Never never?

28 Jan

For many of us in the Big Swim and the Little Big Swim, ‘out back’ was definitely more Never Never than any other simple ‘remote’ possibility……

As Sydney slumbered of a Sun’dee morning after a sweltering Stra’a Day, the scene for the infamous swim started to be set. This year, we were all (well some of us, plenty were still going hard core with The Big Swim) looking forward to the 1km Little Big Swim, the goal swim for many Can Tooers after Bondi’s efforts to go head to head with the Cole were strangely thwarted. Problem was, the ol’ foecast wasn’t er, good and unlike the Cole where we had the security of knowing that Fairfax would always get scared before we did, this swim didn’t have the reputation of being a big swim for nothing, even if it was, er, little.

Approximately 07.20 EDT Beachwatch NSW@BeachwatchNSW: Heavy rain, thunderstorms & dangerous surf conditions expected for Sydney today. Stay safe!

Approximately 10.15 EDT Beachwatch NSW@BeachwatchNSW: Beaches closed: Palm, Avalon, Warriewood, Nth Narra, Collaroy, Sth Curly, Freshwater, Queenscliff, Nth Steyne, Tamarama, Bronte, Elouera, Nth &Sth Cronulla

12:58 EDT BOM: NSW/ACT – Severe Weather Warning (Destructive Wind/Heavy Rain/Damaging Surf) Metropolitan, N Rivers, Mid N Coast, Hunter, N & C Tablelands & Illawarra

Nonetheless, we set off up the peninsular, in the pouring rain, petrified. Constantly checking the os.c twitter feed for up to the minute reports on the lay of the land or rather, sea.

Our incredible Can Too coaches (including Jon Bell who has a broken elbow) were in and out of the water checking conditions and gathering intel.

Out back, it was apparently gorgeous – warm (24 degrees), clear, comparatively flat and despite a tweet to the contrary, bluebottle free. Oh and er, wet. But as os.c said, who hasn’t got wet in an ocean swim?

But we needed to play a very real game of Simon (Buckingham) says today before we could get to the promised land, or er, sea. He (Simon) said, ‘I’m not going to sugar coat this, conditions are challenging’.

It was the break you see. The break that almost broke my heart and the heart of 6 out of 8 of my brave novice Can Too swimmers. Charged up by Cyclone Oswald, it had a lot of power underneath it and you needed to really commit to get through it.

Now, I don’t think I lack commitment generally, but I do in the break. And as Simon rightly said it was important to know our limits. We’re not talking bag catch fishing limits here. He meant in the surf. As Michael Christie (aka Bold & Beautiful fame):

Respect the ocean and know your own limits. Once a swell gets around two metres it is a serious swell and deserves respect. For some people it will be a swell of one metre. You can be injured or drown, and this has to be seriously considered. So there is no place for Machismo. No one has to prove anything. You should understand and know your own ability and limits

Questioning our commitment in the break

Questioning our commitment in the break

Nonetheless, in they went, like an army facing a firing squad.

Big Little Big Swim 028


Determined to give it a go for the sake of the half a million dollars that Can Too Sydney swim program 2012/13 has raised already to fight cancer and in honour of the promises that they had made to their sponsors.

Incredibly, some made it out back, into the Never Never and back again and then ran a very long way back to the finish from where the rip had carried them and up the beach, ecstatic, quite rightly.

Big Little Big Swim 038

Others didn’t and back out they came, like rag dolls, flung back out on to the frothing brown sand in the shore break.

Big Little Big Swim 044
Gill went for a pee (it was probably all that sloshing water and excitement). And there he overheard a conversation with one of the organisers and a punter who was relishing the challenging conditions for the Big Swim but well aware that it was causing carnage in the Little Big Swim. More’s the pity, said the old seadog, heart broken, because most of these mugs will never ever swim an ocean swim again after giving it a go in the spin cycle. Wrong, Mr Little Big Swim organiser. We are Can Too. We might know our limits but we know our talent too. We have trained for this and we have committed. Just like Arnie, we’ll be back, we promise!  Both to your swim and others. It takes more than this to dampen the resolve of one of Annie’s Can Tooers. We like a challenge – after all, that’s the whole point. As Eleanor Roosevelt said –

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

Now, it’d just be boring if it were easy!  We’ll see you back at the beach very soon!

Can Too founder, Annie, leads a charge into the break

Can Too founder, Annie, leads a charge into the break

2 Responses to “Never never?”

  1. Liz January 28, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

    Congrats my dear! Inspirational as always:)

    • Liz Crowhurst January 29, 2013 at 9:18 pm #

      Thank you! I miss you. Comeback kid next year?

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