North Bondi 1 and 2km 10th Feb

Here we go at North Bondi again.

Coming down the hill into Bondi in the Silver Bullet just after 8am the ocean looks perfect with only a slight coating of ripple to denote a bit of a wave.

Off into the Bondi hinterland to score that elusive free park in streets jammed with cars from the proliferation of apartments and shared accommodation for both the native Bondi-ites and the droves from the islands off north western Europe.

The new North Bondi SL Clubhouse is materialising more and more each week. In the meantime a warren of portacabins and demountables have sprung up where the squads of life savers mill about getting ready for the action of the day.

Registration is painless and fast – the North Bondi crew have this caper down to a fine art.

Meet the Sea Nymph seeking help to find Spot’s BF tent all squared away somewhere after drop off by the man himself en route to the Kurnell Tri’s earlier in the am. Piano Paul has got in first and the edifice is already up on the grassy knoll on the northern end of the beach.

Sunblock slapping on, banter about who is ahead of who, race strategy and all the rest of it as the lads and lassies in the navy and yellow strip get ready for the swims.

Photo opp and then into the surf for the warm up. Conditions couldn’t be much better. The water is warm (about 21), clear, tiny bit of a wave, calm out the back where the cans sit serene in the dreamy conditions.

The race plan for today is coloured by several factors.

a)      After the clown antics and disaster of last weekend at the Cole Classic, focus on not missing the wave start. Trusty new watch to assist here

b)      Should be out in the fields/ on the roads running and cycling instead of swimming here – the BRW Tri is in three weeks and have only done one or two runs and no bike training. Despite being only a short distance event, remembering the torture of the last three BRWs when likewise the preparation for the terrestrial stages was non existent. Not hellfire and brimstone torture, but torturous nonetheless

c)      Memory of the recent Wedding Cake Island swim at Coogee when a leisurely pace produces a brace of swims memorable for the sheer pleasure of being able to swim that distance in the ocean in perfect conditions

d)     Acceptance of entry in the 13km Francis Thornton Memorial swim in Galway Bay next July. Racing to keep up with/ beat the rest of the Lane 7 gang is at a pace unsustainable pour moi for anything over 2-2.5km. Need to pull the head in and start looking at sustaining a pace over 6 times this distance

So, 1km, easy pace to relax and warm up for the 2km. Plan for the 2km is steady to the first can, then slowly build up along the course with a big sprint around the last can and into the shore.

The swimming unfolds as benignly as the ocean in her good graces this morning.

The only surprise in the 1km is a big swell from the northeast all of a sudden down the back straight, out of nowhere. Comes and goes, no cousins, brothers or sisters. Huge lift and then back down again. Deep power out of the blue. Like herself is reminding us of our real place in the scheme of things.

Lots of what looks like newer swimmers being caught by later waves and this is not so bad as it tests the duck, dodge and weave skills trying to get past.

Get kicked in the head just past the most southerly can but no damage done as in broken teeth or nose. Didn’t see it coming out of the haze of bubbles and limbs but there you go.

Meet the Journo in the fruit and water tent at the end and she gives a war dance yelp of triumph which wouldn’t be lost on Boadicea taking the head off a Roman legionnaire. She’s a bit more magnanimous after the 2km when it’s a few seconds off even-stephen, advantage SM.

The 2km runs its course and happy with a time of 35:29, 540th out of a field of 998. Middle of the pack.

Structured race with a bit left in the tank at the finish – not gasping for oxygen or trying not to barf the guts up all over the sand.

Wait around with the Taxman and Rumpole to hear if any of us are off to Haiwaii but no go, the raffle is won by some other chap. They’re probably still drawing the woman’s prize as each successive winner was not there to collect, so it’s a redraw.  We’re gone after they draw the seventh or eighth name, still no winner.

Silver bullet the boys back into the city, the banter carries on along the way, then goodbye see you at squad in the morning.

This July, le cunamh De, slogging away for the distant mirage of the conning tower at Blackrock in Salthill, 2km will be just 15% of the swim.

Better get happening with the distance thingy.


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