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, March 01, 2009

Swimming with the Sharks (well, not really)

888 people took part in the Sydney Harbour 2km Swim this morning. The Chinese believe the number 8 is lucky and some people this morning were no doubt thinking that a dose of good luck would be no bad thing, given that yesterday saw the third shark attack in Sydney in three weeks!

Just to put things in perspective, every shark attack in Sydney makes the news here because they are so rare. But they do seem to have picked up in frequency recently.

Once again the attack took place at dawn/dusk, and it’s becoming clear that – this year at least – you are taking a risk with life (or more probably limb) when you go into the water at these times. But I have a lot of sympathy – surfers in Sydney are some of the most passionate sportsmen and women around, and often early morning and late afternoon are the only fit with the good surf and school/work.

I had absolutely no fear of a shark attack this morning, and not just because the chances of being ‘chosen’ were 888 to 1. If I were a shark I’d be staying well clear. With three helicopters in attendance it wasn’t exactly a predator’s ideal hunting environment. Mind you, didn’t the shark take down a chopper in the abysmal Jaws 2???

In fact, as it turned out, the only risks were cramp and jellyfish. Cramp was a definite worry as I hadn’t swum this distance since my shoulder injury last May. But actually the race went very well. I felt good right the way through and finished strongly. In fact, I was feeling so good afterwards that my thoughts started to turn again to the 11km Circular Quay to Manly swim… maybe in 2010.

And jellfish…? Well, for the first few hundred metres the water was full of them. It was quite magical actually. Layer upon layer of these symmetrical, pulsing shapes appearing out of the murky water as I ploughed along the surface. I think there is a similar scene in Finding Nemo, which is of course also set in Sydney! Despite touching their blobby forms on every other stroke, they seemed pretty harmless, though I did notice a few people getting treatment for stings at the end of the race.

The times and results are out in 48 hours, and then it’s time to look forward to the next race. I love this aussie lifestyle!

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