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Monday, January 21, 2013
Doing The Unprecedented From Manly To Bondi
"A group of 10 swimmers - ages ranging from 30 to 50 - with a support crew swam from Manly to Bondi. This is an exceptionally challenging swim, especially with a southerly wind and swell [that we faced]. There are cliffs [lining] the whole swim with no exit point other a boat."
After rounding most of North Head, the pod organized by Mile Tollan crossed Sydney Harbour Heads before following South Head and the Gap south to Bondi on a 5 hour 30 minute swim. Details of the swim are posted here.
The swimmers swam in pairs with a kayaker. Anna Torok and Helen Conway swam with kayaker Millie Joseph. Alex Prendergast and Miles Tollan swam with kayaker Collie Kinsela. Cae Tolman and Iain McGregor swam with kayaker Gaétan Guilhon. Michael Teys and Sabine Homrighausen swam with kayaker Luke Teys. Todd McLaren and Andrew Lovett swam with kayaker Ian Paul. The escort boat crew included James Goins, Nicole Piha and Alison Annett.
Tollan described the day as the organiser and swimmer. "We set off from Shelly and it took us 5 hours 30 minutes to get to North Bondi, [although] we'd planned around 4 hours so that gives an idea of the conditions. We postponed the swim from Saturday because of the southerly swell forecast and still found it really tough going, especially after we'd crossed the Heads to south head. There were cliffs for the whole route so the only way out was on to the boat."
The chartered escort boat was key, especially in light of all the potential risks involved in the swim. "We encountered a 4-meter shark the last time we did an adventure swim. At this time of year, sharks are a present danger. There are also bluebottles that we went through about 1 kilometer to go. We alerted SurfCom and the North Bondi beach patrol to let them know what we were doing. All kayaks carried a shark shield with a 5m operating radius. We took feeding breaks every 30 minutes to ensure the whole pack swam together."
It was a learning experience that is bound to be replicated by others. But Tollan provides great advice for those who follow. "Conditions can quickly change and it is easy to lose sight of who you're swimming with. Clear communication between everyone in the water and on board is critical. Even the fastest swimmers over 2 km can perform very differently after 10 km. The ability to alter your stroke with the changing conditions, and being able to keep a positive mental attitude are both very important."
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