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Fitting finale….

Firstly apologies to those FOAM Leaguers who’ve noticed that I’ve not been prolific in terms of posts over the last few weeks…. busy at work so little time in the pool. Also the football season has returned, I’m back with the Curl Curl Over 35s and Sunday mornings are now spent recovering from the punishments of Saturday afternoon games. The 40s are definitely not the new 20s when it comes to body recovery.

But I held back this Saturday afternoon (not sure my teammates would’ve noticed any difference, mind) as I’ve been looking forward to this swim, literally for months. Sue and I frequently walk the Curly to Freshie boardwalk as these are our two local beaches and as I walk along I always look at the ocean thinking, “One day I’ll swim that”.

I”m not brave enough to tackle it by myself but thanks to South Curly SLSC and 300 other like-minded souls, today was the day. And thanks to Sue for taking all the photos here on her phone after her camera’s batteries gave out.. apologies for the quality but for those of us who were there I reckon they do capture the mood of the swim

Not a patch on Glistening Dave... but shows the pesky Southerly in all its glory

Not a patch on Glistening Dave... but shows the petulant Southerly lumbering in

At 7am the sky was blue, by 9am it was as grey as a winter’s afternoon in Belfast… as Steve, my fellow Norn Iron ocean-swimmer remarked. The organisers wisely wanted to get us in and hopefully out before the Southerly hit (much the same as they did in the Bondi to Bronte in December) but same result … in, but not out before the fun arrived.

The calm before the storm....

And you know what? I’m bloody glad that Southerly came through. It actually made the swim more enjoyable for me. I know that sounds weird….. but those of you who enjoy the challenges the ocean throws up  know what I mean

South Curly water safety. Top job. Special thanks to Tim from the footy team who watched out for me from his rescue board

That’s not what what I was thinking as our mob hit the water. The last swim I did was the Malabar Magic (respects to Murray Rose). That was two months ago and it certainly doesn’t provide a challenge when it comes to getting out through the break. For me, today did……

Us 40s+ huddle (for warmth?) whilst Curly shows us she has a wave or two

I got out eventually but not after getting smashed  a few times and wishing I’d done a lot more training. Speaking to Steve, who started in the same wave, he got out the back before the set came through….

And after all that jogging to get into water deep enough to swim in, getting the breathing right didn’t come easy. But I got through it and once out the back had a yellow buoy to aim for.

The White-Cap wave make their way out to sea

Once past the first buoy it was right turn and full-on into the Southerly. A lot of water was swallowed because turning for a breath meant risking a bucket-full of sea-water in the face. Rhythm, such as mine is, was destroyed by chop and flurry.

The thin white line near the ocean/sky horizon? Us swimmers enjoying the Pacific

Slowly the buoys passed by on my right shoulder. I stopped a few times just to take in the view. I’ve looked out at this part of the ocean hundreds of times… it was wonderful to look in this once.

Yes Dad, we did swim round that orange buoy. No, it's not like Portrush

And I think that’s where the wonder of this swim lay for me. Us humans live on land yet water casts a spell on many of us. To see what I see every day from a completely different perspective was just magic and I won’t ever forget it.

Enough of that… there’s Freshie point approaching, waves smashing on rocks and I’m a bit too close to those rocks. Turn left, head to Manly for 50 metres, then right to the pink cans that signal the final dash-ish into Freshie

Note kid with coat with hood up, bottom left... yes, it really wasn't ideal swimming weather

Made it in to the beach, via a rip that pulled me well to the right of the finishing flags… run? Now I have to bloody run? Did enough of that yesterday, chasing a ball like a demented terrier.

Freshie. A welcome sight

Steve was standing near the finish-line (dressed already…) and encouraged me on saying, “Last 10 metres of the season, Phil”.

And, for me, indeed it is. It’s been marvellous, made all the boring up-and-down laps at North Sydney pool worthwhile.

Thanks to Steve, Scott and Janj for being there at various beaches up and down Sydney. Sorry you weren’t there today Scotty and Janj.

When we set up FOAM League we promised prizes for the FOAMy who swam the furthest over the season. Well, given the season in Sydney is over (bar the Cold Classic in June) we think we have a winner

We think that is Anne Gately (‘though we suspect Mel Speet gave Anne a swim for her money and Brianna Davis went hard at the start). If you three ladies read this please get in touch. Once the mighty publish their final tally for the season we’ll know for sure which FOAMy swam the most distance in races. There will be a prize, we promise.

We’ll definitely be back in the water next season and probably blogging too. Hope you had a great spring, summer and autumn of tackling the ocean and all her delights and surprises.

It’s a wonderful thing to do and I know we are truly privileged to be able to do it.

Keep swimming. Enjoy the ocean.

Cheers. Phil.


Not so Freshy

There was a report in The Manly Daily yesterday about the rains flowing out of the outflow pipes at Freshy and  into the ocean.

It certainly doesn’t make Sundays swim enticing

Yesterday's delta of dirt (photo courtesy of the Manly Daily)

Freshy and Curly are equal distance from our house so I count Freshy as home-turf. I’ll check it tomorrow afternoon and make a decision as whether I’ll be in the water come Sunday.

Enjoy the ocean, if you get in it

Photos from the past

Jacqui got in touch to tell me about photo-edits she’s put together from a couple of recent swims, namely the Lake Bondi Roughwater(?) dip and Avalon (15th Jan).


Take a look below and see if you can spot yourself……


And Avalon which was all together more challenging by all accounts


And speaking of snaps from days gone by here’s a really old  (ie slimmer) one of me jumping into the Harbour at Pyrmont after the small agency I was at won a substantial piece of business. Completely unrelated although I guess it does show my enjoyment of being in the water..

I could lie and say it was the start of a beautifully executed swan-dive...

Thanks for your links Jacqui.

Looking forward to Freshy, where I’ll be swimming on home-turf (I know that’s a bit Irish)

A Local at Longie

I didn’t make it to this swim (house-boating on the Hawkesbury) but fellow FOAMy, Janj, did…. here are his report and piccies


It was an easy choice for me to choose to swim Long Reef this weekend as Longie is my home beach. The dawn recce out my window looking towards Long Reef and Dee Why didn’t display a promising start to the day with coastal showers and heavy clouds out to sea, but I put my trust in the BOM’s (Bureau of Meteorology) website and put on my sun screen.


Morning coastal showers replaced by blue patches, noice!

At the beach the turnout was good. The 1km had finished but many people were still assembling for the 2km. Without my swim buddies this weekend (both on non-swim quests),  my family came down to cheer me on.


The race started on schedule. The first wave went, the second, then before I knew it I was heading towards the first buoy in the third wave. It was a Tour Of Buoys alright, many dotted along the way which made navigation easy. I think I swam my hardest when right out the back I saw air bubblies coming up from the dark depths below me. I wondered, why don’t I swim this pace all the time!

The lady was faster in the water......

... but Janj was faster on land

Anyway for me it was another finish where all the watermelon had gone by the time I crossed the line and only oranges that sting my cracked lips are left. Never the less it was a great swim, my only wish was that the water was a bit clearer….. the reefs could have revealed even more of their beauty.

Next week I’ll try to swim faster….

One nag. At the car park there was a small A4 laminated sign saying that Warringah Council had not waived the parking fee for this event. I hit Long Reef every weekend with my family and friends during summer and hadn’t seen one ranger checking tickets this whole summer – until today! Good for you Warringah Council!!!!!!!



Spoilt for choice… but I’ve none

So this weekend… Tama or Long Reef?

One a destination swim (ie you actually arrive somewhere different than where you started), the other an out, round about and in swim.

Tama chop with Clovelly nowhere to be seen

One renowned for it’s potentially tricky start, the other supposedly enjoying the sheltered lee of Long Reef Headland.

Long Reef at a sharky time of the day, not an oceanswim time of the day

One involving a bus (…. bigger than the no-expense-spared, Warriewood-Mona Vale Bendy-express, I wonder?). The other a stroll down to the sand.

To be fair, unfortunately it’s all irrelevant to me because this weekend I’m on a houseboat on Pittwater

My mate says "it's kinda like this but no slide and not as classy. Woo-hoo!

I’ll be taking the togs for a dip so whilst I won’t be oceanswimming in body I will be in spirit.

Fishing rod in one hand, beer in the other I’ll be thinking of you whichever part of the ocean you’re bobbing about in this weekend.

Hope your swim is wonderful. Good luck. Phil.


Worth the wait….

Well, I was looking forward to this swim and Malabar delivered. So did Ra, ‘though when we arrived at Malabar it looked like he wasn’t going to bother getting out of bed.

The Sun having a rest over Malabar...

Mr Oceanswims is always full of praise for this swim and having done it for the first time I now understand why.

I taught my kids to swim. This bloke teaches his kid to walk on water

The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed, a big family day out at the beach. The ocean was pretending to be a lake, presenting no particular challenge… apart from the fact that the 2.4 km looked like a bloody long 2.4km. The outer buoys looked like they were on the horizon, maybe closer to NZ than Australia. Think I’m getting soft not having done a swim of any distance for a while now.

Swim, swimmers, swim...

From the numbers I saw it looked like there was a great turnout for the 1km. Great to see, mostly because  the more swimmers in the sea, the more $$$ in the bank account of Rainbow Club, a charity that helps disabled children participate in sport. It’s great that another charity benefits from our entrance fee. Do some of the surf clubs that run all the other oceanswims donate some of their hard-earned to charities other than themselves? Excellent if they do and it would make me feel better about the rising cost of participating in weekly swims. Anyway, enough of that…..

The 2.4 km started late, maybe about 20/30 minutes late… no reason was given. We finally got in, us blue caps making up what was probably the biggest wave in the 2.4km. All those blokes realising they’re not getting any younger and trying to fight off Father Time

Us Blueys hit Lake Malabar


Jeez, the ocean is a deceptive beast. What looked like a lake actually had a bit of bump and lift when you got out to the three outer buoys.. a kilometre out from the beach. Makes it more fun I reckon. Rounding the third outer buoy, looking back to shore I realised that 1km in a straight line is indeed a long way.

Bringing it home........

I zig-zagged my way back in … I’m claiming my distance to be at least 2.6km, all the extra due to my inability to swim in a straight line. Not proud of it.

This is me... gliding through the water. No wonder I'm slow.

No waves to catch on the way in (or get smashed by, as at Mona Vale) and it was over for another week. Delicious fruit and water (with no salt) brought this great swim to an end.

This swim will be a date for next year, bringing the other FOAMys from work.. they didn’t make it this time round.

Spoilt for choice next week. Long Reef, which I’ve done before, or Tama-Clovelly which I’ve never swum. Reckon Tama would be a better swim but Long Reef is just up the road from me. Decisions. decisions… aren’t we so damn lucky to live somewhere we can have those sorts of choices?

Next time I'll swim straight.....

Keep swimming. Enjoy the ocean.



We have a leader

‘Day all,

Hope you’re doing good and looking forward to Malabar as much as I am. It’ll be good to push a bit further and harder than I did with Don at the 1km Cole; my last proper swim was the Warriewood/Mona Vale .

Enough about me. Thought I’d better get around to addressing the fact that this FOAM thing is actually a competition with prizes (yet to be decided) and see what’s happening in the competition.

What’s happening is we have a leader by my (admittedly loose and hurried) calculations.

And that is Anne Gately, a Group Acct Director at M&C Saatchi

Anne, in the mood to celebrate her middish-season lead

Well done Anne… going good distance and pretty darn fast too.

But the season’s not over yet so let’s give Anne a bit of a run for her money

Starting at Malabar on Sunday.

Enjoy the ocean. Phil.

Bondi Part 3

Again, absent without a good excuse…. at the Rod Stewart concert in the Hunter which was definitely not my idea but sometimes the peace has to be kept.

Anyway report below courtesy of Janj and photos courtesy  of Scott’s Pommy Dad, over here to enjoy the Aussie summer (ahem). Many thanks to both.


In  stark contrast to my first Bondi swim (Bondi to Bronte Dec 3), Sunday was blessed with beautiful weather, attracting thousands to the famous Sydney icon. So many in fact that it took longer to find a parking spot than it did to complete the 2km swim, and that’s at my swim pace! My pre-race warm-up was to run bare feet from the skate bowl to registration tent just 15 mins before the start of the race.

so much better then the Bondi/Bronte ocean

The conditions for swimming were perfect; sunny, light winds, warm water and a small swell. Once out of the battering zone (1st 100 metres of legs and arms) it was down to business, picking off the cans one by one. But for a non-threatening challenger like me there were so many distractions; the view of the beach from the water with the crowds of beachgoers, the helicopter hovering overhead, the lifeguard support crew on their boards waving directions, the coastguard, the underwater photographer (did anyone else see him/her?), underwater rock formations, large whiting in the shallows, and the patches of warm water (mmmm).

Overall the swim was very great fun and contested in a fab atmosphere, even the tourists flocking to the beach stopped to try and make out what they could seeing so many bronzed Ozzies in their Cozzies.

Scott might be in here... or might not. Sorry for the lack of journalistic accuracy

Sorry for lack of photo’s this week, while we were swimming laps of Bondi beach, Sophie (Scott’s misses) was doing laps of the car park and unfortunately missed the action. If you were there for the swim or just to watch, you would agree it was a fantastic day

Back of the Pack. Top of the World

Manly turned it on Sunday, not least with some blue-sky action for us sun-deprived Sydney folk.

Walking towards Shelley beach... gorgeous

None of my regular swim-buddies were at Manly today but a very close friend was… doing his first ever ocean swim.

Feeling 18 years old, maybe not looking it....

Don, an old mucker from Uni days (almost 30 years ago) was in Australia for a week and was slightly coerced, by me, into doing the Cole Classic. He’s mentioned that he thought doing oceanswims (ie me doing them) looked like fun so when I saw that he was here for the Cole, the Back of the Pack 1km seemed perfect. I assured him he’d enjoy it and God bless him he believed me

Don swam breast-stroke the whole way round; so, knowing the etiquette of the ocean we let everyone in before us and swam fairly wide.

it's not like this at Don's local pool

Mind you, we needn’t have worried as there quite a few frog-leggers in there with us.

And off we went....

Don was more than happy that the 1km started and finished at Shelley (I was quietly pleased myself) and once he got his confidence up upon reaching the first buoy he was a swimming machine. I got him to stop and admire the view as we headed back into Shelley but he was too busy concentrating on his stroke to take in the surroundings too much.

Don had one too many at the pub..... I've seen that lurch many times over the years

A bit of wobbly legs getting out at the end and he was over the finish line proudly clutching his medal and a banana.

Don. A proud banana winner

The 1km Back of the Pack was perfect for Don… an introduction to ocean-swimming. 5 years ago it was my first ocean swim too. Today in our wave I reckon about 60% of the swimmers held there hands up when the the bloke with the mic asked who was an oceanswim virgin. And there were 5 waves presumably all with a lot of virgins in. A lot of people who hopefully enjoyed their first swim as much as Don did.

Say what you like about the commercialisation of the Cole by Fairfax (and I have my own perspective) but I do think it’s wonderful that so many people discover the joys of swimming in the ocean.

Good luck to all of them. And mostly to Don. Well done mate, I enjoyed swimming with an old mate and was pleased you enjoyed it so much. Indeed, so much he reckons he might fly back next year. If he does, it’ll be for the 2k and it’ll be freestyle (or front crawl as Don  calls it).

Proud and pleased, for different reasons

See you then matey

Big. Says it all

I didn’t get to the the Big Swim at the weekend but Scott and Janj did.

Here’s Scott’s take on the event along with pictures from his better half, Sophie, and Janj


So that's the general idea

Swim around the 1st buoy then keep swimming for 2.7kms to the 2nd buoy, turn right, get out and run to the finish. Sounds easy enough.  And if you are Josh Beard you’ll do that in 30mins!  Us mortals took a little longer.


Doing it with his eyes closed

Of course at the start you and 200 other people will all be trying to swim in exactly the same spot. As a result you’ll be touched, grabbed, mauled and mistreated by a lot of scantily clad slippery people you don’t know and can’t really see.  What fun.

Anyway after the aquatic scrum that was start the rest of the swim was very enjoyable. I can’t say it wasn’t a tough swim, because it was, but what a great and well organised event, held in the truly beautiful areas of Palm beach and Whale beach.


Scott had a lot

Plus all the nectarines you can eat – top work fruit people.


You missed a spot



Jelly-legs time

And as a bonus the sun shone and the ocean didn’t get too rough. Unlike the start.


See you and the millions of others at The Cole Classic