vanuatu promedical 150301
Your fundraising support has enabled ProMedical Vanuatu to help people like John, on the remote island of Epi, to receive treatment for a nail gun injury, which became so infected it threatened his leg and his life.

Vanuatu update

Good news from Vanuatu: One of the hotels with whom we deal tells us that green shoots are appearing on the trees in Port Vila. You can't stop nature, eh. And this was an "on the ground" hotel oerator talking, not an economist. It's nice to know the system is working.

Our three partner resorts in Port Vila suffered damage in the cyclone and currently are closed while repairs are carried. We don't anticipate this continuing until the swims in early June, but we will keep you posted. In Santo, there was minimal damage and resorts are operating as normal.

A week is a long time in the world of cyclone relief. Since we reported last week on the effects of Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu, ProMedical Vanuatu's online fundraising campaign has raised $A106,993 at the time of writing. This is astonishing. And so wonderful to see amongst the donors so many ocean swimmers. We like a good cause.

Here, we republish a report by Michael Benjanim, ProMedical's Operations Manager, on what they've been up to since the cyclone hit over a week ago...

Hello olgeta,

It's been 11 days since Cyclone Pam passed over Vanuatu leaving a trail of devastation.

We would like to thank the community of Port Vila and the international community for their continued physical and financial support. The words and messages of encouragement and the continual stream of volunteers who come into the ProMedical station every day is incredibly humbling and uplifting. I don't think that any of us here at ProMedical could have every envisioned being part of such a united and motivated group. We are honored to host and facilitate Renegade Aid and the community volunteers.
We would like to give everybody an update and summary of what we have achieved in the past 11 days since Cyclone Pam.

We have delivered 34,000 liters of clean drinking water to the remote villages on Efate.

We have purified 86,000 liters of water in villages which still have functional water tanks, including villages on the islands of Mosso, Lelepa, Pele and Nguna. Community volunteers based in Tanilou village and Havana Harbor have also been fishing on their way to these islands and handing over their catches to the villagers.

We have delivered 450 liters of fuel to communities so that they can re-launch their boats and start their public transport trucks to regain their independence and start rebuilding their lives
We have given out 400 meters of heavy duty black plastic for temporary shelter to the villages on Efate.

We have delivered several tons of canned food spread across Efate, Mosso, Lelepa, Pele and Nguna.

Along with this vital aid delivery we have had crews going out with
chainsaws and generators to assist the villages with clearing fallen trees so they can start rebuilding their homes.

Aside from the anonymous donation of 7,000 cans of tinned food,
ProMedical has shouldered the majority of the cost of this operation, as have many of the community volunteers who have been using their own vehicles to undertake the water and food drops. We have also been greatly assisted by local businesses such as FR8 logistics, Wilco, Vila distribution and Trade Tools.

We are working with the National Disaster Management Office to feed back all this information to them.

Moving on to an update of our medical outreach team and normal operations.

Since day 1 of the disaster we have been sending out an ambulance around the Efate ring road which has been staffed with paramedics. We initially started off doing wound care, general health assessments and assessing the immediate health needs of the isolated communities, especially the vulnerable.

Today we really got organized and our medical outreach team now includes a peadiatrician, physician, general practitioner and a paramedic. They have a medical treatment tent, large quantities of medications, including antibiotics, worm treatment, gastroenteritis treatment and wound care supplies. Once again this team is comprised of local volunteers and many of the medications and wound care supplies have either been donated or purchased by ProMedical. We believe this is vital to reducing what will be a major public health disaster.

Lastly, ProMedical Port Vila normally attends and transports around 460 cases per year. In the past 10 days we have attended to at least 46 calls for assistance. Many of these cases have involved assisting the foreign aid agencies and AusMAT with the transfer of patients from the international airport that have been brought into Port Vila from the outer islands. On top of this we are still responding to all our normal call outs and have been involved with several obstetric cases and new born babies. For an operational staff of 7 who work a rotating call roster we are doing pretty well. We have had to enforce days off for our staff who keep turning up day after day, despite fighting exhaustion and having sustained damage to their own homes.

We see ourselves as providing a stop gap until the aid agencies are able to dispatch all of their goods. We will continue this effort until we see the need has reduced. We are working on a plan and brain storming how we will spend the money we have raised so far. Above all we believe this has to be done in a transparent and accountable fashion. We expect this crisis will continue for a minimum of 3-6 months, so we still have a lot of work ahead of us.

All this could never have been achieved without the support of our community and the international community. On behalf of the ProMedical team, from the bottom of our hearts I wish to say thank you to all of you.

Michael Benjamin
Operations Manager, ProMedical


View from the cockpit at Emae airport (William Dyer via ABC)

vanuatu cyclone before


vanuatu cyclone after

You still can support ProMedical Vanuatu... Click here

Mrs Sparkle says...

nurse logo right 150Mrs Sparkle is a registered nurse and what they call in Fronce, une sage-femme (literally, a wise woman - a midwife). She has plenty of sage advice for swimmers experiencing physiological difficulties. Such as our friend, Tacoma Jim. Worried about dehydration before a long swim, Jim filled himself with gatorade then wondered why his wee turned blue. She solved that one for him, quick and smart.

Here, we introduce an occasional column in which Mrs Sparkle shares her advice in response to swimmers' questions. (We'll change correspondents' names to guard their privacy)...

Antoinette asks: "On the longer swims I tend to start feeling nauseous at about the 40 min mark - not sure if its dehydration or seasickness. Should I take seasickness tablets?"

I think perhaps you are suffering from seasickness from being in an unstable environment for a period of time.

When I first started oceanswimming I used to suffer from a little seasickness myself in certain conditions. Short chop seemed to trigger it. I have gradually become accustomed to the feeling of being tossed around and rarely suffer these days. There is one situation that will still trigger sea sickness for me and that is if I swim close to a cliff face and the waves are hitting it and then bouncing off again. I end up vomiting - not something that is ideal in an aquatic environment. I think it is caused by the balance receptors in you inner ear not being able to cope with all the sudden adjustments. You could try sea sickness tablets and see if it makes any difference. I have friends who swear by these and say it helps. They just use things like Travelcalm.

There is a possibility you are suffering from dehydration too. You should always drink plenty of water the 24 hour prior to a long swim, this is especially important if the weather is very warm. You do lose quite a lot of fluid while swimming surprisingly. Your urine should be almost clear prior to swimming - this is a good indicator of being hydrated. It is also important to re hydrate after the event. I personally am not a believer in all those highly sugared sports drinks and believe water is the best.

Mrs Sparkle

Send your queries to Mrs Sparkle... Click here

What's your next adventure?

vanuatu olry 250We've just posted details of our 1st inaugural oceanswimsafari to San Sebastián in Spain, where we'll do the Isla Santa Clara swim, and gorge ourselves on pintxos, txakolí and cider. What are they? Come with us to find out...


June - Port Vila, then Espiritu Santo Swim Week - Two swims in Port Vila, then a week of ocean swimming and other escapades on Santo, Vanuatu's Adventure Island. Do either or both legs. Visiting as a tourist is one of the best ways to support Vanuatu, cleaning up after Tropical Cyclone Pam. Port Vila was hit pretty hard, but Santo was pretty much unscathed... Click here

tonga whale 250Tonga

July-August - Swim with whales - A week of swimming and whale watching in this unknown Pacific paradise, with the opportunity of getting in and swimming with the whales... Click here

Greek Islands

August - In the wake of Jason and the Argonauts, and Mamma Mia - Sail around the Northern Sporades, where Jason sailed, and Meryl Streep tried to marry off her daughter, with some of the best food you'll ever eat, and swim in some of the best water you'll ever experience... Click here

san sebastian pintxos 250Spain - San Sebastián

August-September - Pintxos, txakolí, cider, and swimming - The Basque country at the western end of the Pyrenees in northern Spain is a rich cultural mix. You'll get a taste of much of it on our inaugural oceanswimsafari here... Click here

Spain - Costa Brava

September - On the other side of Spain, the eastern end of the Pyrenees, we'll get more of the world's best water in the Mediterranean, and the world's best food, and more culchural mix, dipping our toe into the world -- and the home -- of Salvador Dalí... Click here

yasawas tavewa 250Fiji

October - Mana Fiji SwimFest and the Yasawas - One of our favourite Pacific island swim venues, a festival of swimming at Mana Island, and a week's oceanswimsafari to perhaps the most beautiful, remote swimming location on earth, the Yasawa islands. Do both or either... Click here for Mana... and here for the Yasawas

Heron Island

October-November - Enormously popular over the last few years, Heron Island offers the most beautiful water, right on the Great Barrier Reef. It will be a cathartic experience for you, too. Have you ever swum with sharks?... More details available soon

This weekend

Another ten swims around the joint this weekend, continuing Mad March/April, the months where new swims have had to go to find air. Never mind. We reckon autumn is the best time of year to swim.

Sat, March 28 - North Steyne e, Wollongong e (NSW)
Sun, March 29 - Forster e, Coffs Harbour, Cronulla (NSW), Coolangatta (Qld), Hamilton (fos series) (NZ), Kingston Beach (Tas)

This weekend, we're taking online entries to the two NSW swims on Sat'dee, and Forster on Sundee. In NZ, the Hamilton swim is the final leg of the 1st inaugural fine ocean swimmers series NZ. The Cooly swim is part of the Icon Events series.


North Steyne Swims

This is a glorious swim: two distances, 1km and 2.8km. The longer swim is one of the best courses you'll do in Sydney. It runs from North Steyne surf club, towards the northern end of Steyne beach, across the bay to Cabbage Tree Bay and back. It's a journey in a circuit: two long reaches there and back, and some of the most interesting water in Sydney at the other end.

Bear in mind, this is a Saturday swim this season. That means online entries close a day earlier, too: 3pm, Friday, March 27. Don't miss it because you didn't realise this.

The forecast
  • Weather - Mostly sunny, 15-24C (Willy Weather)
  • Wind - 7.3 kmh SW (Willy Weather)
  • Swell - 3.9 ft, from the south (Hurley Surf)
  • Tide - Low 10:29am, 0.5m (Willy Weather)

Online entries to North Steyne close at 3pm on Fridee, March 27... Click here

wollongong harbour

Ocean & Basin Swims, Wollongong

An array of swim distances in The Basin or between The Basin and North Wollongong Beach - 2km, 800m, and 350m for kids. One of the excellent things about this event is that, if conditions turn difficult, all events move into The Basin. You can enter both main events, too: 2km and 800m, so the shorter swim becomes your warm-up. This event this season uses timing chips.

The forecast
  • Weather - Partly cloudy/sunny, 15-21C (Willy Weather)
  • Wind - 19.3 kmh SSW (Willy Weather)
  • Swell - 3.3 ft, from the south (Hurley Surf)
  • Tide - Low 10:33am, 0.5m (Willy Weather)

Online entries to the Wollongong swims close at noon on Fridee, March 27... Click here


Club to Club Swim, Forster

Three distances at Forster, the shorter swims off Forster main beach, while the main event, running from Cape Hawke Beach around the headland into Main Beach, is one of the true epics of the season. We love the coastal swims, the autumn weekends away to beaches we'd probably never get to otherwise. Go there for the weekend, swim each morning as well as on swim day. Forster is one of the special gems: a north-facing, north coast beach. This means it's protected from the worst of the conditions, which come generally from the sarth.

The forecast
  • Weather - Partly cloudy/sunny, 15-25C (Willy Weather)
  • Wind - 17 kmh NNE (Willy Weather)
  • Swell - 3 ft, from the south (Hurley Surf)
  • Tide - Low 11:46am, 0.6m, One Mile (Cape Hawke) Beach (Willy Weather)

Online entries to the Forster swims close at 3pm on Sat'dee, March 28... Click here

hamilton aerial

5 Bridges River Swim, Hamilton

fosnz15logoThe final round in our 1st inaugural fine ocean swimmers series in New Zealand, this swim runs 7.1km along the Waikato River through Hamilton, although with current the effect is that it's about a 3km swim.

More info... Click here

Go to for more info about all this weekend's events. Look at Featured Swims on the right of our home page, and under Swims/Calendars for the complete swim calendar.

Long or short of it

We've introduced a new category for swims on our calendar to help you find shorter swims, or longer swims. Just go to Swims/Calendars, and in the drop-down Category menu, search for swims up to 1.5km, or over 1.5km... Click here

Online entries of U18 swimmers

Online entries of swimmers under the age of 18 must be done with the consent of a responsible parent or guardian. Sometimes, the "responsible" parent or guardian evidently leaves it to the minor to enter online, and too often, the parental consent field in the online entry form is left containing only a phone number or maybe even only a first name.

This does not constitute parent's or guardian's consent.

For a minor's entry to be valid, it must contain the full name and the phone number of the parent or guardian. Leaving it to the kids is not good enough. Some parents have found this to their cost when their child has messed up their entries. One child recently entered four times in the space of six minutes, with four payments for the one event. We refund, but there's an admin fee attaching to refunds (the bank charges us for every transaction) and it can be costly.

Best if parents take responsibility themselves and make sure the entry is done correctly in the first place.

The child's entry will not be accepted unless and until the parental/guardian consent is valid. If it's not done right at the time of entry, you'll get an email from us, and the entry won't be finalised until the consent is valid.

A message from Surf Life Saving Australia...

slsa coolangatta banner

Ocean swimmers, how would you like to be part of history? Here is your chance!

Surf Life Saving Australia is launching "The Aussie Ocean Swim" to coincide with the 100 year celebration of the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships on the Gold Coast.

It is 100 years since The Aussies were first contested on Bondi Beach in 1915. Until now, the option to compete in this iconic event has been exclusively reserved for members of Surf Life Saving only. Now, SLSA is opening its doors to ocean swim enthusiasts looking for a challenge, with the added bonus of being a part of The Aussies festival experience.

The Aussie Ocean Swim will be held on Sunday April 12, 2015. It starts at the Coolangatta and Tweed Heads SLSC and finishes at North Kirra Beach. The course will provide competitors with a 2.5km course along the pristine beaches of the Gold Coast. Entries are open to everyone over the age of 16.

Entries are now open and will be closing online on Friday 10th of April at 10.30pm, after this time late entries will only be available on site the morning of the event.

Imagine being the inaugural winner of this fantastic new event on the ocean swimming calendar in a landmark year for Surf Life Saving Australia. We only turn 100 once. Help us celebrate a milestone!

Register today and be a part of one of Australia's most iconic sporting events... Click here


ET toowoon entrance 1503

Message from a Dog

A couple of years back, a bunch of ocean swimmers from around The Entrance area thought it would be cool to just jump in the water at Toowoon and swim around the rocks past the ocean baths and emerge at The Entrance, just so we could say we did it.

That first outing, a whopping great 10 swimmers attempted the 1.6km swim.

Of late, this event has become a biannual event which has come to be known as the "E.T. SWIM" due to the fact our default swim has become from The Entrance back to Toowoon Bay. We held our fourth event on the weekend just gone, and had 34 swimmers enter the water in somewhat blustery and choppy southerly conditions. Best yet, 34 emerged!

Now, it must be stressed that this is a completely unofficial, uninsured, unsanctioned but unreal swim that a bunch of people are doing at their own risk, and as such it should not be attempted by anyone. We always have a bunch of SUP riders and surf ski paddlers along shadowing us and have had IRBs and board riders from both The Entrance and Toowoon Bay surf clubs on station, but all swimmers who hit the water do so at their own risk, are advised to be incredibly competent swimmers and are responsible for themselves.

Our next swim – our 5th Inaugural Biannual ET Swim - is set down for Sunday 15th November, 2015

We thought you might like to know in case you have any ocean swimmers who would like to come and casually join us, and also to ensure that we are not scheduling our swim against any other ocean swims or aquatic events on the Central Coast. Last year we inadvertently ran ours the same weekend as the official Toowoon Bay Ocean Swim (through incompetence, not intent), and we want to ensure we do not repeat this.

If you are planning on running a swimming event on this date, please let us know and we will look at rescheduling our social swim.

We have set up a Facebook page for this biannual event where interested swimmers can obtain more info and be kept up-to-date with developments.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to drop me a line.

James "Dog" Musgrave
0400 073 236

toowoon entrance
Toowoon Bay, at right; The Entrance, at left.

Controversy Corner

Drowsy paddler

I like @sparkleocean's new advice column. May I add, always test seasickness tablets when on land, not at a race. Travecalm made my husband drowsy. Glad we found that out over dinner not half way to to Rottnest on a kayak!


Send us your feedback about swims you've done and we'll pubish it here... Click here

Swims open to online entry on

North Steyne (Sat, Mar 28)... Click here
Wollongong (Sat, Mar 28)... Click here
Forster (Sun, Mar 29)... Click here
Terrigal (Easter Sat, Apr 4)... Click here
Pacific Palms (Easter Sun, Apr 5)... Click here
Queenscliff (Easter Sun, Apr 5)... Click here
Copeton Waters (Inverell, Apr 11)... Click here
Mollymook (Sat, April 11)... Click here
Shellharbour (Sun, Apr 12)... Click here
Coogee (Sun, Apr 12)... Click here
Black Head (Sun, Apr 19)... Click here
South Curl Curl-Freshwater (Sun, Apr 26)... Click here
South Head (Sun, May 17)... Click here
Vanuatu (June 6 and 10)... Click here
Mona Vale (Sun, June 21)... Click here
Mana Fiji (Thu-Sat, Oct 15-17)... Click here
Evans Head (Sun, Nov 15)... Click here

Coming soon... Tweed River (Sun, Nov 29)


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