Sunday, March 17, 2019

Port to Pub Results - Coach Ross pulls out a blinder!


Man of the moment: Swim Smooth Perth Coach, Ross Robertson, displays an inspirational level of stoicism to finish 8th overall in the 25km Port to Pub swim - on ya Ross!

Dear Swimmers

Well, there we go! It just goes to show that you can't judge a book by it's cover, hey? I readily admit that I had my doubts come Thursday last week that the Port to Pub might be headed the same way as last year given the weather forecast, and whilst it was anything but "smooth" out there, it was great that everyone got to have their chance to once again conquer the Rottnest Channel! Well done if you made it across!

Some interesting stats, Swim Smooth Perth Squad swimmers and 1-2-1 athletes accounted for:

  • 20% of all Solo swimmers
  • 10% of all Duo swimmers
  • 9% of all Team of 4 swimmers
  • 13% of all Team of 6 swimmers
  • 13% of all Team of 4 assisted swimmers
  • 60% of all Team of 6 assisted swimmers
Here's how those results break down:



A special mention...

I know you shouldn't technically have a "teacher's pet" (especially when it's one of your own coaches!), but what the heck, I'm going to anyway!



What a legend in every way!

Tuesday evening's Technique / Endurance coach Ross Robertson and his wife Mel have had a tough old time these last 18 months since their twins Luke and Harvey were born about 14 weeks premature:


Despite the tough times they've gone through, Ross has never once faltered with his consistency of running the Tuesday evening session (not once!), he's started a revived movement of SwimRun events here in WA with the Shoreline Swim Run Series and even ran a brilliant Olympic Distance Triathlon too. He runs his own swim coaching business in the northern suburbs and this is all just in addition to his normal full-time work. On top of all of that, Ross is a bloody brilliant guy and one of the nicest people you will meet. Always caring and always interested in what others are doing. So it makes me very proud indeed to see him swim a 7h37m 25km ultra-marathon yesterday on the back of a "very average" year of personal performances (his words!). Even just a few days ago, we were discussing how he might pull out of the event in attempt to ease some stress away, but kudos to Ross, he picked his plan to go out super steady and just build from 15km onwards if he could. I'd loved to have seen a virtual pathway of his route moving up through the field, as this strategy paid massive dividends to finish 8th overall! Well done Ross - so, so proud of you mate in light of everything I know you've gone through and how you've been feeling about things of late - a truly brilliant, stoic performance!

Well done to everyone who competed - the Lane 1 (630am) Aquadragons never cease to impress either, coming in with a very commendable time of 7h05m. Well done all!!

Cheers

Paul

P.S I have some cunning plans brewing for a winter challenge which (if we get this new app up soon) could mean some great rewards points towards some cool prizes...watch this space as the show must go on!

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Rottnest Channel Swim 2019 Musings


Not as fast as everyone thought...but the question is, "did that get to your head halfway across - a paranoia that everyone else must surely be having a better day than you?"

NOTE: swimmers in blue = top 3 men's times / pink = top 3 women's times / yellow = Swim Smooth Perth Squad swimmers in the 2018/2019 season / green = Paul Newsome's 1-2-1 Video Analysis swimmers and www.swimsmooth.guru users

Dear Swimmers

You'll note my tardiness in getting some response out about this year's Rottnest Channel Swim. Why? Simply because I've used the last two weeks to reflect on the results and also soak up all the feedback and stories from those in the squad (and wider afield) who did the event and their thoughts upon it.

It almost seems eerily ironic that I should have posted this article on Managing Expectation just a few days before the event, and this is also what I've held back with this year's summary too, in the hope that those of you now preparing for next weekend's Port to Pub event, might be in the headspace to try to soak up these views with 5-6 days to go before your big swim.

Whilst I'd highly encourage you to read the article above (about 2017), it basically breaks down like this (as did 2019):

  • weather forecast looks AMAZING
  • expectations about what might be possible RISE
  • excitement BUILDS - could this finally be my year to break XX hours?!
  • I'm feeling GREAT - I know this is going to be my BIG chance!
  • weather looks brilliant as you leave the beach and those not swimming are all MOANING about how they're MISSING OUT
  • you feel pumped - the energy PALPABLE
  • you find a good rhythm and the SUNRISE IS BEAUTIFUL
  • you tick off your first few feeds and all is ON TRACK
  • halfway across you check your time AND ITS NOT QUITE WHAT YOU'D HOPED
  • don't panic you tell yourself - could be JUST A BLIP?
  • next time check is still NO BETTER
  • maybe you're BLOWING UP or HAVING A BAD DAY?
  • panic sets in - EVERYONE else must be having a blinder, so why not me?!
  • you eventually get to Thomson's Bay, check out the clock and "on no!" WHAT HAPPENED?! Where's my SUPER FAST TIME?
...and that, as they say, is open water swimming at it's best - always unpredictable!

So yes, the weather was EXCELLENT but what about the CURRENTS - how do you know how these affected things?

First place to start - always look towards the winners: Solomon Wright set the course record in 2018, finally tipping under 4 hours. There's nothing to suggest he had a bad swim this year (he came a very creditable 2nd behind an equally great performance from Sam Sheppard and a further 7 minutes ahead of Perth "wonderkid" and one of my personal heroes, Rhys Mainstone), but he went 22 minutes slower than last year. That's nearly 9% slower on a day which, on the outset, looked just magic. Add that kind of margin to a 7 hour swimmer and you're adding nearly 40 minutes additional time. Furthermore, the longer you're out there exposed to the elements (SW wind picking up, possible strengthening of the current etc), and you can be assured that the conditions this year were anything but the idyllic conditions that we were all conjuring up in our heads. But therein lies the problem - our heads - when you're out there right in the thick of it, unsure of which way is truly west, or exactly how fast you're moving or what the currents are doing - the story so many of us tell ourselves when TIME IS OUR ONLY MEASURE is that we must be failing. How much of this then ultimately adds to our time and the feeling of how well we have or haven't done?

To this day, my biggest regret is my first ever solo finish in 2009. I desperately wanted to break 5 hours and felt I could probably fit inside the Top-20. I had done some training with David Cox (who went on to win the event) and I can recall our conversation on the start-line like it was yesterday: David told me "these brilliant conditions are ripe for the record, and I'm going to be the guy to do it!" - and yet he was one of only 5 swimmers to break 5 hours that year, finishing over 40 minutes behind the 2000 record of Mark Saliba. 40 minutes! Now David wasn't a dreamer - he was a brilliant swimmer - but I should have been looking at his result when I came across the line totally deflated with a 5h24m swim and yet I'd finished 6th male and 9th overall. I should have been chuffed, but I wasn't - I only saw 5h24m and in that I saw FAILURE. 

Of course, in the past 10 years and having coached many hundreds of Solo swimmers myself now, having swum the English Channel in 2011 in atrocious conditions and managing a time little better than "average" but equally smashing the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim (46km) in 2013 with the overall title in super-fast speeds, I have come to really understand that there's really very little you can do out there other than trust in your training and manage your expectation when you're at it tooth and nail. Never assume that everyone else is having a better day than you just purely on your target times and paces. This is why we do so much training with the beepers to really dial in your paces so that you truly know what effort level you can sustain for whatever distance - if that results in brilliant times (like the Busselton Jetty Swim this year) because the conditions were so good, great! But if it means that your swim times were slower than expected at the Rottnest Channel Swim, then they are what they are. All you can really do is look at those around you as your benchmark - those that you've been swimming against all season and how they stacked up against you. But one thing's for sure - if you complete that swim, it's NEVER A FAILURE.

So, that all being said, congratulations to everyone who made it across to Thomson's Bay last fortnight and good luck to those of you trying again next weekend at the Port to Pub swim. Interestingly enough, the conditions for this Saturday are in stark contrast to two weeks ago - the wind looks set to be strong early on from the SW at this stage, so it'll be interesting to see how people's expectations fair this week in light of that...

...one things for sure, YOU CAN'T CHANGE IT - you've just got to do your best and keep those arms ticking over until you get there!

Well done everyone - whether you be Solo, Duo or Team - what a brilliant achievement to have under your belt!

Cheers

Your Proud Coach, Paul

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Tips for this weekend's 2019 Rottnest Channel Swim



Dear Swimmers

In 4 days time many of you will be on Thomson's Bay sucking back a coldie or two and celebrating how you made it across to Rottnest amidst what were some favourable swimming conditions!
I'm always asked to give my thoughts a few day out on what the weather will be like come race day and I usually precede by saying:

"Que sera, sera...whatever will be will be!"

Always at the forefront of my mind when preparing a great number of you to take on this epic swim, is how to prepare you for a wide-ranging multitude of scenarios - to make you the most versatile swimmer you can possibly be. There's always an undertone to every session we do in this regard:
  • MONDAY (Pure Technique) - we work on the ability to switch and change breathing sides at will and to be able to cope with the need to go a few extra strokes (2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9...) if needs. We work on posture and alignment and your ability to swim the straightest possible line
  • TUESDAY (Technique / Endurance) - we work on developing your steady state aerobic capacity and your ability to swim with enhanced rhythm into waves, swell and chop through the use of pull buoy, paddles and bands.
  • WEDNESDAY (Red Mist Endurance) - we work on your ability to pace yourself out well and sustain this, even when you're not feeling at your very best...if you can be the best version of yourself even when you're having a crap day, then you'll go well! Mental fortitude is what Wednesdays are always about.
  • THURSDAY / FRIDAY (CSS Development) - the one and only number you ever need to know and be aware of as a distance freestyler is your CSS pace...if this gets quicker then everything you do over 400m improves.
  • SATURDAY (Stoic) - a sage reminder of how to not take yourself too seriously, how to have fun whilst practicing all of the above and to always be grateful for your ability to take onboard these crazy challenges, no matter how daunting they might sometimes appear...no one is holding a gun to your head saying "you must swim!" - so do it for you and you only and all will go well.
So, with that little pep talk under your belt, let's look at this weekend shall we.

First off, your resources:
  1. WEATHER - I like the Willy Weather app (available here: https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/willyweather/id592978502?mt=8
  2. CURRENTS  - the UWA Coastal Oceanography is excellent in this regard (http://www.coastaloceanography.org)
  3. TRACKING - I like the MapSwim app (available here: https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/mapswim/id600020356?mt=8)

Predictions:

The currents around Rottnest Island can be quite changeable and there's no specific forecast for those, but from just tracking the last few days, I believe we'll see very light currents moving from South to North accompanied by light to moderate SW winds (a typical sea breeze but perhaps not so strong) which will kick in from around 11am. Many of the Solo swimmers will be well on their way by that point (and some will be in of course!), but as this wind strengthens over the course of the morning / early afternoon, the biggest gains will be for the faster swimmers (as is often the case - read about 2017 here: http://swimsmoothperth.blogspot.com/2017/03/so-just-how-hard-was-rottnest-channel_9.html).

My recommendation would be to stick to a direct line to Rottnest, possibly edging slightly south especially if you are planning on arriving in Thomson's Bay say after midday. I wouldn't be recommending any radical "very" south or "very" north moves this year, as right now, the conditions don't dictate that...but of course these can change! So here's what we're looking at right now, but check those resources on the day before and you should be set.




Wind (on Saturday)


Wind (today)


Water temperature (today)


Currents (today)

Further reading:




How many swimming from the squad?

It's interesting to note that this year I believe we've seen our LOWEST uptake on either the Rottnest Channel Swim or the Port-2-Pub Swim and yet THE SQUAD IS AT AN ALL TIME PEAK in terms of consistent attendance. 

I know triathlon specifically has seen a down-turn in participation in recent years (TRI Events folded late last year citing this as a reason for example), but I'm not so sure that's the case with open water swimming? 

The Busselton Jetty Swim saw it's biggest completion rate ever and some marvellous conditions too. 

My belief is that big events like these two swims and also Ironman etc take a huge toll on the body and family / social / work life balance, so it could simply be that in the average life-cycle of the average squad member that priorities are being directed elsewhere perhaps? I'm not sure. My read on it (and I can relate to this myself) is that give me 2-3 solid training sessions a week that challenge me and my limits, maybe have some kind of competitive element to them, keep me fit and healthy but don't destroy me for everything else that I do, and ultimately I'm a happy camper. Whether or not you think that a Red Mist Endurance Set hasn't "destroyed you" as you doze off at your desk over a long macchiato is purely a matter of perspective 😉

That's not to say that no one should consider doing these types of events (or that we wouldn't support them in that quest - we do, gladly!), but that we have quite a collection of stalwarts within the squad who've "been there, done that, collected at least X number of t-shirts" and so perhaps that's where the life cycle of the squad is right now? Que sera...

As we have a large majority of you having swum with the squad for in excess of 10 years (some as many as 17 - wow!), perhaps that's just where we're all at? And that's OK...I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions on that if you wanted to email me back? Am I on the right track do you think?

Nevertheless, come Saturday, I know for sure, that if you're swimming - in whatever capacity - that you'll have the full backing and support of every one of our 450+ active squad members wishing you well as you embark on your own personal challenge!

Remember, do it for you and you alone and all else will fall into place.

Good luck!

Proud Coach x

P.S please email me your number and race name (Duo / Team) if you are competing!


Friday, January 18, 2019

Will you be joining us in sunny Mallorca (26th May to 1st June) for the BEST Festival of open water swimming?

A multitude of races over a variety of distances to choose from

Dear Swimmers

Hope you are doing fine this sunny Friday afternoon!

After the last 3 years attending Europe's BEST Fest of open water swimming in Mallorca, Spain, many of you have been enquiring about the possibility of joining us on the magical Mediterranean island to participate yourself in arguably the best open water swimming experience available anywhere on the planet.

Picture this: waking up every morning to join the Swim Smooth team of coaches and other swimmers for a super invigorating 800m swim in the Med, before a relaxed buffet-style breakfast and a casual stroll through the town to the start of the day's race - anywhere from 1.5 to 10km - and then enjoying a late lunch, a sangria or two and then accessing one of the multitude of free swimming clinics and seminars that we offer to support the festival. That's all before a sunset dinner at some of the best casual dining in Europe. Sound good? Multiply by seven and you've got a fabulous week of swimming where you might race anything up to 30+km and with the additional swim sessions and easy morning limber-ups, easily clocking up 40km...if you want to! Take it as seriously or as casually as you wish. Bring or hire a bike and take a 90 minute road trip to access some of the best mountainous riding anywhere on the planet, or bring your trainers for some brilliant coastal trail running around Colonia Sant Jordi.

Think of it like: the Tour de France of open water swimming, accumulating points from each race to a series final in your age group. Meet new swimming friends from literally all over the world and enjoy the company of these like-minded swimmers in an area of extreme natural beauty...and no stingers or sharks either!

Where is it: Colonia Sant Jordi on the southern tip of Mallorca, approximately 50 minutes drive from Palma (the capital). Various hotel accommodations can be booked / quoted via Vanessa at vanessa@bestswimcentre.eu (please quote "Swim Smooth" for the best deals) - we prefer to stay in the THB Sur - not the finest hotel in the area, but great for the budget conscious and right on the Med! An other good option is the Blue Waters, which is right next to the town's 50m pool (as pristine as Claremont Pool it has to be said!)

Event website: entry for the various races can be made at http://www.bestopenwater.com/prices-offers/ - all 7 events plus a free relay entry can be purchased for 250 euros but there is the option to also pick and choose as you wish!

Race as Swim Smooth: I reckon we've got a good chance of being the best attended "club" or even "country" through the "People's Republic of Swim Smooth" - as we're making a big push for other Swim Smooth followers from across the planet to come and join us for one almighty meet-up! So please add "Swim Smooth" as you club name when registering!

Getting there: Swiss Air are offering a return trip from Perth via Singapore and Zurich for just $1460 - see details here. I'd suggest arriving on the Friday 24th May and maybe departing Sunday 2nd June or Monday 3rd June.

Please drop me an email if you're keen on coming for my reference and we'll keep you posted on extra curricular Swim Smooth activities for that week!

Here's some pictures from last year's event to whet your appetite:



Morning dip


SwimRun coaching


Post race!


Trail running


The morning routine


The amazing Med


Classroom set up (we'll be there for our 3-day Coaches Course 23-25 May)


Knocking out some good times


Casual dining


The view from the THB Sur


Coaching clinics


Strongmen!


Awesome cafes


The airport!!!


Picking up some medals!



More spoils


Awesome atmosphere 


View from the hotel (other side)


The team


Ready to ride!


Bottom of Sa Calobra


Top of Sa Calobra


Getting the miles in


What a view!


What a climb!


Palma


Quirky


Deli


Cathedral


Loving it!


The Med



Thursday, December 20, 2018

Raising $40,000 USD for the Bali-Hope SwimRun Challenge


Dear Swimmers

I hope you are all enjoying the amazing weather and looking forward to a great Christmas! I'd just like to take the opportunity to thank you all for another awesome year down at the Claremont Pool with the Swim Smooth Perth Squad and to acknowledge all your hard work and dedication in the various challenging swim sets we've done this year (some 611 of them!!). 

I often wonder how cool it'd be if we could have one of these for you to tap after each session:


...which would allow me to monitor which sessions were the most enjoyable on your part...but then I realise that sometimes, doing the hard stuff and the stuff you'd never do by yourself at 530am on a cold winter's morning, is a truer test of someone's grit, determination and commitment to their health and something that you should always feel virtuous about having done so. It never ceases to amaze me how relatively few grumbles we get (there are inevitably a few!) - most of you just get in and get on and perhaps this is a motto for life itself...

...do the hard stuff, get it done, make a change...

...and this is precisely what myself and Brad Smith had the opportunity to do a couple of weeks ago up in Nusa Lembongan - raising awareness of the plastics in the ocean issue facing Indonesia primarily and also the local education in the schools and businesses on how to tackle this problem for future generations.



Now, if I simply told you I was invited to head up to Bali last weekend as an ambassador and sponsor for a new SwimRun event there following my participation in the ÖtillÖ World Championships in December, and then showed you these few photos of where we were staying, you'd have a tough job of not deciphering this as simply a jolly holiday for Coach Paul as opposed to a work trip - and that's where you'd be right - this was so much more than simply a work trip, it was about making change happen and something I was super-proud to have been part of. Nevertheless, here are some of the views - stunning!





Tom Hickman (the event's founder and driving force for change in the way plastics are managed and recycled on the island of Nusa Lembongan) featured on our 2nd podcast (link: Podcast 2) and was a temple of enthusiasm for this worthy cause, bringing athletes and those wanting to help make change together for a fun-filled, insightful 5 days in this beautiful part of the world.


Tom's t-shirt says it all: Temple of Enthusiasm

This all being said, I couldn't help but feel a tad bit guilty leaving Mish and the kids at home and also you all on pool deck whilst I jetted off to sunny Bali, but I knew there was work to be done and a race to complete!

Day 1 - arrival:

We arrived in Bali and were immediately whisked off to our hotel in Sanur where we met all the other teams with this one shared vision:




10 teams of 2 had been selected to race the event and help with the charity work including:



  • Annika & Peter - Annika is a multiple ÖtillÖ World SwimRun Champion who would be sure to be the ones setting the pace on Saturday's race which comprised 3km of swimming and 20km of running in the very oppressive Bali conditions of 32ºC / 90% humidity ambient and 33-34ºC water temperature (like a bath!). She was teaming up with Peter who was a cool 35+ minutes ahead of me and Andy back in September in Sweden and one of the top-ranked male SwimRunners in the world.
  • Rosanna & Inge - both race at an elite level within triathlon and Ironman events and were super-acclimated to the conditions. Rosanna spent 6 years sailing around the world on a yacht with her young family and now lives an enviable lifestyle in Ullawatu. Inge did a fabulous and very memorable press-conference after the event, discussing the issues facing the Balinese.
  • Jackson & Josh - self-proclaimed "digital nomads", these likeable lads travel the world on the strength of their respective 317,000+ Instagram accounts, documenting their travels and their eco-warrior mission which totally aligned with the mission of the Bali-Hope event. In many ways, they are doing what I was doing 17 years ago prior to arriving in Perth - living life out of a backpack but documenting it in a way with such professionalism that I was blown away. Jackson's Instagram account is well worth a look as is Josh's book "Why Don't You?", which at the tender age of just 22 is pretty darn amazing to have that level of insight. Despite living out of backpacks, these boys can really run (as we were about to find out!), as Josh won the inaugural Bali Ultra-marathon back in May which has to be run overnight given the intense heat.
  • Andy & Kelly - Andy is a former swimming Olympian and Kelly is a model / actress who features in some amazing TV dramas (like Grise, HBO) and movies as well as being a brand ambassador for sun safety through Nivea - both Andy & Kelly are sponsored through the wetsuit company we part-own, HUUB Design.
  • Kara & Nina - these brilliant ladies raised a staggering $10,000 USD (and counting!) for the Bali-Hope event and are super strong triathletes from Victoria. Kara did a brilliant job of facilitating the team bonding exercises that we all participated in to help break the ice and get us all focused on our objectives for helping the Nusa Lembongan region. She runs a fitness and strength training program on the Bass Coast, VIC, so knows her onions.
  • Lezlea & Adele - both Lezlea and Nina are very good runners but were a little apprehensive about how the swim might go - they needn't have been. Myself and Brad took the girls for a practice session a couple of days before the main event, focusing on some simple cues to keep the stroke working well and them working well together. Something worked as they did really well! Both ladies are ex-pats living in Bali for a good portion of each year and met each other in shared-space work environment in Canguu. 
  • Patrick & Fanny - we were staying with Patrick and Fanny, arguably the two strongest competitors in the field, both specialising in crazy CrossFit-style regimes and generally doing amazing things with the strength of their bodies. They had a fair bit of SwimRun experience between them also having tackled the super-tough Rockman race in the Pyrenees, France. They were racing as "Team Lost" and have a simply massive social media following - well worth a visit to some of their cool videos here.
  • Isobel & Wayne - Wayne goes by the handle "The Rogue Adventurer - Going Places, Running Races" and his tagline "in order for us to grow and learn we MUST take on challenges that radically expand our sense of what truly is possible" really epitomised what we were all about to take on there in Nusa Lembongan. Isobel is a fellow Brit hailing from a similar part of the UK to me (i.e. very hilly!) so I knew she'd be up for the challenge of the tough Bali conditions.
  • Kyron & Logan - Kyron also completed the inaugural Bali Ultra-marathon back in May and had returned to Bali with his eldest brother Logan who currently lives in Perth. Both are originally from New Zealand and have a thing about the Haka dance (see below). Logan's story was arguably the most inspiring of the entire team - a big unit and someone who was purely there to complete rather than compete, but Logan's "win" wasn't the physicality's of the race itself, but the fact that he'd overcome serious drug and alcohol addiction, time in trouble with the police and to use his own introductory words, "I've basically not been a very nice person most of my life and have f&*ked most of it up!" to be with us in Bali. You couldn't help but admire the guy, who now works with AA here in Perth's northern suburbs. Here's Logan crossing the finish-line on the Saturday - talk about a release of pressure:

Day 2 - transfer to Nusa Lembongan:


Arriving on Nusa Lembongan


With Andy Wibowo, Olympian


Getting into the swing of island life!

We travelled over to Nusa Lembongan and got a real feel for the place, including both the climate (hot and VERY humid!) as well as the level of plastic pollution in the streets and on the beaches (off the charts!). Coming back to this view though made it hard to imagine why things were ever left to get this bad:


Idyllic...


...less than so!

Day 3 - education: REUSE, RECYCLE and REFUSE:

After a morning fine-tuning our race gear for the following days's race, it was off to a local primary school to aid with the efforts of educating the young children on better ways to manage their waste, including: REUSE, RECYCLE and REFUSE.

We were invited into the children's classrooms and involved in a round-class discussion about the issues of plastic mis-management. We also had the chance to help the children create posters with recycled material to further help them understand what needed to be done. A highlight for me was helping the older children use Microsoft Excel (I'm a geek, what can I say?!) to create a spreadsheet to work out just how much waste was being generated and collected in their local area each day - 3 tonnes! Staggering. 

What was really sad was the realisation that despite every child clearly understanding the message, the hope that they'd be then able to take this message back to their families presents a huge cultural / generational issue as often their voices simply aren't heard once back at home (so we were told).



Before leaving the school, we were each presented with a special gift of a ceremonial sari and an individually drawn thank you letter to each of us for helping out. It was lovely.


Brad receiving his gifts

We then headed over to the local recycling plant, Waryu Segara, to get an appreciation of the mammoth task they are facing with the clean-up of the island - off the charts:









Day 4 - race day:

By the time race day finally rolled around, my whole perspective of what I was actually over there in Bali to do had changed completely. 

If you'd asked me before I had left, I'd have told you I was over there to race with Brad in the idyllic locales and to do a bit of "charity work". Of course, I'd have told you that the charity work was a big deal (to justify my trip up there and make me feel less guilty about going), but to be perfectly frank, prior to  being involved with the Bali-Hope event, I was very ignorant to the issues we are all facing with the over-use, mis-use and mis-management of plastics in our environment. I'd gladly accept a plastic bag at Coles rather than remember to bring my re-usable hemp over-the-shoulder affair. 

Recycling was something "other people do". I felt slightly justified in this knowing that I'd lived for 5 years in the City of Stirling, Perth, where it was discovered that for 3 years (despite Mish enforcing us to separate waste at home), we had to put it all into one wheelie bin which supposedly the city would further separate at their end. Of course this seemed non-sensical to me and when I found out they hadn't actually been doing that, it further felt like a waste of time me doing "my part". This was the conversation I always then had with myself, sad but true. 

I'm not an eco-warrior (nor do I profess to being - even now), but seeing what we saw in Bali and having the interactions that we did with the community and their education has profoundly affected my approach to how I see things now that I'm back in Australia. Suddenly, Day 4's race seemed superfluous to the bigger picture of what we were truly there for - to help raise awareness by being willing to literally swim and run our way through litter-laden idylls - getting wrapped up in a floating black bin liner as we practiced-swam our way across to Cenigan was the real eye-opener here! I thought it was a shark!! I'm not sure which is actually worse!

And so to the race, and true to my point about it being somewhat superfluous, here's what happened in a blow-by-blow bullet account:

  • the plan was for me to the lead the first 500m swim as I've been swimming well lately with all the gear on. The mission was to try and stay with the Swedish pair of Annika and Peter, but not pull ahead...we knew the attrition rate would be high given the climate!
  • 200m into the first swim and Brad literally gets snagged on a fishing line, unable to progress any further - the Swedes disappear and I'm left dragging a dead-weight in the water until we unclip our tether which races back to me at a fine old rate of knots into my stomach
  • once clear, we give chase, but the damage has been done and we've already surrendered 30+ seconds to Annika and Peter PLUS in our stress we fail to pick up our hydration for the first run (9km in the sweltering mangroves)
  • I eventually tow Brad back up to Annika and Peter (she says candidly "ah, so nice of you to join us!"), but we're always on the back foot, trying to recoup hydration and plenty of ice at each aid station which the Swedish team do significantly better than us each time.
  • by the end of the 9km run section, we are neck and neck with the world champions and heading into the water. Brad takes the lead and tows me across the Cenigan straight in order to recoup a bit from the effort we sustained on the run. Annika and Peter power ahead and put about 20 seconds into us.
  • we are now running the 8km loop around the very hilly Cenigan but again make ground on the savvy pair ahead of us. We mimic their every move. When they started walking up the hugely steep climbs, so too did we.
  • we hit our first hurdle - the marshalls aren't sure which way to send us and we lose 2-3 minutes literally waiting for them to radio through for instructions. Brad's confident that we'll remain ahead of 3rd place (Josh and Jackson) - I don't share his positivity and sure enough they reel us all in and then take the lead.
  • by this point I'm melting and start to struggle - thank god for the additional swim at the top of Cenigan - a chance to "recover", "cool down" but most importantly use our swimming strength to move back ahead of the boys and onto the heels of Peter and Annika.
  • we still have 3km to the next long swim and I'm suffering big time - survival mode completely.
  • we reach the last swim (1000m) still (just) in 2nd place, and make a concerted effort to pull ahead of Josh and Jackson who were running like demons!
  • we lose further ground to Peter and Annika who have raced the perfect race, but hold onto our lead over 3rd place (but are running very scared up the last 2km climb) to finish second overall and a much needed beer!
  • we are not quite sure of the time gaps, but suggestions were about 2 minutes between 1st and 2nd and 2nd and 3rd. 
  • we wait for everyone to finish and see Logan do his Haka - amazing emotions all around!


 
3km swimming / 20km of running in the hot, hot sun!



Watch the race recap here (60 seconds)


Powering away


The swim to Cenigan


Brad pulling me home!


Melting!


Finish-line sprint!


Walking up one of the massively steep climbs on Cenigan with the Swedish pros, Annika and Peter


Girl power! Annika rightly front and centre!


Goosebumps moment - Logan's Haka


Collecting 1st male team prize (2nd overall)


With the champ!

Day 5 - getting our hands dirty / homeward bound:

What's the best way to recover from such a tough event? Spend several hours in the baking heat picking up rubbish with the local school children of course! In all seriousness though, looking out at our final day's challenge seemed insurmountable but through the combined efforts of everyone involved, we did such a sterling job that a local land owner pledged on the spot to dedicate some of his land for a better managed refuge collection area - amazing!


Volunteers aplenty!


Getting our hands dirty!


Jackson looked like the messiah and had a similar sort of presence about himself - great guy!


Annika showing us how it's done!


Getting down and dirty!

It was then time to head home and back to reality.

I'd just like to say a massive thanks to everyone involved, especially Tom's superhero team of Andie, Kirsty, Margs, Debs and everyone else who made this such an amazing life-changing experience. We hope to be back again in 2019 if you'll have us?!

Cheers

Paul & Brad

P.S it's still not too late to donate towards this very worth cause: https://balihopeswimrun2018.everydayhero.com/au/team-swim-smooth#