I struggled through the Bronze Medallion. I continue to struggle with surf rescue boards. And I have wound up in hospital because of them (through no fault of my own).
All of that was worthwhile to be supported by Bondi IRB (Inflatable Rescue Boat) during my Bondi to Watson’s race.
JP (my driver) arranged my boat at his own birthday party in January. That may seem ridiculous for a race in May but without a boat, your race is sunk before it’s even started. Without a boat there is no point in training.
Bondi IRB do a bloody incredible job during the season. They’re the ones we call upon when conditions are too rough for any other rescue craft. Two eyewitness examples:
- I was in the tower and had to call it in when a bunch of North Bondi Nippers got caught in the break of a 6-10 foot set that broke in what had previous been beyond the break. North Bondi couldn’t get out. Bondi did.
- I was having lunch at Icebergs when one of the strongest littoral (horizontal) currents I’ve ever seen (I’d been on patrol in the morning) dragged someone from the flags halfway down the beach in the blink of an eye. In huge surf the IRB had him safely in the boat within moments of him leaving the safety of the flags.
With Bondi IRB at my side (JP driving and Liz crewing) I started training and lining up the rest of my support.
Pick the person with the best outlook on life you know. I was having a conversation about a recent birthday girl and mentioned how much I admired her outlook. She was the natural choice to be my paddler. She shares the same spirit of adventure and joy in the beauty of the ocean that motivates me. Thankfully Pia said yes.
Coaches and training buddies
Since I started with Can Too in 2009 to overcome my open water panic attacks I’ve had the benefit of Kingy and Zoe’s guidance. In 2012 they started the bloody brilliant 4SEASons swim squad. They’ve created a program that accommodates nervous nellies through to those who’ve essentially become aquatic. They’ve been stalwart supporters and a fantastic resource in planning and executing my training regime ahead of B2W. Thank you!
I train with 4SEASons and I train outside of 4SEASons with a few great training buddies, also aiming for solo B2W attempts: Adrian, Liam and Pete. If you train solo for something like this you will lose motivation and possibly go a little spacco. Especially if you’re as social as me. Having fellow swimmers to chat to, bounce ideas off and generally make swimming social makes the world of difference.
I wasn’t taking any chances this time. I went and saw a nutritionist (Sarah Dacres-Manning, who is an ocean swimmer herself) and got a tonne of helpful hints and a really scientific nutrition plan for the race. Everything for race day was tried and tested and worked really well.
My aim was 10km recovery weeks, followed by 15km, 18km and 20km. Repeat ad nauseam. I combined pool sessions with longer ocean swims. I did whatever ocean swims were on offer. I did laps before and after training sessions. If I was feeling unmotivated I would swim in my favourite places: Bronte, Bondi and Icebergs. Or I’d arrange to meet a training buddy. I worked on my stroke with Tamera (another supporter from go to whoa and 4Seasons coach) and through drills. I did intervals, pyramids and every other kind of set imaginable. I tried not to just do laps in the pool, leaving long consistent swims to the ocean. The most useful training sessions were swimming around Ben Buckler to view the course with my paddler and swimming against a 4m tide in Bundeena.
I have still never regretted a swim.
I tried to do cross training, strength and core work but I have to admit I wasn’t very good at keeping this up.
My shoulder was pretty stuffed for most of 2012-2013. I see Mike Allen at Physio on Bronte to keep it in shape. He’s married to my swim coach so I’d also check in with her at the same time (multitasking for the win!). My shoulder held up remarkably well.
I was back in the water the next day. Loving it.
The system works.