I’m proud to say that The Big Swim this year went off without too many dramas. I’m hugely involved in Surflifesaving with Whale Beach SLSC and The Big Swim is our clubs biggest event. It’s approx 2.7km open ocean swim from Palm Beach to Whale Beach.
The course of the Big Swim. Approx. 2.7kms
The reason I’m so relieved is that I actually organised the Water Safety for the swim again this year. That’s ensuring that 1,700 swimmers make it safely along the course. We have lots of support from the surround surf clubs (North Palm, Palm, Avalon beaches), lifeguards, costal patrol, water police. I’ve actually been the club captain of Whale Beach for 2 seasons, as one of the youngest captains they’ve ever had.
A cool shot from Whale’s north headland of all the swimmers in the water.
Basically we send out as many of our members out on skis and boards and the IRBs (rubber duckies). If anyone needs to be assisted, or saved, then the skis and boards grab the person, they are transferred onto the IRB, which races the person back to Whale Beach for assistance from the patrol/first aid.
This year we had to pick up about 20-25 people. Exhausted swimmers, and one guy that had a hamstring cramp.
The biggest drama we had was we had one 60 year old man unaccounted for. Our swim uses electronic tags to record swimmers times and registered that they had indeed finished. The man in question had gotten dumped in the surf at Palm and decided not to swim and came in. He didn’t report to anyone that he had left, and when our system registered him as not completed we obviously reacted swiftly.
I immediately began a search and rescue operation coordinating our IRBs to search from Whale beach, and Palm beach’s IRB to search from their end. Our concern was increased when his neighbours reported to us that he had not shown up at Whale Beach, that his gear was still there. The naturally assumption that you would collect your gear after quitting/finishing added support to theory that he needed serious help. At that point I began to escalate the situation higher and get the helicopter called in, assuming we were dealing with a serious problem.
All in the meantime, the neighbours of the man in question were calling his mobile and house constantly. Finally his home number went to engaged, and after another anxious 5 minutes they finally got through to him. Apparently he was in the shower.
All in a day’s work.
One of the funnest aspects of volunteer Surflifesaving is driving the IRBs. It is something I totally love doing. Here is a couple of good shots of the IRBs at the Big Swim.
Here we see the great guy’s from Avalon SLSC “punching through” a wave in an IRB.
Now, IRB driving is a lot of fun but isn’t easy. The boat itself is very light, with a 25hp outboard that gives it incredible power to weight ratio. Also due to the the fact they are constantly going through the surf/waves, and that they lack a keel, they tend to flip rather easily.
Here we can see one of our boats that flipped inthe surf.
This model of boat (above) is actually supposely more stable and harder to flip with its special pontoons on each side. I personally hate this design, it makes it much less manuouveurable in the surf, as turning is limited, and the pontoon’s make it impossible for 2 people to pull the boat up onto the beach after finishing. The pontoon’s dig into the sand, meaning that it takes 4 people to get it up the beach.
Hope you’ve enjoyed my little rant about SLSC and the big swim. I may do a follow up post about my lifesaving experiences some time in the future.
[Note: all photos are from last years swim; 2008]
I will try and upload some photos from this year’s swim if I can get a copy of them.