Vivid Dreams

29 May

On Sat’dee, I had my ‘ranty pants’ on. I was trying to get home from the Sydney Writers’ Festival but Sydney Ferries, overwhelmed once again by Vivid voyeurs, had other ideas. John Macleay brilliantly summed up my evening as more Livid than Vivid.

As I stood for an hour, penned on the wharf by sheer number of apoplectic punters, trying desperately not to think about the Hillsborough football disaster and dreaming of the spacious enclosures allegedly afforded to Wellard lifestock shipments, it actually occurred to me that I could swim the 3km back to Tiger town.

I might have walked but negotiating my way out of the maddening crowd and back through the turnstiles with or without a refund seemed a sheer impossibility. Whereas a short step into the inky blackness of Sydney Harbour seemed much more feasible. Even though, I must confess that to date, my nocturnal aquatic experience is limited to a few night scuba dives and a couple of drunken skinny dips. Which is odd when you think about it. After 5 years of open water swimming, you would have thought that I might have had an occasion to be in the drink (as opposed to on the drink) after dark or before dawn.

I mean what about marathon swimmers? They swim in the dark by necessity. And I suppose therefore that they must train in the dark too. Maybe with R.E.M’s Night Swimming in their waterproof iPods. Certainly it’s a topic that has been discussed on the Marathon Swimmers Forum including this comment from JBirrrd in October 2013 –

I used to have that fear of swimming in the dark, so I get it. It sounds scary. But knowing that I’d be swimming through the night (turned out to be over 8 hours of darkness) for a swim last summer, I just put myself out there one night for a training swim and discovered it is actually an incredible sensory experience. Started out loud and splashy, just to make sure all the fish knew I was there, but after I got into a rhythm I envisioned myself swimming in outer space. And yes, all you do is swim. There is no sense of making progress, which gave me this incredible feeling of freedom. And if you are lucky enough to have a pitch black Tahoe night sky w/ a million brilliant stars and the Milky Way Galaxy like you have never seen it…well then, that’s a bonus.

VDnemoJBirrrd sounds over the moon with her under the moon experience. Even though it’s surely natural to be scared – after all, who can forget Dory spellbound by the pretty light in Finding Nemo until she suddenly comes up close and personal with a ferocious bioluminescent agile anglerfish.

But bioluminescence is undeniably beautiful. And there are plenty of aquatic creatures putting on their own nightly version of Vivid somewhere in the deep. Why shouldn’t open water swimmers join them? Scared of not being seen? Check out this illuminating article.

And note when you light up, that you may attract unwanted attention….

In the Tsugaru Channel in northern Japan, the escort boat pilots used to shine their lights on the swimmers…until the swimmers realized that the lights attracted a sea of squid to the surface of the water. While swimming through squid is not as disconcerting as swimming through jellyfish, the constant contact with squid is something that takes a bit of getting used to.


What fun we could have with glow sticks!





And a 9 year old has made glow in the dark smugglers as a school science project for his dad training to swim the English Channel – check it out.

Or you can simply buy them on line.



And we could make these to use as buoys with the added bonus that they change colour according to air pollution levels –






In fact, what about an open water night swim event? Wouldn’t that be a great way to differentiate a swim in the crowded NSW open water swim calendar?

Initially, I thought I was being silly about that. What about water safety? Insurance anyone? But elsewhere in the world, they actually do do that! In fact, if you jump on a plane today, you might just make it in time for Friday night’s 750m swim in Lake Camlough, Northern Ireland.

Or if you prefer, there’s a night dip option in an English quarry in November – brrrr!

Or best of all, get yourself and your luminous budgie smugglers to Richmond, Virginia on 23rd August 2014 for the 500m multi-heat Glow Swim. Awgies say ‘kayaks, SUP’s, Buoys, and swimmers are decked out in glow material. Spectator views are amazing and the 80’s dance party will pump you up for racing.’ Sounds better than a full moon party. And visually vibrant.

Vivid is so-last-year man.

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