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open water

Summer Season 2015/16 – Open Water and Triathlon

Report by Anne Smyth, Head Coach (and some other anonymous contributors…)

Many of our club members are keen open water swimmers and triathletes.  Here is a quick summary of our summer achievements.

The first event on the summer season calendar was the Sri Chinmoy Triple Triathlon on the 15 November 2015. This involves swimming, running and cycling around Canberra’s three lakes (although the Tuggeranong leg was in the pool!). Brenda Day’s team (“The Tearaways”) broke the record for over 60′s with some of our team in their 70′s with Brenda swimming tow of the three legs – 3.5km & 1.2km. Caroline Makin, Nicolee Martin, Lisa Moore, Suzie Gunning and Petrina Quinn were also in teams at the event.

The Coogee Island Swim was held on 29 November. It was an extremely challenging swim and was quite exhilarating pitting yourself against the elements … Anne Smyth (1st F55-59) and Petrina Quinn (14th F55-59) were our brave swimmers!

On the same day back in Canberra the 29th National Capital Lake Swim was held with a smaller turner than usual from our club members taking on the 9km distance in LAke Burley Griffin. Caroline Makin and Nicolee Martin paired up as “The M&Ms” and finished 1st female team and Kyle McLean and David Bale paired taking out 3rd place in male team event. The brave solo swimmers were: Lisa Moore 2nd U50 female with wetsuit, Paul Hitchman 9th U50 male, Greg Gourley 6th 50-59 male.

Tathra Wharf2Waves

On 17 January 2016, our ever favourite Tathra Wharf to Waves event was run in beautiful conditions on the south coast of NSW. As usual it was a great event to support.  Our small team swam well with some podium finishes.  Tom Boyce (10th Open Male 1200m), Caroline Makin (2nd F40-49 600m, 10th Open Female 1200m), Petrina Quinn (9th F50-59 600m, 37th Open Female 1200m), Tara Olsthoorn (2nd F30-39 600m, 11th Open Female 1200m), Mandy Coggins (3rd F50-59 600m ), Brenda Day (2nd F60-69 600m ), Jodi Burke (13th F30-39 600m, 35th Open Female 1200m), Lisa Moore (21st Open Female 1200m).

Australia Day saw Nicolee Martin completing the iconic Sydney Harbour Swim taking out 3rd place in the F50-59 category. This spectacular swim was certainly a highlight for Nicolee and a wonderful event to do on Australia Day as a few of our swimmers know from previous years.

On 31 January in Canberra, Nicolee Martin and Caroline Makin completed the ACT Triathlon Olympic Distance Tri (1.5k Swim/40k Bike/10k Run). They had great support and encouragement from the sideline from their hubbies and friends. A huge achievement and a first time ever for that distance for Caz!

Tara Olsthoorn took part in the Diamond Women’s Triathlon Festival in Canberra in a Sprint Distance Tri (750m Swim/20k Bike/5k Run) as a member of the 1st place team doing the swim leg (2nd fastest swim leg overall). She also competed in the Canberra Proximity Corporate Triathlon on 27 February (300m Swim/9k Bike/3k Run) and her team placed 2nd with Tara achieving the fastest swim leg.

The next major swim was back in Canberra with the Sri Chimnoy Lake Swims on21 February.  As usual, the club had a huge turn out for this event and we were joined by swimmers from Molonglo, Ryde and even a Queensland Masters swimmer! It is always good to support local swims so this is another event to keep in mind for next year. It was a shame it clashed with the Husky Triathlon, otherwise we would have had even more competitors.  5km – Greg Gourley (M50-50 2nd), David Bale (MU50 8th), Ben Freeman (MU50 1st), Jenna Freeman(FU50 1st), Petrina Quinn (F50-59 2nd); 2.5km –Anne Smyth (F50-59 1st), Jenny Bruce ( FU50 17th), Ian Hampton (M60-69 4th ), Suzie Gunning (F50-59 5th) , Ann Reid (F50-59 2nd), Jeanette Droop (50-59 3rd), Deborah Johns (F50-59 7th); 500m - Leisa Cass(2nd).

On 7 February, the Cole Classic was run at Manly. It was a huge event with over 3,000 competitors and definitely an event to flag next year if you are thinking about doing some open water swims. Caroline Makin (F45-49), Nicolee Martin (F50-54) and Anne Smyth (F55-59) swam the 2km event winning 1st pace (Caz) and 2nd place in their age categories. Iron woman,Deborah Johns, swam not only the 1km but also completed the 2km swim!

So while our swimmers were splashing in Lake Burley Griffin some our hardy club members were at Huskisson competing in a huge Triathlon event – The “Big Husky” Triathlon Festival. This started on Friday evening with an Open Water Swim (1km) with Caroline Makin and Nicolee Martin winning their respective age groups. On the Saturday Caroline, Nicolee and Jill Blomeley competed in the Sprint Distance Tri (750m Swim/20k Bike/5k Run). Caz and Nicolee both finished in a fantastic 8th position in the age categories from a large number of competitors. Great to see Jill back competing! Then to finish off the Sunday, the “THE TRI NATIONS” team (English, Scottish and Aussie!) – Caz + Scott Makin + Dwayne Currie (Lisa Moore’s partner) – completed the Long Course Tri (2k Swim/83k Bike/20k Run). A huge sporting weekend!

Our super fit Nicolee just loves these Triathlon events!  She competed in the ACT Aquathlon series held on Wednesdays on 20 January, 3 February and 2 March 2016 and to top off her season she was part of a team in the Sri Chinmoy Jindy Multisport on 6 March which involved swimming, mountain biking, running and kayaking around Lake Jindabyne – lucky the weather was still warm! Nicolee did 1 run, 2 swims and 1 MTB leg – wow! Ian Hampton also completed 2 swim legs for his team. – as he said, “It was a beautiful day and this was a great day out with nearly 50 teams and 6 individual competitors.  A very impressive event and worthwhile thinking about for next year.”

The Rottnest Channel Swim was held on 27 February. This is a 19.7km open water swim between Cottesloe Beach and Rottnest Island in WA and is one of the iconic swims in the worldTwo of our newest and youngest members completed this swim with Ben Freeman winning the solo swim and his sister Jenna coming 4th in the solo females. A huge effort from both of these swimmers!

Cecelia Kaye swam in the Freshwater Barney Mullins swim on Sunday 6 March coming 8th in her age group.  Cecelia said, “It was a nice sunny day and beautiful in the water although it seemed slightly longer than 1.5km!”

The Broulee Bay to Breakers swim was held over the Canberra long weekend on 13 March and this event seems to be grow annually. Now this is definitely one you should consider for next year. It can easily be done as a day trip from Canberra and the swim is lovely. The water was so clear this year you could see fish and beautiful rocks while swimming!!  We only had 3 swimmers here with Anne Smyth finishing in 2nd place, Suzie Gunning 4th and Petrina Quinn 15th in the same F50-59 age group.

Deborah Johns also swam in the Melbourne Swim Classic (2.8km and 800m) on 13 March and the Tilbury Classic held in Nowra on the Easter weekend on 26 March.

Well done to all our swimmers! There are a few more who competed in events over summer but we don’t have all information to hand.

These swims may give you some inspiration for next summer season and something to aim for!

You can attend an open water clinic with Andre Slade at Bondi Ocean Fit if you want some tips. Anne did one of his clinics last year and it was very helpful. You can tie in one of his clinics to a swim in Sydney and make a weekend of it!

Sri Chinmoy National Capital Swim – 29 November 2015

Report by Caroline Makin, Club Captain

Sri Chinmoy LogoThe 12th annual Sri Chinmoy National Capital Swim  took place on Sunday, 29 November 2015. A smaller contingent of Vikings headed to the shores of Lake Burley Griffin than in recent years, but as ever, we still showed our strength in the open water as well as the pool.

The 9k swim is for solo swimmers and relay teams and consists of four legs …

Leg 1 Scrivener Dam boom to Weston Park, 1.8km

Leg 2 Weston Park to Yarralumla Bay, 2.5km

Leg 3 Yarralumla Bay to Commonwealth Place, 2.8km

Leg 4 Commonwealth Place to Grevillea Park, 1.9 km

The 2015 event saw three solo swimmers and two teams of two from our club take part.

Solo swimmers:

Lisa “Super Girl” Moore - (U50 Female Wetsuit– 2nd of 2 – 2:40:11)

Paul “Marathon Man” Hitchman  - (U50 Male – 9th of 11 – 2:36:03)

Greg “Iron Man” Gourley - (50-59 Male – 6th of 6 – 2:51:29 ) who navigated/swam without a paddler guiding him as his paddler missed the start! 

Paul Bailey from Warringah Masters also completed the solo swim.


“The M&M’s”: Nicolee Martin and Caz Makin - (Female Team – 1st of 3 -  2:21:10) – each swam 2 legs back to back

” The Hipster and a Cripple”: Kyle Mclean and David Bale - (Male Team – 3rd of 4 -  2:58:32) - each swam 2 legs back to back




Full results are available.


Vanuatu Ocean Swims – June 2015

One of our members Petrina Quinn wrote up a lovely report of her recent trip to Vanuatu for a holiday and to take part in two ocean swims. Open water swimming is great fun and swimming in such beautiful surroundings is an added bonus. Hope this inspires some more of our members to take part in such exotic events …

Next year’s dates: the Vanuatu Open Water Swims in Port Vila on 28 May 2016, and Espiritu Santo Swim Week from 30 May through 3 June 2016.

Vanuatu Ocean Swims – but first a Republican sweep

Early June we escaped the Canberra sub-zeros and 3 hours eastwards sky-bound, landed in the capital of Vanuatu, Port Vila, with some trepidation. Black Friday March 13 Cyclone Pam ripped the guts out of a select number of Vanuatu tropical isles, and Efate where the capital holds fast was one such isle.

Foreign Affairs had since Pam, been issuing do not travel advisories but then shifted to a cautious approach. Thus we stayed the course. Most of the time we would be on the northern island of Santo which escaped unscathed. Tourism is the main stay with limited agriculture, cattle raising and financial services (international tax free haven and shipping flag of convenience).

Vanuatu has had intermittent colonisation attempts back past a thousand years ago, strange recent 70-year dual French-British Condominium Rule until independence, huge diversity of languages, complex and highly variable social heirachical and spiritual systems, and all of this among some 65 inhabited islands. Amidst our group was the former Australian High Commissioner whose watch fell across the 1980 independence milestone.

To add to this intrigue, is that Vanuatu is at the confluence of intense volcanic and tropical cyclonic activity.  First-response aid in the  aftermath of Cyclone Pam came in the form of bottled water, clothes and tinned food, of which participants at a South Pacific Post-Disaster Forum told me was not what was primarily sought, rather the permanent repair of roofs and scarce timber for rebuilding homes and schools.  The Aussie and Kiwi Armies did great they say – deploying temporary tarpaulins in particular for schools and public buildings.

We spent as much time as we could outside of the organised tour agenda, eating at local markets, visiting the National Library, the Town Library, National Cultural Centre, Parliament House, key spiritual places, walking the colonial precincts,  our High Commission and places where many locals live in modest dwellings. Having brought snorkels and flippers we squeezed in as many watery adventures as possible.

You get a sense that the soul of Vanuatu is lost and the search for a Vanautu identity continues. The rich flora and marine life is being ravaged (fauna is limited) and an “emerging national power” has come into the fray exerting influence. During our time in this place, a new Prime Minister came to power, having the week before been sacked as the Foreign Minister – though few locals seemed to know. Thank goodness for the BBC – even my old stamping ground of Radio Australia was absent without leave.

Yeah – but what about the Swimming…. 

If I could spent the rest of my days swimming across the  fringing albeit diminishing reefs and channels between and among the islands there, knowing I was safe and in the welcoming arms of its happy people, I would. There’s virtually no begging, no harassing, and no bargaining! Yes the  young people are beginning their aspirational journey, but there is no aggressive greed you can find elsewhere.  Unfortunately education remains non compulsory, so the chance of a strong emerging Ni-Vanuan middle class seems limited. Gosh – slipped off topic…. swimming

Well nearly all local people do not swim – though many take to the water for daily fishing. The 3.5 km Vanuatu Open Water Swim in Port Vila Harbour on 6 June circumnavigated  Iririki Island.  About 100 swimmers I suppose lined up for a deep water start then with smiles beaming we  skirted our way between moored and shore-wrecked boats, extensive patches of sea urchins, local support paddlers and returned into a glaring sun to complete a becalmed sea journey with a good sense of satisfaction. I was desperate to pick up one of spot prizes, left as the final  picking:- Atlas du Vanouatou by Patricia Siméoni. … and the French author was at the signing table! But alas. Try as I did, there were evidently few publications on matters local or national aside from the V Daily Post.  During the remainder of the week in Port Vila we enjoyed several satisfying informal swims around Efate.

Espiritu Santo Swim Week

The following week – Espiritu Santo Swim Week on Vanuatu’s northern island – was quite something else. The main event, the Espiritu Santo Aore Swim on 10 June  was a 3.5 km channel swim  from Santo’s capital, Luganville, across the Segund Channel to Aore Island Resort. Bloody hell.. I thought I was was going to drown.

The first half of the channel was white caps, I found myself isolated despite efforts to establish landmarks and pre-event course surveillance and current “mapping”. Just when ready to raise arm – to my great relief – there out of no-where was this Ni-Vanuan on his paddle boat who promised to stay with me for the remainder.

And then just at this point – like magic – the white caps disappeared and a flattened surfaced allowed me to start extending, breathing became more controlled and both sides, and with hip rotation. I gradually settled into a sustainable pattern and thought – geez – I escaped a bullet here.  But guess what? The white caps had been abated by the… channel tide.… that swept many of us down stream of the finish banner, adding much to an already exhausting swim.

It seeming took forever to drag myself to shore. Later when land-based  I reconnected with my Ni-Vanuan support paddler and his wife to much hugging and laughter.

To a more relaxing theme – and in keeping with the remainder of the week on Santo, the informal swim excursions to Champagne Beach-Lonnoc Bay and  Port Olry were simply gorgeous. The snorkelling outside our Aore Island resort was stunning, even spotting a dugong and turtles.

I’m looking forward to my next Pacific Swims and hope some club members come with me.

See Ocean Swim safaris for images and a wrap of the events.