21 Sep

Mana is credited as coming from heaven. I went there for my second swim surfari. In Fijian, Mana means magic.  It was.



As Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton contemplate retirement, ocean swim commentary could be the next new challenge for them. Here’s how they might have seen it –

Genre – latex bonnet drama meets travel documentary/sports broadcast


Start of the 3km swim

The Location – Mana Island, the largest resort on the Mamanuca Islands, set for Survivor and within a stone’s throw of Castaway island.




Mike Cochrane

Mike Cochrane – who watched Driven the night before his 10km; Kiwi Mike has already racked up 55 km in ocean swims this season – odds on favourite as a nice bloke and determined to be next summer’s tally winner. Pick his brains if you see him about newd swimming in Auckland and rubber tyres…

The Cast – Starring three Sydney University Elite Athlete Program participants (including the male and female winner of The 2014 Big Swim), last summer’s amazing FOS series winner, a former elite triathlete, next summer’s aspiring Kiwi tally winner, the self-christened Bronte Boilers, full moon revellers from Mosman, a couple of Can Tooers, two Bongin Bongin Dawnbusters; and most valued of all, ordinary mugs and punters, some rock star local Fijian swimmers (mostly from Suva) and towel carriers a plenty.




The Extras

The Warriers – aka Tom and Jerry – who also doubled up in the Kava ceremony

Debut 10km swimmer, 'Gill' (yes I was very proud of him) asks for permission to come back to land

Debut 10km swimmer, ‘Gill’ (yes I was very proud of him) asks for permission to come back to land


The water safety team – gardeners, chefs, cocktail waiters and porters including Jiu, bingo caller by night, water safety kayaker and straw hat designer by day

The spa staff – need to be kneaded after a long swim? Filo (yes, she says, my clients call me pastry) is your woman. Or Milika, Marica…they are all very talented.

Plus miriads of others including the dive boat boy – Laps – (a swimmer’s best friend surely!?) and the porters on South Sea cruises who sort complex luggage from arriving and departing tenders with the ease and talent of the dabbawallahs in the movie ‘The Lunchbox’.



Oh and the birds… Unlike Heron, they were very quiet (persecuted by ubiquitous Indian minors). The local birds look like Italian policemen with helmets (and red arses).DSC00122





The Plot


Fijian nemo doesn’t mind the drop off. For Rosemary and Veronica it was more about finding Nino than Nemo, their new found Fijian friend upgraded them to an ocean suite

An 8am convivial daily dip led by os.c and Mrs Sparkle off the Drop Off (“Oh no, don’t go to the drop off!”) featuring impromptu swim clinics and tours of the Survivor film set and demonstrations of the ocean swimmers salute.

Kava ceremonies, cocktail party, registration and swim briefing including Q&A session – where punters get to establish that they will recognise the water safety team because they’re the big Fijian guys in kayaks with bananas and papaya.

Thursday and Saturday (with R&R in between), 12 solo and 7 teams in the 10km, 18 in the 5km and plenty more in the 3km and 1 km swims and 500m dash.

Snorkelling, banana boat riding, scuba diving, SUP, kayak, water slide, cane toad and crab racing, parasailing, happy hour and bingo, island hopping, and an unexpected literal full moon party with the Mosman boys at the Sunset Beach bar.

The Bula bus – waits patiently to take swimmers to the sunset beach bar

The Bula bus – waits patiently to take swimmers to the sunset beach bar


The Soundtrack – ‘take me home country rose’ for my 10km relay team buddies – the Bongin Bongin Dawnbusters Virginia and Rosemary. As Rosemary finished the 3km, they played it and Virginia yelled when it got to West Virginia bit.

Bongin Bongin belle finishing her first ever ocean swim race

Bongin Bongin belle finishing her first ever ocean swim race



Direction and Production – most importantly, os.c and oceanswimsafaris obviously, but also, Richard and thingy from NZ, the race directors and water safety trainers, Fiji TV and radio for the commentary and coverage, heaps of sponsors, and Hiroshi, COO of Mana Island – thank you (vinaka)!

Critics reaction – the Sunday Times raved …..



Apart from the usual suspects who feature in the results, my favourite 3 (unless of course we can have prizes for coming last) were:

Tyler Krenkels, age 11, took home the 1km prize plus plenty of Bingo prize money and was also a winner from playing touch at the local village school.

Richard the Big Swim organiser – who got a prize for being the oldest swimmer (just) – great work Richard!

Carole and the kids – Carole scored a scratch 10km relay place with the winners of the Big Swim, Alisha and Kaz – way to go Carole!

One Response to “Bula!”

  1. Jill September 25, 2014 at 11:51 pm #

    wonderful lizzie!!
    I am extremely jealous that you did a tour of the survivor set. I am a fan from way back!

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