It was Carl who suggested I needed the ‘Ocean Swim’ experience. ‘You’ll love it’ he enthused and then he registered me for the
About 400 swimmers had registered for the 1.5km race and I thought that was a manageable number. But on the day extras arrived by the busload swelling the numbers to over 700. I wondered how they would organise the race and hoped they would stagger the start and just let a few swimmers go at a time but they didn’t.
I was herded into the 35-49 category and when our category was asked to line up for the start of the race, it seemed there were about three hundred of us. I was standing shoulder to shoulder with big hairy blokes all jostling for positions in the sand. And they all seemed to know each other and were yelling out about the last race they swam and the size of the swell and the direction of the wind and who ended up with a nosebleed etc. It was scary times.
I stood there developing rapid onset nausea and it crossed my mind that perhaps it wasn’t too late to pull out. But Carl was at the finish line with Alfie (teenagers were in bed – didn’t come to watch me) and they were waving enthusiastically with a look on their faces like perhaps I even had a chance of winning the event.
Off went the starter’s gun and immediately the mob of 35-49 year olds stampeded to the water with elbows horizontal to gauge into the nearest competitor. It was like the doors opening at the Myer Boxing Day sales – you either go with the mob or the mob mows you down.
The water was muddy-coloured from the seaweed that had arrived with the morning’s tide. And the seaweed was thick, itchy, smelly and EVERYWHERE. And the swell that didn’t seem so big from the shore was tossing me about and throwing me off course. You had to constantly lift your head to make sure you were heading in the right direction.
I swam out to the first buoy. As I approached, a huge rude man just swam right on top of me. He could have gone around me or avoided me altogether but he just didn’t care. To him, it was acceptable that in an ocean swim you take down as many competitors as possible. He doesn’t see himself as a swimmer, he’s a gladiator. His body was on top of my head and I couldn’t move my arms. He kept on swimming over me and as he moved on he landed a final kick to my forehead that came up in an instant lump and left me dazed. This was not a fun swim; this was like being in a riot.
I swam on and finally went around the last buoy and headed for the shore. Being a novice, it didn’t occur to me that you should look behind you for the waves as you approach the beach. Without warning I was dumped by a huge wave along with five or six others and once the wave had finally finished throwing us around I found myself on the bottom of the seabed, lying face down in the sand with four people standing on top of me. I couldn’t move. I had no air in my lungs. That was when I thought I was going to be the first person killed in the Blackmores Bilgola Ocean Swim. But they got off me and I managed to surface before being pronounced dead.
I made it to the shore and we were required to run to the finish line. Carl and Alfie were still there and Carl said, ‘You didn’t do very well, most of your group’s already finished’. I could have slapped him but I was hunched over vomiting up seawater.
If you have a bucket list, there’s no need to add, ‘Ocean Swim’.
But in case I have inspired you, the next Blackmores Bilgola Ocean Swim is on Sunday, December 12.
You won’t see me there.
And thank you Readers for your feedback regarding recipes that were served on RMS Titanic. For those as equally interested as myself, here is another recipe…Mango Chutney. I found this to be a fairly sweet chutney. More sweet than to my liking. I would only lightly pack the brown sugar to help reduce the sweetness. But served on a water cracker with a sharp mature cheddar cheese, it is delicious.
Degree of Difficulty: 1/5
Cost: Very inexpensive when mangoes are in season
Makes: Fills at least 3 medium sized jars
2 large ripe mangoes peeled and finely diced
2 cooking apples (I used Granny Smiths) peeled and chopped
125gms seedless raisins
2 onions peeled and chopped (I used brown onions)
1 tspn ground ginger
350gms brown sugar (lightly packed)
2 gloves of crushed garlie
1/2 tspn salt
Place all of the ingredients into a heavy based saucepan. Bring to the boil uncovered then simmer for 45 minutes stirring occasionally. Leave the chutney to cool then transfer to clean, sterilised jars. Once opened, store in the fridge and use within three weeks.