Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Short Swim Around Coogee Bay

I enjoyed last week's Dawny to Cockatoo Island swim so much that I decided to have a go at the 1 kilometre swim around Coogee Bay, an event which is hosted by the Coogee Surf Life Saving Club (http://coogeesurfclub.com.au/club/). There is a total of three swims in the event: an 800 metres dash for the juniors (11 to 13 years), the 1km course inside the bay and a 2.4 km swim out of the bay and around Wedding Cake Island.

Before the majority of entrants arrived. The line of breakers in the distance is Wedding Cake Island.

The swim around the island is, by all accounts, one of the most amazing swims along the Sydney coast, with submarine views of large boulders on the shoreward side and reefs of rock, seaweed and marine life on the open ocean side - all seen through clear blue water.

The registration process: entrants registered by age group and distance.

There is no way that I could manage the 2.4 kms out to the island, let alone navigate the currents behind the island and make it back to shore, so it was the 1km swim for me. 

The first buoy has already been placed in the water.

The day was gorgeous, warm and sunny after a week of rain and surprisingly cold temperatures. It's a popular swim, and there were lots of entrants in many age categories. The junior dash was first, then the 1km swim went off in two waves, the younger age groups first.  I was, of course, in the second wave. Altogether there were 427 people in the 1km swim, and, amazingly (unless I've misunderstood something) almost one thousand in the swim around the island (some people doubled-up by swimming in both).

A glorious day at Coogee Beach

The water temperature was 18°C, and there was a very high tide. Swimming out into the bay, I could notice the difference between this week's swim in the swell and the chop and last week's swim in the calm, flat waters of Sydney Harbour. I set off from the beach using a front crawl stroke, but several times reverted to breaststroke to catch my breath and give my shoulders a rest. One or two people were doing backstroke or sidestroke at various times. 

Last week I swam the 1.1km in 21 minutes, and felt fine afterwards. This week the 1km swim took me 33 minutes 16 seconds, and I had to have a sit in the sun for several minutes after finishing. Later in the day I had sore legs and shoulders. A reminder that the open ocean takes a bit more effort than the ocean rock pool or tidal baths. 

Later I walked up onto the cliffs to watch the real swimmers rounding the island.

Looking from the cliffs to Wedding Cake Island (barely visible in the very high tide). 
It's impossible to see the swimmers in this photo, but they were somewhere out the back when it was taken.


  1. wow - you sound like a real swimmer to me Chris!! well done!

  2. Thanks, Marina, but you should have seen me sitting on the beach steps afterwards! I looked more suited to a gentle paddle than a decent swim.