Paul Ellercamp

Paul Ellercamp

September 28, 2022

osscombannerhorizontal

We don't take you just anywhere.

bongin dhd 220925 600
Ever hopeful: The Bongin Bongin Dawnbusters lap up one of those rare, perfect days before the forecast summer return of La Niña. Image by staff snapper, David Helsham (@glistenrr).

fos scroll 450 

See below...

Hypothermia

'Routine' ocean swim ends in death

This horrifying report of the death of a swimmer in San Francisco, from suspected hypothermia, is a lesson to all swimmers. Below, we republish our guide to cold water swimming, but retired Snooze Doc, Howard Roby, a report was published originally in our oceanswims.com newsletter of April 19, 2018. 

graff amy head 100By Amy Graff

From SFGate newsletter, San Francisco, Sept 23, 2022

 

china beach sf 600
Deadman's Point can be seen from China Beach, a cove tucked between Lands End and Baker Beach in San Francisco's Sea Cliff neighborhood. (DianeBentleyRaymond/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The weather was stunning in San Francisco on the evening of Sept. 16, with clear skies and the sun blazing overhead. Conditions seemed perfect for members of the city’s open-water swimming community who had gathered informally at China Beach for a workout. Below the surface, though, the sea was turbulent, and cold enough to kill. 

Michael Ritter, a longtime San Francisco resident and highly experienced swimmer, entered the water with a group of a half-dozen or more people around 6 p.m. Ritter, 67, had been swimming in San Francisco Bay for the past eight years, and had recently started braving the chilly waters without a wet suit.
Three swimmers in the group, including Ritter, ran into trouble. Though they’d planned on swimming for around a half-hour, they fought a strong current to return to shore, and spent far longer in the churning sea than they’d intended. Two were able to swim back to the beach themselves, where they were treated for hypothermia. Ritter struggled and was heroically pulled from the water by a swimming companion; despite efforts by the San Francisco Fire Department and the U.S. Coast Guard, he died later that night.

'He grew up in the water' 

Dozens of people are rescued from San Francisco’s treacherous waters every year; last year the fire department pulled 228 people out of the ocean. Deaths, though rare, are a reminder of the dangers of swimming in this part of the Pacific, where waves can hit with the force of a car and temperatures are potentially deadly. 

Despite only recently joining the Dolphin Club, a 145-year-old group dedicated to swimming and boating in the open ocean, Ritter had been swimming all his life.

“He grew up in the water,” Ritter’s husband, Peter Toscani, told SFGATE. “He was always around water, he loved water, he loved to swim, he was swimming in the community pool for 25 years, he loved beaches.”

With friends, he swam along the California coast in Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, Monterey and La Jolla. In the summer of 2020, he began swimming two or three times a week at China Beach, the cove within Golden Gate National Recreation Area on the city’s northern tip just west of the Presidio and Golden Gate Bridge. A friend said he had swum there 50 to 80 times.

Although the coroner’s office told SFGATE Ritter’s cause of death has yet to be determined, at the hospital, his body temperature was 82 degrees; hypothermia begins when a person’s core temperature falls below 95 degrees. The condition is common among swimmers in the frigid waters off San Francisco.

A small 2000 study found that 5 out of 11 participants monitored by researchers in San Francisco’s New Year's Day Alcatraz Swim came out with hypothermia. In May, a member of the Dolphin Club developed hypothermia at China Beach and had to be taken to the hospital, Ward Bushee, president of the group, told SFGATE. 

Two months ago, Ritter “went into a state of shock” while swimming in the same spot, this time while wearing a wet suit, and friends had to help him out of the ocean, Toscani said. He was treated by paramedics at the beach and made a full recovery. Toscani said the reason for the medical emergency was not determined and it’s unknown whether he had hypothermia.  

Despite the risks, Ritter’s death marked the first fatality of a club member in recent memory, Bushee said.

“We were all so sad as members of the Dolphin Club to learn about his loss,” Bushee wrote in an email to SFGATE. 

 

dolphin club 600
Founded in 1877, the Dolphin Club, a nonprofit organization, serves as a special community for swimmers and rowers alike. (Blair Heagerty / SFGate)

'We need to get the word out'

Open-ocean swimming is a thrilling, physically demanding sport, one that many participants continue to do into old age. While it may be risky, it also comes with health benefits: Studies show that people who swim tend to be healthier and live longer. The sport also fosters tight-knit communities among people who have a passion for swimming in the wide-open water, including at China Beach, where regular swimmers grew especially close during the pandemic.

“While open-water swimming at China Beach has its share of risks like other outdoor sports, it is worth calling out that it has also been a lifesaver to many swimmers including myself during the lockdown,” SF resident and open-water swimmer Alden Yap told SFGATE by text. He was part of the group that went swimming with Ritter on Friday, and developed hypothermia. “Many swimmers found each other in a period when pools and facilities were closed and grew organically from there into the social group that we see today.”

The 1,925-member Dolphin Club has a facility, including a sauna and hot showers, on the sheltered cove at Aquatic Park. But during the pandemic, when the club was closed, some members began venturing out to the unprotected waters of China Beach, according to Bushee.

“In Aquatic Park you have a more controlled area,” Bushee told SFGATE on the phone. “You have escape hatches. There are enough swimmers out there that you can ask for help. You can grab a boat. The beach is close. That’s not necessarily so true at China Beach where you have some strong tides and conditions that are more difficult to navigate. We need to get the word out that you need to be careful and plan your swim well when you’re at China Beach.”

Having a plan isn’t necessarily enough, though. Ritter and his group were following best practices, including going out with other experienced swimmers, on a day when there were no National Weather Service warnings about unusually dangerous conditions. While Ritter was in top shape, Toscani said he had little body fat to protect him from the cold. 

“When you look at this incident, it’s horrible because somebody lost their life. It doesn’t sound like they did anything wrong, it doesn’t sound like they did anything that anyone out of their skill level would have done,” said Lt. Jonathan Baxter, a spokesperson for the fire department. “It seems this party had a plan, which shows that even if you plan for something, injuries can occur.”

Hypothermia is a sneaky thing. Although it’s most common in icy waters, it’s possible to become hypothermic in any water colder than 70 degrees. The closest National Weather Service buoy to China Beach indicated that the water temperature was about 58 degrees that night, and Baxter said the water off the beach was anywhere from about 49 to 57 degrees. 

Prolonged exposure to cold sucks up your body’s stored energy, sending your core temperature plummeting. If your core falls below 95 degrees, your body will go into shock, leading to disorientation, uncontrollable breathing and rapid heartbeat. That confusion is particularly dangerous in the open ocean.

'Right in front of me was a wave'

Ritter started Friday’s swim with several others, including Yap, who has been swimming long distances in the ocean since 2005. Yap told SFGATE that they had met up organically and decided to follow the usual route, swimming south to Deadman’s Point and back. Yap has done this same 1-mile swim a dozen times, usually taking about 25 to 30 minutes. Some in the group might turn around before Deadman’s depending on conditions.

Yap said that from shore they noticed conditions were a “a little bit choppy, but it wasn’t something that we thought we couldn’t overcome. … We’re used to swimming in those conditions.”

At some point, though, Yap was grabbed by an unusually strong current, which helped him reach Deadman’s Point faster than usual. When he tried to turn back, the current became problematic. Yap realized he’d lost the rest of the group. 

“Conditions changed when I got to Deadman’s,” Yap told SFGATE over the phone. “I realized no one was behind me and no one was in front of me. That’s when I panicked.”

He added, “You could see the Golden Gate Bridge. It was sparkling. The sky was clear, but right in front of me was a wave and it was high.”

Heading back toward China Beach, with winds picking up, Yap said that he swam as hard as he could for 15 minutes, but made little progress. 

“I’ve never experienced a current like that,” he said. “I was on a treadmill.”

By moving closer to shore, Yap managed to skirt the current, eventually making it back to China Beach after more than a hour in the water. He was treated for hypothermia by a paramedic, then released. He later posted GoPro footage of his perilous swim on YouTube.



bongin dhd 220920 600
Image by David Helsham (@glistenrr).

'His eyes became panicky'

On Tuesday, Toscani recounted what he’s learned about his husband’s final swim. 

In the water, Ritter stayed close to a woman in the group; the two of them were also grabbed by a powerful current. Ritter started to swim more slowly, Toscani told SFGATE; the woman told Toscani she realized something was wrong when she noticed Rittert “ looking blissful,” Toscani said. “It was treacherous. He was treading water, and she had to become more aggressive toward him, trying to direct him toward the shore.”

When she realized China Beach was out of reach, Toscani said, she told Ritter that they needed to swim to the closer Hidden Beach, a strip of sand surrounded by steep cliffs. 

“She was trying to push him using her feet,” Toscani told SFGATE. “She said his eyes became panicky.”

The turbulence was so bad that Ritter was swallowing a lot of water.

By the time they reached Hidden Beach, Ritter was unconscious. The woman administered CPR, but she was unable to revive him. She swam back to China Beach, ultimately spending an hour and a half in the water. One of the other swimmers in the group had already called 911, and waiting medics treated her for hypothermia, Toscani said. 

The fire department said it first received a report of a swimmer with a medical emergency at 7:20 p.m, and deployed five rescue swimmers who swam in the dark from China Beach to Hidden Beach. The swimmers used a board to bring Ritter to a waiting U.S. Coast Guard boat, where medics immediately started life-saving measures, Baxter said. 

“Once the Coast Guard got to Michael, they said they felt a pulse, they tried to revive him there,” said Toscani, adding that the woman who helped Ritter is a hero.

Baxter agreed, telling SFGATE that Ritter’s companion “heroically rescued this person, to a point where CPR could be administered.” 

Ritter was transported by boat to Horseshoe Bay in Marin County, and then to Marin General Hospital. On arrival, doctors connected him to a respirator, and to machines designed to warm up his blood, according to Toscani.

“The blood would come out and pass through these heating machines and go back through the body, they did that for two and a half hours or so. They were able to get his body temperature up to 86 degrees,” he told SFGATE. An ER doctor then checked for a pulse, but couldn’t find one. “They gave me the choice on whether to continue with this. There was no chance. I said, ‘Turn everything off.’”

Ritter was pronounced dead just before midnight Sept. 16, about six hours after he’d entered the water.

 

ritter michael 250ritter michael wettie 250
After Michael Ritter died Sept. 16, 2022, an email to friends read, "The world is brighter for having had Michael's light, kindness, generosity, tolerance, acceptance and unconditional love; an example for how to live on this planet for the short time we inhabit here." (Courtesy Eric Smith)

'The model of morality'

Ritter grew up in Florence (South Carolina), and graduated from the College of Charleston with a degree in psychology and counseling. Toscani said that he loved to travel; he passed through San Francisco in the 1970s and ended up staying. 

Ritter spent more than 30 years as a member of the faculty at San Francisco State, teaching classes to students majoring in counseling, as well as providing mental health services to students, including creating the school’s substance abuse prevention program. In the mid-’80s, Ritter founded the AIDS Coordinating Committee on campus, addressing AIDS prevention and education and advocating for people living with the virus, including staff and faculty. It “set an example for AIDS policies and programs on college campuses throughout the country,” the Golden Gate Xpress, the university’s newspaper, reported. 

“He promoted the well being of marginalized communities (particularly those impacted by homophobia and racism) throughout his career as a counselor and educator in social services before his long tenure at SFSU,” Bita Shooshani, a colleague of Ritter, wrote in an email. “To me he embodied the spirit of San Francisco and why I moved to the Bay and stayed here and continue to live here. 

“He was a teacher, an activist, committed to social justice, a person of the highest moral values who was trying to make a difference in this world,” Ritter’s long-time friend Eric Smith wrote in an email to friends, which he shared with SFGATE. “He was truly ‘walking the walk.’”


ritter toscani portrait 250Michael Ritter, left, with his husband of 35 years, Peter Toscani. Courtesy Eric Smith

Ritter’s death has left the open-water community in shock; the flag at the Dolphin Club was lowered to half-mast for three days. His friends and family, meanwhile, are mourning the loss of a man who they say lived with good intention and grace.

“I can’t think of one instance where he talked cruelly about anyone. He was the model of morality,” Toscani said.

“Michael was an extraordinary person and friend to many people from many different walks of life,” Smith wrote. “When you were with Michael, you felt like you were the most important person in the world.”

On Oct. 1, the Swimming for Sueños Dream Team is holding its ninth swim from Alcatraz to San Francisco to raise scholarship dollars for undocumented students at SF State. This year, the swim is in Ritter’s honor.

 newsletter divider

Hypothermia 101

When is cold too cold?

Roby howard 150Early this season (oss.c: Season 2017/18), writes Howard Roby, controversy raged after the Bondi to Bronte swim was modified to allow swimmers to use wetsuits. This came about because of unseasonably cold water temperatures and the concerns of the officials about the possibility of some swimmers developing hypothermia. Snooze Doc Howard, an anaesthetist, offers this guide to dealing with hypothermia...

The term hypothermia refers to a core body temperature of below 35 degrees C, whereas normal core body temperature is around 37 degrees C.

Despite the change in the rules at Bondi-Bronte, some swimmers did need to be transported to hospital with hypothermia. I have seen different estimates of the water temp that day and have been told by the officials that the temperature during the swim was actually 13.7C. Due to the interest created by this swim, and as a committed ocean swimmer, I have been asked to write a piece on hypothermia. I am not an expert on hypothermia but I have qualifications in anaesthesia and intensive care where I spend a lot of my time and energy preventing patients from becoming hypothermic. I swam that race without a wetsuit and was very cold but I still felt as though I was functioning normally after it. I had a coffee an hour after the Bondi to Bronte swim with my friend, PJ, who is very fit but doesn’t have much fat. He was still slurring his speech and appeared drunk, although he kept telling me he felt normal.

First, some physiology

The human body functions well only within a narrow temperature range. A core temperature drop of 2 degrees C is dangerous and a 3 degreesC drop can kill you. Every cell in your body is a heat making machine. The act of burning energy creates heat. Even if you sit absolutely still, you are still using energy to keep your body functioning and thus producing some heat. The more exercise you perform, the more heat you produce.

Body temperature depends on a balance between heat production or gain and heat loss. In air, most heat is lost or gained by radiation as in warming from the sun. In water though, heat is lost mostly by conduction to the water. The colder the water, the more rapidly you lose heat and the faster your body temperature falls. In water below 34 C your body temperature will fall. The colder the water, the faster you’ll cool.

The major physiological defence mechanism you have to reduce heat loss is to constrict your surface blood vessels. This is why your skin is white when you’re cold and pink when you’re warm. In the cold, blood is shunted away from the skin and diverted towards your core. This increases blood flow to your kidneys which is one reason why you need to empty your bladder so often when you get cold. Shivering is an attempt by your body to increase heat production. It usually starts at a core temperature of around 34C but beware that it usually stops if your temp falls below 32C. Fat is an insulator, offering some protection against heat loss as well as increasing buoyancy.

 

mana fiji kids 220917 600
Noice aspect of the ManaFijiSwimFest over the years is the development of local kids as swimmers. James Song (2nd left) Had never swum an event longer than 400m (pool) till 5km in the Mana Fiji SwimFest on September 17. He’s also a very new swimmer. Cobbers Reuben Taylor (l), Joshua Mara (2nd right), and Jeremiah Faktaufon (r) swam out to escort him in at the end, which would have been some comfort as the poor kid could barely stand up at the end.

Ocean swimmers are at particular risk of hypothermia because they are typically fit and muscled, with large surface veins. These carry blood just below the skin – which increases heat loss. Swimmers also typically have little fat to insulate them, also predisposing to rapid loss of body heat.

Swimming increases heat production in the muscles, but because it also increases blood flow to the muscles, and through the superficial veins, it increases the loss of heat through the skin. Moving the limbs through the water increases the flow of water across the skin, further increasing heat loss. The net effect is that swimming increases heat loss more than heat production; temperature falls faster when swimming than when floating still in the water.

Survival time in water depends on many factors, including water temperature. This makes estimating survival time difficult and often inaccurate. Published “survival tables” refer to specific conditions, but are hard to relate to different conditions of water and air temperature, wind strength, wave speed and height, presence or absence of clothing or wetsuit, flotation, head coverage or lack thereof, degree of physical activity, as well as physical factors such as muscle mass, natural insulation by body fat, natural buoyancy and proportion of the body on or above the surface – all of which affect rate of cooling.

SUDDEN IMMERSION in cold water causes marked and dangerous physiological responses. Most obvious is the gasp response: rapid, deep and uncontrollable breathing. Maximum breath hold time is reduced, and coordination between breathing and swimming action is lost. These contribute to a high risk of drowning within a very short period, even before getting to the first turning buoy.

Sudden cooling of the skin causes widespread constriction of the surface vessels, shunting blood to the body core. The sudden increase in blood flow back to the heart can cause a dramatic increase in blood pressure, and an irregular heart beat. There is an increase in production of adrenaline and noradrenaline, pushing the blood pressure and heart rate up even more.

Confusingly, sudden immersion in cold water can also cause the dive reflex, a sudden slowing of the heart, and a rush of cold water up the nose can exacerbate this or even cause the heart to stop. The competing effects of these contradictory drives can cause a dangerous, even lethal, irregular heart rhythm.

All of these responses occur when the body surface is first exposed to cold water; the core temperature has not yet changed at all - the person is not hypothermic.

For these reasons, cold water should be entered slowly. Before a cold swim, wade into the water, or allow water to enter your wetsuit just before you start the swim. This reduces the effects of sudden immersion in cold water.

Do the effects of sudden immersion decrease with repeated exposure? – a little, after a long period. Do not think you are immune!

Recognition of hypothermia

The initial response to cold water is constriction of the surface blood vessels, reducing heat loss via the skin. The initial feeling of cold on the skin lessens over a few minutes, as the temperature sensors in the skin become accustomed to the stimulus. As the tissues of the body lose heat, the body core temperature starts to fall. By 35oC there is reduced awareness of cold, often a feeling that everything is fine. Muscle strength is reduced. Muscular activity is less efficient, swimming less coordinated and less powerful. There is reduced ability to recognise the deterioration in function. Speech is slurred, reflecting impaired brain function – people like this have been mistakenly assumed to be drunk. Between 34 and 35oC mental acuity is markedly impaired. Judgement and memory are impaired, and with it the ability to remember training, to recognise danger, and to act logically. Swimmers are likely to miss buoys, change direction the wrong way, fail to avoid waves or swell, and are unlikely to signal for assistance. At this stage they may be seen to be swimming, but not making any headway.

Mentally there is a determination to keep swimming, without any understanding of what is happening. There is no awareness of the need for immediate rescue. By 34oC thinking, reason, memory and awareness are very limited. Extreme lethargy gives way to a desire to sleep; this precedes a decrease in conscious level, predisposing to a quiet, un-noticed disappearance below the water and drowning.

Because the hypothermic swimmer does not recognise that they are becoming hypothermic, control of the swimmers must be exercised by people who are not in the water. (Tasmania Police Rescue divers in water of 12 - 13C, wearing two layers of thick wetsuit with hood and boots, are under the control of a diver in the mother boat for this reason.)

What water temperature is safe?

To a small degree this depends on acclimatisation. People in Canada and Europe tolerate lower water temperatures than we do, but usually for shorter swims. They often have higher body fat content, and may use artificial insulation.

The physiological effects are dramatically increased in water below 15oC so this might be a reasonable absolute minimum. Between 15 and 20oC an acceptable water temperature would depend on the wind, waves, wetsuits and head covering, sunshine, individual physical makeup, the length of the swim, and the other variables mentioned earlier.

Does gender make a difference? Females have a slightly higher total body fat percentage, so a little more insulation, and have a higher surface area to mass ratio. Males typically have a higher muscle mass, so producing more heat. The net effect is probably a small difference between male and female ocean swimmers, with females at slightly more risk.

 

mana fiji morning swim 220914 600
We're just back from the Mana Fiji SwimFest. This is what it's like in our early morning swims. Next year's dates are October 17-22.

Prevention of hypothermia

Make assessment of water and weather conditions a formal part of every swim GO or Postpone decision. Ensure you have a club doctor who is well informed on hypothermia, is part of the decision-making process, and listen to his or her advice.

In cold conditions, keep as warm as possible before starting the swim. The warmer you are before you start, the longer it takes to become cold. DO NOT walk around uncovered, thinking you are getting yourself ready / used to the cold.

Make sure you are well hydrated.

  • In cold water, below about 20C, always wear at least one swim cap. In lower temperatures, wear two.
  • When to wear a wetsuit depends on water temperature, degree of warmth from the sun, wind strength, wave height and velocity, and how far the swim is, as well as your physical characteristics. Some examples -
  • a swim of 1.5 km in water 0f 17C, without a wetsuit, is likely to leave a swimmer mildly hypothermic, looking pale, shivering, and feeling cold;
  • a swim of 5 km in water of 20C, by a swimmer with a little body fat, no wetsuit, is likely to leave him or her mildly hypothermic, looking pale, shivering, and feeling cold;
  • the same 5 km swim, but in water of 21C, by a thin muscular swimmer with large surface veins, without wetsuit, is likely to leave the swimmer very cold, visibly affected and under-performing;
  • an 8 km swim in water of 20C, without wetsuit, is likely to cause moderate, and dangerous hypothermia in many of the swimmers;
  • a 10 km swim in water under 20C is likely to leave most swimmers moderately hypothermic, and some in hospital.

So, there are no good rules, but it would seem sensible to consider wearing a wetsuit in any swim under 17C, or any swim over 5km.

Ocean swimming is meant to fun, not a trial of survival!

Management of hypothermic swimmers
  • Recognise that their performance is impaired;
  • Understand that they may not realise this, and argue with you;
  • Get them out of the water;
  • Shelter them from wind;
  • Dry them, cover the whole body in dry clothing / blankets, particularly the head. If they are conscious, keep them wrapped up, and allow them to warm themselves by their own heat production. They must be carefully observed, as their core temperature may continue to drop and they may lose consciousness;
  • Give them warm, not hot, sweet drinks. Warmed blankets are useful, as is body-to-body contact;
  • The ubiquitous space blanket that looks like a giant piece of aluminium foil may not be all that good for treating hypothermia. If you’re warm, they are good at keeping you warm. They won’t rapidly warm up someone who is cold;
  • Active heating with a specially designed forced air warming blanket is preferable to a space blanket;
  • DO NOT leave them alone;
  • DO NOT use hot water bottles or chemical heating packs, as these are likely to result in burns;
  • DO NOT put them in a hot shower or bath; rapid warming causes the superficial vessels to dilate rapidly; blood pressure falls dangerously, cold blood trapped in the periphery is suddenly released, and a bolus of cold blood returning to the heart can cause a fatal irregular heart beat.
  • Once they are rewarmed, their swim for the day is over. Do not allow them to re-enter the water.

Unconscious or semi-conscious people should be treated as above, on their side in the coma position with airway support, and transported by ambulance to hospital for more intensive management.

Should Bondi-Bronte have been cancelled?

I’m not smart enough to know the answer to that but I hope the organisers understood the dangers. Swimmers may rapidly get hypothermic and have breathing and heart difficulties before they even get to the first buoy (as happened to one of my colleagues) or they may start to act irrationally midway through the swim. They may turn out to sea and start swimming away from then land or they may drown.

In summary, if you are thinking of swimming in cold water -

  • Consider how long you’ll be in the water for;
  • Consider the weather conditions;
  • Wear at least one bathing cap;
  • Consider wearing a wetsuit;
  • Keep yourself warm leading up to the swim but make sure you’ve entered the water slowly when you do get in;
  • Make sure someone who is not in the water is keeping an eye on you.

Howard Roby is a recently retired anaesthetist at St Vincents Hospital in Sydney, a former water poloist, and a regular ocean swimmer. Howard has two Cole Classic plates.


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
 

2023 packages open now

Travel to swim in exotic locales

We're rapidly posting travel packages for our oceanswimsafaris in 2023. We posted packages for our most exotic location, Sulawesi (June), just  yesterday. Packages are online for The Philippines (May-June) and whale swimming in Tonga (July-August). We'll have them up very soon for Spain's Costa Brava (September) , Mana Fiji (October) in '23, and for Heron Island (three dates in June, October, and November). French Polynesia (May) at this stage is sold out!

What’s on…

June–November, 2023 – We’re going back to Heron Island with three oceanswimsafaris planned between June, October, and November. These have been very popular in 2022. We have two more to go in 2022 (October 19-24 and November 6-11)– Still room available if you'd like to come with us). We’re finalising 2023 packages now and will have them up very soon… Click here

french poly 19
Rank-and-file git languishes in the Pacific in French Polynesia. You, too, can swim here.

French Polynesia, May, 2023 – We have two oceanswimsafaris to French Polynesia lined up. These have been rolled over annually since the pandemic hit, but we'll to get them away at last in 2023. Both are full right now, but spaces may open up. Check the details and let us know if you’re interested, just in case… Click here

The Philippines, May-June, 2023 – We’re off to The Philippines to swim with whale sharks, inter alia. We stay on the island of Negros Oriental in a five-star resort, which we use as our base for swims around the area over some of the best coral reef you will ever see, and in some of the clearest water. This location is at the northern end of the Celebes Sea, a region that offers the highest diversity of marine life in the Indo-Pacific. Dates are May 29-June 6… Click here


sulawesi suanne
Very nice water in Sulawesi.

Sulawesi, June 9-17, 2023 – We’re heading to get back to Sulawesi, the weird-shaped island in the nor’-eastern Indonesian archipelago. This is at the southern end of the Celebes Sea, again in the area of the greatest diversity of marine life in the Indo-Pacific. More glorious coral reef and tropical water, lots of turtles, different Indonesian banquet every night, and some of the most panoramic views you will ever get from a resort room… Click here

Tonga, July-August, 2023 – Come with us to swim with whales in Tonga. This has proved to be one of our most popular oceanswimsafaris. In recent years, we’ve run three, end to end. In 2023, we have one set of dates ready, to see how we go. We had hoped to visit Tonga again in 2022, but the kingdom is not expected to re-open to international visitors post-pandemic till November, 2022. So next year it is. We spend three days swimming with whales and two days ocean swimming around and between islands in the Vava’u archipelago.  Dates are July 31-August 8, 2023… Click here


san sebastián evening
The end of a big day, San Sebastián.

San Sebastián, Spain, August, 2023 – Back to Spain! We’re planning on running our San Sebastián oceanswimsafari over the week of August 22-28, anchored by the annual 3km swim around the island of Santa Clara. San Sebastián is one of the ancient world’s most colourful cities. Have you heard of pintxos? Excellent food in San Sebastián, and we make it a focus of our visit there… Click here

sea cave costa brava
One of us in the entrance to a sea cave, Costa Brava.

Costa Brava, Spain, September, 2023 – And back to the Costa Brava, the wild coastline of Catalonia between Barçelona and the French border. We’ll swim from France to Spain around the end of the Pyrenees, follow the most spectacular coastline in the world, and sample some of the best food and wine you will find anywhere. And we’ll immerse ourselves in the world of Salvador Dalí, who was native to this area. There’s something for everyone on this oceanswimsafari, whether or no you’re a swimmer. Dates September 6-14 (TBC)… Click here

Mana Fiji, October 17-22, 2023 – We are off to Mana Fiji this year, September 13-18, 2022, for the return of the Mana Fiji SwimFest — a five-day carnival anchored around a 10km (solos or 3 x 3.3km relay) swim on the Thursday, and a choice of 5km, 2.5km, or 1km on the Saturday. Mana’s North Beach is Ocean Swimming Stadium of the Pacific, one of the best stretches of water in which you’ll ever do a swim event. Dates TBC for 2023. But you don’t need to wait that long: come with us in 2022… Click here

 

sporades yacht
We sail around the Northern Sporades, in the wake of Jason and his Argonauts.


We can also take small groups of 6-8 people to swim around Greece's Northern Sporades islands, location of the movie, Mama Mia. If you have around double that number, we can use two yachts. If you're interested, give us a yell... Click here

Lots on offer; lots to do; lots of swimming in some of the world’s most beautiful water.

You can reserve your place with an advance deposit of $500 per head. When we finalise the packages for each trip, we’ll give you the option of accepting or declining. If you don’t wish to proceed, we’ll refund your advance deposit in full. But in the meantime, you will have your space set aside.


See oceanswimsafaris.com for more.

newsletter divider

heron 1410
Not a bad joint for a swim.

2022 Heron Island

Dates open for Oct, Nov

Our Heron Island oceanswimsafaris have been heavily booked. We've had some terrific groups come with us so far this year, although the weather has not always been at its best. We're looking forward to tip top conditions in October and November. This time of year traditionally has produced ideal swim and tropical holiday conditions.

October dates are October 19-24. November dates are November 6-11.

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

We'll be ready soon to take bookings for our 2023 Heron Island dates –

  • October 25-30
  • November 8-13

Find out more and book… Click here

heron island 12 600
Fish school.

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

Subscribe…

If you'd like to subscribe to this newsletter… Click here

Unsubscribe…

If you would like to unsubscribe to this newsletter, just click the link at the bottom of this page.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

August 18, 2022

osscombannerhorizontal

We don't take you just anywhere.

bongin dhd sunrise 220816 600
A metaphor for the seasons... Just as the sun approaches the equator on its way sarf for spring and summer, so it peeps, just peeps over the horizon at dawn at Bongin Bongin Bay. Image by staff snapper, David Helsham (@glistenrr), who has a way of saying in images what most of us would struggle to articulate in words.

fos scroll 450 

See below...

What lies beneath

Too much to see

goble sally 400One of the beauties of ocean swimming is that you get to see not just what's around you, but also what's beneath you. Spare a thought for those breaststrokers who swim heads up: they get to see only what's in front of them, above the surface. London's Sally Goble, in the latest in her blog, Postcards from the Pool, muses on some of the stuff they're missing...

canary wharf london 300Honestly, I need a lobotomy.

I envy heads-up breastrokers: their unwetted hair, their sunglasses, their ignorance-is-bliss, their world where everything is as it seems. No wonder they glide along happily chatting and marvelling at the normal world. They are oblivious to what is below.

For me with my head down, wide-eyed-scanning the terrifying world beneath me — my heart beats alarmingly fast.

Canary Wharf. Middle Dock (That's it, at right: oss.c). Saturday. The water is terrifyingly clear.

Here is a graveyard of chairs: I count eight or ten. Some skeletons have all their limbs intact, unnaturally landed upside down, belly-up. Some smashed into pieces, legs scattered like bones. I swim past the waterside bar alongside, imagining obnoxious city boys, too loud, too eager to impress, too many bottles of expensive wine into the night, picking up the furniture and hurling it, laughing uproariously, to its watery final resting place. I shudder.

A hundred metres later on I startle myself with an unexpected underwater ledge of concrete rubble, as though someone has tipped in liquid concrete and it has bubbled and set and come to rest here: ugly and rough; gnarly and pockmarked. Not smooth and contained and well-ordered like the sides of the buildings around. I swim on hurriedly.

Then the worst part. A section of a scaffolding tower lies slumped on the basin floor, lying in a shambles on its side, big enough that it looms closer to the surface than I’d like. I swim over the top of it. Metres long, perfectly intact, gradually being covered by green sludge and algae. Why is it here? How long has it been lying quietly below the surface, unseen? I feel a sense of dread each time I swim over, imagining its life, and death. Once upon a time I imagine it strong and reliable, sturdy and proud, part of a team of scaffolding units that stood erect and built this docklands, with its mad metal and glass edifices. It had capability and strength and purpose. Now it lies here, forgotten and unloved, decaying and useless. Each circuit I do I give it a wider and wider berth. It terrifies me, a reminder of the way of all things.

I wish the water were murkier, or I could do head-up breaststroke.

There is too much to see here.

 newsletter divider

Swimmer's shoulder

Just about the only injury a swimmer can get

murphy jerry 200Apart from being dumped in the break, or being thumped by an over-zealous rival whilst rounding a booee, about the only injury that ocean swimmers – indeed, any swimmers – can get from swimming is swimmer's shoulder. Here, physiotherapist and ocean swimmer, Jerry Murphy, a member of Maillot Jaune, takes us through it...

(This article was published previously in our newsletter of July 3, 2018. We figure it's time for a reminder. At the end of the article, there are a series of seven brief videos that physio Jerry Murphy has prepared demonstrating simple exercises to help deal with shoulder injuries in swimmers.)

Q. Which stroke is the most common cause of shoulder problems in swimming?

A. Freestyle. Regardless of the stroke performed in competition, over 50 per cent of swimmers in an elite Australian swim squad perform freestyle in training. As it’s highly repetitious, the shoulder is at risk to overuse and overload injuries. Elite swimmers and those training for distance swims (eg English Channel) can be swimming 50 to 90 km per week.

Q. Prevalence of shoulder pain reported at elite level?

A. Between 40 per cent and 90 per cent.

Q. Why the shoulder?

A. In contrast to most other sports, the shoulder and arm are the principal generator of forward momentum, not the legs.

The anatomy of the shoulder is similar to a golf ball sitting in a golf tee: the humeral head is 4x bigger than the socket (glenoid). Therefore, at any one time and position, there is only 25 per cent of the humeral in contact with the glenoid. Consequently, stability is compromised for greater mobility.

In return for greater mobility, the labrum (cartilage lining of the glenoid) and rotator cuff (four muscles from the scapula) are put under increasing load to stabilise the humeral head in the socket.
Freestyle stroke

The Freestyle stroke is divided into 4 phases --

  1. Hand entry
  2. Pull
  3. Push
  4. Recovery

shoulder diagram 350Q. Which phase causes problems?

A. The recovery phase is where problems can occur in the shoulder. The shoulder is above water in a flexed and internally rotated position.

If the rotator cuff muscles are fatigued they cannot hold the humeral head securely in the socket as the hand enters the water for the next critical phases... hand entry and catch.

The catch position also can present problems to the shoulder if the entry is not correct ie hand first parallel to the water followed by the wrist, elbow and shoulder.

The all important angle of entry will dictate the resistance of water experienced at the shoulder. If entry is too shallow the shoulder will experience a large moment of force as the water provides resistance.

Over a period of time this will cause the rotator cuff to fatigue especially supraspinatus resulting in an impingement.
Impingement

Swimmers shoulder was coined by Hawkins Kennedy in 1974 for anterior shoulder pain following swim workouts and termed impingement. It has been since found to be just as common in the general public.

G Murrell et al 2008 looked at an elite group of Australian swimmers and found volume was a major cause of supraspinatus tendinopathy, not impingement. The hypothesis was high volume swimmers developed laxity in the joint soft tissues (ligaments and capsule). This laxity caused an unstable joint where the humeral head impinged upwards into the path of the supraspinatus tendon.

Laxity in the shoulder can be divided into two types --

  • The first is genetic, often involving more than one joint in the body having greater flexibility; often referred to as hyper mobility.
  • The second cause is repetitive swimming which can cause the static structures to become more flexible.

Results of the study showed swimmers who swam greater than 35km per week were 4x more likely to have tendinopathy than those who swam less. Laxity levels in the shoulder did not change with increased volumes of swimming when measured.

Take home points to prevent shoulder injury during swimming are –

  1. Watch the volume of kms per week: over 35km will increase the risk of shoulder tendinopathy.
  2. Maintain a strong robust rotator cuff that can tolerate fatigue.
  3. Consider all aspects of the swim cycle from hand entry to recovery.
Video help

 Video 1... Click here

 Video 2... Click here

 Video 3... Click here

 Video 4... Click here

 Video 5... Click here

 Video 6... Click here

 Video 7... Click here

Happy ocean swimming!
newsletter divider

mana fiji 1610 06 600

Win back the value of your room...

Mana Fiji prize drawn 

mana fiji logo 19 250With the arrival of August, we've drawn the winner of our prize to win back the value of your room at Mana Island Resort in Fiji: it's Don and Alison Harris, of Ballina.

The prize was drawn from a list of all those who had booked and paid to come with us to the Mana Fijji SwimFest. To be eligible, you had to have made final payments by the end of July.

We'll be refunding Don and Alison the value of their bure for their stay on Mana Island.

There is still time for book for 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 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).

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

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
 

Next year's dates up now

Travel to swim in '23

It’s the end of the year, if you’re a finance-type person, or someone who does their tax on time, but we’re planning for calendar ’23. We’re getting ready to restart all those oceanswimsafaris – the Pacific, the Asian archipelago, the Mediterranean – that fell into abeyance with the pandemic. We’re getting them going again in 2023.


What we’re planning is below, but first a warning: we’ve had quite a bit of interest in some of our 2023 oceanswimsafaris, so if you’d like to come with us, let us know your interest. You can hold your spot with an advance deposit (fully refundable when we’ve finalised the package if you’d prefer then not to proceed). More on that lower down… 

What’s new…

What’s new is that we now have dates for 2023 on oceanswimsafaris.com.

What’s on…

June–November, 2023 – We’re going back to Heron Island with three oceanswimsafaris planned between June, October, and November. These have been very popular in 2022. We’re finalising a couple of dates now and will have them up very soon… Click here

french poly 19
Rank-and-file git languishes in the Pacific in French Polynesia. You, too, can swim here.

May, 2023 – We have two oceanswimsafaris to French Polynesia lined up. These have been rolled over annually since the pandemic hit, but we expect to get them away at last in 2023. Both are full right now, but spaces may open up. Check the details and let us know if you’re interested, just in case… Click here

June, 2023 – We’re off to The Philippines to swim with whale sharks, inter alia. We stay on the island of Negros Oriental in a five-star resort, which we use as our base for swims around the area over some of the best coral reef you will ever see, and in some of the clearest water. This location is at the northern end of the Celebes Sea, a region that offers the highest diversity of marine life in the Indo-Pacific. Dates are May 29-June 6… Click here


sulawesi suanne
Very nice water in Sulawesi.

June, 2023 – We’re planning to get back to Sulawesi, the weird-shaped island in the nor’-eastern Indonesian archipelago. This is at the southern end of the Celebes Sea, again in the area of the greatest diversity of marine life in the Indo-Pacific. More glorious coral reef and tropical water, lots of turtles, different Indonesian banquet every night, and some of the most panoramic views you will ever get from a resort room… Click here

July-August, 2023 – Come with us to swim with whales in Tonga. This has proved to be one of our most popular oceanswimsafaris. In recent years, we’ve run three, end to end. In 2023, we have one set of dates ready, to see how we go. We had hoped to visit Tonga again in 2022, but the kingdom is not expected to re-open to international visitors post-pandemic till November, 2022. So next year it is. We spend three days swimming with whales and two days ocean swimming around and between islands in the Vava’u archipelago.  Dates are July 31-August 8, 2023… Click here


san sebastián evening
The end of a big day, San Sebastián.

August, 2023 – Back to Spain! We’re planning on running our San Sebastián oceanswimsafari over the week of August 22-28, anchored by the annual 3km swim around the island of Santa Clara. San Sebastián is one of the ancient world’s most colourful cities. Have you heard of pintxos? Excellent food in San Sebastián, and we make it a focus of our visit there… Click here

sea cave costa brava
One of us in the entrance to a sea cave, Costa Brava.

September, 2023 – And back to the Costa Brava, the wild coastline of Catalonia between Barçelona and the French border. We’ll swim from France to Spain around the end of the Pyrenees, follow the most spectacular coastline in the world, and sample some of the best food and wine you will find anywhere. And we’ll immerse ourselves in the world of Salvador Dalí, who was native to this area. There’s something for everyone on this oceanswimsafari, whether or no you’re a swimmer. Dates September 6-14 (TBC)… Click here

September/October, 2023 – We are off to Mana Fiji this year, September 13-18, 2022, for the return of the Mana Fiji SwimFest — a five-day carnival anchored around a 10km (solos or 3 x 3.3km relay) swim on the Thursday, and a choice of 5km, 2.5km, or 1km on the Saturday. Mana’s North Beach is Ocean Swimming Stadium of the Pacific, one of the best stretches of water in which you’ll ever do a swim event. Dates TBC for 2023. But you don’t need to wait that long: come with us in 2022… Click here

 

sporades yacht
We sail around the Northern Sporades, in the wake of Jason and his Argonauts.


We can also take small groups of 6-8 people to swim around Greece's Northern Sporades islands, location of the movie, Mama Mia. If you're interested, give us a yell... Click here

Lots on offer; lots to do; lots of swimming in some of the world’s most beautiful water.

You can reserve your place with an advance deposit of $500 per head. When we finalise the packages for each trip, we’ll give you the option of accepting or declining. If you don’t wish to proceed, we’ll refund your advance deposit in full. But in the meantime, you will have your space set aside.


See oceanswimsafaris.com for more.

newsletter divider

heron 1410
Not a bad joint for a swim.

2022 Heron Island

Dates open for Oct, Nov

Our Heron Island oceanswimsafaris have been heavily booked. We've had some terrific groups come with us so far this year, although the weather has not always been at its best. We're looking forward to tip top conditions in October and November. This time of year traditionally has produced ideal swim and tropical holiday conditions.

October dates are October 19-24. November dates are November 6-11.

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

We'll be ready soon to take bookings for our 2023 Heron Island dates –

  • June 14-19
  • October 11-16
  • November 8-13

Find out more and book… Click here

heron 220428 stars 600
Starry, starry night, Heron Island, late April. Absolute rubbish joint.

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

Subscribe…

If you'd like to subscribe to this newsletter… Click here

Unsubscribe…

If you would like to unsubscribe to this newsletter, just click the link at the bottom of this page.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

June 8, 2022

osscombannerhorizontal

We don't take you just anywhere.

bongin dave 220527 600
Sighhh... This says it all about why we get down to the sea each morn. Image by @glistenrr, Bongin Bongin Bay.

 fos scroll 450 

See below...

forster 220527 01 600
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. 

newsletter divider

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…

If you'd like to subscribe to this newsletter… Click here

Unsubscribe…

If you would like to unsubscribe to this newsletter, just click the link at the bottom of this page.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

April 21, 2022

osscombannerhorizontal

We don't take you just anywhere.

oceanbeachandcountry 220420 04 600
Through a lip, brightly... This image from One Mile Beach, Forster, yesterday, by Turtle comrade, Steve White. See oceanbeachandcountry.com.au

 fos scroll 450 

See below...

dhd 01 600
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.

ossc 220418 600
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.

ossc 220405 600
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.

oceanbeachandcountry 03 600
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

newsletter divider

fiji mana 14 02

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 

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

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


dhd 01 220417 easter 600
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)

Subscribe…

If you'd like to subscribe to this newsletter… Click here

Unsubscribe…

If you would like to unsubscribe to this newsletter, just click the link at the bottom of this page.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

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 

 fos scroll 450

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

newsletter divider

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 

newsletter divider

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

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


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...

Subscribe…

If you'd like to subscribe to this newsletter… Click here

Unsubscribe…

If you would like to unsubscribe to this newsletter, just click the link at the bottom of this page.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

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…

newsletter divider

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…

If you'd like to subscribe to this newsletter… Click here

Unsubscribe…

If you would like to unsubscribe to this newsletter, just click the link at the bottom of this page.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

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…

If you'd like to subscribe to this newsletter… Click here

Unsubscribe…

If you would like to unsubscribe to this newsletter, just click the link at the bottom of this page.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

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.

Subscribe…

If you'd like to subscribe to this newsletter… Click here

Unsubscribe…

If you would like to unsubscribe to this newsletter, just click the link at the bottom of this page.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

November 9, 2021

osscombannerhorizontal

We don't take you just anywhere.

desmonema scoresbyanna forster 211102 600
The view off Forster Main Beach last week (see story below). 

Stingers, stingers, and more stingers

oos logoBlueys – The mystery deepens

Blueys. Love ‘em or loathe ‘em, they’re with us, and they ain’t goin' away.

Yet again, we are searching for the answers to some of life’s great questions –

  1. What makes bluebottles be there, floating around offshore, ready to be blown in to the beaches by an onshore breeze?
  2. What makes them spawn in abundance so that they are floating about out there, often in plague proportions?

Astute observers will note that these are two sides of the same question: Why are they there when they are there? Why not always or never? Why more so sometimes than at other times? What makes them spawn?

Special subject…


We have asked this question/these questions several (many) times in the past, but the best anyone can come up with is, ‘Oh, they get blown in by the nor’-easters’.

That is true. But why aren’t they blown in by all nor’-easters, or by all sou’-easters? The answer to that question is that they aren’t always there, floating about insouciantly, ready to be blown in.

Another question: Why are they in some places but not in other places, even nearby?

Case study: In Forster, where we swim a bit in the ocean, we swim mainly at the town’s Main Beach, which faces nor’-east. You would think that we are particularly vulnerable to bluey infestations. In the last two years, however, we have had very few problems with them, despite what incessant black nor’-easters blowing over the height of summer, and often at other times. Yet at One Mile Beach, barely a kilometre away, and which faces east, they have experienced repeated bluey invasions over the same period. Why them and not us?

Juli Berwald’s book, Spineless (Riverhead Books 2017), attempts to answer this question, inter alia (albeit not in specific reference to blueys at Forster). But it can’t, because, it says, no-one knows what makes jellyfish spawn.

What we do know, Berwald says, is that jellyfish (blueys ‘n all) come from polyps, and polyps clone to make new jellyfish.

Berwald quotes one researcher, Lucas Brotz, at the University of British Columbia, who has done a paper on the growth of jellyfish populations in coastal regions worldwide. Brotz theorises that one of the causes of an increase in jellyfish numbers is the increase in hard surfaces around shorelines; or, put another way, increasing development. The reason, he says, is that jellyfish polyps like hard surfaces to live on and the increase in structures such as wharves, artificial reefs, even buoys, moorings, breakwaters and concrete shoreline provide rich opportunities for them. And all of those hard surfaces, with untold (hectares) of undersides, are potentially brand-new habitats for jellyfish polyps.'

Berwald writes: ‘Jellyfish scientists have compared the jellyfish polyp to a Trojan horse. By building habitats for the polyps, we are inviting them into our bays and ports and beaches. They arrive and plant themselves, appearing as benign guest. And then, when they get the cue, they release an invasion of medusae (juvenile jellyfish, if you like, which become jellyfish: oss.c) before we can react.’

 

bluey dhd 600
A bluey. (Image: David Helsham Design @glistenrr)

But what is ‘the cue’?


Berwald says: ‘Despite all the artificial jellyfish habitats we’ve constructed, we’ve observed the polyps of only a miniscule number of jellyfish species in the wild… just over two dozen species.

‘Entire fisheries profit from two species of edible jellyfish, but the locations of the polyps that produce those medusae remain mysterious. We don’t have accounts of wild polyps of the box jellies that brutally sting swimmers in Australia every summer, of the spotted jellies that can proliferate into swarms of millions of medusae in the Gulf of Mexico, of the stocky barrel jellyfish that surf the seas of the United Kingdom, or of the invasive nomadic jellyfish that blooms by the kilometre in the eastern Mediterranean.’

We think Berwald is mixing up the terror of estuarine waters along the north Queensland coast with the much more pervasive but far less (but still) deadly bluey (our fave!). In the US, our blueys are their box jellies. Be that as it may, the question is the same: why are they there?

‘Lots of questions remain unanswered,’ Berwald writes. ‘What do wild polyps eat? What east wild polyps? How long do they live? Why do they die? What causes them to clone, to produce podocysts, to produce medusae?’

‘We just don’t know. And that’s eerie,’ Berwald says.

 

box jellyfish 600
A real nasty: a box jellyfish. Keep away from this one.

Why are they there?


The question comes to mind for a couple of reasons: we’re coming into summer, and reports of blueys in swimming areas along the coast are re-emerging from their winter slumber; they follow more frequent reports of blueys appearing on beaches in cooler months, even through winter; and an encounter we had last week at Forster, out behind Haydon’s Reef.

We were swimming around the reef last Tuesday, looking to catch up with Fluffy en famille, when suddenly it hove into view: a jellyfish, a stinger, that we’d never seen before. In our waters, you get used to seeing blueys, jimbles, purple people eaters, salps, etc. But this was right out of the ordinary. It sat there, about a metre below the surface, and we didn’t see it till we were right over the top (our habit is to keep our heads down when we swim, so we don’t see a lot ahead; it’s part of the lot of the ageing swimmer: you lose flexibility in your neck). A metre below, it’s not threatening, but as we stopped to look, it started… to move. You notice very quickly how manoeuvrable jellies often are, how deliberate they appear to be. Perhaps they’re just responding to the hydrodynamics of one swimming over them. And believe us, the hydrodynamics of this particular one (us) swimming around the joint are quite definite. Maybe it’s like they’re sucked into our slipstream, and what appears to be them responding and moving deliberately are just involuntary responses caused by the currents.

It does spook you a little, though, and you move back instinctively to put more distance between you and it.

It’s quite a beautiful, dramatic jelly, with lots of fair maiden’s fine hair floating about behind it. We had our Brownie Starflash-in-a-plastic bag with us, so we got a few images on burst at 30 frames over 3 seconds. Plenty of options. We sent an image to the chap at the Australian Museum who we thought would be most appropriate to identify it for us. He got back to us quick and smart, but he said we should send it to Lisa Gershwin, at the University of Tasmania, who is the acknowledged authority on jellyfish, and has produced an app to help us identify them.

We did that as well, and Lisa, too, got back to us quick and smart.

‘Ha! I think that’s one of my babies!!!!!’, Lisa said. ‘It looks like it might be Desmonema scoresbyanna, a species I named and classified around 2008. It is fairly uncommon, known from South Australia through NSW.’ That tallied with a report we’d seen from the local newspaper, the Great Lakes Advocate, in 2016, when it was sighted, apparently for the first time, off the breakwall at Tuncurry, across the lake mouth from Forster.

Lisa was not absolutely sure, though.

‘The reason for my lack of certainty is that the photo is pretty fuzzy, so I can’t make out the defining character, the arrangement of tentacles,’ she told us.

lion s mane jellyfish 300‘Desmonema has tentacle clusters in a straight line, where Cyanea, the lion’s mane, has horseshoe shaped clusters. Every time I’ve seen a milky white lion’s mane, they’ve turned out to be Desmonema. But you just never know, it could be a milky Cyanea.’

We’ve seen several images of the lion’s mane, and it doesn’t look like that to us, although we’re no expert and, depending on the images you’re comparing, we can see how the two might be confused. See for yourselves: compare the image at the top of this page with this one here, at right (lion's mane)…

A lion's mane.

The lion’s mane jellyfish can grow to several metres in girth, and it would be hard to mix them up on that basis. The Desmonema we spotted would have been c. 7-8cm wide in its bell, with gossamer tentacles extending half a metre behind.

Stung


Our cobber, Steve White, a Forster Turtle, reckons he was stung by what we saw, also out around Haydon’s Reef, on October 31. Steve normally has his own Brownie Starflash with him, but not on this occasion so he caught no images. He said it gave him a very sharp sting around his mouth. The pain was debilitating and lasted for two hours, although it left him with no scars or other marks. Didn't really matter much with Steve; he's a quiet sort of chap. Meanwhile, the mystery continues.

We took the opportunity of the contact with Lisa to ask her about the bluey: what makes the bluey be there when they are there, ready to be blown into shore by an onshore breeze.

At the time of writing, we haven’t heard back further from Lisa, but we live in hope. We have tried by email to ask her about the bluey a couple of times in the past, but received no response. Perhaps our emails were lost in the cybernet, including yesterday's follow up when we sent her another four images of last week's Desmonema.

Meanwhile, anyone out there who has some reasonably authoritative information or advice, please get in touch. Just so long as it’s more illuminating than, ‘Oh, it’s blown in by the nor’-easters’.

Why do we go on about blueys?


Well, if we have some idea about what make blueys be there, ready to be blown into shore, then maybe we can start to predict their arrival in swimming waters. That could mean swimmers could avoid being stung. And whilst to some punters, getting stung by a bluey is a badge of honour, to others it can endanger their lives.

In Hawai’i a few years back, the organisers of the Waikiki Roughwater swim started to anticipate the arrival of their version of blueys which, as we've noted, they call a box jellyfish, by the proximity to certain moon phases. In a briefing note to entrants in 2014, the Roughwater organisers told punters, ‘We scheduled this race around the box jellyfish window 8-11 days after the full moon and we do not anticipate that they will be around on race day…’

Organisers said this arrival time window had been ‘discovered’ by Dr Gail Grabowsky, and they began to schedule the swim to avoid it where possible. The Waikiki Roughwater always takes place on the first weekend in September, the Labour Day Weekend in the US, officially the end of the summer holidays. Waikiki generally ran on Monday, with the Maui Channel swim on the Saturday. Thence, the two events sometimes swapped days, so that Waikiki could be safer, or at least organisers could try to optimise the chances that it would be safer.

As we say, ‘box jellyfish’ doesn't mean the same thing to ‘Mer’cans as it does to Strã’ans. If we had ‘box jellyfish’ hanging about the swim course, we wouldn’t be starting at all. That said, there are many versions of ‘box jellyfish’. They all appear to be classified as ‘life threatening’ by Dr Gershwin’s app, The Jellyfish App. In Hawai’i, the ‘box jellyfish’ is a form of Irukandji (alatina moseri). (We tried to find out more about blueys (two versions appear to plague our waters, physalia species A – described as ‘rare – or physalia physalis) from the app, but it doesn’t seem to work very well on our iPhone, which carries the latest ios. Our access to information from it was very limited, although it appeared there was more there.) The Jellyfish App, indeed, lists two bluey-like stingers. One, the 'Blue Bottle', is listed as 'Rare', whilst the other, which it lists as 'Portuguese Man-o-war', is what we would refer to as a 'bluebottle'. No-one would refer to our 'Portuguese Man-o-War' as 'rare'.

Anyway, that’s all well and good, but we’re still in the dark about what makes blueys be there when they’re there.

Any advice would be appreciated… Click here

lion s mane jellyfish 600
Fancy running into this on your next early morning swim?… Another lion's mane. Mind you, it could all be in the lens and its depth of field. 

lion s mane jellyfish 02 600

newsletter divider

Gogs prices slashed!

Big response to new season sale


We've had a terrific response to our new season sale of our fave View gogs. We were absolutely inundated with orders after our last newsletter, and now we're all stocked up ready to go again.

V825A

Just for November (but on sale now) here are some of our bargains…

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

newsletter divider

heron 2106 manta henshaw 600
Swim buddy, Heron Island, June, 2021. (Image by Anne Henshaw @annehenshaw)

2022 oceanswimsafaris

New dates open for bookings


What a change comes over the travel environment as vaccination numbers grow! We now are confident that the border crossing into Queensland will reopen by mid-December, making possible our Heron Island oceanswimsafaris from March onwards. We’re also quite confident that travel to Pacific states – specifically French Polynesia, Tonga, and Fiji – will be possible from early-mid 2022, which would open the way for our oceanswimsafaris there in May, August, and September respectively.

We have now posted our 2022 dates and packages for –

  • Heron Island – March 14-19, April 24-May 2 (Full), June 12-17, October 19-24, and November 6-11
  • Tonga – Swim with Whales – August 2-10, August 9-17
  • Mana Fiji – September 13-18 (Packages available soon)

We had to cancel three Heron Island oceanswimsafaris in October/November this year when the Queensland border remained closed, but all those booked have now been rescheduled to oceanswimsafaris next year. (That’s why our April-May Heron oceanswimsafari is already full.)

There are only a few spots left on our March 14-19 Heron Island dates, as well, so 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.

We've opened Tonga for bookings. Routes are not open yet, but we're pretty confident. If it turns out we can't get there, we can either refund your deposit or roll over to 2023, or to another oceanswimsafari. We can take only eight per group to Tonga, given boat capacity.

Mana Fiji is confirmed. We expect to have packages online in the next few weeks, so keep your eye out (best not to email yet).

Wow! This is excitement. Movement at last. It's been a long pandemic.

Find out more and book… Click here
newsletter divider

bongin dhd 211105 600
Moody at Bongin Bongin (image by David Helsham @glistenrr)…

Subscribe…

If you'd like to subscribe to this newsletter… Click here

Unsubscribe…

If you would like to unsubscribe to this newsletter, just click the link at the bottom of this page.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

October 28, 2021

osscombannerhorizontal

We don't take you just anywhere.

bongin dawn 211026 dhd 600
Early morning peloton shares the sea. (Image by David Helsham (@glistenrr)) 

Culcha

oos logoNew season

(in progress)

Hark! Is that a sea salt gust I sense,
plum-rich heavy on curing weed?
Puffing breeze on a rising tide,
faltering while its stamina builds
for a bellicose season stretched ahead.

Perennial, sun-flecked seas’nal breeze
brings balmth to ailing winter’s chills.
Swells murmur onto unseen shores;
spilt milkshakes with their sickly scent
wake in last season’s grassy graves.

Bright-eyed punters, bushy-tailed in the early morn
shed layers, stumbling from their sleep,
drag funked-up budgies, gogs and caps
from bottom drawers and mouldy boots
of cars and bags, prime for summer’s rush.

And is that the sound of a starting gun?
Of beating feet and hollering lungs?
Of splashing mugs with flailing arms,
of waves of bodies hurled apace
to the sea, to the seas, the year’s first race?

I sit amongst remembered clouds
of sounds and smells and stings and cheer,
of hits and thumps and gasping breaths,
spuming foam and swirling rips,
Above the sea, back from the sea, just out of reach.

It’s not for us, no more the madding throng,
peloton pushing through the break.
Where once our time, it’s now passed on.
So what’s the point? What’s left for us?
What more is won from lingering long?

So here’s the word:
It’s not the race; it’s not the chase; the sea’s a simple catalyst.
The point, dear mugs, is just to be there,
The point is it’s a life we share.

newsletter divider

Gogs prices slashed!

New season sale!

We're celebrating the new swimming season with a never-before sale of our fave View gogs.

V825A

Judging by how many of you have been buying them, they're your faves, too.

Just for November (but on sale now) here are some of our 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

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

newsletter divider

heron 2106 manta henshaw 600
Swim buddy, Heron Island, June, 2021. (Image by Anne Henshaw @annehenshaw)

2022 oceanswimsafaris

Heron, Tonga in the new year

We had big plans for our oceanswimsafaris in 2021: despite the pandemic, we organised a series of new oceanswimsafaris to Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef. Must have struck a chord with you, because we were inundated with bookings. So inundated, that we kept having to add new dates.

But the pandemic struck again: late year border closures into Queensland meant that our last three Heron Island oceanswimsafaris could not proceed. We should have been there now.

As a result, we have scheduled a series of new dates in 2022. We've transferred our 2021 bookings to those new dates, and we'll be ready very soon to open them up to new bookings for Heron Island in 2022.

We're also very optimistic about our Swim with Whales oceanswimsafaris to Tonga. We've scheduled two sets of dates for that one – August 2-10, and August 9-17.

We'll have packages ready for both very soon. When they're ready for bookings, we'll send out another newsletter to let you know.

Have a look at the pages for both oceanswimsafaris (links above) to get an idea of what they're like, but be aware that the key information – package prices, etc – has not yet been updated for 2022. We'll be doing that over the next week or so. 

We'd love to have you with us.

We don't take you just anywhere.

 newsletter divider

forster curl 600
We're looking forward to getting back to Forster next week. This is why…

Subscribe…

If you'd like to subscribe to this newsletter… Click here

Unsubscribe…

If you would like to unsubscribe to this newsletter, just click the link at the bottom of this page.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

oceanswimsafari tales

Get in touch

Hellercamp Pty Ltd
t/a oceanswimsafaris.com
PO Box 1164
Meadowbank
NSW 2114
Australia

ABN 97 163 965 704

Connect with us