Back to the Ocean
JULY 6, 2022 ISSUE

Hi Everyone,

I’m so thrilled we’ve started our Open Water for Total Beginners program. To share these skills with novice ocean swimmers and introduce them to the fabulous world of ocean swimming, is very exciting. To do it at this time of year is even better. There is nothing like swimming in the ocean in winter. The water at this time of the year is so clear and pristine; except of course after all this recent rain. Still in a few of days it ought to be back to its former glory. I urge you to get in and experience how the ocean makes your body and mind feel, to see the marine life and the beauty of the rock formations. There is nothing quite like it.

I remember when I started ocean swimming and how nervous I was. I didn’t really have much of clue about any of it and relied on my friends to chaperon me. I can still get nervous at times in the surf, particularly when it’s wild and furious like it has been recently. I have learned to always be aware of my level of competency and not to push myself too far beyond my comfort zone. The ocean must be respected.

After years of swimming in different conditions and bodies of water I have developed a deep love of swimming in the open sea. There is a transformation when your body is immersed in salt water. It just feels so wonderful! Many have written about the positive effects of cold water swimming, not just on the body, but also on mental health. For those keen to swim, the water temperature around Sydney at the moment is around 17 – 17.5C, so not too bad at all. Do try it.
Since our last newsletter, I have returned from a week of magical swimming in the warmer waters around Heron Island. This cay on the Barrier Reef is such a wondrous place, particularly at the end of May and into June, when the Manta Rays come to visit. If you haven’t had a chance to experience Heron, think about it. My trips to this amazing place have certainly opened my eyes to the remarkable beauty and plethora of marine life on the reef. Swimming across coral, along side all sorts of turtles, stingrays, Eagle Rays, various sharks, Manta Rays, and schools, and schools of brilliantly coloured fish is just awesome. There is really nothing like it. My visits here feed my soul. For me, and I suspect for others, visits to Heron Island can be life changing. If you’re keen to learn more about swimming in the waters around Heron Island, come and chat with me. 

We’re running another set of Masterclasses this Saturday under the guidance of the terrific Rachelle Ting. Those attending will improve their freestyle, backstroke, butterfly and breaststroke. Held in an indoor pool, this is the perfect time of the year to get your stroke/s in order. We’ve still got a few spots left, so if you’re keen, reach out and we’ll book you in. The details are below in the newsletter. 

I would like to congratulate everyone who has continued to come to squad training and SwimFit in this wet, and at times, inclement weather. You are rock stars and will reap the rewards of keeping your training up in the coming months. I look forward to seeing your continued commitment in the weeks and months ahead. Well done! 

As always, yours in swimming,

Kari Baynes

Photo: Stunning turquoise ocean off the coast near Adelaide. PC: Ellie Kallmier

Saturday SwimFit now at Cook & Phillip Park Pool 

A quick reminder, our Saturday SwimFit Sessions are on at midday (12pm) at Cook and Phillip Park Pool in the city until August 13.

You will find us by lanes 1 and 2 in the shallow end. This is an indoor facility. Please let us know if you need a hand booking in.

Book Now!

Open Water for Total Beginners

Our first ever Open Water for Total Beginners ran a couple of weeks ago. It was a huge success, with many in the group, feeling far more confident about ocean swimming. In fact all the feedback was great! For those who missed out or might be curious about what goes into these sessions, we thought we’d give you guys a quick recap of the last class. 

The main focus of this first session was to get a strong grounding with safe entry and exit practices, and build understanding of the ocean and how to work with the conditions to stay safe.

The session started with a dry-land discussion of the conditions, including learning about how to locate rips, sand banks and safe entry and exit points along the beach. Diana taught the swimmers tips for checking wind direction, understanding surf reports and generally getting a good picture of what to expect before even touching the water. Then the swimmers took to the water and practised diving under waves to get a good feel for the timing. During this class they also practiced locating rips and learning how to let yourself get taken out by one, and then how to exit the rip current back to safety.

These awesome swimmers and instructor Diana had so much fun with the session that we’ve added some extra ones to our schedule to make this a fortnightly series. The next upcoming session is scheduled for Saturday July 16th.

Photo: The awesome open water crew pre-swim on Sunday, Bondi Beach. PC: Diana Galosi

Book Now!

As we’re headed into a new season we thought now would be the perfect time to clarify a few questions and concerns that have been popping up lately. 

Q: Do I need to book in every week, or can I just turn up on the day? 
A: Yes, you do need to make a booking for every class or session you want to attend. Bookings are important to make sure that the sessions don’t overfill, but also so we know who to expect in case of any last minute changes. If a class or session is cancelled or we’ve had to change the start time we get in contact with everyone who has a booking, so if you’re not on the list you won’t be kept up to date.

Q: How do I know if a class or session has been cancelled? 
A: We’ll get in touch! If we need to cancel anything for any reason we’ll always contact you if you’re booked in. We will usually try to call or SMS as well as email, and once the class has been cancelled on MindBody you’ll receive an automated email too.

Q: Do your classes and squads still run when it’s raining?
A: Yes! Our sessions run regardless of the weather, and will go ahead unless the conditions are deemed unsafe.* This could include extreme cold and electrical storms.

*The exception is for our Open Water for Total Beginners sessions, which are always subject to the conditions.

Q: Can I pause my auto payments if I’m going away or need to take a break? 
A: Absolutely. There are a few conditions for autopay suspensions to be aware of before getting in touch:

  • You may pause your pack or auto payment for a minimum of two weeks and maximum of three months, on two occasions per twelve month period each.
  • In order for your suspension to be correctly processed, we need at least 48 hours notice before your next payment is scheduled. Due to the setup of the auto payment systems on MindBody, suspensions requested within this timeframe may not be processed in time meaning you may be charged for that payment.

If you’re ever unsure about something or if you have any other questions or concerns, please get in touch to chat with someone from our team. Happy swimming!

Swim Spotlight: Hellespont and Dardanelles
+ An interview with Michael McKelvie

If you’re an avid ocean swimmer, chances are you know all about the iconic Hellespont and Dardanelles crossing swim. This swim was officially first completed by poet Lord Byron in 1810, and has since then become a world famous open water swim.

The Hellespont involves a swim of 4.5km that takes you from Europe to Asia in Turkey, and the annual “Victory Day” race closes down one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world in order to let swimmers cross. Conditions can be choppy with strong currents not uncommon, so while the distance isn’t the longest out there it’s certainly a challenging swim. The Bosphorous Cross Continental swim is another incredible swim on the other side of the Sea of Marmara which also achieves a crossing from Europe to Asia.

For many keen open water swimmers, this event is sitting right at the top of their swim bucket list, and there are so many great stories from swimmer’s who’ve completed the Hellespont. This write-up by Nolan Peterson does an excellent job of painting a picture of the swim itself (in extremely choppy conditions!), and is well worth a read.

Did you know that Michael McKelvie (one of our swimmers)  actually completed the Hellespont and Dardanelles swim in 2015, and is currently training to swim the Bosphorous Cross Continental swim this year? I got to ask him a few questions to give you guys a picture of what that looks like.

How did you first hear about this swim, and what made you want to do it (again)?  
“I swam the Hellespont & Dardanelles Swim a few years previously and met other swimmers who had highly recommended the Bosphorus Cross Continental swim. Loved the first time and could not wait to go back.”

How are you preparing for the swim this time? Has your training/prep changed much since the first time you completed it in 2015?  
“Training involves swimming squads twice a week and then once by myself on weekends. I know what to now expect with the race so am comfortable that above training is sufficient to finish and do an OK time. In 2015 I was super diligent and trained 4 times a week.”

Are you planning to swim solo or with other people?  
“Swimming solo this year – my mates coming in 2020 cannot now make 2022. It is very hard to be accepted and available places go quickly. I have had heaps of people say they will come along and register on the day – which is not possible unfortunately.”

Do you recommend that others give this swim a go if they get the chance?  
“I did History at Uni and a number of subjects in Byzantine History. I have been to Istanbul and Turkey six times – so love the city and this swim is part of that keen interest.”

What’s your favourite place you’ve ever swum?  
“My son is 9 and loves body surfing and swimming at Maroubra Beach. Second is swimming in the Lycian Way in Southern Turkey.”

We’d like to extend a big thank you to Michael for chatting with me about the upcoming swim in August, and we wish you the best of luck!You can find more information about how to sign up for the Hellespont and Dardanelles swim via SwimTrek here, or read some more stories of prepping for and swimming the course here.

Staying Connected

First off, I’d like to welcome a few new members to the Sydney Swimmers, so welcome Leigh and Wendy!

We think that being part of a supportive group and getting to know your fellow squad and SwimFit members can play a big part in staying motivated and on-track with your swimming. Being able to find friends to swim with outside of scheduled sessions, car-pooling buddies or just someone to hold you accountable to your goals isn’t always easy, but we can help!

Did you know that we’ve set up groups across a few platforms to help you get connected?

Our Members-Only Facebook group sees announcements and special offers first, and is a great place to share interesting tips, articles, recipes and more. If you’re interested in joining, all you have to do is follow this link to the group (or hit the button below) and submit a request to join, and one of our group admins will let you in.

We also have a fantastic WhatsApp group! This is an active space for getting quick updates, chatting with fellow swimmers, and just generally staying connected. If you’re not in this group yet and would like to be, get in touch via email here or SMS us on 0431571161.

Join the Group!

Vaccination Policy & COVID Safety

As per our updated COVID-19 Safety Plan (which can be found on our website here), you will be required to send your current vaccination certificate for us to verify before your first class.  You may do so by forwarding it to us, or sending us a screenshot via SMS. Your certificate will not be stored by us once it has been verified. We have a fully vaccinated team and do require you to be fully vaccinated before joining any of our classes, for the health and safety of our staff and other swimmers. 

Are you after a Bespoke, Tailored Program? 

We’re really enjoying our NEW bespoke offering.

Do you have a particular event you are training for and think you could benefit from a custom built training program?

Get in touch for more information!

Tell Me More!




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