tonga whale beach resort
Up close and personal with whales in Tonga... See Glistening Dave's book on our Tonga oceanswimsafari (below).

fos tallies

Everything in moderation

Following Mike Cochrane's strord'nry efforts last year in breaking 300km in distance swum over the course of the season, we hear of many punters around the joint who are furiously accumulating kilometres in this new season, usually around the Pacific over the winter. The interest in our fine ocean swimmers' tallies has warmed us, but with a reservation: that because it follows the addition of two travel prizes to the competition, has the objective of the fine ocean swimmers tallies been corrupted?

On one hand, the travel prizes give the tallies competition an attractive end goal, but is it an own goal? It's turned an innocent attempt to encourage and reward rank an file mugs, who normally would receive neither, into a hotly, sometimes emotively contested spectacle.

On the other hand, has this new dimension robbed the competition of its egalitarian focus? Is it something open now only to those who can afford to spend a season travelling and swimming just to win a travel prize and global recognition? Does it, ironically, lock out the rank and file?

We received a few weeks ago an email from an observer who wishes to remain anonymous, for obvious reasons, as they said of Splinter. We know whom they are, so we're comfortable protecting their anonymity given the circumstances. This punter uses some strong language (not swearing, but rather emotive), although it's aimed not at particular personalities but in general. He says...

Following your many and varied rants about wetsuits and buoy-cutting, I know ( is) all about fairness, and I had a thought along the lines of fairness of the distance competition (the fine ocean swimmers' tallies).

Currently it's completely biased towards idiots who have nothing better to do with their time and money than fly all over the world clocking up expensive and profligate kilometres. We aren't doing enough to make this a fair - or involving – competition. It's getting ridiculous, to the detriment of the quality of the competition itself. It's now just about one person and how stupid they choose to be that year.

I'm not sure what your own ideas are, but I'd probably like to suggest a cap on totals as taken from a swimmer's best two countries (maximum) counted for distance. They can do as many swims as they want for Guinness glory, etc, but they become a sad side-note in the real competition.

Otherwise, it just becomes an onanistic exercise that excludes the very rank and file that ( always fights to protect. We need to start giving them a chance to be involved too, and bring the sport back to the people.

There's something in that for all of us.

We had considered, at the suggestion of another swimmer, nominating Mike Cochrane to the Guinness Book of Records following his win last season. We even went so far as to set up an "account" with the Guinness people so that we could lodge a submission. But we ran into technical difficulties with their registration system that took several weeks to resolve, and in the meantime this was superseded by the contribution above. We don't propose now to proceed with the Guinness idea, although we would understand if someone else did.

We have been thinking about changes to the fine ocean swimmers tallies this new season to open it up to more swimmers. But the contribution above has given us more cause for thought. Should we eliminate the travel prizes completely, and return it to the simple, open and honest program of encouragement and recognition that it was always meant to be? To make it an incidental competition again, rather than the tsunami of tidal wave proportions that it became last season?

Should we introduce rules to support that goal while retaining the travel prizes? To make it difficult for one punter, wealthy in time and/or money, to dominate, while allowing them their right to be obsessive for a season?

Please give us your ideas, preferably with your identification, and perhaps we can generate discussion... Click here

(NB: While we respect your right to anonymity, we take more seriously contributions from punters prepared to identify themselves.)

Controversy corner


Well said.

I took up beach swimming in 2000 because (a friend) made me enter the Palm to Whaley as penance for not being evil enough, and much to annoyance I actually liked it. I loved the family, frage, the bbq and the jazz band and the feeling I'd done some exercise with mates. I was an ok pool swimmer of auld, and crap in the waves and currents. It made for interesting races.

I started pool masters swimming when I came to London in 2006 and since there was no beach, it made sense. It was a small gang and great. I liked the travel on occasion and on a budget. I seem to remember the prizes at the PanPacs consisted of a decent red for first and a white for second. I've never seen blokes try so hard with a laugh...

FINA entered the masters sport as the controlling pharaohs always do. Then came serious training, officialdom over organisation, expensive meets and I got out in 2009. The machine had turned the great and good of togetherness and mucking around into a cash machine of nervous ocd ninnies jacked up on supplements rather than a decent bowl of fruit from the local chicken shop.

The reptiles always love turning our open human freedoms of togetherness, playing with mates and enjoying friendly competition into a anxious competition only those with plenty of money, time (money), travel ability to do it all. Remember you couldn't even get into the Olympics back in the 40s/50s in Europe unless you belonged to a Private Club with access to a Private Pool and Private Funds. Oz was a revealation, open access to great pools and great breaks.

Forwards, not backwards......

Calum McKinlay

(It reminds us of a wistful comment by a cobber a few years back at a Newport swim: This was like surf life saving was 30 years ago, he said: os.c)

Golden gogs

I think it should return to something closer to the original idea where encouragement and recognition are part of it but a great big prize is not. A pair of golden goggles or something that has little monetary value but is invested with kudos.

David Love

(Our cobber, Peter "McGoo" MacRae built a trophy for the fine ocean swimmers' tallies a couple of years back from some rocks he collected from Coalcliff then carried to Stanwell Park in his boardies. It's the kind of thing he does. He glazed them, mounted them on a metal plinth. It's a lovely trophy. Perhaps we should just award that: os.c)

And the winner says...

I think it's probably telling that two seasons in a row the travel prize hasn't been taken by the winner of the fos Tallies. I was clear I was "buying" my result. Many other swimmers could do the swimming I was doing (many do in training during a normal season), most aren't in the position to rearrange their life, and burn a whole lot of savings, so that nearly every swim done was at an event. Me taking the travel prize would have done nothing to expand the participation in open water swimming.

Gut feeling: Anyone that can afford to chase kms in more than one country can probably afford to buy the travel prize if they really wanted to go.

I'd like to see the travel prize be a random draw from an obtainable subset of the tallies, eg swimmers who have done the equivalent of 5km a month over summer? Or one weekend swim a month (so NZ mid-week series couldn't count here)? Or two or more swims a month gets one entry in the draw?

Something that might cause someone to do a couple of events they wouldn't have otherwise done, without breaking the bank. This might lead to a person being drawn who is near impossible to get contact details for, but that's part of the fun right?

Of course still acknowledge and record the top tallies, but don't have it be about a prize.

My 2c worth....

Mike Cochrane

(One idea we had was to award one of two travel prizes half way through the season, to encourage consistency. Maybe that could be a draw of the top 100, or top 50? Then, at the end of the season, another prize goes to another, similar draw: os.c)

What about me?

Please leave a travel prize for the FOS series. I haven't won it yet.

Mark O'Sullivan

Growing pains

Congratulations on the growth of interest you have created, now the growing pains begin!

I am not an active ocean swimmer as such however as a 70.3 athlete I do swim in the ocean as part of life.

I am also a member of other clubs and organisations where issues such as this arise. One has created a 100% club – for those who attend everything that year, for example. Others create clear parameters around other targets, for example it might not be the most kilometres swum but it might be some kind of incentive purely for participation.
This can be done in a multitude of ways. Age groups, for example, being an obvious one. Clubs such as "the captains club" in our organisation encourage the top 10% to remain there, whilst also providing a clear path on how to get there IF you want to. There is also a 21 club for those who have been active for over 21 years. All sorts, really.

I am not familiar with your issues but it does sound to me like it's time for change, you as touched on in your email.

Hope you don't mind me throwing my two cents worth in!

Mark Spearing

No link

I don't think the prizes have anything to do with it. The winner hasn't taken them for the last two years running. I think ocean swimmers are just obsessive. I've already swum races in San Francisco, The Sunshine Coast and am about to head off to Hawaii. But most of those won't count towards the tallies.

Katie Price

(Any swims in which Australian or NZ ocean swimmers take part, which are open to all comers, and for which we can obtain results, are included in the tallies, if we know about them. Except relay teams, because we can't be sure how far each swimmer has swum: os.c)

More work

Perhaps have a special prize to recognise the most kms collated over several seasons? Say, the past 5 years? Or even 10 years?

It would be interesting to see who filters to the top. It would still favour those who have the time/money to travel to events (or fortunate to live in Sydney with a well established and extensive season) but it would dilute the impact of the "deluded for a year" punter.

The resulting spreadsheet might break the poor soul who keeps these records, but I think it would be a worthwhile and interesting exercise.

Tamera Lang

(You nail an elephant, Tamera: these things take time and expertise to administer, so we must have competitions which are realistic and manageable given out resources:os.c)

None intended

Firstly I find reference to "towards idiots who have nothing better to do with their time" offensive. Maybe the time has come to celebrate average, rather than the efforts of the "best".

Secondly the reference to the competition as being corrupted by the introduction of the trips as prizes. The winner in the last two years has not taken the prize and the prize has gone to the 4th place-getter in both cases.

What does this person refer to as the "real competition"? It is not clear. Maybe they also believe the Olympic Gold medals should be presented to random folk who participate. They could suggest from the heats that 3rd, 5th and 7th go through to the final and the medals be presented to 6th, 3rd and 7th in that order?

The suggestion of the application to Guinness, made by me, was to gain recognition for our sport, Open Water Swimming and, rather the adulation of Mike himself. It is a shame that some take the achievement of others and belittle them in this way. It is interesting to see the Tall Poppy syndrome is alive and well in Australia; thought it was a New Zealand thing.

Maybe if one was to consider putting caps on you could consider the following -

  • Only one swim per week will be considered
  • Any event that requires assistance, ie feeding, will not be considered.
  • Events to be counted will be those held in NSW or the equivalent distance on that day only, ie if an event in Sydney was 2km on Saturday then only 2 km will be added to all swimmers tallies.

These should even the field out and make it "fair" to those who care.

The fact is that when something is counted, or tallied, there will be folk who push the limits. I travelled around doing swims for the last five years; I have benefited from the prizes; I have been in the top 10 (of the fos tallies) for the last five years; I enjoy Open Water Swimming. This year, I am not likely to be able to do what I done in the past, due to a heart attack, but I will be back. I have done the weekly series here in Auckland at Kohimarama for the last five years and only missed one event in that time. I hope to clock up 100 races this summer, not for a prize, not for adulation simply because it was a goal I set myself. What that means to me is that I have not been sick or injured on a Thursday for five years.

I am not sure how you can "open it up to more swimmers" when you already collect the results for every swim in the region. Do not allocate a prize for 1st place. Do it on a random draw if you want "fairness" to the prize, but then should that be within the top 20 or 100 or 1,000, or perhaps to everyone who participated in a swim? It does not matter to those who set goals and seek excellence, be it the performance in one race, winning their age group or the race itself, or to do some amazing achievement such as swim the Cook Strait or perhaps Lake Taupo (40.2km), or do as many events as they can during a particular timeframe.

I am unable to understand the issue here. Someone goes hell for leather, then gets called an idiot and stupid; that says a lot about the author, who seems anonymous to the world at large. Fairness in any competition is that the best is the best, in this case who does the most, seems simple to me.

"We need to start giving them a chance to be involved too, and bring the sport back to the people." What does that mean, except to limit excellence and dumb us down to be nothing but average!!!!!!

Wayne Annan

Tall poppies

I felt compelled to email you after reading your article, "Everything in moderation". The punter's rant is a classic case of tall poppy syndrome. Excellence and people deviating from the norm should always be celebrated e.g. you and your wife turning your passion into a business and unifying the ocean swimming community.

I've participated in maybe one or two ocean swims since completing the Mana 10km in 2014. I chose not to unsubscribe from your e-newsletter as I enjoyed reading about Mike's progress and found it inspiring to see someone set themselves an improbable goal and follow through.

Please don't let become a forum for hate and bitterness.

Sarah Lingard

Rising triers

Just a thought – but how about you award prizes for people who have shown an increased commitment? Rewarding those that have had the greatest increase in distance since the previous year, rather than the greatest distance overall. For some this might not be much distance at all in real terms (but a big improvement percentage-wise). This encourages people to keep striving to do better whatever level and stage they might be at – rather than only rewarding those that have the time and money to travel all over the world to swims.

Personally - I just swim for fun!

Jenny Stopher

Global warming

Agree with eliminating travel prizes completely. We should not be promoting wealthy white people flying around the world for leisure in an era of global warming. I would like to see the oceanswims website also campaign against the provision of new plastic swimming caps for each event as well. There must be a better alternative.

Caroline Alcorso

Cap it

Either I would like to see that your total tally is taken from a maximum 20 swims throughout the season and you choose which ones you compete in. Or maybe you divide the number of kilometres that you swim by the number of swims that you do, but you need to do again the 20 swims or maybe more, eg, if you do 300 KMS but you do it in 60 events and someone does 120 kms in 20 events this person would then win on an average of the kilometres swum.

But again this may well lead to what happened last season.

I do remember from one of your tallies that a person had swum about 100 kms from 15 events.

I am not sure how you get around what has happened in the last 2 season.

James Pittar

(Interesting ideas. Averaging distance over swims completed would guarantee the winner came each and every year from Wessna Stra'a. Not that there's anything wrong with the West, but distances built up there come heavily skewed by the WA Swimming OW series, which features 5km and 10km events. Our second placed finisher in the fos tallies last season, from WA, did her total 152.7km from 20 swims, whereas 3rd place did 145.1km from 47 swims, and first place accrued from 68 swims: os.c)


I have loved you since I met you because you were so egalitarian: it was about a swim in the sea, no matter your age or shape: get that black number on your shoulder, coloured hat and go! The unending thrill of looking into the deep blue. The bone-deep satisfaction all day.

I've noticed, too, that some people increasingly love you for the competition and overseas trips, but I'm not up for that. So I suppose there's a degree of toughening of my resolve to keep loving you for what I get from the relationship, and not worrying about those others who get other things from you. To me, the ones who love you as I do are the most enjoyable companions on swim days.

I do hope you can continue our relationship because on some days, it's the best fun I have!

Anna Kasper

Rank and file

The tallies are like gunpowder: neither good nor bad. It's the use individuals put it to that makes all the difference.

I don't think the travel prize can be the triggering element in the upping of competitiveness. Consider how much the people at the top of the km tally must spend on travel and accommodation already! It's far more than the prize is worth monetarily, isn't it? So— one free travel event can't possibly be the motivator for them spending many times that much money in "winning" it. They'd do all they do to come first in the tallies, with or without an actual monetary prize, I suspect.

I think it's just that ocean swimming has become more and more something that attracts a very competitive bunch of people (among others) — they've discovered ocean swimming, in recent years, as something they can 'do' with all the years they spent in the pool perhaps as kids, chasing Olympic dreams or whatever — well only a few people per generation get the Olympic dream to come true, so the many, many thousands more, who trained but got 'nowhere', have got all this competitive skill and mental set, and they're channelling it into ocean swimming these days.

Plus, our culture has just gone that way, hasn't it? If you go to squad to seek some stroke correction, you soon find yourself immersed in a 'go FAST' mindset. Now I hear you cry, "That's what coaches DO, you moron!" Yes. It is. It's all they do.

But consider this — as someone who simply enjoys being in the sea, I want an efficient stroke, which is NOT a fast one necessarily: I want to maximise distance per unit effort, not distance per second of time. And I want a stroke that works around my many injuries. Where are the 'efficiency swimming' squads? There's a gap, in both the kind of coaching on offer, and our culture— and it's this that is swamping your tallies comp.

So those of us who have non-competitive aims; to participate, to enjoy the ocean, whatever — are getting 'swum over' by those with a different aim, the aim of 'first, fast, foremost'.

It's not a small thing, because it's put me off ocean swimming, for one. I still look at your site, and I still go to swims that are close by and in clear water, but I don't travel far any more; I don't travel with that sense of happy anticipation and... I DON'T ENJOY IT MUCH ONCE I'M THERE.

Bloody hell. And I should love it. When I first discovered ocean swimming I was overjoyed, because I wanted to get out and SWIM, in beautiful places, far out in the wonderful ocean! I wanted to be out there, where I'd never dare to swim alone, for fear of accidents— you know– thrashing, toothy 6-metre accidents.

Instead, I was baffled to discover that I was surrounded by thrashing bodies anyway — but they were all intent on getting from the start to the finish as quickly as possible.
No looking about. No relishing the size of the swell and the depths of the sea below you. No joy in the ocean! No joy in the wild experience of being way out from shore in nothing but a swimming cozzie and a pair of goggles.

OK— if you like to compete, that's what you like, sure — but what about the rest of us? We're being swamped by all these thrashing toothy types.

I tried pushing for a 'Back of the Pack' status, but the thing is, I'm not actually a slow swimmer as such. I'd start off five minutes after the last lot left, and soon I'd find myself back among desperate-looking, red-eyed people, who'd plug over and then cling to my wake to do that 'surfing' thing. They were not exactly elevating company. As for the regular starts, my God. Byron Bay, of all lovely places — doing that swim is just — you want to lift your head and look around, it gets taken off by someone's arm-recovery swing.

So as regards the problem that's emerged in the kilometre tallies: when I opened this email, I intended to suggest things like 'local hero' status, for the person who does the highest percentage of swims within 500k of their home, or something.

But really, the problem is, we've got two kinds of motivation going on in ocean swimming. And increasingly the 'first fast foremost' motivation has just swum over the top of everyone else. Ocean swimming is not that much fun, any more, for those of us whose motivations are different.

If we are ever to get some balance back, so that the rest of us can enjoy ocean swims once more — well, that would take something more radical.

Dorothea-Sofia Rossellini

(One of the most enjoyable swims we've ever done was the Transfronterera swim from France to Spain, around the end of the Pyrenees. Over 300 punters, but not prizes, places, times, or angst. Maybe we should have more swims like that: Just for fun swims, just for the experience: os.c)

Draw the top 100

Retain the travel prizes (if available). Take the top 100 swimmers (or however many you think deserve a chance) and pull a name out of a hat at the end of the season.

Still enough incentive to swim, but gives more people a chance.

Name provided

Interesting idea

Originally from Singleton, I can appreciate the difficulty of travel in order to get anywhere near a prize for the distance swum in one season. Perhaps once you have been in 10 or more swims you gain entry for the prize draw and it's a purely random lucky dip as to who wins. Basically draw a name from those eligible.

That would give the rank and file every chance to win if they are a semi regular on the swim series.

Michael Barry


There may possibly be some who see the winter swims as a opportunity to clock up ks for the ocean swims series and hence prizes.

Frankly this is a 'long bow', because most I suspect spend their money on Pacific Island warm water swims for reasons far removed from a prize earned from summer swims. Winter safaris are a great way to make friends in the ocean swims community, escape the freezing winter water and enjoy their annual vacation break, good food and companionship.

A simple way to address this is to not include safari ks, or discount safari swims to a percentage.

Or as suggested run two contests if that would work.

Or only include if over a certain distance such as 20k.

Be interesting to see what the maximum kilometres can be clocked up in swims outside Australia. At a quick guess from my island swims starting in Vanuatu and Fiji in 2003, I reckon 3.1 Port Vila Harbour, 2.8 Santo, Mana yes there is a 5k, 3k and a 10k, and you know the others.

Clearly the distance does not include safari swims such a Champagne Beach and daily swims across from Nanuya etc, only an official ocean swim where punters pay to compete.

Richard Stewart

At home

At my masters swim club, Powerpoints (Victoria), we had exactly this problem with our "endurance" award with people swimming Rottnest, 'round Manhattan, etc, precluding our ordinary Victorian swimmers. We decided that in the name of fairness and because we wanted to support local surf life saving clubs that we would only count Victorian swims in the distance total. We have an excellence award for our stars of open water swimming. However, we have found our excellent swimmers often "endure" well too. At the moment we are trying to refine this further to pinpoint participation and really reward those stalwarts who turn up wind, sun and rain and swim with no hope of public glory.

One idea is to do a time limit of Xmas day to Australia Day but that handicaps some of the smaller swims that come at the beginning and end of season. My best suggestion for you is that people should opt for a state (NZ for Kiwis) as their swimming base. You could always have a separate category of out of state/overseas swimming if you wanted to encourage people to support swimming in our poorer South Pacific neighbours. Would love it if you came up with an idea for us!

Rosa Montague


I have to agree with the article writer: it's not all about who's got the money and nothing better to do with their lives than travel from swim to swim around the globe.

My suggestion - points where 5-10 km swims are worth more than 1-5 km swims. It would cover more swimmers who concentrate on the bigger swims but do it less often.

Heather Osborne


I think you guys should do whatever suits you. It's very easy for people to sit and complain and feel entitled all the time.

I find this attitude of anger, entitlement and complaining particularly bad in Sydney. You guys do a great job and should continue to run things in a manner that suits you.

If people want to be a part of it they will. If you find you are attracting the wrong kind of people, change what you are offering.

People in Sydney and Australia in general are so blessed and are really living the dream. The sad thing is they just don't know it.

Doron Milner


How about picking a reasonable target km – say 50 km or 100 km, etc, and putting all swimmers who meet this goal into the draw for the prize. You could base the km distance on attending, say, 2 out of every 3 swims on the calendar for a given state to make it realistic for swimmers to obtain this goal.

Tim Tucak

We all win

Maybe one prize for the the guns and an encouragement prize for for the less competitive. Would not discourage anyone from swimming as many ks as they want as most swims are run by community based organisations (ie surf club, sports clubs, rainbow club, etc) to raise much needed funds for their clubs.

I think we all win a prize in a sense, our participation and entry fee (and the sausage sanger, coffee, t-shirt which are generally very good!!??) benefits all our communities. Maybe a prize for a club or volunteer who look after us so well at these events.

Brett McCulloch


You are right a very emotive subject if you consider the comments of your "anonymous observer"...

"Currently it's completely biased towards idiots who have nothing better to do with their time and money than fly all over the world clocking up expensive and profligate kilometres"

The "anonymous observer" who made those comments, obviously does not know the Kiwi – Mike Cochrane.

I first met Mike 18 months ago and have been privileged to swim with him on a couple of occasions – Those that know him, admire him, because he is "Mr Average" – lives in rental property, not wealthy, does not own a car, but as you have witnessed set himself a goal, planned and achieved the goal, which majority of people would say "Well done" and respect the achievement... There will always be the ones who are just jealous!

Coming back to the competition FOS Tallies...

Firstly, you ain't going to please all the people all the time.... even in Australia, if you keep the current format, winner is more than likely to come out of NSW or VIC as those states have more swims, more opportunity????????

My personal thoughts on future structure:

Limit it to say 8 swims, max 2 countries, must be at least one swim in another state or country (Or in NZ on the other Island) and only one swim over > 10km distance to contribute

So with the above criteria, if you want to be "competitive"... It would not just be swimming the distance but smart planning

Martyn Southall
A proud Queenslander, who respects all other Ocean swimmers

Spent better elsewhere

I am Denis Ward and I am Treasurer of the CTC Cheetahs Swimming Club. Our Club has been competing as individuals and teams in Ocean Swims for many years and whilst I have never been a very strong swimmer I am very proud to have a large number of individual completion certificates. I must firstly say that I enjoy reading your newsletters and congratulate you on the initiative and their quality.

I fully support and understand your concern about turning the longest distance prize into something only the wealthy will ever win - those who can afford to compete in lots of swims which most of us cannot. I am a person who has never won a real prize at any of the many ocean swims which I have been in mainly because I have never been a strong swimmer and now I fear that I am reaching the end of ocean swims as my swimming speed reduces.

I would like to say something positive about the prize for maximum distance and I am sorry but I cannot see any real merit in it at all. For me it has always been a challenge to finish a swim without coming last so I am speaking from the arse end of the field, but I would suggest that unless you can find somebody who is willing to sponsor the prize on a long term basis you would be better spending the money on something which would benefit the bulk of swimmers and/or encourage more to be part of this healthy activity.

Let's not fall prey to the commercialisation of what, to date, has remained a true amateur sport (excluding the SMH invasion of the Cole Classic).

This is my personal opinion and may not necessarily be the opinion of all in the Cheetahs. I am also a proud Kiwi and I do not denigrate the effort put in by the initial winner.

Denis Ward


When I started the swimming season in 2014/15, with several seasons under my belt, I didn't know about or the tallies contest or even the FOS series. It was a well-kept secret.

Tally Chasing: When I did learn about it, I didn't actively chase kms: they just piled up while I joined in events. I did these events because I wanted to do them for fun and there were opportunities to ride and lodge share with the committed tally chasers of the Furseals. I didn't leave New Zealand to accrue any kms and I only left the North Island of NZ once. I'd aimed to do that anyway as I had always wanted to go to Akaroa (Christchurch). The farthest I traveled apart from that, was one trip to Wellington, for an event I had done for several seasons already. All of the other swims were within a couple of hours drive from my Auckland home - between Taupo in the central NI and Paihia in Northland.

I didn't do all of the available events; I had other commitments (including work!) that clashed with quite a few of them, including many of the longer distance swims such as the Epic series in Taupo or Lake Hood. Despite that, I still accrued over 100km and finished up in the top 20 of the tallies. The point here is: you can still rack up quite a tally without accumulating air miles or without deployment of a huge disposable income. Like-minded souls will naturally aggregate and you can do it on a modest income with a little teamwork.

Just get out there and do what you love.

Fairness: Whenever there is a contest or some perceived reward, there will be people who will target that. It becomes their goal. Buoy-cutting, wetties vs non wetties, racing in fins or with other equipment, some people will try to win at any cost. They will cheat, mislead others, push you under at the cans, game the system or find some way to manipulate it. It's the way of people. Fairness is a subjective construct and thus the major casualty of competition. Our chosen arena is a changeable, challenging environment. The world's apex predators are never far away.

In the ocean, no one can hear you whining.

Quality of Competition: We all have personal goals, maybe not so readily measurable as a distance tally or a medal but why else would you grind out 10km or more in currents and chop for hours? Many of the people who made the top 20 of the tallies swam in togs. Some of us did the entire season in togs apart from one event which had a compulsory wetsuit rule. We swam in water >20°C, in 14°C water and everything in between, in currents, surf and chop.

These tallies were earned.

Inclusiveness: What Mike Cochrane has done, and he should be commended for this, not only is that has he brought greater awareness to the tallies contest and therefore inspired interest in it but, in doing so, he has breathed life into many of the community-based events that were struggling to attract new entrants. Some of these I suspect were marginal at best in terms of financial viability. I'd had no previous knowledge of many of the events I went to last season, events held in some truly stunning places. I'll do as many of them as I can in the future and I would recommend them to anyone. That's a win for the sport.

The tail of the comet is long.

Prize Allocation: Winning a travel prize was a bonus to cap off my season of swimming. Keep the prizes. Set a qualifying threshold, based on a percentage of what a "rank and file" swimmer might accrue over a season, for example, they may average a 3km race distance per week or every two weeks... That can be debated; it's just a starting point. 3km x number of weeks in the season = threshold distance. Everyone who makes the cutoff goes into a random draw. Inflation of qualification is thus linked to the number of available events rather than competitive drivers and eliminates the need for complex calculations around total distances available to swim since many events have multiple distances but it isn't always possible to do them all because of timing.

The Last Word: Mike Cochrane has a lot of respect from those who know him. Not just because of his personal achievements in swimming. Many have been inspired to do amazing things because of his antics. I've been on many swims where Mike has been in the group and he looks out for everyone, always. He helps people, raises money for charity and shares his knowledge and gadgets generously. He collates results, schedules of events and he even made remote temperature sensors to report sea temperatures to a shared web page. Our sport has benefited from Mike's involvement.

The Really Last Word: Onanistic? Mate, put your hands one in front of the other instead and you just never know, you might get a decent tally next season.

Linda Collard

(A lot of thought in these suggestions. One factor we must bear in mind, however, is the need to avoid increasing workloads on those involved in running the fine ocean swimmers' tallies. Formulae smack of increased workload. Onanistic is our word, by the way, edited in because little children may be reading. The actual expression was more colourful. Please bear in mind our advice at the outset, that the original comments were expressed in language that was tongue-in-cheek: no-one was doing a job on Mike Cochrane or his efforts, rather it was a constructive attempt to discuss an issue: os.c)

Vain quest?

It seems like it's never going to be 100% "fair" - in NZ you'll be advantaged if you live in Auckland for instance, and any "poor student" can claim they can't afford swim entry fees each week.

But perhaps a NZ/AU tally based on swims made in NZ/AU would be a good idea. Giving people a chance in the off season to save up for the summer season! And any extra swims made outside of NZ/AU are for enjoyment/personal tally rather than for your official tally.

The two prize idea is fantastic because getting in the "top 20" is something that I can see as achievable without travelling outside of NZ and if you're in the top 20 then you get the chance to win a prize.

As a side note, I think the amount of kms achieved by those at the top is amazing - they gave up lots of other things to make swimming their priority and I'm sure the money spent also meant giving up other things. Surely no one's doing that just to be "stupid" and because they have "nothing better to do". They obviously love swimming and good on them. I certainly don't think we should be taking away from that in any way.

Raewyn Barker
Placed 30th in last season's tallies with all swims achieved in NZ and mostly in Auckland. In fact, I only had two return flights for swimming events.

Cranky man

You can all bugger off. A competition is a competition. Next, the naysayers will want only Sabots allowed in the Sydney to Hobart.

Peter McCrae

PS the original trophy should only go to NSW swimmers, as we started it.

(What you mean "We", white man?: os.c)


It's just a swim and we need to keep perspective. I do it because I love it. The tallies make it more of a game and that's fun, but win or lose, 100km or 10, it's what personal circumstances dictate on the day. I won Mana one year and could never have got there with my financial situation. I make funds available for as many swims as I can and am satisfied with that.

Jolly good luck to all oceanswimmers, whatever their talents/possibilities.

Jillian Pateman

Why, thank you.

Give the prizes to the individuals doing the work. Those accumulating and collating the information. They do a fantastic job. The rest of us should be happy with whatever intrinsic value that each of us as individuals take from them. I get a great deal of pleasure from seeing my swims accumulate.

Keep it up guys. You take the well earned trip for doing it all for us.

Alan Friday


I saw this article when it came out in your newsletter and thought it rang quite true. I was going to reply earlier but forgot and after reading a few comments today I thought maybe I would put my two cents in after all :)

Being very new to swimming let alone Ocean Swimming (started swimming for the first time 3 years ago) I read about the FOS tallies with great interest. There is a lot to the fact that the winner travelled a vast distance at a great expense to win the series. Certainly not wanting to take anything from this achievement as traveling it is most certainly a great one. But, the fact remains that he is among an elite few that would be able to dedicate such time and money to the sport as he has done.

One of the replies says that an increase on your distance from a previous year would be a good tally to record for a prize and another says a tally from say maximum of 20 swims both of which are great ideas.

As a swimmer from the NZ South Island it would mean a lot of traveling for me to even make it to the board and I am more than happy doing the swims I do for no points just pure love for my new sport but will continue watching the FOS tallies with great interest no matter how they are decided. It is after all a sport and there are always winners, controversial or not. I am all for the encouragment of more people to the sport and anything that does this is fantastic.

If the tally system remains the same then so be it, all that matters at the end of the day is that people continue to swim for enjoyment and that the tallies are just the icing on the cake. Prize or no prize.

Ange Moir

Have your say... Click here

 tonga book cover      vanuatu book helsham

Glistening Dave on tour

Over the past two months, our staff photographer, Glistening Dave, came with us to Vanuatu and to Tonga, and after each oceanswimsafari, Dave produced a book on his travels. They contain some wonderful images of both Pacific Island states.

The books are aimed at punters who came with us on those oceanswimsafaris, but anyone can appreciate them, and Dave's stunning lens work.

You can look over these books online, and order them, if you like...


sydney marine park banner
The banner promoting the proposal for a Sydney Marine Park, circulated by Nature Conservation of NSW.

Sydney Marine Park proposal

We received today this email from a cobber, forwarding a communication he received from the Nature Conservation Council of NSW...

Our spectacular beaches, coastal lifestyle and iconic marine life make New South Wales a wonderful place to live.

From Newcastle to Wollongong, the Sydney region's marine environment is stunning. Yet our reefs, kelp forests and marine life remain under protected.

Right now we have a rare opportunity to change that. The NSW Government is considering greater marine protection for the Sydney region - and they want to hear from you. Will you take a couple of minutes to complete their online survey before it closes this Friday?

The answer is simple: Sydney needs a marine park with sanctuary zones to protect our incredible coastal lifestyle and marine life. A marine park will provide a playground to snorkel, surf and fish, and protect marine life like the weedy sea dragon, blue groper and giant cuttlefish.

It's not only our marine life that would benefit from a marine park. Millions flock to Sydney for a taste of our iconic lifestyle, and healthy seas are important to our coastal economies. Communities such as Jervis Bay and Coffs Harbour are reaping the benefits of having a marine park on their doorstep, and right here in Sydney we can have the same.

Already, with your support, we've restored full protection to most of our NSW marine sanctuaries. Now this is our chance to leave a lasting legacy for the Sydney region.
All you need to do is... Click here... and click on 'Make general comments'. You only need to answer Question 5 saying you would like the Government to establish a Sydney Marine Park with sanctuary zones, and at Question 7 to enter your postcode. The others can be left blank or it's up to you if you wish to answer them.

Ask any visitor to Sydney what they love about our city and chances are they'll say, "Its natural beauty". Please don't miss this rare opportunity to have your say before Friday 28 August! Thanks for your support.

Best fishes,

Daisy Barham
Nature Conservation of NSW

Balmoral nice earner for Children's Cancer

Well done, themselves, to the Balmoral Beach Club for raising $104,000 for the Childrens Cancer Institute through The Balmoral Swim in March. The club had a function a few weeks back to present the proceeds to the charity. A nice result, reflecting the ocean swimmers' tradition of support for good causes.

mana north beach

Lining up for Mana Fiji SwimFest

Not long now to the Mana Fiji SwimFest, October 14-17. Mana Island's Ocean Swimming Stadium is the best place in the Sarth Pacific to run swim events: the water is warm, clear, and it's deep enough to make it interesting and fast, and to moderate any currents when the tide is on the flow. But it's not so deep that you can't see the bottom.

Mana Island's North Beach -- Ocean Swimming Stadium -- has reef running out 130 metres to the drop-off, after which it's a cornucopia of colourful sea life, other than big, potentially scary sea life. Some legs of the swims there during the Mana Fiji SwimFest from October 14-17 run into deeper water, but that's good, too. The 10km event runs through myriad types of water, from shallowish reef with a bit of current, over the drop off, through deeper water with coral outcrops and fish dotting the distant bottom, to shallower reef again, to deeper water drifting downwards from azure to dark blue, and to the calm, soothing water of Mana's South Beach. And back again.

This year, we've been in touch with the Rottnest Channel Swim awgies and we've been told that they will accept Mana's 10km swim as a qualifier for Rottnest 2016. It's just outside the formal qualifying period, but it's close enough, we're told.

Core dates are Tuesday, October 13-Sunday, October 18, but you can vary your dates however you like. and have a special deal from Mana Island Resort - Stay 5 nights, Pay for just 4 nights. As well, all rooms booked through get a free 30-minute spa session for two at the Mana Spa.

More info and to book... Mana click here

heron 1410
Heron Island. Is it...?

Yes. It is.

Punters ask us often about Heron Island... What's it like? What's the sea life like? Is it as good as people suggest it is? Of course it is. But now we've put together a photo gallery of our favourite pics from the Great Barrier Reef Swim at Heron Island over the past couple of years to give you a better idea of the event... Click here

The Heron Island weekend is much more than a swim. It's a long weekend, with swim activities scheduled on each day from Friday through Sunday. On Friday, there's the open water swim clinics, with sessions in the hall and in the water, run by Coach and Olympian Graeme Brewer, as well as a course tour and "Swim Back" to give you a feel for the water, which is very different from the break on your local beach. On Saturday, we have the 1km swim around the wreck in the Heron Island harbour. Then, on Sunday, it's the 2.9km swim around the island. There's lots of party-like activity surrounding all the swimming and plenty of time to swim and mooch over the reef, and to explore Heron island, which is a national park. It's also turtle laying season, so there's a pretty good chance the waters around the island -- and its beaches -- will be active with turtles laying or preparing to lay. It's a privilege to be amongst this.

Swimming around Heron Island is very different from other swims in Queensland, because the island is right on the Great Barrier Reef. The water is so much better, so much more interesting than swimming inside the reef. It's clearer and cleaner, and teeming with life. It's a cathartic experience.

Travel days are Thursday and Monday, with the weekend running from October 29 through November 2.

We've been approached by a single bloke swimmer who would like to share accommodation on Heron Island with like, because it would be easier on his budget. If anyone is interested in following up this opportunity, email us... Click here

Rooms are filling on Heron Island. More info and to book... Click here

Swims open to online entry on

Forresters Beach (Sat, Oct 17)... Click here
Mana Fiji (Thu-Sat, Oct 15-17)... Click here
Burleigh Heads (Sun, Oct 18)... Click here
Narrabeen (Sat, Oct 31)... Click here
Evans Head (Sun, Nov 15)... Click here
Toowoon Bay (Sat, Nov 28)... Click here


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