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We locked in the Lorne Pier to Pub race: the biggest open water swim in all the land! 5,000 people, 1.2km. Could it get any more terrifying for this group of fresh faced English amateur swimmers? YES! YES IT COULD!
So! Next up on this seemingly endless checklist on our path to half ironman-ness was returning to the ocean, and attempting the great Lorne Pier To Pub. A couple of things about swimming in the bay which I wasn’t told before moving to Melbourne:
1. When it rains, it would be more sanitary to dive head first into a sewer.
The more distressing thing about fact No.1 is that I wasn’t told about this until I’d swam in the bay, let’s say at a conservative guess, seven or eight times…at least TWO of those following heavy rainfall. I may as well have gone apple bobbing in a public toilet. It was only after my second swim in “rain water,” which was subsequently followed by spending 48 hours in my bathroom that something twigged. Sitting pretty at 75kg, I mentioned this harrowing experience to a colleague who pointed out the error of my way – OF COURSE rain water turns the bay into a nuclear reactor! How silly of me, it’s 2017!
They pointed out there was in fact a website dedicated to reporting on the levels of biological warfare present in the bay, which soon became the most visited site in my browser history just in case come April 9th the weather gods felt the need to punish us in such a horrific way, which low and behold they did!
So now we’d finally started to reduce our anxiety levels in the ocean to a resting heart rate that was merely flirting with a full blown cardiac arrest, we felt like we needed to go one step further. Yes, we were gaining confidence that we could cover the actual distance! We locked in the Lorne Pier to Pub race: the biggest open water swim in all the land! 5,000 people, 1.2km. Could it get any more terrifying for this group of fresh faced English amateur swimmers? YES! YES IT COULD!
A much cheaper alternative to chemical castration would be to enter these criminals into the Lorne Pier to Pub race and then show them that article headline! SHARKS! Let me tell you something – the only reason English people live in Melbourne is to be able to go swimming WITHOUT getting eaten by a shark. Yes, the coffee’s good and who DOESN’T love smashed avocado, but reason número uno: NO SHARKS!
Unhelpful things to hear when voicing these fears to Australians…
“At least it’ll make you swim faster!”
Firstly, I can’t swim fast. I LITERALLY have one speed and if I try to swim faster I just end up swimming at the exact same speed with much worse technique! It’s a skill if anything. I feel like I’m moving faster, the water seems to be moving faster around me, but then the sobering moment always comes once I check my Garmin, feeling all proud of myself that finally all this training is paying off and it reads: ’SLOW BUT MESSY.’ From poolside, I imagine my sprint laps look like some form of feeding frenzy taking place in the water. I’m surprised I’ve not been spear-gunned.
Even if I could swim faster, I can’t outswim a bloody shark – it’d be like entering a marathon with a group of velociraptors. NONSENSICAL.
“You just have to swim faster than the man behind you”
Again, see point A) NOT A FAST SWIMMER. My friend and I worked out our predicted times based on the previous years results and that meant we would place in the last 5 people! Aka. THE DANGER ZONE!!
Although, I also found a small amount of comfort in the realisation that we may IN FACT be the last two people out the water. However, I figure, if I were a shark, I wouldn’t be picking off the stragglers. I’d be heading for the middle of the pack, full throttle, mouth wide open.
I was also told by these very helpful Australians that it was okay that there were sharks there because there was this genius tactic of scaring them away by hovering a helicopter very close to the water surface just above where the shark was swimming. Now, I’m no marine biologist, but that sounds like trying to scare away a raging bull by tickling it with a feather. Whatever the true meaning behind this tactic, what did we see as we were paddling to the start line 1.2km from shore? A bloody helicopter hovering just over the surface of the bloody water about 500m away. You couldn’t make this stuff up!
Lorne Pier To Pub – Victory!
Anyway, would you believe we actually survived! And not only that but I also beat my pal who was a much better swimmer than me. It was only on my fourth or fifth victory lap of Lorne beach that I learnt he’d had his goggles kicked off about 100m into the swim. Alas – a wins a win in my book. This was yet another monumental achievement for me and one I’m extremely proud of, but again people ask, did you enjoy it?. No. No I did not. It was after this event that I realised I probably didn’t really enjoy swimming that much, (no shit Sherlock) but it was starting to feel like something I could get through regardless of how much I enjoyed it, and that’s what this was about I suppose – the event is called CHALLENGE Melbourne, not SMILEY FUN-TIME Melbourne.
After Lorne, we had 3 months until the event. Having given up on ever being faster than an asthmatic sloth, we set out to build up to 2km and try to swim that at least once a week in the open water. On the occasions where the weather gods decided to turn the bay into the devil’s jockstrap we frequented Prahran pool, and good Lord is 2km a lot of laps in a pool.
Photo Credit: Chris Scott
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About the Author
David Palmer — Rehabilitation Physiotherapist
David has played sport all his life! As an Englishman, soccer was his first passion, however since moving to Melbourne running, cycling and most recently triathlons have become a focus.