North Steyne 1 and 2.8km

Says a colleague, the difference between having a job and running a business is the ability to let go.

Sunday morning, Surfmuppet arrives for the races in good time with the Mrs and Skater Girl, down from Byron Bay to fleece the oldies as a finale for her 21st birthday week.

Ocean as calm as it gets without being a mirror. Bit of a wave breaking off the sandbar in front of the North Steyne SLSC, like a footstep in front of the door to the land of happy.

Signed up for the two races online so whizz through the registration in the clubhouse which is all manual. Four digit number in permanent market inside of both forearms, white cap, then down to the beach.

Chat with one of the Spillane Clan from Country Kerry who’s been doing a bit with Can To out at Bondi. The Journo rocks up and the banter rises a notch or two. The Daleymeister and Jimbo surface, fresh from the Lake Macquarie swim yesterday. We are regaled by Neil on his recent 10km swims in Dubbo and Glenelg, the latter beastie central on the best of days. He is going to be tough to beat on the km swam leaderboard this year.

Bright and sunny for the start of the 1km as the gang goes out straight, then sharp left at the first can and north up the beach to the two turning buoys forming the end of a rectangle. Then back down, sharp turn right and into the beach.

The muppet is trying out the  new long distance technique of long stretch and glide, roll of the body – totally stuffing it up by times but getting back on track by letting go and rebooting. Stretch, roll, glide. It may take a while but the plan is to have it perfected for Galway Bay end of July.

Water is clear with a few cold spots as if to remind all Autumn is here and won’t be long til l’hiver cometh. But to the muppet the touch of ice is a balm to the fevered brow of relaxation into the new style of swimming.

And all goes swimmingly until…

Past the last can and about 150m off shore, spotted a boofhead coming at speed on the left flank. Relax. Let him do his thing. Boof switches attack to the right flank but the muppet has him spotted thanks to Spot’s flogging his minions to breath left or right. No problem. Relax. Let go. Let old Boof go steaming past in a victory sprint.


Impulse control lapses, the dinosaur synapses arc up and it’s on. Muppet switches back into former stoke in a effort to put on the power but the boof is digging deep. The pair lock into a death struggle. Muppet is giving it everything trying to haul the hound beside him back and now they are in the breaker zone. The boof catches one, falls off it, muppet catches the next, falls off that, then the boof is up and dolphin leaping through the shallows and the muppet…the muppet is falling behind. But wait. Boof is up on the sand and has stopped to stoll beside a friend and the muppet strikes from behind, brushing shoulders as he charges past and quips “come on ya bastard!”. The boof is galvanised into the chase. The pair sprint like lunatics , neither giving ground and storm into the timing gate neck and neck. Manual process, waiting about, muppet’s heart thumping and fighting back the urge to bring up the breakfast. Boof looking away in disgust from the juvenile caper he’s just been dragged into

Not exactly letting go.

A card for a lucky prize cheers SM up a bit from the waves of self recrimination and “why does one have to be such an eejit” whistling through the brain canister. The free race T shirt lifts muppet up like a neat wave on a shallow bank, and then all the fruit, protein balls, gatorade. Almost ready for the 2.8km. The Journo, Shropshire Lad and Richard the Sharkman mingle about swapping yarns and soon it’s off direction Shelley and Cabbage Tree Bay.

And it’s a corker…SM behaves himself and sticks to the race plan the whole way. Relax – let go – enjoy the warm sun, the balmy clear water (with cold patches), the seascape around the marine park, the squad of divers down a few fathoms off Shelley lying back and looking up at the swimmers passing overhead, the turn at Manly point and the long swim back across the bay to the finish. Steady pace, pass a few, get passed by loads but who cares. Big question is whether this pace can be sustained over 13km and the answer is…yes, with more endurance work over the next few months, do-able. Might even speed up a little.

The Journo dishes out another hiding but…letting it go.

Get another lucky draw prize card from one of the ladies at the finish, second free T Shirt. How good can it get? Choose a smaller size and give it to Skater Girl as a 21st birthday present over breakfast in Manly.

“Yea, nice try Dad, now hand over your wallet!”

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