“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change” Charles Darwin
“My goal is to not be rescued’ said a fit looking guy before the start of the 2.4 km swim. He echoed my thoughts. The drive from Stanwell Park along the cliff side road to Coalcliff beach (the start of the race) seemed a lot longer than 2.4 km. On this summer-like day, the ocean looked vast and formidable.
Until now, I’d always wanted to tackle a long ocean swim and I eagerly approached this challenge. Ocean Swims have a full calendar of races and a keen following. I regularly swim 2km at the North Sydney pool so I expected to be somewhat prepared for the distance. Little did I know how hard it would be.
The 500 or so swimmers had different coloured caps showing their age groups (called ‘waves’ in the ocean swim world). Mine was bright pink for the over 50’s. We strapped electronic bracelets onto our ankles to recording our start and finish times. Ready to go. The oldies ‘wave’ started last which suited me fine as it meant I could run into the water pretty much at the back. That’s where I stayed. I struggled to get over the waves to the starting buoy 200m from the shore and from then it was a slog along the swells and through the kelp. Was it the endless rolling swells or the water I swallowed that made me feel extremely nauseous? I swam on, taking a few breast-stroke breaks and a couple of treading-the-water stops. The best thing about swimming at the back of the pack was that I was accompanied by life-saver on a board who provided commentary and encouraging banter.
With the beach in sight, multiple lifeguards cautioned that the surf was huge. They dragged me on a jet ski across the biggest waves before I swam the last few metres onto the beach. Exhausted, I finished with a time of 1:13:04 (adjusted for handicap to 53:25). Not too bad for a first-timer and at least I didn’t have to be rescued.
This challenge was unexpectedly very tough at times. I’d like to do it again because I’ll be better prepared – and to prove I can.
I dedicate this small achievement to two ocean lovers: my dear brother Stephen Watson who died on April 10th aged 56 and my wonderful great-aunt and Godmother, Mary Mossop who died on April 1st aged 95. They lived in Cape Town and passed away in their homes overlooking False Bay. As a little girl, I learnt to swim in Mary’s pool and both she and Steve relished swimming in the sea.
See the Change Explained tab for more on: The 3 D’s
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