Buoys & Gals

7 May

Before attending the premiere of Buoys & Gals, I was able to check progress entries on line and see the entire demographic of the audience (age, gender and residential details).  I contemplated idly whether this would improve the average punter’s chances of snogging in the back row and potential conversation topics in case I found myself seated next to Chris ‘I can’t swim’ Tait from Lane Cove.  [Give it a go with Can Too Chris!]  Actually, I was only looking to see which of the os.c bigwigs and stars of the movie might be attending but seemingly, they had seats reserved for them near the front as I didn’t see Killer, Glistening Dave, Mermaid or Mrs Sparkle among the online entries but many of those infamous salty superheroes were certainly there on the night.

That was one of the things I loved best about the movie – the chance to mingle with the ocean swim community in the bar beforehand and at a culchural centre after.  Aside of being able to trot out lame jokes like I didn’t recognise you with your clothes on, it was great to put names to faces.  I even met the filmmaker.

And Murray Cox.  Landscape gardener Murray took up ocean swimming aged about 50 perhaps to wash off a lifetime of accumulated dust.  I felt sure that Murray was in the movie but now I realise that he couldn’t have been because the exploit for which he is renowned came about after the movie was shot. In 2011, Murray was standing at his kitchen window watching the whales migrate when this self-confessed Greta Garbo (‘I swim to be alone’) of ocean swimming chose as a quest to swim the entire coast line of Sydney from Barrenjoey to Cape Banks.  The sexagenarian is now an ambassador for seniors’ week and proud owner of a beautiful blog on his quest and other matters.

But back to the movie.  The film was made by Sean Parker.  A full time CFO at CBA as distinct from his Napster founding, facebook presiding namesake.  Sean simply lists his hobbies in cyberspace as cycling (oh and filmmaking of course – note, not even ocean swimming).  I’m not sure what got Sean into ocean swimming, perhaps a love of lycra and pelotons that crossed from his pedalling passion, but ocean swim he certainly does along with most of the Parker clan.  Wife, Colette, told me that she’s always last but that must only be in the swims I’m not in Colette.

Anyway, very exciting that someone should make a movie about ocean swimming.  I mean there’s a few movies about pool swimmers (Swimming Upstream, Swimfan) and a few about ocean swimming conquests (Welcome, On A Clear Day and of course Dangerous When Wet and the Walliams documentaries) but nothing about the genre of ocean swimming as a whole and the depth of its following from international athlete to saltwater sexagenarians and open water debutantes.

Parker’s film is brimming with ocean going tales and personalities.  Some of my favourites were:

Mark “Killer” Edwards Edwards, a Murwillumbah plumber and member of the Brass Monkeys swimming club appears in the movie commenting on his Alcatraz Challenge, as well as his more usual participation in the Tweed River Swim Classic and countless other swims.Os.c describes Killer as ‘living, heaving culcha.’  ‘A generous fellow despite his Shrekky exterior.’  Verdict: he comes over brilliantly but was even funnier in the bar when he was talking about the fog in San Fran and jumping off the boat holding hands with 2 other blokes so someone could see you to check if you passed out on entry.
Shelley Taylor Smith Shelley Taylor-Smith is reported to be the only woman to achieve No.1 world ranking for both men and women in the history of any sport worldwide.  At school however, STS suffered from scoliosis, and had to wear a brace.  Later on, she suffered lower body paralysis from over training and was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome after prolonged exposure to polluted water and giardia, giving her only six months to live.  She won the Australian Marathon Swimming Championships three times, seven consecutive FINA Marathon World Cups and 2 medals at the World Aquatics Championships.  Verdict: bit part in the movie so hard to see all the above.
Julie Isbill Self-confessed open water swimming guru.   The movie footage probably predates the very public Manly Surf Life Saving Club spat over Isbill’s swimming group, the   Bold and the Beautiful.  In the film Isbill reveals that her dad swam for England but died aged 35.  Julie herself started swimming after a serious car accident.  Verdict: Julie comes over as passionate, committed and genuine particularly about her bronze medallion squad including a 61 year old woman for whom it has been a long term dream.  Hugely supportive of all her charges and of Michael Christie in his attempt to swim the Cott to Rott tragically (so at least it appears) outside of official timekeeping.
Shelley Clark Australian champion open water swimmer.Longest distance swam: 88km down the Parana (yes, that’s Parana not   piranha) River, Argentina in a time of 8hrs 40min, an average of 33sec per   100m (wow!).  But yes, she has swum with piranhas and crocodiles.  And mentions bizarrely in the film that she has also had to dodge cows falling from canyon tops.  According to her coach, she has touched up against dead sharks and humans!  But is most scared of bluebottles – not surprising considering she was lifted unconscious from the water in 2006 after some 60 blue bottle stings on a 10km open water swim.  Verdict: the film really shows Shelley’s punishing training regime and commitment.  She talks about a diet of bananas, nodo (that’s no doz – an Australian brand caffeine tablet – I had to look it up – I thought it might be an Australian version of a Perky Nana [Kiwi chocolate bar] but no) and panadol administered to her by her ‘handlers’.
Karen from Otford Crowd pleaser Karen faces the break at Stanwell Park for her debut as an ocean swimmer feeling ‘scared’ and ‘sick’.

Some other random observations

Lovely posy (yes, that’s right isn’t it – possie is something you round up?) Paul.  A ‘reverse garbage item’ made out of swim hats by Jane Gillings I think you said.

Lots of cameo appearances by Bruce with the BNB.

Amazing footage of the ships trying to come through the peloton in the Cott to Rott – unbelievable!

Loved the snippet about what the support kayakers in the Cott to Rott do to distinguish themselves so their swimmers can find them.  Diane Patrick, Julie Isbill’s support kayaker had a cat in the hat hat on.  There was footage of another in a crazy wig.  And I remember an inflatable penis in the movie, but now I can’t place why on earth that was there or whether I imagined it?

Clearly if you would like to be a gifted swimmer, Shelley (maybe named after the beach?) is a good name for the laydees and Murray (maybe after the river?) for the men.

A fitting end to the film at Byron.  The origin of ocean water swimming is sometimes traced back to Lord Byron’s swim across the Dardanelles.  Paul credits the Culchural Centre there, the race sponsor, the Beach Hotel.  Very uplifting footage with a beach ball and lots of punters in keeping with Can Too tradition remembering to always run up the beach.

Overall verdict

Truly a magnum opus of ocean swimming as os.c says.  There’s something in this movie for everyone not least because there’s really just so much there.  Difficult to believe from the footage that it was shot by an amateur filmmaker.  Well done Sean.  I think you should show it again for those that missed out.  And importantly, thanks for supporting Can Too.

Another beautiful and culchural Jane Gillings creation

2 Responses to “Buoys & Gals”

  1. Liz May 8, 2012 at 2:26 am #

    Great to see your post – just read the one from Anzac Day too…lovely:)
    Hope you’re well and life is good:)

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  1. Making the Pass | lizziecantoo - May 8, 2013

    […] assembled. 1700 of us, including superfish (like Ky Hurst), salty superheroes (like Mrs Sparkle and Killer), one TV celebrity (I won’t say), one fellow Can Tooer (big shout out to Allison from our pod), […]

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