Though a straight line appears to be the shortest distance between 2 points, life has a way of confounding geography. Often it is the dalliances and the detours that define us. There are no maps to guide our most important searches; we must rely on hope, chance, intuition and a willingness to be surprised.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Ocean Swimming

It would be madness to go ocean swimming at Bondi beach just 48 hours after the first shark attack there for 80 years.


But that didn’t stop twenty hardcore aussies going out for the regular Saturday morning swimming class yesterday. And I was delighted to be able to join them.

I’ve been recovering from a shoulder injury for more than 6 months now. After 4 months out of the water, two months using fins and a few weeks swimming normally again, I at last felt that I’d recovered enough for the fairly testing challenge of swimming in the surf.

And as for the sharks? Well, I did feel a few things bumping against my legs in the water, but there is often seaweed in the surf. In fact, the most notable event all morning was back on shore, where we were accosted by a Channel 9 filmcrew. Here’s a transcript that I’ve totally made-up as I wasn’t close enough to hear Spot over the roaring surf. But it probably went something like this…

Rugged ex-AFL Interviewer: So can you explain to me what’s going on then?
Spot (crazy aussie swimming coach): Just your regular Saturday morning ocean swimming club mate.
Interviewer: Aren’t you erm… worried about sharks, after this week’s shocking events.
Spot: Nah!! You can’t worry about the sharks. They’ve got their place. They don’t really like the taste of humans anyway. They just get a bit confused sometimes.
Interviewer: You guys seem to be the only people willing to go into the water.
Spot: Ahhh, that’s just the weather mate. A bit of drizzle scares people off. There’s no safer time to go in the water. Way I reckon, there isn’t another shark attack due for 80 years. Couldn’t be safer!
Spot: (to squad) right you lot – back in the water, get right out beyond the break! Last one back’s a dribbly Pom… etc.

And the swim went really well for me. I put a lot of stress on the shoulder swimming in and out of medium-height (for Bondi) surf and it stood up well. Going to do the harbour swim on 1st March now.

If anyone’s interested, here’s the Bondi Fit website. I love the ocean swimming – nothing can set you up better for the weekend.

Pssst: in case you think I’ve really lost my marbles, the attack at Bondi, and another one in the harbour last week both happened at dawn/dusk when light conditions are low and the sharks are more likely to be feeding. The risk at other times is much less, apparently…

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