April 21, 2022

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We don't take you just anywhere.

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Through a lip, brightly... This image from One Mile Beach, Forster, yesterday, by Turtle comrade, Steve White. See oceanbeachandcountry.com.au

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See below...

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Glistening Dave articulates why we get up to this stuff...

Swimmers' ear

Put nothing in your ear smaller than your elbow

With the water so yukky right now, still recovering from rainfall, floods, etc, we're re-running our story from March 7, 2018, written for us by ocean swimming ENT specialist, Dr Niell Boustred, on care of the ear. It bears attention...

When we were little tacs, our Nan, Chris McKenna (nee Urquhart), taught us some of the basics of life. She taught us, for example, how to eat porridge: by soaking it overnight with a pinch of salt, then covering it with heaps of brown sugar after we'd boiled it up in the morning. It took us half a century to get out of that habit. And she taught us to keep our ears clear of wax by cleaning the ear canal periodically. She did it by sticking a bobby pin inside a hanky and sticking into our ears, twisting it around, and showing us the gunk it found. Now we find that ear wax is our friend, for it helps to protect us from one of the great banes of swimmers everywhere: swimmers' ear. Here, Dr Niell Boustred, an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist, explains it to us...

Swimmers’ Ear is an infection of the outer part of the ear, fundamentally the ear canal. This is a narrow canal which connects the pinna, the visible part of the ear, with the tympanic membrane, or eardrum.

ear diagramThe medical term for this infection is “otitis externa”. It is distinguished from Surfer’s Ear, which is a narrowing of the ear canal caused by benign bony growths. The bony growths themselves develop as a consequence of exposure to cold water, sand and wind and are common in surfers and ocean swimmers. The narrowing of the ear canal can cause water entrapment which predisposes the surfer or swimmer to otitis externa, Swimmers’ Ear.

What follows is a discussion about the ear canal specifically.

The health of the external auditory canal is maintained by the production of wax (cerumen) in the canal which has antibacterial and antifungal properties. It is acidic and is a superb waterproofing agent. The skin of the ear canal also protects against infection by being migratory, in other words, it moves from the depths of the ear canal to the outer part of the ear canal carrying with it debris (eg.beach sand) from the ear canal itself.

The ear canal has evolved in such a way that it is self-protecting and it is only really when we adversely affect this host defence mechanism that we are likely to develop an episode of otitis externa (Swimmers’ Ear).

Nanna made me do it

We do need to talk about wax, really, before continuing this discussion.

As stated, it is wonderful stuff. It protects the ear canal by waterproofing it. It is full of antibacterial and antifungal agents and has a low pH. Left in place, the wax will do a great job of preventing otitis externa. For reasons that are, frankly, unclear a significant number of the population habitually try to “clean” their ears in the mistaken belief that wax is, in some way, shape or form, dirty. This is not the case. In the overwhelming majority of the population, canals do very well if left completely to their own devices. Again, there are always exceptions to these biological rules, but fundamentally the advice that “nothing smaller than your elbow should enter the external auditory canal” remains a good maxim.

Occasionally, wax blocks the ear canal or prevents an appropriate view of the eardrum and, in that circumstance, it needs to be removed. It can be done safely by an appropriately trained general practitioner with a gentle syringing. The gold standard for cleaning the ear is to use a microscope and a suction. I think any form of personal attempts at cleaning your ear are inappropriate.

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Early morning swim. Why do we bother?...

Infection

There are a number of factors that are required or may precipitate an infection. We obviously need bacteria or fungi and the skin of the ear canal is a microbe rich environment. These microbes are what we would call commensals. In other words, they are part of the normal microbiology of the skin.

Protracted periods of exposure to moisture may predispose one to an infection but, generally speaking, the precipitating event is a combination of water and trauma to the external auditory canal which classically is produced by earbuds or any form of object, finger, hatpin, wax curettes. In fact, there are fantastically imaginative ways of traumatising the skin of the external auditory canal and therefore precipitating an infection. It is unusual that water exposure per se in an otherwise healthy ear canal would precipitate an infection. Remember the wax etc!

There are certainly patients with chronic skin conditions whose external auditory canals appear to be predisposed to infections, but in the normal healthy individual, water exposure alone is unlikely to precipitate an infection.

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Forster: Johnny displays his superiority over the ocean: the only way to master waves is to scare them.

Leave it alone

In those people who are susceptible to infections, particularly precipitated by periods of water exposure, there are three safe ways to dry the external auditory canal.

One is to use Aqua-Ear or Ear Clear, which are mixtures of alcohol and acetic acid (and available widely at chemists). The alcohol acts as an astringent or drying agent and the acetic acid lowers the pH and creates a microbiologically hostile environment.

The use of tissue spears, the corner of a tissue folded and placed in the external auditory canal, will not dislodge wax but will wick moisture out of the ear canal.

Lastly, a hairdryer on a low setting, both in terms of heat and power, can also be used to dry the external auditory canal. Fundamentally this is only required in those people in whom exposure to water may precipitate an otitis externa.

I cannot stress enough the fact that the ear canal is best left to its own devices.

Pain

Otitis externa itself is characterized by ear pain and usually develops after a period of water exposure almost inevitably accompanied by some form of simple trauma to the external auditory canal. It can be extremely painful. This is because the skin in the depths of the ear canal is closely adherent to the bone and as the infected ear canal tissue swells, it can become particularly uncomfortable.

The causative organisms in otitis externa are usually bacterial initially, but can be fungal and often, after a protracted period of management with an antibacterial, a fungal infection can develop.

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Stormover Diamond Beach (image by Steve White oceanbeachandcountry.com.au)

What to do

Otitis externa needs to be carefully managed. If one develops severe ear pain, particularly if it is exacerbated by simple manipulation of the pinna, I would strongly recommend that you seek the advice of your doctor. Do not attempt to clean the ear canal yourself. I would have a very low threshold for seeking the advice of your general practitioner and, in most circumstances, the infection will respond to relatively simple treatment including the use of appropriate oral antibiotics and particularly appropriate topical antibiotics. Generally speaking these should be initiated only after a swab has been taken. No need to wait for the result, though: initial treatment is empiric. The swab is useful if the condition does not improve.

ear shellCareful in the shore break: a shell wedged in the ear canal following a tumble on the edge.

Lots

As a specialist, particularly in the summer months in Australia, we see a lot of patients with otitis externa. In some circumstances it can be necessary to clean the ear canal. The gold standard for this is to use a microscope and a suction. We often have to pack the ear canal with appropriate antimicrobial agents because the swelling in the ear canal prevents or limits access of ototopical agents. We would occasionally use a course of oral steroids, commonly appropriate oral antibiotics and very occasionally intravenous antibiotics.

Diabetics can be particularly severely affected in this scenario and require prompt treatment and occasionally hospitalisation with appropriate intravenous antibiotics.

Prophylactic

What about ear plugs?

It is not as simple as it may seem

There are certainly patients who appear to develop an otitis externa as soon as the ear canal gets wet and they do appear to benefit from the use of ear plugs. In my opinion, if you are swimming regularly, almost daily, and you are using ear plugs on a regular basis, they could potentially be counterproductive because they prevent the ear canal from cleaning itself, their insertion could be traumatic and they may not be efficient.

This is a discussion that you should have with an Ear, Nose and Throat surgeon and really is only for those people who appear to be getting recurrent episodes of otitis externa. There are no hard and fast rules here. Earplugs do not work for everyone and need to be tailored to your specific needs.

Cerumenolytics, in other words the drops that supposedly dissolve wax, are generally unnecessary and irritating to the ear canal and I do not believe really have a part to play in the day-to-day management of the ear canal.
There certainly is a group of people (swimmers particularly) who have a chronic skin condition and who appear to be predisposed to acute or chronic infections of the ear canal, and I would recommend they seek advice and active management by a specialist. Generally speaking the infections can be controlled if the underlying condition cannot itself be cured.

In conclusion, leave your ears alone, seek advice if there is a problem. If the problem is recurrent or chronic or threatening your swimming career, get the opinion of a specialist.

Dr (R N) Niell Boustred
ENT Specialist, ocean swimmer

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It's back!

Mana Fiji returns in September 

mana fiji logo 19 250It's back to the best ocean swimming water in the Pacific... At last, as things slowly return to normal conditions (ie pre-covid, albeit in a qualified way), we're very pleased to announce the return of the Mana Fiji SwimFest – three days of ocean swimming events in the pristine waters off Mana Island's North Beach, a location that we know as Ocean Swimming Stadium. The SwimFest will run from September 15-17, 2022, with our core travel dates September 13-18.

Mana Island is soon to re-open (at the end of July) after being closed for a couple of years due to covid. They're keen to have us all back, and we're keen to be there. The water off Mana Island, off the north-west coast of Fiji's main island, is some of the best ocean swimming water in the world, not just the Pacific (and we've swum in a lot of places over the years). There will be two swim days, with a 10km swim on Thursday, September 13 (solos and relay teams of three swimmers each), and events of 5km, 2.5km, 1km, and 500m on Saturday, September 15.

This year, Mana Island Resort will run the SwimFest events in co-operation with Fiji Swimming. This means the events will have FINA status.

It's a terrific event for anyone wanting to get away from the colder months and the chocolatey water that we're copping along the coast currently, following the rain and floods. It's also possible to use the Mana 10km event as a qualifying event for the Rottnest Channel Swim. This makes it the ideal event for Rotto qualification, in some of the best water you will ever get.

Our offer to you

Mana Island Resort is offering massive discounts on room rates to those who book through oceanswimsafaris.com: up to 50% off normal rates. We've packaged the core five days together to include your room, swim entries (both swim days), all meals, and return transfers between Nadi International Airport and Mana Island. See our page on oceanswimsafaris.com for more details (link below).

Bonus: Win back the value of your room!

All those who book and pay for their Mana Fiji SwimFest travel package with oceanswimsafaris.com by July 31 will go into a draw to win the value of their room back! 

We have packages online now. We're open for bookings, so check out the details quick and smart... Click here 

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10km swimmers from the last Mana Fiji SwimFest in October, 2019. Even if you don't wish to tackle 10km, you can still take part as part of the 3x3.3 km relay team. (If you don't have a team, we'll find one for you. )

 

newsletter divider

Get your View gogs

World's best gogs at world's best prices

V825AWe're continuing our 'never-before' offer of View gogs. The folks at View have adjusted their prices in a small way recently, so we have had to adjust ours correspondingly, but we've kept prices down at sale levels. This keeps them at the world's best value gog (in our experience, which goes on a bit). 

Here are some of our bargains…

  • View Selene Swipes – $36
  • View Wide-eyes Swipes – $36
  • View Wide-eyes Swipe Mirrored – $42.50
  • View Xtreme semi-masks – $37.50
  • Prescription goggles – new Swipe hi-anti-fog models $66.50

Here's the link to order your new gogs. Click now and we'll get them away to you quick and smart… Click here

newsletter divider

heron 1410
Not a bad joint for a swim.

2022 Heron Island

Dates open for Oct, Nov

We've begun our 2022 Heron Island oceanswimsafaris. They've been heavily booked, which is immensely gratifying. We appreciate your support enormously. It's also hardly surprising given the quality of the water and the sea life on the Great Barrier Reef itself. It's very different from water around the islands inside the reef.

We're off again to Heron next week, in fact. Our April-May and June oceanswimsafaris to Heron Island are sold out, but we are taking bookings for October 19-24, and November 6-11. There is till plenty of availability in most room standards on these dates.

Best get in quick and smart. It would be good to have you with us.

Find out more and book… Click here

newsletter divider

New model Swipes

Prescription gogs now in Swipes

vc510 swipe lens 370Big news from View: our very popular prescription goggles now also come with high-anti-fog Swipe technology.

Our Swipes, so far in both Selene and Wide-Eyes versions, have been a big hit, offering what View (the makers) describe as 10 times the anti-fog capacity of other gogs. We've been using them for almost two years now, and we know that it works. We've sold over 1,000 pairs of Swipe gogs since their release just prior to Xmas 2019, so many of you must agree, too.

Now the Platina prescription goggles come in Swipe versions, too. Lenses come in strengths ranging from -1.0 to -10.0, and +1.5 to +6.0, and you can have different strengths in each eye. Just select the strengths you want when you order your gogs online.

View's new Swipe prescription gogs are available at $66.50 a full pair, which is cheap compared with how you will pay at a spectacles shop.

Be aware: View is phasing out the old versions of prescription goggles, currently selling for $A57.85. Some lens strengths are no longer available, and strengths will not be replaced as they run out. Your alternative is to order the new Swipe Optical goggles, which offer 10 times the anti-fog capacity of the older versions.

You can order your new Swipe Optical (prescription) gogs online now… Click here

 


newsletter divider


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They're a dour bunch, the Bongin Bongin Dawnbusters, so every now and again, they must bung on promotional days, to keep the punters coming back. Here is one such day, Easter Sundee (one Dawnbuster is a chocolatier)... Glistening Dave image (@glistenrr)

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  • June 8, 2022

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    We don't take you just anywhere.

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    Sighhh... This says it all about why we get down to the sea each morn. Image by @glistenrr, Bongin Bongin Bay.

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    See below...

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    Not a bad focal length, absolutely accidentally... Forster, end of morning swim.

    Shark deterrents

    Do they work?

    The shark deterrent debate continues. We were fascinated when a cobber sent us recently a brochure he’d obtained from the NSW government comparing the effectiveness of different personal devices to deter shark ‘attack’. What the brochure said was that shark deterrent devices have very limited effectiveness, ranging between 56 per cent and 6 per cent. The only one of those devices suitable for ocean swimming (as we do it) was at the bottom of the range.

    Imagine that: you’re relying on something to protect your life (and that’s not getting melodramatic), but it offers only 6 per cent effectiveness.

    The figures are based on peer-reviewed studies, so they can be taken seriously. But, they are a few years old (2017/18). Yet there is nothing that we could find rigorous and peer-reviewed since then to refresh the knowledge. Models have changed since then and, according to some manufacturers, theirs have been improved. For now, we have to take them at their word, however, because, as we say, they don’t satisfy rigorous academic standards of research.

    Cynic? Moi?

    We are sceptics about these things. It’s not that we don’t believe they actually work as deterrents; we don’t doubt that, generally speaking, they must have some effect; it’s that the ranges over which they work –

    1. generally do not cover the entire human body, 
    2. sometimes may work to attract the shark in before eventually turning it away,
    3. that they still allow big noahs to come so close you might kark it from a heart attack anyway, 
    4. that most of them, even if they were effective, are impractical for use by ocean swimmers, and
    5. some are so weak as to be of negligible effect anyway, so we query their efficacy.

    Our cobber’s brochure reported the key results of a study by academics at Flinders University, which looked at the effectiveness of five devices in deterring white sharks. Comparing the devices, the study found –

    • Shark Shields (Ocean Guardian Freedom+ Surf) reduced white shark ‘interactions’ by 56 per cent
    • Chillax Wax (for surfboards) reduced ‘interactions’ by 14 per cent
    • Rpela electrode-based system installed in the bottom of a surfboard reduced ‘interactions’ by 12 per cent
    • SharkBanz surf leash (leg ropes) reduced ‘interactions’ by 10 per cent, and
    • SharkBanz bracelets/anklets reduced ‘interactions’ by 6 per cent.

    Hardly cause for confidence. Turning around these results –

    • With Shark Shields (Ocean Guardian Freedom+ Surf), there remained, with the model tested, a 44 per cent probability that they would not work
    • With Chillax Wax, there remained an 86 per cent probability that they would not work
    • With Rpela, there remained an 88 per cent probability that they would not work
    • With SharkBanz surf leash, there remained a 90 per cent probability that they would not work, and
    • With SharkBanz bracelets/anklets, there remained a 94 per cent probability that they would not work

    The only problem with these findings is, as we say, that they are several years old. This study was funded in 2016/17 and reported in 2018. Technology may have moved on from then, but there is little out there that we have been able to find that is conclusive and peer-reviewed to inform us of any claimed improvement since then, certainly not in the area in which we are interested, ie technology and devices of use to ocean swimmers. There is another study looking at the Rpela device, but this device is of limited relevance to ocean swimmers.

    Anklet in the room

    Which brings us to the other great issue: only one of the devices available and tested appears practical for ocean swimmers. Of the others, they are intended mainly for surfboard riders, with some suitable for divers. 

    • The Shark Shield has a version which could be used by swimmers, but it appears suitable mainly for solo swimmers, not for groups (such as early morning swimmers), and for deeper water, not close in ‘behind the break’ swimming, due to the need to keep the aerial that creates the shark-repellent electrical field free of contact with other swimmers and the ocean bottom, and its limited range. (After our last monotribe on shark deterrent devices, a year or two back, the Shark Shield people, very generously, sent us a model to try, but we found it quite unsuitable for the kind of ocean swimming that we and our cohort get up to. Sadly, we found no opportunity to test it, apart from imagining it on our lower leg. There were, as well, no white sharks around volunteering to test it with.)
    • The Chillax wax is for a surfboard
    • The Rpela also is for a surfboard
    • The SharkBanz leash is for a surfboard rider

    This leaves only the SharkBanz anklet/bracelet which, if effective, might be useful to a swimmer. This is because it is a very lightweight, unobtrusive silicone device which uses a magnetic technology not reliant on batteries. It can be worn on the ankle or the wrist.

     forster 220607 fluffy famille 600
    We tested our personal magnetism on Fluffy's grand-daughter at Forster today. It certainly seemed to attract, then repel, the closer she came.

    But…

    We have, as we say, written before about these things, after an incident in Wallis Lake by Forster in which a swimmer of our acquaintance (a lady, but that’s beside the point), wearing a SharkBanz anklet, was approached by a bull shark that turned away ‘at the last moment’, ie only centimetres away from the swimmer. In this case, the device appeared to attract the shark, before ultimately turning it away (SharkBanz says on its website that its product does not attract sharks). This highlighted the effective range of the device: it might protect your ankle, your foot, or your lower leg, or (if work on the wrist) your hand and arm, but what about the rest of your body? And how are you feeling about having a shark approaching that close to you even if you are confident that it will, at the last moment, be turned away?

    And note the findings of the study referred to above: that they found that the version of the SharkBanz tested in 2016/17 worked only in 6 per cent of cases.

    Trials of SharkBanz in 2017, conducted by ‘the Sharkbanz team in association with Discovery Canada and Sharkdefense Technologies, LLC’ showed this of the SharkBanz technology: 

    ‘A total of 25 trials were conducted with the treatments (i.e. Sharkbanz and Sharkleash) and control (no SharkBanz: oss.c) resulting in 2 hr 38 min of soak time exposed to … bull sharks with a total of 1,235 approaches and observed behaviours. 

    ‘During the 2 hr 19 min with the treatment, there were zero attacks on the human model. Trials with the control were stopped once the human model was attacked. During the 18 minutes of trials with the control (no SharkBanz), the human model was attacked approximately every 46 seconds’. 

    This study did not distinguish between the effect of the SharkBanz leash and the SharkBanz anklet. Remember, the study done for the NSW Government found the leash (intended for surfboards) was 10 per cent effective, whereas the anklet (suitable for swimmers) was 6 per cent effective.

    This was with an earlier version of SharkBanz. There’s now the SharkBanz 2. Is it better? We can't tell.

    According to the SharkBanz website, SharkBanz offers a ‘field… about 1-2 meters (about 3-6 ft). The unpleasant sensation becomes intense for the shark at about 1 meter, becoming exponentially greater each inch closer’. But Sharkbanz says the wearer probably should wear two units to optimise protection –

    ‘Worn on your wrist or ankle, one Sharkbanz unit will help reduce the risk,’ the website says. ‘However, wearing two Sharkbanz (one on your ankle; another on your opposite wrist) will increase the overall deterrent field size and thus provide greater coverage.

    ‘If only wearing one, we suggest wearing Sharkbanz on your ankle, as the majority of shark bites occur on the ankle and leg areas.’

    Remember, even with the SharkBanz 2, the effective range still is about a metre. 

    The SharkBanz website says, ‘Much like other safety devices, such as a bike lights, Sharkbanz reduce the risk -- they do not eliminate the risk altogether. That said, customers in Australia and California have used our products to deter investigative Great Whites.’

     forster 220607 port jacksons 600
    These Port Jackson sharks hid in a hole at Forster today. They certainly appeared to be repelled by our personal magnetism.

    Technology

    There appears to be considerable research showing the effectiveness of the technology on which the SharkBanz is based in deterring sharks, ie the creation of a magnetic field around the wearer or user of the device, which acts to repel particular shark species. What is less clear is the capacity of these devices to generate a magnetic field strong enough to provide effective protection to the wearer.

    Bottom line

    No-one will guarantee you of protection from shark attack by the use of various deterrent devices. What they do promise is that the risk is reduced, and some of them say the time between a shark taking an interest in you and actually ‘attacking’ is also extended, giving the user time to take evasive action, eg getting out of the water. As a result of all this, we don't say, Don't buy them. We do say: Caveat emptor. 

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    fiji mana 14 02

    Pacific's best SwimFest

    Back to Mana Fiji in September 

    mana fiji logo 19 250Bookings are flowing in for the return of the Mana Fiji SwimFest – three days of ocean swimming events in the pristine waters off Mana Island's North Beach, a location that we know as Ocean Swimming Stadium. The SwimFest will run from September 15-17, 2022, with our core travel dates September 13-18.

    Mana Island is re-opening at the end of July after being closed for two years due to covid. They're keen to have us all back, and we're keen to be there. The water off Mana Island, off the north-west coast of Fiji's main island, is some of the best ocean swimming water in the world, not just the Pacific (and we've swum in a lot of places over the years). There will be two swim days, with a 10km swim on Thursday, September 15 (solos and relay teams), and events of 5km, 2.5km, 1km, and 500m on Saturday, September 17. Even if you don't feel up to the 10km as a solo, you can do it as a member of a 3 x 3.3km relay team. And if you don't have a team, we'll build one for you.

    This year, Mana Island Resort will run the SwimFest events in co-operation with Fiji Swimming. This means the events will have FINA status.

    It's a terrific event for anyone wanting to get away from the colder months and the chocolatey water that we're copping along the coast currently, following the rain and floods. It's also possible to use the Mana 10km event as a qualifying event for the Rottnest Channel Swim. This makes it the ideal event for Rotto qualification, in some of the best, friendliest, most interesting water you will ever get.

    Our offer to you

    Mana Island Resort is offering massive discounts on room rates to those who book through oceanswimsafaris.com: up to 50% off normal rates. We've packaged the core five days together to include your room, swim entries (both swim days), all meals, and return transfers between Nadi International Airport and Mana Island. See our page on oceanswimsafaris.com for more details (link below).

    Bonus: Win back the value of your room!

    All those who book and pay for their Mana Fiji SwimFest travel package with oceanswimsafaris.com by July 31 will go into a draw to win the value of their room back! 

    We have packages online now. Bookings are coming in, so check out the details quick and smart... Click here 

    mana 191019 10km 600
    10km swimmers from the last Mana Fiji SwimFest in October, 2019. Even if you don't wish to tackle 10km, you can still take part as part of the 3x3.3 km relay team. (If you don't have a team, we'll find one for you. )

    newsletter divider

    forster 220518 01 600
    Separated by the universe... The solar system, at least. Forster, early morn.

    Get your View gogs

    World's best gogs at world's best prices

    V825AWe're continuing our 'never-before' offer of View gogs. The folks at View have adjusted their prices in a small way recently, so we have had to adjust ours correspondingly, but we've kept prices down at sale levels. This keeps them at the world's best value gog (in our experience, which goes on a bit). 

    Here are some of our bargains…

    • View Selene Swipes – $36
    • View Wide-eyes Swipes – $36
    • View Wide-eyes Swipe Mirrored – $42.50
    • View Xtreme semi-masks – $37.50
    • Prescription goggles – new Swipe hi-anti-fog models $66.50

    Here's the link to order your new gogs. Click now and we'll get them away to you quick and smart… Click here

    newsletter divider

    heron 1410
    Not a bad joint for a swim.

    2022 Heron Island

    Dates open for Oct, Nov

    We've begun our 2022 Heron Island oceanswimsafaris. They've been heavily booked, which is immensely gratifying. It's also hardly surprising given the quality of the water and the sea life on the Great Barrier Reef itself. It's very different from water around the islands inside the reef.

    We're off again to Heron next week, in fact. We've already run Heron Island oceanswimsafaris in March and in April-May. Our June oceanswimsafari is sold out, and we are taking bookings for October 19-24, and November 6-11. There is still plenty of availability in most room standards on these dates.

    Best get in quick and smart. It would be good to have you with us.

    Find out more and book… Click here

    heron 220428 stars 600
    starry, starry night, Heron Island, late April.

    newsletter divider

    New model Swipes

    Prescription gogs now in Swipes

    vc510 swipe lens 370Big news from View: our very popular prescription goggles now also come with high-anti-fog Swipe technology.

    Our Swipes, so far in both Selene and Wide-Eyes versions, have been a big hit, offering what View (the makers) describe as 10 times the anti-fog capacity of other gogs. We've been using them for almost two years now, and we know that it works. We've sold over 1,000 pairs of Swipe gogs since their release just prior to Xmas 2019, so many of you must agree, too.

    Now the Platina prescription goggles come in Swipe versions, too. Lenses come in strengths ranging from -1.0 to -10.0, and +1.5 to +6.0, and you can have different strengths in each eye. Just select the strengths you want when you order your gogs online.

    View's new Swipe prescription gogs are available at $66.50 a full pair, which is cheap compared with how you will pay at a spectacles shop.

    Be aware: View is phasing out the old versions of prescription goggles, currently selling for $A57.85. Some lens strengths are no longer available, and strengths will not be replaced as they run out. Your alternative is to order the new Swipe Optical goggles, which offer 10 times the anti-fog capacity of the older versions.

    You can order your new Swipe Optical (prescription) gogs online now… Click here

     


    newsletter divider

    bongin dave 220531 600
    Winter imminent, Bongin Bongin Bay. Image by @glistenrr

    Subscribe…

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  • February 24, 2022

    osscombannerhorizontal

    We don't take you just anywhere.

    white one mile dawn 220210 600 02
    In this issue, we showcase some of the images of our cobber and comrade Forster Turtle, Steve White, who offers his stuff on oceanbeachandcountry.com.au. These images from dawn at One Mile Beach, Forster, earlier this month. See for yourself, here and below, and farther below...

    white one mile dawn 220210 600 01 

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    Ocean swimmers' dilemma? Or meeja beat up?

    oos logoAre you worried about sharks...

    Since last week’s tragedy when Simon Nellist was attacked fatally by a white shark at Little Bay, in Sydney, the question people have been asking is, ‘Does this incident make ocean swimmers apprehensive about swimming?’

    That is, people who aren’t ocean swimmers have been asking that question. We did a chat on the telly with a reporter last week, and it was the first thing he asked. We’ve heard it in plenty of other places, too. Understandable, perhaps, that those who aren’t in the game should wonder.

    It is curious, and sometimes exasperating, to anyone in any ‘specialised’ caper that those outside it should be ignorant of it. Unsurprisingly, the meeja, in its coverage of the incident, ran off with all kinds of lines that, to us, seemed implausible. One thing we have learnt over the years re the meeja, however, is that just because they say it, that doesn’t mean it’s right. We have also learnt that, if something is reported by the meeja as fact, irrespective of its accuracy, then it is indeed fact until and unless it is corrected. That is, those who come behind, eg other reporters researching stories in the future, will feel entitled to regard it as fact unless it has been corrected.

    This is one reason why we are writing this now.

    Please understand that we do not downplay the tragedy of the fate that befell Simon Nellist. We do seek to balance the context of the incident so that ocean swimmers can see it in a more objective, perhaps more realistic light. If anyone wishes to dispute what we say and to debate it, we welcome your contributions. We’ll put a link at the bottom of this newsletter that you can use to put in your two bobs’ worth.

    white forster feet 220211 600 01
    More from Steve White (oceanbeachandcountry.com.au)... These feet disappearing behind the break at Forster, earlier this month.

    Collateral

    There are two dimensions to this. But first, a couple of collateral points that should be discussed.

    1. Was the victim an ocean swimmer, and was he ‘ocean swimming’ when he was attacked?

    It’s relevant to any understanding of this discussion, since the meeja implied that being an ocean swimmer was the reason Mr Nellist was vulnerable to shark attack; for why he was there and open to attack when he was; and for why ‘ocean swimmers’ might feel apprehensive about going back into the water. The meeja also reported widely that Simon Nellist was ‘training for a charity swim’ the following weekend, that swim being the Murray Rose Malabar Magic, scheduled for Malabar beach the following Sunday. Malabar is just around the point from Little Bay. They are very close. Indeed, the first Malabar swim under its current tutelage ran from Malabar around the point to Little Bay. Swim awgies subsequently cancelled last Sunday’s swim ‘out of respect for Simon and his family’.

    We are not convinced that Simon Nellist was ‘an ocean swimmer’ as we know it; certainly, he does not appear to have any record of participating in formal swim events. We have searched our annual tallies, which, when we ran oceanswims.com, we would compile with the help of the meticulous Colin Reyburn, and we cannot find him in any swim over the past three years. We also searched the Malabar entries and results going back to 2015, and we can’t find him there, either. Was he entered for the swim on the following Sunday? Awgies tell us that he was not. Indeed, they told mainstream meeja people so, as well, but many of these MSM still reported that Mr Nellist was, in fact, to take part in Sunday’s swim. Perhaps they had better information, but the source was never cited, as far as we could tell.

    This is not to say that Mr Nellist was not an ocean swimmer. Or, indeed, that he would not eventually have entered the swim on Sunday. But the meeja appear to have had no certain basis for claiming so or for perpetuating what certainly looks like an inaccuracy. There are plenty of ocean swimmers who don’t take part in events; who swim only informally with or without cobbers. No-one has any handle on who they are, which is part of the glory. He could have been one such swimmer. However, we asked someone who knows or knows of many, many Eastern Suburbs swimmers, and they tell us they know or have met no-one who knew Mr Nellist. He ’certainly (was) not part of the ocean swim fraternity’ in the Eastern Suburbs, this person told us. Malabar swimmers paid tribute to Mr Nellist on what would have been swim day, last Sunday, in a memorial ring in Long Bay (Malabar), so perhaps he was known to them, although another swimmer we know who’s hooked into the Malabar scene said they didn’t know him, either. This distinction may seem like splitting hairs, but it is relevant to whether 'ocean swimmers' should feel apprehensive about swimming in the ocean.

    Swim awgies also tell us that they have learnt enough from their contact with investigators to accept that Mr Nellist was a regular swimmer over that course between Little Bay and Malabar.

    white forster rays 220211 600 02Rays, startled off Forster by Steve White...

    2. Was the victim engaged in ‘a training swim’?

    There are several aspects of the incident that struck us as discordant with the practices of 'ocean swimmers'. Mr Nellist was swimming a bit after 4pm, heading north-east into a sea breeze, just a couple of metres off a rock shelf in water that was bumpy from chop and reflected swell. He was wearing a wettie, although we don’t know whether it was full length of short legged and/or sleeved. Neither do we know whether he was wearing fins, or whether he had with him other equipment, such as spear fishing tackle. However, most ocean swimmers, if they are ‘training’ for an event, would swim earlier in the day, in calmer conditions – if only to simulate conditiions on event day – and they would stay farther out from the rock shelf in smoother water. At this time of year, experienced swimmers usually would not wear a wettie.

    Was he on a training swim? Or even a regular informal ‘swim’? It doesn’t seem likely that that’s what Mr Nellist was doing. It seems more likely that he was swimming or mooching along the rock shelf looking at the sea life, enjoying the scenery and the water, perhaps even that he was spear fishing, and that that was something he may have done regularly. If you’re interested in sea life, you need to stay in close to a rock shelf to see it and, if you’re fishing for it, to get within catching distance. There’s much less of it that’s easily observed out wide. We saw the horrific videos on social meeja that had been captured by bystanders to the incident, and it appeared to occur five-10 metres from the rock shelf. That’s not normally ‘ocean swimming’ water. (We stress that we did not go looking for these videos; they came into our timeline, probably because of the practice of social meeja platforms to know the kind of thing that might interest you. Looking for these things is not the kind of thing that interests us.)

    One of the aspects that does seem undisputed is that Mr Nellist was a diver (a dive instructor), so it's reasonable to assume that his primary interest was the underwater world. That would be more consistent with wearing a wetsuit, and perhaps fins, in water that was c. 24C and so close to the shelf. Swimmers (other than triathletes) wear wetties generally to keep themselves warm, and in water that warm, you need warmth usually if you’re not swimming consistently, ie you’re mooching around looking at stuff, stopping and starting, and you’re not generating body heat sufficient to keep you warm over time and distance.

    All that said, we don’t believe that Mr Nellist was an ‘ocean swimmer’ as we understand the term; and it’s misleading of the meeja to portray the event as an attack on an ‘ocean swimmer’. Mr Nellist was there, we believe, for some other purpose. It appears, judging by reports, that there was no-one around who was with Mr Nellist or who knew with certainty what his objective was. Perhaps he was doing a regular shore mooch along the shelf, around the point and into Long Bay and back. But he does not appear to have been an ‘ocean swimmer’ as we know it. Thus, we believe that the meeja got it wrong in portraying the incident as an attack on an ‘ocean swimmer’.

    Attacks on users of craft in the ocean, and on spear fishers, are different stories. See below…

    white one mile dawn 220210 portrait 300Our artist, Steve White... Self Portrait.

    Two dimensions

    Answering the question about whether swimmers would be apprehensive about going back into the water, there probably are two responses, to do with the experience of swimmers.

    Experienced swimmers would secure the incident in perspective more readily than non-swimmers or even newby swimmers. Their perspective would be that there is always a risk of this kind of incident, but it is very, very rare, and it can be minimised by smart swimming. Smart swimming is to do with where and when you swim: the rules generally are pretty-well accepted, and reinforced over the past few years by excellent work by the NSW Department of Primary Industries – 

    • Be careful swimming in enclosed salt waterways and estuaries (such as harbours, river mouths) especially in the early morning and the late afternoon/evening. That’s shark feeding time, when they are more active, looking for food, ie don’t swim in such places at those times.
    • Don’t swim in the ocean near the mouths of harbours and estuaries during or after heavy rain: the water is likely to be turbid and any hungry sharks might take a bite to find out what you are, because they can’t see you to be sure.
    • If you see a lot of bird activity, hovering, diving, fishing, etc, stay clear, because that indicates a school of fish that may be rounded up by larger animals, such as sharks and dolphins. The birds are opportunists who spot this action and seek a bit of it. If you swim into a school of fish, get out of it quick and smart. You don’t want to get in the way. 
    • Fish like to shoal just behind the break, which is why (and this is our hypothesis) many such incidents take place in that break-and-just-behind-it area, such as involving board riders. Swimmers, once through the break, are a bit farther out. Perhaps that makes us a bit safer: we’re less likely to get in the way of a shark chasing fish. Again, our hypothesis.
    • Best to swim with cobbers, so you can keep an eye on each other. That doesn’t mean you can fight off sharks with your bare hands, but perhaps there’s some greater safety in numbers.

    waves collide 300Waves collide... Image found on the electrical internet; not sure whose image (sorry)...

    Two bob

    We’ve written before about the use of craft. Most incidents involving sharks happen to people using craft, such as surfboards, boogie boards, etc. Not sure why, but our guess is that, again, sharks aren’t sure what you are and will mistake you for something, eg a seal or a turtle, and will take a bite to find out. Usually, they’d find out quickly that you’re not what they’re interested in, but that’s a bit late for you.

    There’s also discussion about whether wearing wetties put you more at risk, whether wetties make you more like a seal, for example. Sharks apparently have poor vision, and they can’t be sure. They like to eat seals and turtles, and people in wetties look more like them than newd swimmers. 

    For all these reasons, our hypothesis is that ‘ocean swimmers’ – that is, swimmers doing distance in cossies, cap and goggles – are safer in the water than other water users, because we are more obviously not their normal food. We are less likely to provoke tasting.

    In the case of last week’s incident, while initial reports were that the shark was ‘4.5 metres’, later reports, from authorities, cited ‘from 3 metres’. Authorities work this out from bite sizes, etc. If so, three metres for a white shark is not huge, and it’s possible that it was a young shark going through the phase of diet change and working out what it is they prefer to eat. We’ve read reports that cite white sharks at this phase of their lives as being the most common protagonists in ‘attacks’. Older sharks, the story goes, are more certain of these things and less likely to act with aggression.

    This places the incident, perhaps, into the category of ‘just one of those things’. 

    Birds

    The other aspect we noticed from the videos of the incident were the gulls hovering overhead, close in and just above the incident itself. The first thing we thought, apart from the tragedy on the video, was that the Mr Nellist might have stumbled into a clump of baitfish and got in the way of the pursuing shark. We don’t know for sure, but it’s possible. We see plenty of this action on the Mid-North Coast, where we hang out a bit, and it’s usually other birds as well as gulls, but this time we could see just gulls. Were they lured by the action, or had they been there because of a clump of baitfish. They were there pretty quickly, so it suggests they were on the scene anyway. If the victim was spearfishing, perhaps they too had been attracted by a bag of catch attached to the victim if not a ball of baitfish.

    Another thing you notice from the incidents in recent years is the number of times sharks ‘attack’ divers and spear-fishers. They are thought to be after the bag of catch that fishers often attach to their dive belts. Some fishers these days leave that bag at the end of a long line, so if the shark wants it, they can have it and leave the fisher alone. We spoke with one such experienced spearfisher on the mid-North Coast; he showed us the scars on his hand from where he had, some time earlier, fought off a shark that was after his bag of catch. He niow keeps his catch bag on the end of a 15 metre line. If the shark wants it, he says, they can have it. But perhaps this was another factor with Mr Nellist in his wetsuit (we’re not sure whether he was also using fins). The shark may have thought he had a bag of catch, hence where it attacked, which appeared to be around his waist. In recent years, there've been incidents in the Whitsundays in North Queensland of sharks attacking divers around their waist, apparently looking for their catch.

    Experience

    Experienced swimmers have the relevant factors in mind when they swim, so the answer to the question about being apprehensive is, not so much apprehensive, but perhaps a little more wary for a while. White sharks, on dit, usually don’t hang around the one area. Any shark that’s there one day is not expected to be there the next day. That said, up in Forster, we have a white shark that seems to be our resident, judging by the frequency with which this particular shark triggers the Shark Smart alerts, which these days cite the shark’s tag number, if it is tagged.

    The answer for the less experienced swimmers is to take note of the above. By all means, be apprehensive, careful, but it’s no reason overall not to keep on swimming. There’s been an explosion of ocean swimming since the pandemic arrived, especially over winter, and this is not a reason why that should not continue. We fear that this incident places 'ocean swimming in a bad light, wrongly.

    There are a lot of sharks out there in our ocean; there are a lot of species of sharks. But there are generally only three species that cause problems along the coast: Bulls (can be very aggressive, but usually hang around in turbid water, such as estuaries, preferring warmer water from around Sydney north), Tigers (which usually go, we understand, for distressed or injured prey, and also prefer warmer water), and Whites (who like cooler water as well). Of the rest, they generally just mooch about, and if you stay out of their way when they’re hunting, they won’t be interested in you, except perhaps for some occasional, mild curiosity. There are plenty of instances around of people swimming with these species of shark with no adverse consequences. Indeed, in Forster, we’ve found ourselves swimming with Bulls and Whites (usually smaller ones); the Whites are skittish and take off at a rate of knots; the Bulls just mooch along and couldn’t care less. We don’t seek these instances out, but sometimes they happen.

    bongin dawn DHD 220224 600
    Bongin, dawn today, and the DawnBusters look for all the world as if they're waiting for a spaceship to collect them and take them to another dimension. Image by David Helsham (@glistenrr)

    Deterrent devices

    We're sceptical about some of the 'deterrent' devices on the market. From what we’ve read, we understand the larger shark shield devices are effective at repelling sharks, but they're cumbersome, perhaps too cumbersome for ocean swimmers, especially swimmers in groups. We’re highly sceptical of the smaller ankle and wrist bands also on the market. The point about all of these devices is that they appear to attract before they repel when the shark gets too close. The issue is the range, the point at which the magnetic or electrical field that they emit and which causes the shark eventually to turn away. It’s generally pretty close. We wonder, for example, if you have such a device on your ankle, then how safe is your head and your outstretched arm if the shark will come into to a matter of centimetres before being repelled?

    The most effective appear to be the shark shields, but they’re large and come with a trailing antenna a metre or so long, so you might need to be careful that the antenna doesn’t contact the bottom or other swimmers. This raises questions about practicality, quite apart from effectiveness.

    To anwer the question from the start: Should ocean swimmers be apprehensive about going into the sea: You always need to be careful, but this incident does not appear to have targeted 'ocean swimmers', and we see now reason why we should not keep on swimming.

    If you’d like to comment…Click here

    (PS: We use an icloud email address these days because our oceanswimsafaris.com email address is too easily caught up by anti-spam systems.)

    We’ll post comments at the bottom of the online version of this newsletter... Click here

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    Gog prices slashed

    Xmas sale extended

    We sold another pair of Selene Swipes this morning. A lady at the beach whom we hadn’t met before. She’d been using another brand, which she said ‘kept fogging up’, and she kept ‘losing the seal’. We felt her pain. The great bain of ocean swimmers, other than dangerous things in the ocean, is gogs that don’t work.

    V825AWe were introduced to this lady – let’s call her ‘Robyn’ – by our cobber, Terry, who uses our gogs, currently View Selene Swipes, and had been recommending both us and them to her over a cuppa at Beach Bums, our post-swim joint of choice. ‘Robyn’ called around later; we took her into our garage, opened our boot, let her try on a pair, gave her the spiel, and ‘Robyn’ walked away with her very own pair of Selene Swipes – Clear Blue ones, which are lighter and v. good for early morning swimming – two sets of blue ear plugs (which have a strap behind the head to make sure you don’t lose them; she’s giving one set to Terry), and an oceanswimsafaris silicone swim cap.

    Lovely lady.

    She called us a bit later and said, ‘You’ve under-charged me’.

    ‘How is that,’ we said.

    ‘You’ve charged me only for one set of ear plugs.’

    The second set was an afterthought; she wanted them for Terry, who, in his mid-80s, swims daily in Forster’s ocean pool, the Bull Ring.

    'Robyn' came around again shortly after and gave us the undercharge amount.

    That’s the kind of punter we deal with in ocean swimming: high quality.

    caves hams moon night 220216 300Full moon last week over Hams Beach, Neville's Navy glistening in the distance. 

    It’s the gog

    The incident got us thinking about how many Selenes we sell, of all the gogs that we offer, and particularly since they were released with Swipe anti-fog technology.

    We’ve been selling Selenes in their original form since c. 2005, and they’ve always been our most popular gog for their comfort, quality and durability (they have a soft, wider silicone seal that doesn’t leave Rocky Raccoon marks around your eyes). We had regular Selenes and mirrored Selenes. We still offer them.

    At Malabar a few years back, where with Mrs Sparkle we were running a stall (actually, Mrs Sparkle was running the stall; we were standing around chatting to people), a lady approached us there and said she felt it was about time she got a new pair of gogs. She was already using Selenes. We asked her how long she’d been using her current Selenes, but she couldn’t remember. She thought about it for a bit, then she pointed at her husband, and she said,

    ‘Longer than I’ve had him’.

    So we said, ‘How long have you been married?” And she said, ‘Nine years’.

    We sold her a new pair. But the fact that she’d been using the same gogs for at least nine years is the mark of someone who looks after their gogs – who respects their gogs – and of the quality of the gogs in the first place.

    The rest is history

    The original Selenes were supplemented by Selene Swipes in November 2019. Since then, we’ve sold over a thousand pairs of Selene Swipes alone.

    The Swipe technology involves a coating on the inside of the lenses that provides an extra-high anti-fog capacity. When we start to use new Swipes – we use Wide-Eye Swipes – we generally get around 30 uses out of them before we need to do anything other than just put them on, dry, and keep them clean.

    We respect out gogs, you see. We even have an essay on Goggle Respect on our website. It’s a guide to looking after and getting the best out of your gogs.

    Since that time in November 2019, when we began to offer gogs with the Swipe technology, we have sold almost 2,000 pairs of goggles, over 50 per cent of which are Selene Swipes. People who start to use them never go back. In all the years we’ve been selling Selene gogs – 17 years – we have had only one punter who didn’t like them and sent them back.

    That said, no gogs are any good over time if you don’t look after them. Check our essay on Goggle Respect (you find it under Buy Goggles on oceanswimsafaris.com)… Click here

    And to buy your new gogs… Click here

    Sale

    V630ASA non mirroredIt's well into the New Year, but we've extended our 'never-before' sale of View gogs. We've kept most prices down at pre-Xmas sale levels, except for one model (Swipe Wide-Eyes non-mirrored) which we've brought into line with our most popular Selene Swipes. We realised we'd droped that price too low in the first place. But at $35, it's still triffic value for the quality of gog.

    Here are some of our bargains…

    • View Selene Swipes – down from $40 to $35
    • View Wide-eyes Swipes – down from $40 to $35
    • View Wide-eyes Swipe Mirrored – down from $45 to $39
    • View Xtreme masks – down from $40 to 35.95
    • Prescription goggles – new Swipe hi-anti-fog models $63

    Here's the link to order your new gogs. Click now and we'll get them away to you quick and smart… Click here 

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    Heron Island
    Historic derrick, Heron Island.

    2022 oceanswimsafaris

    Dates open for Heron, but uncertainty o/s

    We continue watch developments with Covid-19, as we're sure are all of you, too. There are some developments that encourage us — we are confident in domestic travel into Heron Island, for example (we don't expect state borders to close again, apart from WA) — but there remains uncertainty about some international travel. While our regular destinations mostly are 'open', entry restrictions applying currently muddy the waters a little. It's not simply a case of 'Are we able to go there?', but 'What restrictions will apply to us when we do go there?' And, Are we able to easily transit 3rd countries en route and back to destination countries? This applies to Fiji and French Polynesia, while Tonga has a considerable cloud hanging over it (pun unintended, but applicable) following last week's volcanic eruption. We must wait and see.

    In the meantime, We are taking bookings for our Heron Island oceanswimsafaris in 2022, thus March 14-19 (sold out), April 24-May 2 (sold out), June 12-17 (sold out), October 19-24, and November 6-11. There is till plenty of availability in most room standards for October and November.

    Best get in quick and smart.

    Find out more and book… Click here

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    New model Swipes

    Prescription gogs now in Swipes

    vc510 swipe lens 370Big news from View: our very popular prescription goggles now also come with high-anti-fog Swipe technology.

    Our Swipes, so far in both Selene and Wide-Eyes versions, have been a big hit, offering what View (the makers) describe as 10 times the anti-fog capacity of other gogs. We've been using them for almost two years now, and we know that it works. We've sold over 1,000 pairs of Swipe gogs since their release just prior to Xmas 2019, so many of you must agree, too.

    Now the Platina prescription goggles come in Swipe versions, too. Lenses come in strengths ranging from -1.0 to -10.0, and +1.5 to +6.0, and you can have different strengths in each eye. Just select the strengths you want when you order your gogs online.

    View's new Swipe prescription gogs are available at $A63 a full pair, which is cheap compared with how you will pay at a spectacles shop.

    Be aware: View is phasing out the old versions of prescription goggles, currently selling for $A54.50. Some lens strengths are no longer available, and strengths will not be replaced as they run out. Your alternative is to order the new Swipe prescription goggles, which offer 10 times the anti-fog capacity of the older versions.

    You can order your new Swipe Platina optical (prescription) gogs online now… Click here

     


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    bongin dawn DHD 220218 600
    We consider ourselves privileged to have as our cobbers two of the most gifted photograrphers you could imagine, in ocean swimming, David Helsham and Steve White (see Steve's stuff above). This is Dave's image of Bongin Bongin Bay on Fridee last week. Dave is a man of few words, but he doesn't need them...

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  • January 22, 2022

    osscombannerhorizontal

    We don't take you just anywhere.

    bongin jesus light dhd 220120 600
    A master manipulator of light, Glistening Dave was at Bongin Bongin Bay to capture the Jesus light bursting through the heavens. @glistenrr

     

     

    Postcard from the Ocean Pool

    oos logoOcean pools under climate threat

    bogey hole newcastle 600
    The Bogey Hole, in Newcastle… It seems one of the purest of ocean pools in that there is virtually nothing done to contrive it; it seems completely naturally formed. There is a stairway to get down to it, not formed by nature… But it's not naturally formed at all. It was hewn from rock by convicts in 1819 for the pleasure of the commandant of Newcastle, one Major Morissett. Read a more complete history of the Bogey Hole through the link above, but this dates the heritage of NSW ocean pools from the early 19th century.

     

    NSW’s ocean pools are an amazing asset and legacy, an iconic collection of recreational infrastructure running the entire length of our coast. But these special places are under threat. Along with the natural ravages of time and tide, ocean pools are increasingly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. This piece, by Nicole Larkin, was published originally in the magazine of the National Trust, then republished on the Trust's website

    Ocean pools are a deeply Australian phenomenon enjoyed by generations of swimmers, sunbakers and sightseers. NSW, in particular, has a greater concentration of ocean pools than anywhere in the world, with 60 pools between Yamba in the north and Eden in the south. In fact, if you count all saltwater swimming enclosures, such as harbour pools, netted enclosures and wharf structures, the state has about 120 ocean and harbour pools. The next closest is South Africa, with 80 saltwater enclosures nationally.

    NSW’s preponderance of ocean pools reveals our deep affinity with coastal spaces and landscapes. With more than 85% of us living within 50 kilometres of the coast, it’s not hard to see why ocean pools have become such an iconic and well-loved feature. They embody many of the values we associate with the coast and the complex factors that converge there.

    Ocean pools provide a tangible link between land and sea, allowing us to connect closely with the open coast. Sitting in the intertidal zone, they are exposed to currents and waves. Like natural rock pools, they fill and drain with the tides, retaining part of the sea, along with fish, crabs, jellyfish and other marine creatures. Ocean pools are designed and constructed for simplicity – just enough to create a protected space to swim. In some cases, pools are no more than one wall built along a rock platform.

    Bronte pool 600
    Apart from those created by nature, such as Newcastle's Bogey Hole, the Bronte pool is one of the more iconic. It also was the site of the the first surf lifesaving instruction in Australia, when Major John Bond and Capt Arthur Holmes began to give instruction and demonstrations in rescue and resuscitation techniques, and in 1894 were instrumental in establishing a life saving society in Waverley. The Bronte group, Australia's – and the world's – first life savers, even trained recruits from neighbouring Bondi. (Pic by Sam Hood)

    A long and optimistic history

    Our fascination with coastal places is not new. For millennia the coast has been a focus of habitation and activity. And while our ocean pools are, of course, post-colonial structures, some of them were certainly built on places of indigenous significance. The pool at The Entrance was listed as a state heritage item because it was known to Aboriginal people as a natural saltwater fish trap. It’s likely that other ocean pools along the NSW coast also had their beginnings as fish traps.

    The main catalyst for ocean pool building was the introduction of the Municipal Baths Act of 1896, which empowered local councils to provide public baths. Many councils took this opportunity to build ocean pools to attract residents and grow their rate base. A second wave of ocean pools was built in the 1920s when the government rolled out public works projects to provide jobs and support to the community. Of all the post-war and depression-era projects, ocean pools were among the most optimistic and idealistic. The result is a legacy of unique recreational assets of great social significance and natural beauty distributed along NSW’s 2,100 kilometres of coast.

    wylies 600
    Another of the iconic pools: Wylies Baths, at Coogee, just alone the coast from Bronte. (Pic by Nicole Larkin)

    Precious but vulnerable

    Today, many ocean pools are in a fragile state due to their age, construction and location, where they bear the full brunt of the elements. On top of this, climate change is making matters worse. Severe weather, including more frequent and intense east coast lows and coastal flooding, will accelerate the weakening and erosion of ocean pool structures. Poised as they are at the very edge of our shores, ocean pools are at the forefront of coastal impacts. They are, in a sense, the canary in the coal mine.

    In 1994, the National Trust commissioned a survey of Sydney’s ocean and harbour pools, which led to five being recognised on the state heritage register. Others, however, remain unlisted. The National Trust report emphasised that the heritage significance of saltwater pools primarily lay in their continued function as places of recreation and exercise, rather than just their fabric. Critically, the survey also recognised the significance of pools as a group, similar to the way that lighthouses up and down the coast are recognised not only as important individual items but also part of a broader network.

    We should consider NSW’s ocean pools as a true string of pearls along our coast, and as the threats continue to mount, we need to ensure these amazing public assets are conserved, protected, and in some cases revived for future generations to enjoy.

    Nicole Larkin is a Sydney-based architect with a deep interest in the ocean pools of NSW. She is working with the National Trust’s Landscape Committee to help protect these precious places.

    Thank you to Therese Spruhan (@reseyspru) for drawing our attention to this blog through her Twitter stream.

    ocean pooling 22 250

     

     

    For more on ocean pools, you should also see Kate Mills's running blog of her quest over January to swim every ocean pool on the NSW coast… Click here

    forster fishermans pool 220116 600
    We went trekking along the cliffs south of Forster with Johnny Goldfinger and his cobber, Dave, looking for a legendary ocean pool. Found it! Dave and Johnny went for a swim. Guess which one is Johnny…

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    Gog prices slashed

    Xmas sale extended

    It's well into the New Year, but we've extended our 'never-before' sale of View gogs. We've kept most prices down at pre-Xmas sale levels, except for one model (Swipe Wide-Eyes non-mirrored) which we've brought into line with our most popular Selene Swipes. We realised we'd droped that price too low in the first place. But at $35, it's still triffic value for the quality of gog.

    V825A

    Here are some of our bargains…

    • View Selene Swipes – down from $40 to $35
    • View Wide-eyes Swipes – down from $40 to $35
    • View Wide-eyes Swipe Mirrored – down from $45 to $39
    • View Xtreme masks – down from $40 to 35.95
    • Prescription goggles – new Swipe hi-anti-fog models $63

    Here's the link to order your new gogs. Click now and we'll get them away to you quick and smart… Click here 

    newsletter divider

    The Perennial Question…

    What makes blueys spawn?

    You know we've been on about this for yonks: what makes bluebottles spawn so that they are bobbing ararnd on the sea offshore, just waiting for an onshore breeze to blow them in onto beaches in plague proportions. Why are they there sometimes, but not others?

    The answer is not, 'Oh, they're blown in by the nor'-easters!' Yes, they are blown in by onshore breezes of all persuasions. But what makes them be there, ready to be blown in. What makes them spawn? What makes them be 'born'?… Professor Julius Sumner Miller would say, 'Why is it so?"

    Just this morning, the ABC News website – nowadays, our most trusted source of Strã'an news – reports a plague outbreak of red stingers in Port Phillip Bay, in Melbourne. The story goes into what's causing this plague, such as what are the conditions that prompt them to spawn and 'BE THERE' ready to pounce on unsuspecting swimmers.

    These are not blueys; the report says they are 'Lions Mane' jellies, although they look a bit different to the Lions Manes that we've seen before. But never mind that, the experience of these jellies may be similar to the provenance of blueys, so knowing more about these ones may help us to understand others.

    Read more about this fascinating story… Click here
    newsletter divider

    Heron Island
    Historic derrick, Heron Island.

    2022 oceanswimsafaris

    Dates open for bookings, but still some uncertainty

    We continue watch developments with Covid-19, as we're sure are all of you, too. There are some developments that encourage us — we are confident in domestic travel into Heron Island, for example (we don't expect state borders to close again, apart from WA) — but there remains uncertainty about some international travel. While our regular destinations mostly are 'open', entry restrictions applying currently muddy the waters a little. It's not simply a case of 'Are we able to go there?', but 'What restrictions will apply to us when we do go there?' And, Are we able to easily transit 3rd countries en route and back to destination countries? This applies to Fiji and French Polynesia, while Tonga has a considerable cloud hanging over it (pun unintended, but applicable) following last week's volcanic eruption. We must wait and see.

    With our first overseas oceanswimsafaris not until May 2022, we are hoping that conditions will ease in plenty of time for clarity and convenient air bookings. 

    Subject to this, we are planning our two oceanswmsafaris to French Polynesia in May (both sold out, we're sorry), two oceanswimsafaris to Tonga to swim with humpback whales, in August (first oceanswimsafari August 2-10 open for bookings now). We're also waiting on details from Mana Island Resort for the Mana Fiji SwimFest in September.

    In the meantime, We are taking bookings for our Heron Island oceanswimsafaris in 2022, thus March 14-19 (sold out), April 24-May 2 (sold out), June 12-17 (sold out), October 19-24, and November 6-11. There is till plenty of availability in most room standards for October and November.

    Best get in quick and smart.

    Find out more and book… Click here

    newsletter divider

    New model Swipes

    Prescription gogs now in Swipes

    vc510 swipe lens 370Big news from View: our very popular prescription goggles now also come with high-anti-fog Swipe technology.

    Our Swipes, so far in both Selene and Wide-Eyes versions, have been a big hit, offering what View (the makers) describe as 10 times the anti-fog capacity of other gogs. We've been using them for almost two years now, and we know that it works. We've sold over 1,000 pairs of Swipe gogs since their release just prior to Xmas 2019, so many of you must agree, too.

    Now the Platina prescription goggles come in Swipe versions, too. Lenses come in strengths ranging from -1.0 to -10.0, and +1.5 to +6.0, and you can have different strengths in each eye. Just select the strengths you want when you order your gogs online.

    View's new Swipe prescription gogs are available at $A63 a full pair, which is cheap compared with how you will pay at a spectacles shop.

    Be aware: View is phasing out the old versions of prescription goggles, currently selling for $A54.50. Some lens strengths are no longer available, and strengths will not be replaced as they run out. Your alternative is to order the new Swipe prescription goggles, which offer 10 times the anti-fog capacity of the older versions.

    You can order your new Swipe Platina optical (prescription) gogs online now… Click here

     


    newsletter divider

    forster turtles fahey 220116 600
    To look her best at her regular early morning swim, Forster Turtle Wendy Fahey sports her fluffy polar bear stole as both glamour, and added protection from the Ekman-style cooler water.

    Subscribe…

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  • December 7, 2021

    osscombannerhorizontal

    We don't take you just anywhere.

    forster wave david 600 01
    Photo essay: Bursting through: David Cowperthwaite emerges from the back of a wave, Forster, early morning swim.

    forster wave david 600 02

    forster wave david 600 03

    Postcards from the Pool

    oos logoIf ever there was a day…

    goble sally 400It's into winter where Sally Goble is swimming at the moment; on the healing power of the pool…this piece from Sally's blog, Postcards from the Pool

    I am exhausted, humiliated, full of rage and regret. I am full of self doubt and self loathing. I do not understand why things have come to be the way they are. Was it my fault? Did I do wrong? Was I not good enough? Not young enough? Not smart enough? Not cute enough? Not the right fit? Not what was wanted? I lie awake in the middle of the night staring into the darkness listing my failings. The anger I feel makes my jaw hurt.

    If there was ever a day for the sky to be blue, it was today.

    I have come here to be rescued, and the sun is shining.

    I am not judged here.

    I can float on my back in a star shape here, and I know what to do with my body in order to balance in a near-perfect effortless equilibrium, so that — even though I am in water — I may well be resting on the most comfortable of beds.

    I have no doubts here.

    I am not fast but I am fearless, and can withstand the cold that makes others falter. I watch others shake with cold and wonder if I have superpowers. I am not afraid of the pain. I do not need a shower to bring the pink back to my cheeks. I am strong, and I do not tire, and do not get bored. As I swim my lengths, I watch others sitting on the poolside chatting. The longer I swim, the happier I am. I press on, determined to exhaust myself so that I have no energy for anger.

    I am not alone here.

    The leaves, suspended in the pool, seem to wave at me as I swim over them. The dimpled stainless steel lining sparkles blue, and silver, and gold: trying its best to cheer me up. A plane drifts by above, watching over me. The wind has died down and I’m alone in my lane, so that when I turn my head to breathe, the ripple-free smooth silkiness of the surface makes me gasp. Nature is working as hard as it can to make me happy today.

    I am swaddled by the water here.

    Protected, embraced, enveloped, comforted. I swim and swim and swim until the whistle blows. A silent conversation between me and the water with no fear of judgement.

    The sun shines on, my jaw is unclenched.

    Sally Goble
    Postcards from the Pool

    newsletter divider

    Punter power

    bongin bins dhd 600 01
    Finishing off the redevelopment of the curtilage of Mona Vale beach, Northern Beaches Council in Sydney thoughtfully installed a set of bins for use by beachgoers. Or perhaps less than thoughtfully… Pic above is the day after the bins were installed, and pic below is the next day — the next day! — following a publicity campaign shaming the council, led by our cobber, @glistenrr. No marks for brains, Northern Beaches Council, but full marks for response. It seems someone influential must have been offended as well as Dave and his Dawnbuster comrades.


    bongin bins dhd 600 02

    newsletter divider

    Gog prices slashed, delivery fees waived!

    Xmas sale! Get in now

    We've been celebrating over November the new swimming season with a never-before sale of our fave View gogs. Now, leading into Xmas, we're making the sale even better: buy three or more items from our online shoppe, and we'll refund your delivery fee completely!

    V825A

    Here are some of our Xmas bargains…

    • View Selene Swipes – down from $40 to $35
    • View Wide-eyes Swipes – down from $40 to $32
    • View Wide-eyes Swipe Mirrored – down from $45 to $39
    • View Xtreme masks – down from $40 to 35.95
    • Prescription goggles – down from $65 to $54.50

    If you buy three or more items, we will refund your delivery fee completely!*

    Here's the link to order your new gogs. Click now and we'll get them away to your before the weekend… Click here 

    * Delivery refunds apply to Australian orders only, we're sorry. Refunds will be made to your account after order is finalised.

    newsletter divider

    heron 1711 swimmer 600
    Random swimmer, Heron Island.

    2022 oceanswimsafaris

    New dates open for bookings

    At the time of writing, we still know very little about omicron other than that it has the authorities worried, albeit perhaps not quite as worried as they were a week or two ago. We're keeping an eye on it. 

    Subject to covid-related travel restrictions, we are planning our two oceanswmsafaris to French Polynesia in May (both sold out, we're sorry), two oceanswimsafaris to Tonga to swim with humpback whales, in August (first oceanswimsafari August 2-10 open for bookings now). We're also waiting on details from Mana Island Resort for the Mana Fiji SwimFest in September.

    In the meantime, We are taking bookings for our Heron Island oceanswimsafaris in 2022, thus March 14-19, April 24-May 2, June 12-17, October 19-24, and November 6-11. All but the October and November oceanswimsafaris have only a few spots left available, so if you're interested in March, April-May, or June, then best get in quick and smart.

    Find out more and book… Click here

    newsletter divider

    New model Swipes

    Prescription gogs now in Swipes

    vc510 swipe lens 370Big news from View: our very popular prescription goggles now also come with high-anti-fog Swipe technology.

    Our Swipes, so far in both Selene and Wide-Eyes versions, have been a big hit, offering what View (the makers) describe as 10 times the anti-fog capacity of other gogs. We've been using them for almost two years now, and we know that it works. We've sold over 1,000 pairs of Swipe gogs since their release just prior to Xmas 2019, so many of you must agree, too.

    Now the Platina prescription goggles come in Swipe versions, too. Lenses come in strengths ranging from -1.0 to -10.0, and +1.5 to +6.0, and you can have different strengths in each eye. Just select the strengths you want when you order your gogs online.

    View's new Swipe prescription gogs are available at $A63 a full pair, which is cheap compared with how you will pay at a spectacles shop.

    Be aware: View is phasing out the old versions of prescription goggles, currently selling for $A54.50. Some lens strengths are no longer available, and strengths will not be replaced as they run out. Your alternative is to order the new Swipe prescription goggles, which offer 10 times the anti-fog capacity of the older versions.

    You can order your new Swipe Platina optical (prescription) gogs online now… Click here

     


    newsletter divider

    forster wave dump 600
    Finis, Forster

    Subscribe…

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  • November 29, 2021

    osscombannerhorizontal

    We don't take you just anywhere.

    bongin rain 211126 dhd 600
    The story of November: la Niña over Bongin Bongin Bay (Image by David Helsham @glistenrr) 

    Into the chop

    oos logoHe (or she) who hesitates will stop

    There was a nor’-easter blowing this morning, not a heavy one, but there was a bit of a bump, as you’d expect when the beach faces nor’-east, into the puff. We swam to the pole, 150m down the beach, warming up, and we regrouped. And Johnny, in charge today, said, ‘We’re gonna swim in different directions to see which way is the easiest to swim in these conditions’. He said, ‘We’re going straight out for 2 x 50 strokes, then back along (parallel with the beach: oss.c) for 80 strokes x 5, then we’ll see’. The first 50 strokes x 2 would be straight into the chop; the 80 strokes x 5 would be across it; then we’d run in with it towards the back of the pool, way down the other end of the beach; then back across the chop again to the start.

    Well, most, if not all of us could tell Johnny straight out which way is the easiest to swim in a chop: it’s certainly not against it, and not across it, either, particularly if there’s a swell running with the chop. But swimming with it from here, just behind the break, would take us straight back to the beach, which is not what we’re here for, unless we’re doing ins and outs, which we weren’t, or unless one of us has spotted something largish, moving lithely beneath. Anyway, most of us are too stiff in the joints to do ins and outs.

    We all love Johnny, although Noel refers to him, with great affection, as ‘Knucklehead’. Noel refers to everyone with great affection as Knucklehead. But we know how much thought Johnny puts into the session when he leads it, which isn’t every day. Normally, Noel runs us. Noel used to play first grade rugby league, and he runs a session much as the conditioning trainer did at Leichhardt Oval back in the ‘70s. But Noel is away today, visiting a cobber farther up the coast. Anyway, we’re happy to go along with someone (ie Johnny) who has bothered to think about how we swim each morning, what we should do, what we can do so that it’s not the same thing every day, thus boring, so that we don’t have to (think about it ourselves). So off we go. We swim out, directly into the chop, towards the shark drum lines.


    forster johnny 211120 600
    Johnny: Heavy is the burden of leading the Forster Turtles.


    Some days later, sipping our cuppas in front of the surf club, we spot the shark contractor stopped by the drum lines. As a rule, the contractor is called out only when the drum line is activated by a shark. He (…or she; we can’t tell from the beach) uses an open twin outboard with a screen. There are two of them on board, and they stop by the drum line booee whilst they check the motivation of the call. As a rule, the motivation is a shark that’s taken the bait on the drum line. The contractor is called out to release the shark, but then, if it’s a listed shark, eg a white, like Bubbles, then s/he is supposed to tag it, if it’s not already tagged, then drag it a couple of kilometres out to sea, then release it. The thinking is that, once released, the shark will swim merrily off to another beach. That’s all well and good, except that, early in the drum line experiment, they tagged and dragged a white out to see, released it, then found it on the same drum line again the next day. That was Bubbles. Bubbles is our resident white.


    It's stuff like this that goes through our minds when we’re swimming early morning, and during the post-swim cuppas, where stories grow out of all proportion according to how long the cuppa lasts. In truth, we don’t worry about it all that much these days. It’s chat fodder, but it’s not anxiety-inducing. We figure that, with all the early morning swimming on our beach going back years, and years, and with all the creatures jammed into the area, if something was going to happen, most probably it would have happened by now. That’s not to say it won’t happen one day, but all of life is a punt, and the odds appear stacked against it pretty heavily. (That’s to do with us swimmers, not board riders or other craft users.)

    (Touch wood.)

    So when Johnny sends us straight out towards the drum lines, we’re thinking more of stroke than of imminent death.


    bongin dawn 211116 dhd 600
    Dawn drama at Bongin (image by David Helsham @glistenrr)


    It is an intellectual exercise to work out which is the best way, ie direction, to swim in bumpy chop. Certainly, not straight into it. That’s a misère.

    Across the chop is more difficult. Much depends on which way you breathe. Most swimmers of a certain age breathe only one way. This is despite us lecturing for many years about the need to breathe both ways – bilaterally – for precisely this type of occasion. If you’re swimming across a chop that’s coming from your left, and you breathe only to your left, then the chop will interrupt your breathing pattern. You’re at risk of taking gobsful of water rather than air, as an unpredictable bump rears up in your face just at the moment you’re turning to breathe. This can be uncomfortable. It means either you take in the sea water, possibly going down the wrong way or, if you’re quick witted and you miss the mouthful, you also miss your breath. Either way, it’s disruptive to your stroke.

    Experience tells us, as well, that breathing away can cause these same problems, because you can’t spot those suddenly arising bumps rearing up. You’re still likely to take in water and to miss your breath. But breathing away does seem to reduce that risk.

    Unpredictable bumps also can interfere with your stroke. While swimming is a mechanical exercise in search of rhythm, you’re always anticipating the water when you’re recovering and when you’re about to plunge your leading hand back into the water for the next stroke. Suddenly, the water isn’t there and you have nothing to grab, so you miss that stroke entirely, or it ends up as half a stroke. This can be due to body instability in an erratic swell, or instability in the water itself. Where did it go? It was there a moment ago!

    Instability in the stroke leads to instability in your body position, your breathing, your rotation and your kick (don't get us started now on the scissor kick, the kick favoured by so many boofheads). It moves all the way down your body. Mind you, the concepts of rotation, and certainly kick, are absolutely foreign to most mug swimmers, so they’re probably nothing for you to worry about.

    The other tendency in swimming across the chop – and this stems directly from body instability – is to hesitate. You hesitate when you find the water beneath your entering hand suddenly disappear, so you wait for it to reappear so that you have something to grab on entry. This is a major error. Hesitation means you lose your forward momentum, which in turn means that when you eventually restart your stroke, you’re staring from a much slower base.
    You must keep swimming, never mind whether you sense the water there or no. Not only do you maintain your momentum, but you realise how important a role your entering hand plays in supporting your body stability in the water: it’s like an anchor, not weighing you down, but stabilising you against the flow, the pitch, the roll of the water, so you continue to cut through it, not be tossed around by it. In any case, even if you sense the water is not there, so you tend to hesitate, you must bear in mind that, if it’s not there now, it will be in just a mo. Have confidence.


    forster wobbie 211125 600
    What some eejits do to Wobbegongs: Forster, early morn.


    We all know that swimming with the chop or the swell is easiest. That’s a given: it’s coming from behind, so it picks you up feet first and thrusts you forward. Given it’s generally coming from behind fairly evenly, the you don’t have the problems of erratic water ahead, so the chop shouldn’t interfere with your breathing or your rhythm, and your body position is unaffected negatively as your supple stroke webs seamlessly with your breathing, your rotation, and your kick. Doesn’t it.

    There is a skill to be developed in feeling the following swell as it runs onto your feet, then up your legs, like a creep in the back row at the movies, through your core and on through your chest, your neck and out the end of your head, ahead. That skill is to do with the suppleness that allows your body to take on the shape of the swell rolling through so that, as it travels along your body, you tend to surf down the face of it. It picks up your feet and it thrusts you forwards. Your body takes on the shape of the swell. Indeed, there are few more inspiring sensations in ocean swimming than surfing down the face of a following swell in deep water.

    We used to experience this when, as a youngster, we rowed surfboats. As you felt the following swell lift the blunt end of the boat, which the technical types refer to as the ‘stern’, or the ‘tuck’, you felt the boat surge forward, so your stroke changed from one of powerful grabs and swirling finishes to faster taps as you kept the boat even and running down the face of the wave. Then the boat drops off the back; it seems to stop dead, and it's back to the powerful grabs to rebuild the pace till the next swell surges through.

    In swimming, it’s the same: running down the face with a longer, chasing stroke, then pulling it together with more powerful grabs when you inevitably drop off the back and prepare for the next swell to come through. Goodness, it feels good.


    forster course 211118 400What happens when your GPS is confused by the earth's magnetics. The course actually was c.800m.


    But straight into the chop?

    Another misère, but this time in the negative. Or so it might seem. We return to surfboats…

    Rowing into a chop, the boat tends to stop each time it hits a bit of bump. The tendency is for the crew to start again, building up momentum with shorter, sharper strokes till they reach a running speed. The problem with a bumpy day, but, is that you’re continually hitting bumps that tend, each time, to make the boat stop. The way through this is not to shorten the stroke; if you shorten the stroke, it’s then continually restarting. The solution is to lengthen the stroke, and to finish each stroke with a flourish and a slight pause (not a hesitation) to give the boat run to get through those bumps. The stroke will tend to flow, but because it is a little longer, and ends with that bit of extra oomph, the boat running more evenly and the sharp end of the boat (known to the technical types as the bow) cutting through the bumps rather than being stood up by them.

    Ditto swimming. Straight into a chop, the tendency is to cop the stop, then restart each time after you’ve dropped off the back of a bump into the trough. We’re reminded of a swim from Palm Beach to Whale Beach, 15 or more years ago, when we swam from Palm Beach to Little Head directly into a 2-3 metre swell, with sou’-east chop on top. It was so bumpy that we reckon we travelled greater distance up and down than forwards. (That swim also was one of the occasions on which awgies did not have a marker booee off Little Head, thus we were free to cut the headland as close as we liked. As we rose and fell on the chop-topped swell, we felt as if we could have touched the rocks as we rounded them. Good grief, it was fun! Other awgies would not have run their swim in those conditions, but Whale Beach awgies always have favoured the adventurous course. It is, after all, The Big Swim.)

    Like the surfboat, we have found the best course through head-on chop is a longer stroke, head flat, thus optimising your streamline so that you cut through the chop rather than be tossed around by it. You must finish each stroke with a bit of extra push, and that, combined with the streamline, allows you to cut through the chop rather than the chop holding you up.

    And, like swimming across the chop, the secret is to keep on swimming. Just because you feel the chop hit you front on, and you sense the water ahead dropping away, it’s important that you don’t hesitate in your stroke. You must keep on swimming, because your entering hand acts as the anchor that pulls you through the chop, but if you’ve hesitated, there’s no anchor, and you’re left at the mercy of the chop.

    This goes to a massive flaw in our own stroke. For years, we’ve been obsessed with swimming ‘catch-up’ in ocean swims. Catch-up is leaving the leading hand out there till the recovering hand catches up to it. This is in the interests of streamline. In chop, however, it’s hesitation: the hand enters the water, but it delays the grab, in the interests of maintaining the streamline, thus the run. Our friend, Roger, a water poloist and former hack from the Gold Coast, told us once, many years ago, that he swims anything over 400 metres essentially catch-up. More accurately, it’s more like ¾ catch-up. And in normal, calmer water, that’s fine. It’s essentially about streamline and lengthening the stroke. But the thing about the sea is that it tends not to be normal water most of the time, and when you’re facing directly into a chop, if you keep, in effect, hesitating with your grab, then the chop will stop you. So you must keep the stroke going, the grab after entry to anchor your pull through the chop, and in the process finding a new ‘catch-up’, a modified catch-up, where you strike a new balance between stroke length and maintaining the swim action.

    And, you know something? If you do that, you’ll find the chop much easier to bear, and swimming into a chop will become fun; not the chore you’re used to or you’re expecting.

    Johnny never did tell us the result of his experiment. Last we heard of him, he was bushwalking in the Snowy Mountains. In the rain, apparently. But Johnny’s like that. He went kayaking in the outback in heavy rains a couple of months back. He’s his own fellow. And we suspect his ‘experiment’ was a ruse: he was just thinking up something for us to occupy our minds whilst we swam. He succeeded in that.

    newsletter divider

    New model Swipes

    Prescription gogs now in Swipes

    vc510 swipe lens 370Big news from View: our very popular prescription goggles now also come with high-anti-fog Swipe technology.

    Our Swipes, so far in both Selene and Wide-Eyes versions, have been a big hit, offering what View (the makers) describe as 10 times the anti-fog capacity of other gogs. We've been using them for almost two years now, and we know that it works. We've sold over 1,000 pairs of Swipe gogs since their release just prior to Xmas 2019, so many of you must agree, too.

    Now the Platina prescription goggles come in Swipe versions, too. Lenses come in strengths ranging from -1.0 to -10.0, and +1.5 to +6.0, and you can have different strengths in each eye. Just select the strengths you want when you order your gogs online.

    You can order your new Swipe Platina optical (prescription) gogs online now… Click here

    Meanwhile, our November sale continues…

    Here's the link to order your new gogs. Click now and we'll get them away to you quick and smart… Click here 

    newsletter divider

    heron island 13 turtle 600
    Swim buddies, Heron Island.

    2022 oceanswimsafaris

    New dates open for bookings

    Yet again, a new version of Covid raises uncertainty about overseas travel. This time, at the time of writing, we know very little about omicron other than that it has the authorities very worried. We're keeping an eye on it.

    In the meantime, We are taking bookings for our Heron Island oceanswimsafaris in 2022, thus March 14-19, April 24-May 2 (Full), June 12-17, October 19-24, and November 6-11

    There are only a few spots left on our March and June dates; April-May is full; there is plenty of room still in October and November. If you fancy them, you’d best get in quick and smart.

    There is plenty of room left in our June and November dates, and a few spots left in October, but they are filling fast.

    Find out more and book… Click here
    newsletter divider

    forster body surfers 211129 600
    Body surfers, Forster.

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1 comment

  • Graeme Jones Comment Link
    Graeme Jones
    Thursday, 21 April 2022 03:27
    I'd never recommend syringing the ears. The potential for perforating the ear drum is far too risky. It's happened to me twice. I agree with vaccuming by an experienced practitioner.

    Endurance swimmers can avoid most related ear problems by using custom ear plugs that are available through an audio specialist for less than $120. They seem to last for ever and never allow water in. An occasional wash with warm, soapy water is all that's required. I keep them in an empty film canister then drop it in my swim cap ready for my next swim.

    (Comment: oceanswimsafaris.com sells ear plugs that do the job just fine, two models for $7.95 or $12.95. See link under Buy Goggles above: oss.c)

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