Surfmuppet has just caught up with Fearless Fi about 75 metres north of Icebergs on the southern end of the Bondi Arc. Five laps completed, it’s about 0820 and the squad have been swimming since circa 7am.
Fi turns to the muppet and says something.
Before he can answer a large, grey triangular fin breaks the surface about 10 metres behind Fi.
Cuts through the water for a couple of milliseconds and disappears.
“What’s wrong, muppet? Cat caught your tongue?”
“Fi, a big fin has just broken the surface behind you and disasappeared. If it’s not a dolphin, we’re both f*cked”
Fi does a 180 degree pirouette which would do a prima ballerina at the Sydney Opera House proud.
“It’s gone. It was only there for a flash”
Fi shrieks and almost leaps out of the water as surfmuppet’s toe accidentally brushes against her in the bob and weave of the water.
“Aaargh. Get out of here. You’re having me on!”
Seconds pass and the only sound is of the swell breaking over the nearby sandbank.
They both look to where Evan on his kayak is shepherding the fasties out for the next lap when suddenly three black fins surface, arc and dive in and around the squad.
Fi is off racing towards a pod of the beasts who are now playing a game of hide and seek with the swimmers who have paused to share the moment.
Highlight of what has turned out to have been a horror swim for the muppet.
It’s a tale of two psychologies – last Saturday at Balmoral, 15.7 degree water, 5 hours 17 minutes, 10.25km on the Garmin. Cold at the end but with gas still left in the tank. Only reason didn’t go for the 6 hours with channel aspirant Dr Jim was a full schedule including taking clients to dinner pre the Lions game and hosting them at same.
Today, 16-17 degree water, 1 hour 45 minutes approx, 6 laps of the beach (4km tops) and the Garmin on the blink. Freezing cold (feeling way colder than last week, no idea why) and completely over it.
Floundering about in the water trying to engage the core, lift the hips, long reach and stretch, good catch of the water, engage the lats, relax, breathe, glide – might as well be learning to knit wearing boxing gloves while reading the instructions in Afrikaans.
Last week at Balmoral, moments of Zen like tranquility, such as watching the sun break over the horizon washing all in a pale yellow light, the underwater seascape slowly revealing itself in the radiance.
Focusing on the moment, taking it one breath and each stroke at a time.
Ended up breathing bilaterally each third stroke without realizing it, cruising up and down the course between Edwards Beach in front of the Pavilion, around Rocky point and down to the baths at the southern end of Balmoral Beach.
We make one circuit up to Chinaman’s Beach but the drop in temperature in that neck of the woods decides it for the pair and it’s Hunters Bay for the rest of the session.
Dr Jim having a hard time of it with the cold but pushes through and eventually makes the 6 hours qualifying mark for his channel swim in a few months time.
Lion hearted effort.
The guy has gone numb with the cold at several stages but just keeps on slogging it out. His wife turns up on a kayak to escort him (and the lurking muppet) and swaps out with a friend every couple of laps.
Susceptibility to the cold may have had something to do with the duck grease he and some of the squad basted themselves in prior to the start – just thinking.
A case of dead duck revenge.
Surfmuppet wasn’t having a bar of the duck grease, being paranoid enough without leaving a nice trail of bird fat in the wake for some beastie from the deep to sniff out like some pisshead falling out of the pub after closing time and sniffing around for the nearest kebab shop.
At Balmoral, the muppet gets well cranky on the first feed break after discovering his Snap Lock bag of prize corn cake surprises (double corn cake with a thick layer of peanut butter and honey in between) has vanished. Kinda pathetic, but munching on one of those babies was been looked forward to with relish by SM out in the bay. Not a sign anywhere so with dark mutterings and a mouthful of manky banana, back into the water to let the paranoia and festering thoughts of being hard done by wallow around in the bilge water of a bitter soul.
At the next feed stop – as if by magic, there on the sand, the bag of corn cake/ peanut butter/ honey goo, waiting to be devoured!
Turns out coach Evan spotted three seagulls dragging (actually two dragging, one pushing) something down the beach after the first feed break and on investigation, discovered it was the muppet’s corn cake culinary delights being blagged.
Mosman police were called and the three seagulls were apprehended and arraigned to appear before the beak (couldn’t resist that) on the Monday. They are now on remand in the bird cages over Angel Place.
Bondi Head Spin
Post the sudden arrival and equally sudden departure of the dolphins, it’s the schlep back north toward Ben Buckler for the sixth lap. Surfmuppet is still struggling with form and function and glancing back, sees Rachel and Anna D bearing down on him. They’ve been behind with Fi and the rest of them frolicking with the mammalian sea clowns so the muppet steals a march on the lot of them and steams off up north after Jai who’s swimming like a nuclear powered submarine today.
Not a chance.
The ladies run him to ground like a pair of foxhounds on the trail of a decrepit grey fox (whiskers matted with honey and peanut butter goo) and glide past with the poised elegance of perfect technique. The muppet tries to keep up, and even catch the draft, but it’s a hopeless cause so stuff the lot of it, time to pack up the bongo drums and head for the hills.
Lurks behind the rest of the squad off the boat ramp regrouping for the next lap, almost goes with them but decides instead to chase a blue groper and a few sand whiting around the reef for a bit. Busted by coach Evan swimming out to warm up in the water after freezing his nuts off in the wind chill on the kayak.
Head is gone completely now and subsequently the cold is really starting to take a toll.
Complete contrast to last week where, for whatever reason, the psychology was good and so lasted over double the time and wasn’t as cold at the end of it.
Back on the beach Vlad is philosophical and counsels the relax and accept approach, the good and the bad days happen, technique will come together in its own time.
SM gets the duds on, packs the kit and shivers the way up to the silver bullet.
More dark mutterings.
Almost throws the goggles into a trash can on the promenade but pauses – will need them for the 13km hike across Galway Bay two weeks from today.
Ha, ha, ha.
That is going to be interesting!
Galway in summer makes Bondi in winter look like a tropical south seas paradise.
Keeps the goggles, racks up the car heating to max and the sound system to max plus, roars off up Bondi hill and lives to fight another day.
Kayak and swimmer partnership, Sonny and Marty, in the waters off Balmoral last Saturday morning, under a sliver of moon…