the organisers did a great job to run the event as smoothly as they did, battling the weather all day and backing up after a drowning at the surf beach the day before.

 

Now its on to the Bloody Big Swim on Saturday 17 January 2015. Its the second longest ocean race in Australia at 11.2km (behind the Rottnest Island swim which is around 20km) and I’m really looking forward to it. The distance is perfect for me and it will be a good test for feeding during the race. I attended the race brief earlier today and after hearing from a number of great speakers and watching the video from last year, I’m super excited. Swam 11.5km today so all ready to go. I am lucky enough to have Wayn Wong from the Sandridge SLSC paddling for me so looking forward to a nice straight swim following him all the way.

 

Point Lonsdale And Anglesea – Rounds 3 And 4

Point Lonsdale (RipView Swim) – 1.4km

Held on December 28 this is one of the biggest swims on the calendar, attracting in excess of 1,000 swimmers.

The course is a big arc, starting to the left of the surf club and finishing directly in front of it. There is a strong current which runs with the course, often resulting in very fast times – however as the case was in 2013, conditions can be pretty average.

This year, conditions were absolutely perfect and the early waves certainly had the best of the conditions with the fastest times coming from the juniors and older age groups.

I ended up swimming the course in reverse as a warm up with Frank Christiaan. Was much harder than the correct way as we were swimming into the current the whole way. After watching the start of the juniors race, it became clear that you needed to start well to the left of the buoys to avoid being swept away. Lining up in my wave were the usual suspects. Sam Hume and Stephen Cronk who are both excellent open water swimmers.

I had an OK start and was in the lead pack at the first buoy. Sam made a move and I managed to stay with him for more than half of the race. He ended up pulling about a 2 body length lead on me but I was very happy to be able to hold that gap and second place for much of the race. Right before we turned to come into the beach, Stephen swam past me with a big kick of speed and I couldn’t keep up. All three of us were very close together with Sam just holding on for the win with Stephen 2 seconds behind him and myself a further 6 seconds back. I was really happy with my race, holding a very fast pace the entire way (as the graph below shows) and feeling pretty good.

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Anglesea (Rock2Ramp) – 1.2km and 2.5km

Nearly 800 people participated in the swim this year and for the second time, there was a 2.5km swim (capped at 150 entrants) in addition to the 1.2km event.

For some crazy reason, I decided to swim both which in hindsight was not the best call. We were greeted with some ordinary weather on arrival (I think the first year I have swum the race that it hasn’t been 30+) with fine rain and wind. As a result, the start was delayed for 30 mins while the course was brought closer into shore for safety reasons.

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First up was the 2.5km swim. I had a good start and got through the breakers pretty cleanly. Matt Gilling had a great start and pulled a 10 or so body length lead on the field by the first turning buoy. I settled into second place and managed to keep Matt in my sights for much of the way. After we turned the buoys at the end of the course to head back towards the surf club, we started swimming directly into the wind and chop. It wasn’t pleasant but I have swum in worse – you could maintain a rhythm but occasionally took a mouthful of water in.

I knew William Paatsch was right behind me most of the way but seemed to be holding him off. As we rounded the last buoy to swim into the beach he made his move and pulled alongside me. I knew my only chance was to be in front of him when we stood up however I couldn’t pull far enough in front of him to outrun him, finishing 3 seconds behind in third. Matt took the win around 40 seconds clear.

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With about a 1 hour gap until the 1.2km swim, I got some fluids in and tried to catch my breath. The 2.5km was swum at a fairly good pace so I was stuffed. I knew I wouldn’t have the energy to give the 1.2km the pace I would need to and my only hope was that I could sit on the back of a pack. Unfortunately this was not the case. The start was frantic with Hayden Rydberg (from the 30-34 age group) having one of the best starts I have ever seen. It looked like he was walking on water and pulled a massive lead on the rest of the field. There were about 15 guys together at the first buoy and I was near the backend of the pack. I picked up a few guys shortly afterward but could see 3-4 guys about 15m ahead and knew they were gone. At the end, I managed to hold on for third behind Sam Hume and Stephen Cronk (again).

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Next race is Torquay on 3 January 2015. Will just do the 2.5km swim at this event.

Mentone – Round 1

On Sunday 14 December 2014 the Mentone Surf Life Saving Club put on round one of the Victorian Open Water Swim Series. Although this event has been held in the past, I had never swum it so was looking forward to something new.

This year I have decided to swim both the short and long course events so that meant a 2.5km swim followed by a 1.5 hour break, then a 1km swim. The 2.5km course had a deep water start followed by a straight swim down south (approximately 1.5km) then a straight swim back to the club house (approximately 1km). The shorter 1km swim course was a big “m shape” which was a bit different.

I arrived bright and early (8am) and walked down to the beach for a look. Conditions were absolutely perfect as the photo below shows. Calm flat seas and a burning sun – the temperature was already 22 degrees on its way to 30+.

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Unfortunately the wind changed and by the time the long swim was due to start, the temperature had noticeably dropped and the flat seas were replaced with white caps (see picture below courtesy of the PowerPoints swim club).

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To be honest I wasn’t that upset as I knew the rougher conditions would suit me better than the majority of pool swimmers in attendance who probably hadn’t been in the ocean until now this season. After a few delays, we were ushered out to the starting point about 200m offshore to await the starting horn. Once we got started, I had no idea where anyone else was and just focussed on swimming at a pace which would put me into the “aerobic zone”, or as my coach Nic says, “feeling uncomfortable” – that point between an easy swim and a flat-out effort. About 500m in I started passing people from the previous wave and that continued right through to the end. I swam relatively straight however like many others, was confused when I reached a purple coloured turning buoy and was forced to stop – as it turns out the turn was at the third purple buoy and not the first. The swim back to the club house seemed to be straight into the wind and because we were swimming closer to shore, seemed to be right on top of the sand bar in the wave breaking area. Thank god it was the shorter length and before I knew it I was on the beach. Swim time was 35:34 which I was reasonably happy with – 1st in my age group and 3rd overall.

Knowing I had to back up in an hour or so, I quickly got some fluids in and an energy gel and rested up. Before I knew it, we got the call to the start line for the 1km swim. I was feeling really tired and seeing some of my main age group competition in Tim Guille and Mark Bailey didn’t make me feel any better. I watched Anthony Purcell the surf specialist go off in the first wave and swim off to the right hand side of the first buoy, taking advantage of the current running to the left. I decided to follow his example but unfortunately I had a shocker of a start and it made little difference. By the time I started stroking, both Mark and Tim were well in front. Shortly afterwards, I misjudged a wave and had my goggles pulled off my face – luckily they stayed on my head. After a few seconds to regroup, I managed to get into a rhythm and pulled alongside Mark, passing him just before the first buoy. I then had a really good run to the centre of the “m” and managed to get in front of Michael Harding (who was in the age group above but same wave). This gave me confidence that the swim wasn’t going as bad as I thought however the leg pull and kick he gave me confirmed that we were not out there for a leisurely swim. I held him off until the last buoy and decided to lift for the run home. Unfortunately I aimed for the wrong point and swam a little off course. Luckily by then I had moved into the lead in my age group and as the photo shows, just managed to get home in front. As the photo shows, Tim put in a big finish and was only 2 seconds behind (yellow caps were my age group so you can see how close the first 4 were). Swim time was 12:46 – 1st in my age group and 5th overall.

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All in all was a great weekend results wise and a lot of fun. The training seems to be paying off, particularly over the longer distances.

Was great to see my good mate Dave Anderson in the 2.5km. Dave is in the highly competitive 40-49 age group so ended up 8th with a great time of 39:05. Thanks for the rev up to get the blog updated!

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