fiji yasawas shark 1501
Our swim buddy, off Nanuya reef in Fiji's Yasawas.

Speed-based start waves?

In the wake of debate, which is relentless, over the best and safest way to start an ocean swim event, we received a suggestion from an interested punter involving starts based on the speed of swimmers. The organisers of the now-defunct Tama-Cloey swim attempted something similar a few years back. Anyway, read on, then send us your thoughts for Controversy Corner (link below)...

Speed starts for safety and comfort

I am sick to death of being kicked in the face by people I catch up with, clawed on the legs by people overtaking me, and smacked over the head by people crowding me left and right while everyone tries to overtake everyone else. What the hell is it with age-based starts? We need to switch to speed-based starts.

How do speed-starts work?

1. On your entry form, you nominate your speed IN A POOL (standard conditions, guys!), and over the race length (not some sprint distance!)
2. This is used to assign you to a speed band.
3. On the day, speed bands take off in the order fastest through to slowest, ie. Fastest band takes off first. A mere 30 seconds, later the next speed band takes off. Then, 30 seconds later, the next, and then next.

What are the benefits?

1. A smooth swift start, with none of the lengthy hanging about on the beach between age-cohort start, because...
2. ...with a speed-based start, there is no need to "stretch out the field" by keeping each start wave well apart. Effectively, the field starts stretched out already, only...
3. it's correctly stretched, ie. the stretching-out will actually do the effing job of keeping bands apart.
How unlike age-based starts, where someone of 30 might spend their whole race fighting past earlier but slower starters, AND being crawled over by even faster swimmers who started later, and either way, menacing and being menaced by jostling co-racers from start to finish.
4. In a speed-based start, everyone swims along harmoniously, in their speed bands. These will stretch out a bit as the race goes on, but with minimal drama and collision. Overtaking will be rare, and gets rarer as the race progresses.
5. Booees will be rounded in a nice spread-out stream with minimal traffic-jamming— oh yes!!!
6. And if the organisers have a brain in their heads, the speed bands will be colour-capped in an easily remembered order — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, purple, pink...? Imagine the safety benefits! Staff on the water who see a yellow cap in among the blues, say, will instantly know that this swimmer may be in trouble, because they're swimming slow for them. Ta da!
7. Racers and pootlers all swim happily in the same event. People who just want to pootle along enjoying the ocean swim can nominate their pootling speed, not their racing speed. Then, on the day, they'll be in with a speed band that allows them to pootle, as planned— without constantly having to dodge swinging arms and thrashing legs. ('Back of pack' divisions don't work for many pootlers, because many pootlers nevertheless pootle pretty fast.)

In sum

Age-based starts are an anachronism from pre-computer days. Now, with races getting thousands of entries, they're a dangerous anachronism. Speed starts for safety! Speed starts for COMFORT! Speed starts, for God's sake.

fiji yasawas blue lagoon sunset 1501
Day's works done at Blue Lagoon in Fiji's Yasawas.

FAQs

"But results still need to be based on age-bands!"

Of course. Calculating who swam fastest in each age band will be a simple matter of telling your final spread sheet to group competitors' final times into age groups again.

"People will accidentally nominate the wrong speed— especially at first, while it's a new system."

Yes— but trust them. They'll learn. They really will. Teething problems are inevitable, not intolerable.

"A few people will continue to nominate slower speeds than their real speed, to have the helpful adrenalin buzz of continuously overtaking others."

Mmm– there's a selfish twat in most crowds. If it becomes a strategy for some swimmers, then simply cap recognised times at 'no faster than that day's median finishing time (not 'average speed', but absolute 'time of day'— think about it...), of the band ahead of you"— or some such. Basically, if the problem develops, a) it will be very visible who's doing it; b) the sport can figure out a penalty.

"A few people will continue to nominate faster times than they can swim, because... ummm... they're idiots...?"

Yes. They'll be visible idiots too, because they'll fall back into the following band colour. The resulting annoyance will soon teach many not to do this. However, idiots are part of life. They have a right to exist, too. A few of them won't throw the whole speed-start system out.

"But how can you ask me— or My Child— to bear the shame of publicly wearing anything but a red cap?"

Oh, man up.

Dorothea Sofia Rossellini

Sounds simple, eh. We can think of a few issues that could arise, particularly for awgies in the management of swims.

But what do you think? Give us your feedback. We'll publish it here on Controversy Corner... Click here

Controversy Corner

Latest contributions...

Good idea...

... has a lot of merit

Craig Carney

Sick of age starts

Definitely speed starts. In fact I'm so sick of age starts, I refuse to go in them anymore.

Mark Otter

Considered response

If you start in a wave with people that swim more or less the same time as you, doesn't that mean you will be swimming in a group all the way around the course? Also it won't make any difference at the start because you're still starting in a group so you will be kicked and elbowed just as much as an age based start. At least in age based starts the group spreads out over the course from fastest to slowest.

The real problem is aggressive swimmers who swim over the top of other slower swimmers and which is why I assume some swims have an elite wave at the start and which more swimmers should be required to join and leave the leisurely swimming to the rest of the field.

Jo-Anne Elliott

 

Earlier contributions...
Age-based nonsensical

I live in South Africa and all our swims with large amounts of entrants are "seared" either by previous race times or, as suggested here, an honest time for, say, a mile in the pool. I never heard of age-based starts and does sound a little nonsensical. The largest open water in the world, the Midmar Mile, adopts that policy with more than 18,000 swimmers

Barry Stuhler

Sticky

Interesting idea. Only fly in the ointment, for me anyway, is the starts into waves. No matter how fast and strong a swimmer I am in the pool, I find a couple of good shore dumps can severely affect my start. Even good ocean swimmers get dumped onto those behind when the waves have a bit of punch.

A speed-based start therefore is fine on calm days or flat-water beach starts, but pretty pointless if there is a decent shorebreak.

Michael McGrath

Tricky nomination

Not a bad idea the main issue is to nominate your correct speed position

Leonardo Gentin

Turned off

I think it's a great idea. There may be differences in pool vs sea swim times for people starting sea swimming or in rougher water or those improving or having a bad day (not all differences in times are caused by being a twat), but at least you can be somewhere near a group with same speed. The congestion has turned me off doing sea swims here although have done in other countries where less people.

Rhonda Laws

About time

Great idea! This is how it is done for pool racing, anyway. It's about time it happened for ocean swimming.

My opinion would be to enter the race on your pb time for that distance and if you haven't swum that distance before you would enter in on NT (no time) and start at the back.

If a swimmer moves up to a faster group, there shouldn't be a need to penalize, though, as all swimmers should be looking to improve their times.

Hope this happens ASAP!

Mel Barry

Doesn't this happen already?

Excuse my ignorance, but being new to this sport I actually thought speed starts were pretty much the norm.

Apparently not.

I have done three of the NZ Ocean Swim Series swims which are all speed-based starts. Your cap colour dictates your speed. If you give a slow time so you can dominate your wave, well then you look pretty obvious up in a different coloured group at the finish.

There are always going to be honest mistakes. I know because I made one in my first year. Who knew adrenaline could make you so fast!

But at the end of the day, for a new swimmer in a mass start they are more likely to continue open water swimming if they don't get drowned in their first race because they had to start with super fast swimmers swimming over them. There is nothing more unnerving to someone who has never done a mass start to have everyone else taking off like a bull at a gate and you're left churning in their wake.

And yes, I know you can start at the back, but sometimes that just doesn't work and you still end up surrounded by frenzied swimmers as you all head for buoy number 1 :)

Ange Moir

Good boy, yourself

Bloody brilliant idea, if it can be pulled off and allocated with minimal fuss for volunteers and competitors on race day!

Well done for remaining open to all options to improve this wonderful sport and community.

Elizabeth Sloane

Simple

I'm for speed based starts, more efficient

Mia Barry

More simple

Great idea, love it!

Anne-Marie Howarth

Trial

Do it. It works. Throughout the 1980s and 90s I enjoyed ocean, lake and river swims conducted in California under this system. Since settling in Queensland I have attempted only two ocean swims, both harrowing experiences in the start and early sorting out parts. That was enough to turn me into a spectator.

Why not organise a 'fun' event, for a time and place that makes it likely to be well attended, to trial the system?

Mary Ann

From the Kiwi point of view...

WTF are you guys over there doing age-based start waves for? Speed based is the norm here (in my experience) - we do 1 min between waves. It works from 300 swimmers to 1600 swimmers.

Some swimmers will deliberately over or underestimate their times to swim the in "gap" between the two waves (guilty), but the vast majority get it pretty right. I've never seen any shame or elitism about which wave you're in, and have friends that have moved to a later wave on the day due to concerns about the conditions.

It works, it's normal, and there are age group winners in nearly every start wave in the end.

Mike Cochrane

Lap it up

I agree with speed based starts. I swim in a squad twice week, 2Ks, and it only works if I am not "lapping" someone or they are not lapping me.

Thanks for good idea,

Joanne Ritchie

View from the east

Thought I would put my two cents into the equation.

I very much agree with the speed-based start for big open water swims like this. There is nothing worse that getting bashed about in the start of the race whilst you are getting used to the water and making sure you aren't heading in the wrong direction.

I thought I would address the issue of how to determine in what speed pool you might start. Well, for the the Coogee Island swim, as it is the first of the season, I would suggest using your time from last year, and if you are newly signing up to the swim I would suggest that times from similar distance swims from the previous year are used. If you are brand new to the ocean swimming world and this is your first swim, then you can provide a 'pool based' time, or that all new starters start at the back, which isn't ideal but I don't think there is an absolute ideal solution.

And finally, if you are participating in a swim for the first time later in the season, previous swim times from that season can be used to identify where you should start.

Results can still be recorded in age groups. I can't see how that would be a problem because you still get your time based on the time your wave goes into the water.

I am looking forward to the Coogee Island swim in November and keeping my fingers crossed for a calm weather day.

Bridget Cullum

But wait!

Won't this end in heaps of swimmers finishing around the same time?

Lizzy Lodge

Few words

Speed based starts: Yes.

Doug Westerway

Spotting the trap

I understand that some people will nominate faster times because they are idiots, but there will also be people nominating faster times to improve their own time (selfish idiots). This is because they will have more opportunity to jump on the feet of someone who is a bit faster than them. I suggest that once the system is up and running their group be based on how they went in their last race.

Mal Wilson

At the ready

Great idea for speed starts! Where do I sign up?

Christy Trollip

Count me in

Agree, agree, agree – When can this start????

Jude Mannix

Physical

Totally agree guys. Thanks so much oceanswims.com for raising this important issue. Let's hope a groundswell of support results!! It benefits everyone from start to finish - all swimmers at all levels and organisers alike. The running fraternity have been doing this for years. Open swim organisers, please get with the program!

Matthew England
Professor of Ocean Physics and ocean swimming devotee

Whilst we're about it

I love the idea of speed-safe starts. Bring it on.

While we are banging on about swimming etiquette, and perhaps I've missed this conversation somewhere, could we enforce a rule which requires pootlers and others, who may be taking a little rest during their ocean swim to restrain themselves from "frog kicking" us in the face and to constantly maintain a "flutter kick" at all times. I'm sure I don't need to explain why.

Thanks for maintaining the rage etc.,

Susie Ashton-Davies

Obvious

Absolutely right and so logical. Speed starts should be introduced long time ago.

Sergey Kurdyukov

Dislike drowning

Great article and makes real sense to me. As an infrequent participant who isn't overly familiar with the policies surrounding the current format, I can only vouch for the "discomfort" of being swum over by faster swimmers from groups behind me and the resulting panic it causes. Removing this might bring more like myself to the events more frequently.

Anyone who has panicked in water previously would recognise the feeling as being unconducive to great performance. I can't do anything like a PB time with the inevitability of this near-drowning scenario to look forward to every 3 minutes or so.

Furthermore, I can't enjoy a swim anywhere near as much as I would if the element of being dragged under by much stronger swimmers were removed. Enjoyment and the ability for swimmers to test their own best against themselves is what brings the vast majority of people to events like these, so measures to increase such opportunities should have direct return on investment.

I'll watch this with interest and participate much more often if time-grouping is introduced.

Adam Forster

Potential downside

I've only recently started participating in ocean swims - I loved it and plan to participate again in November. As a triathlete who freaks out in an ocean swim, it's a good opportunity to better understand how to handle the waves and it's quite nice to just turn up and do one sport and not have a car load of gear with me.

I see positives and negatives with the time-based starts.

It's good to be in a pack of swimmers who are the same pace as you - you can use them to guide you to the buoys if they're not easy to spot because it's a bit choppy (or you can all go off course together :) ). It's great for the faster swimmers because they don't have to deal with passing as many people. I'm a middle of the pack swimmer - I don't see it will change too much for me.

What I don't like is the slower swimmers being sent off last - which creates a situation where the very slow swimmers are out there pretty much by themselves very late into the morning (more relevant for the longer distance swims perhaps).

This time-based wave start also singles out the slower swimmer and announces their lack of speed/ability to everyone around them. I wonder if this might deter them from entering? It doesn't seem to with distance running races -i.e. Gold Coast Marathon/1/2 marathon where they've been doing pace-based wave starts for years now - so maybe not?

Allyson Lindsay

The other hand

With the speed start method, how can you decide quickly on place getters or times? There is a lot of reprogramming to do to cater for this type start, and as a committee member of a surf club running the ocean swim the logistics of the exercise would be quite dramatic.

David Garnham

Carnage

The idea about change to wave starts is great. I am very slow. I was once in a wave of slow 50-plus swimmers that started 5 minutes before 30-plus men. It was a slaughter in the overtaking. Not a nice swim at all.

Elizabeth Stewart

Positive

Great idea! Seriously!!

Sarah Matthews

Enough, already

"As a "fat" swimmer, it's hard enough to turn up to ocean swims without being classified by your "speed" too"

Name withheld

Yes. And no

PRO: This is a great idea. I usually do the Big Swim most summers, and at 49 years old are in the last wave to go off. As waves are about 3 mins apart with the first wave going on the hour, by the time my wave get going it's about 35-40 mins late, the north-easter is just starting to crank, whereas on the hour the winds were only light. When out the back rounding the headland, the chop from the winds can be bad when in the last wave and being a bit of a cruiser (last swim took me 50 mins).

CON: Depending on number of folk entering the event, the proposed 30 seconds between waves might be tricky. Suggest 1 minute might allow more time for people to get organised.

Tim McVicar

#obvs

The most sensible thing I've read for a long time - it's a no brainer and, if there's any triathlon organisers who happen to have read the article, read it and learn. Tri events ask you for your estimated time for each discipline and then do c**k all with that information, and start the waves off in age groups! This means testosterone loaded 40-year-old males are mixing it with everyone older than them, which can include newbies and pensioners!

Well done for airing this suggestion. Common sense rules OK

Neil Whitehead

Plot and correlation

Excellent idea! I did the Tamarama to Clovelly swim a few years ago and it seemed to work well.

Maybe someone should do a plot of times against age for a few swims to prove that there isn't necessarily a correlation – or at least that the spread of times is huge in all age groups.

Carol Russell

Runners do it

I agree with speed based starts. All running events go on time bands

Bec Clay

Furthermore

Please can we have have gender based waves !
As a female I am very sick of being elbowed in the stomach at the start or in the run & the aggressive behaviour of men during the swim, some of who are twice my weight.
I am in the 45-50 year age group, and have found similar issues when discussing this with women in other age groups.

Sarah Dacres-Mannings

Big improvement

I think speed based waves are a great idea. It works in running races fairly well but of course you do get the odd muppet who thinks they can beat the field and end up holding people up on a single trail!

It will be a big improvement to the sport of ocean swimming.

Ant Coulter

Ironman

Ironman have been using speed based waves for quite a while. Not sure if it's the currently favoured start or not but it's worked well from my experience.

Maurie Akenson

Can congestion

Overall it seems like a sensible option with more pros than cons. It would work well for point to point swim in particular.

Not so good on shorter course around the cans. It would lead more congestion at the early marks as swimmers of same pace arrive together.

John Gallagher

Waikiki

The Waikiki Roughwater Swim has had a speed-based for over 15 years. Swimmers start in groups of approx 200 based on a demonstration time submitted with the application.

The number of groups is based on the number of entries.

Jim Anderson

Agree

Good Idea

Georgene McKenzie-Hicks

 

Sorted

It's only ever at the start where feet and arms get in the way, it sorts itself out fairly quick and you usually find someone at same pace to tail, I like swimming in age groups to see where I'm at with my own.

Craig Riddell

Abolish segregation

Great idea.

More suitable for larger city-based swims that smaller regional ones. E.g. I did forresters beach 3k swim a couple of weeks ago and there were only 25 swimmers. No need for speed, or age groupings there.

Great idea though.

They should also get rid of sexist gender segregation at starts. Why should a fast female have to negotiate swimming past 500 slow blokes just because she has boobs?

Speed based starts would negate the need for gender segregation as well.

Steve Norris

Bringing me back

Great idea. This may influence me to participate in races once again. Until then, it's no thanks to fists, scratches & kicks. Ruins a good swim.

Dee Howard

Other considerations

Great idea and especially agree with the slower and faster nominated times in your FAQ's. Maybe in series events that will sort itself out if someone tries to nominate a ridiculously slower or faster time over a similar distance 1-2 weeks later and the computer can be programmed to say hey....

I had a pretty nasty accident in April that left me with 3 titanium plates in one side of my face and some mesh holding one eye in place courtesy of a 4+ hr operation. I thought that ocean races maybe over for me (my surgeon says a wack in the eye could result in me losing that eye) with the risk of getting kicked in the face. But nominated times at 30-60 sec intervals may mean I can compete again in some way which would be unrool!!

Thought about wearing a full face motorcycle helmet with my smugglers but not sure if it woud be a good look:) or be very good for my breathing.

Keep up the great work.

Mark Cavanough

If it sounds too easy...

Sounds too easy I'm all for it.

Richard

Others do it

The NZ Swim series operates on time waves. You still have your fastest and slowest in these groups. Results are given in age groups. They don't seem to have any problems!

The Henley Classic in the UK is also time waves. By the time we walked back to the start we had an individual receipt size printout with our time and place in our age group - very good:)

Marion Slattery

Adrenalin

Sounds great!!

I have tried on a couple of occasions to introduce friends and family to ocean swims but the mayhem in the starts can be intimidating and off putting, (personally I love the rush). But the speed start sounds like a far better option especially if it eases congestion rounding the buoys.

James Vincent

Necessary violence

It's a bloody brilliant idea, hate the thrashing of open water starts. And don't enjoy swimming over the top of other swimmers but when you're boxed in, are left with little choice.

A Geddes

Peak hour

I love the idea of speed starts! I have done a total of one organised ocean swim and, while I loved the idea of it, in practice I just got kicked and scratched and swum over. It felt like I was getting on a train at Town Hall in peak hour - rather than enjoying our beautiful Aussie oceans.

I've thought about doing more swims and would love to properly get into the sport - but the race arrangements at the moment just don't work for me. If I hear things have changed, I'll be at the next event with a group of other non-Kung Fu swimmers with me ;-)

Zoe Wood

Awgie's view

I think that the idea has a lot of merit and could turn out to be a winner. As an awgie from way back, I am well familiar with the problem of sorting out a start procedure that doesn't produce pure mayhem, and this could alleviate the situation.

I can see one difficulty that can be sorted out with a bit of finessing which might require a few swims to solve. A problem that exists with age starts is the simple fact that the middle age groups tend to be well represented and subsequently crowded, and with time-start waves this can be lessened by having a very narrow band of times around the more crowded entries. For example, if swimmers submitted times over say 100 metres, the first band could be up to 50 secs, the second 51 to 60 secs, a gap of 5 secs, but say around 70 secs the band might be only 2 secs, say from 68 to 70 secs, as there will be many swimmers with this time. In this way the numbers in each group could be evened out, which will sort out the biggest problem of all: start crowding.

I've nominated 100 metres. This I believe is far too short. 400 metres would be more indicative. Some thought should be given to separate starts for male and female, possibly depending on the size of the swim.

Also, as well as pool times, results from previous swims would give an excellent indication of a swimmer's performance band, and this could be compared to a small, regularly competing, group of carefully and accurately timed swimmers, (a Standard swimmer), across the performance spectrum. This would get rid of the problem of "inaccurate" nominated times for whatever devious reason. If this was adopted a swimmer would only need a nominated time for their very first swim, and from then on their start time would be adjusted depending on their race time compared to a Standard swimmer in that race.

Now read it slowly again, you'll catch on.

Lord Ron of Riverside

Working it out

The very first open water swim I entered, they had us (Senior Males – 45 to 50) starting 10 minutes before the Junior Males (up to 18 yo). Now, some of those junior males are very enthusiastic state grade swimmers, and I was caught at about the half way mark. The first few junior males, taking no prisoners, swam completely over me. Also, as you can appreciate, at this stage I was getting a bit puffed and as they swam over me they tendered to push me under the water, leaving me gasping a bit.

It only took a few of them before I said to myself, "So, this is the game we are playing". I then rolled onto my back and as each swimmer was about to go over me I just kicked at them. They soon realised they had every right to swim PAST me, but no right at all to go OVER me.

Please, bring in speed based starts... a better way for us all.

Gary Broughton

Don't forget us

Although I can see some benefits, for an older slower swimmer I fear I will always be starting last and finishing after all the fruit is gone and most people have gone home. I always preferred the swims where the waves were mixed up a bit, not just youngest to oldest. I also like people swimming past me as at least I know I'm on course.

Janet

Good for slowies

I'd just like to add that speed-based starts are the normal approach to road running races. They are used in practically every mass-participation event. Awarding age-based results has never posed a problem.

As a slower swimmer, I'd appreciate a speed-based start.

Cliff Keen

Yes.

Sounds like a good idea to me.

Anon

Pacing

it might also help with pacing. I often have no idea how I'm going during a race, but it would be nice to be able gauge progress in comparison to the others in your start cohort

Mike Proctor

Let's try it

Very happy to give it a try. I am a middle of the pack mature swimmer so it probably will make little difference to me, but would be great to move up a wave, and cap colour if I get faster!

I always tend to start wide to avoid the kicks, etc. Also, if the waves can be sent off closer together, won't that be more efficient?

Julie Waring

Nothing new

Nothing new here, tried both over a number of years. Age group, slowest to fastest, fastest to slowest, reverse age groups. Fastest to slowest makes the whole swim take the longest time. Can add. Quite some time. Slowest to fastest compacts the swimmers together and minimises the time taken for he whole swim.

Age groups work well.

Craig Smith

No knee-jerk, this one

Adjust the buoys not the swimmers.

As a slow 60+ age swimmer I am very used to being passed during ocean swims. The fast swimmers do not really want to hit, scratch or swim over you; that would just slow them down. Their frustration and your pain mostly occurs when turning 90 degree turns around buoys.

The Big Swim has huge numbers but very little agro, because the first buoy is a long way off the beach and the swim just curves slowly to the right. There is no "advantage" cutting close to the buoys so the faster swimmers can go around the outside of groups. The last buoy is at 90 degrees and is the most congested.

At a tight turn even the best swimmers will splay their legs out and appear to kick out (like the breaststrokers). The solution is to use double or even triple boys to turn tight corners into curves so that swimmers do not cut close and do not lose rhythm.

With age division starts the groups stretch out before they reach the first buoys. Unfortunately speed divisions will all reach the first, second, third ... buoys, together!!

Stay with the age groups, double or triple buoys and first buoy further out.

Dave Dobeson

Sharks

As a back of the pack swimmer I would welcome the innovation of swimming with similar speed competitors.

In my short 2 year history of competing in oceans swims, I have been run into or over quite a few times in races.

The most upsetting time was when a younger group of men started after my age group (50-60 women) and I was genuinely scared as the pack of 40 year old men approached. And quite rightly so. As I attempted to swim off to the side to wait for the "sharks" to pass, some of them still managed to aggressively swim into me. After this, I only returned to swim when a kind, much younger Angel fish volunteered to swim with me as shot gun, warning me of dangerous swimmers approaching from behind. Previously I thought that swimming was a non-aggressive and non-body contact sport!

The most fun I have had in races is when I have found someone of similar speed to swim alongside. This is rare as that person may be from a different age category and we cannot find each other due to the staggered age starts.

Michele Hatch


swim safe floats 01

Tow floats mean safer swimming

We're about to launch our tow floats - inflatable buoys that you tow with you when you swim.

They have a safety use and a practical role. The tow floats make you more visible to other swimmers and to people in water craft, such as hoons in speed boats and on jet skis (we don't mean well trained lifeguards, who behave responsibly).

We have two types of tow floats initially: a "donut" (above right) in which you can carry a water bottle, if you like; and a balloon type of float that includes a water-sealed compartment that allows you to carry valuables and even clothes for use at the other end, and so that you need not leave them on the beach at the mercy of ne'er-do-wells. The balloon-type buoys also carry a light so that you can be seen in the dark. That's useful both for water craft and for comrade swimmers. Where's Jim? Oh, there he is, right by my side!

We have both models available in either fluoro pink and fluoro orange. The balloon versions come in 20l (shown above with model Peter) and 30l.

They'll be on sale on oceanswims.com very soon. Just the thing for early morning, solo and long distance swimmers.

Enquiries in the meantime... Click here


Easier to find swims

We've improved our events calendar, making it easier for you to find swim events in your area. In our main calendar (under Swims on oceanswims.com), now you can search by regions within states and nation states. Eg, in Victoria, you can search for Melbourne & Bays, Mornington Peninsula, Bellarine & Surf Coast, Shipwreck Coast, and East Coast.

We've been a little tardy in updating our calendar for the coming season, due to lengthy periods away from our static desk over winter. We've been -- and still are -- on the road. But we'll get most of it done over the next two weeks.

Be aware that we highlight "Featured Swims" on the oceanswims.com home page, but for all swims, you need to consult the full calendar... Click here


fiji mana nama 1501 
Feeling peckish whilst you swim in the tropics? Keep your eyes peeled for nama. Looks like tiny bunch of white grapes. You can pluck it from the bottom on reefs and pop them straight into your gob. Tastes like salty oysters, it's sold as a delicacy in local markets in Fiji. Locals will comb the reefs at low tide, so get it whenever you find it.

This weekend...

The Great Barrier Reef Swim on Heron Island is this weekend, but if you haven't already booked for it, even packed your bags, then you're probably not coming anyway. Shame. It's a cathartic experience, and the best way we know to immerse yourself into ocean swimming culcha over a long, long weekend without being made to feel guilty.

In Sydney on Saturday, there's the Narrabeen swim offering two distances -- 800m and 1.8km -- in circuits from the beach. Online entries close on oceanswims.com at noon on Frideee, October 30. Remember, this is a Saturday swim, so entries close on Friday at noon.

Online entries close at noon on Friday, October 30. Find out more and enter online... Click here

In the west, there's Round 1 of the WA Swimming open water series at Cottesloe.

Right now, we have 14 new season events open for online entry, with more coming over the next couple of weeks. See below for a complete list.


Pittwater series begins with Billie

pittwater banner 56Organisers of The Pittwater Swim Series say...

The popular Pittwater Ocean Swim Series starts in December with the Bilgola ocean swim on Sunday 13 December.

Series swims are - 

Bilgola (Dec 13)
Newport (Jan 3 )
Avalon (Jan 17)
Mona Vale (Jan 24), and
Palm Beach-Whale Beach (Jan 31)

Pittwater Council is supporting the event with free parking for swimmers at the designated council car parks for each swim. An important benefit for swimmers.

Over 5,000 swimmers are expected to compete in this summer's series.

"We have a large percentage of swimmers from other metropolitan areas and country regions, as well as interstate and from around the world. It's a wonderful way of showcasing the beautiful Pittwater region," said Rob Berry a spokesperson for the Pittwater surf lifesaving clubs organising the swims.

"Again we have as a major prize for swimmers, who swim in at least three of the ocean swims, a trip for two to Byron Bay including return air fares staying at the Bay Royal Luxury Apartments. The prize also includes entry into the Byron Bay Ocean Swim Classic.

"The prizes are generously donated by Travel View, Bay Royal Apartments and the Byron Bay Ocean Swim Classic. It's a lucky draw so it doesn't matter what time you swim as long as you swim in three events," he said.

You can enter each swim on oceanswims.com and funds raised go towards essential life saving gear for the clubs involved and that makes the beaches safer.

Enjoy the many shops and cafes in the area to make it a great family day at each swim.

Find out more and enter series swims... Click here


yasawas fiji 1510 01
Thanks to those punters who emailed to tell us that this creature, photographed off Nanuya Reef in Fiji's Yasawas, is a scissortail or two tone dartfish. They're always seen in pairs, we're told. You see some remarkable things on remote coral reefs.


Swims open to online entry on oceanswims.com...

Narrabeen (Sat, Oct 31)... Click here
Collaroy (Sun, Nov 8)... Click here
Balmain (Dawny) (Sun, Nov 22).... Click here
Cronulla (Sun, Nov 22)... Click here
Toowoon Bay (Sat, Nov 28)... Click here
Coogee (Sun, Nov 29)... Click here
Murwillumbah (Tweed River, Sun, Nov 29... Click here
North Curl Curl (Sat, Dec 5)... Click here
Bilgola (Sun, Dec 13)... Click here
Queenscliff (Sun, Dec 20)... Click here
Malabar (Sun, Feb 21)... Click here
Freshwater (Sun, March 6)... Click here
Forster (Sun, April 4)... Click here
Coogee (Sun, Apr 10)... Click here

Coming soon - The Big Swim (Palm-Whale, Jan 31)


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