Palm To Whale Beach, The Macquarie Big Swim 2015

Macquarie Big Swim Palm Beach to Whale Beach_14
Waiting for the Big Little Swim 1km swimmers to come in, Palm Beach last Sunday

The Big Swim isn’t called the Big Swim for nothing.

It’s big.

Last Sunday, I parked the car at the playing fields near Whale Beach and jumped on the shuttle bus down to Palm Beach. I got there at 9am and saw the last waves of the 1km Little Big Swim setting off.

Macquarie Big Swim Palm Beach 2015 life guards
Surf life savers on the beach, I softened this photo a bit and love the effect

Myself and my camera and the Can Too group I have been training with were here for the Big Swim, a race (a swim not a race for me) from Palm Beach to Whale Beach. 

Margaret Anne was on the beach, she’s a Can Too fundraiser extraordinaire. She has run and swum and has raised a huge amount of money for Cure Cancer Australia. She cheers Can Tooers out and then was there at the end when we swam in yelling into her megaphone ‘Go Can Too!’

Macquarie Big Swim Palm Beach to Whale Beach_13

Macquarie Big Swim Palm Beach to Whale Beach_12
1km swimmer strides ashore through the waves

We had a briefing at 9.30am, our swim coach talked us through the course, told us to expect chop and turbulence as we reached Whale Beach, encouraged us to dig deep.

Annie, who started Can Too, reminded us that however scared we feel and however hard we have to work, our fear is nothing like the feelings that ourselves and our friends and family feel when they get a diagnosis of cancer. Our fundraising is making a difference.

Macquarie Big Swim Palm Beach to Whale Beach_10
1159 people finished the course in 2015
Macquarie Big Swim Palm Beach 2015 Can Too
This hilarious friend has helped my swimming so much over the past three years
Macquarie Big Swim 2015 checking surf
I joined some others to check out the surf, there were plenty of waves but no shocking dumpers
Macquarie Big Swim 2015 Palm Beach
The elite swimmers wave started first and fast
Palm Beach Big Swim 2015
Looking at Palm Beach and swimmers still coming out

I’m always a bit nervous about going out through the waves.  There were some big sets coming through and I had to swim under about seven or eight quite big breaking waves. But there was room to breathe in between them and eventually I got out the back.

No photos of going through the surf, I was flat out making my way through.

Macquarie big swim 2015 leaving Palm Beach
But I did tread water after I’d got to the first buoy and take some shots of the swimmers
Macquarie Big Swim Palm to Whale Beach 2015
Here’s the first pink buoy, it was often hard to see the next one, so I just followed the other swimmers
Macquarie Big Swim Palm to Whale Beach 2015
It’s cool to swim right round this headland, and worthwhile stopping and looking around every now and then – wonderful houses up there
Macquarie Big Swim Palm to Whale Beach 2015
And finally… there’s Whale Beach, still a fair way off but within sight
Macquarie Big Swim Palm to Whale Beach 2015
Here’s a swimmer ploughing right past me!
Macquarie Big Swim Palm to Whale Beach 2015
Eventually I got to the last buoy and then swam straight in to the beach, still a fair way off here

These photos give no indication of the swell that we were swimming through round the headland. Nor of the huge crashing waves that awaited us at Whale Beach.

I was too busy staying safe to take any photos.

A Can Too coach swam me in, telling me when to go with the waves and when to duck back under the dumpers. I was so grateful for the help. The last two waves did chuck me around a wee bit and a cramp struck my calf on the very last wave.

But then I was up and running through the exit. Hooray!

Macquarie Big Swim Palm Beach to Whale Beach_11

I found some friends and went up to the tent on the beach. Wearily.

Macquarie Big Swim Palm to Whale Beach 2015
Found my team captain and – miracle – a wee glass of champagne. Just the ticket


Macquarie Big Swim Palm to Whale Beach 2015
And some much needed grub!

My results

Swam the race in 1.17.36

1091st in a field of 1159

The fastest swimmer came in in 32 minutes and 55 seconds!!

The last time I did this swim was in 2013.

That time I took 1.24.54 and was 1050th in a field of 1058.

Hey, I got faster!


But it’s all about the swim, it’s not a race for me. I enjoy the swim and feel good at the end. I love the exhileration of it all, and the cameraderie.

And the Big Swim is the polar opposite of my general life here in the Sydney suburbs, let’s face it.

Have you been in the ocean recently?

Do you love a swim too?


Share with a friend

Join the Conversation


    1. says: Seana Smith

      You’d love it Mairi, people have told me there are all sorts of swims happening in Scotland, I shiver just thinking about that.

  1. says: Morag Smith

    Soshi, that is amazing. Like Mairi I so wish the sea was warmer here as I just love swimming in it. Maybe time to get a wetsuit again …. or a tub of lard!!

    1. says: Seana Smith

      Go for the wetsuit Mo – hate the thought of washing lard off!! Remind me never to swim the Channel, it sounds so hard, all those tides. I’d love to go overseas to have a swim but Tonga sounds better.

  2. says: Paul Every

    Hi Seana, I just googled “Palm to Whale swim 2015 photos” and found your report!(#stalkeralibi 😉 )

    Congrats on both a strong swim and some impressive photography, beautifully capturing the essence of the event from the swimmer’s perspective.

    You have, however, set a standard for more thorough photographic documentation in 2016, which should include battling through a monster shore break at Palmie and bodysurfing a 2 metre wave to the sand at Whale.

    Wonderful meeting you before the event. I would have liked to hear about your swim afterwards, but unfortunately I missed seeing you come in.

    Hope to catch you again at another swim.

    1. says: Seana Smith

      Hello Paul! Good to hear from you, that’s lucky. I probably got in at least 30 minutes after you did… and I headed straight to that wee glass of champagne. Do have a wee ambition to take some photos in the foamy waves… but discretion had to be the best form of valour on this occasion. Did you get in at Whale beach OK?? I got tumbled a wee bit at the end, but had the Can Too coach with me through most of the waves and was better than expected really.

      Bondi next, I hope, but that’s so different not goingr ound the headland.

      Happy swimming and see you at the next one.

    1. says: Seana Smith

      Hello Sonia, I was really quite adventurous before I had the kids, lots of scuba diving around Scotland and England and all over… doing these swims gives me a glimpse of adventure that has been sorely missed… love a bit of exhileration in a suburban life.

    2. says: Paul Every

      Seana, I wasn’t that far in front of you.

      I managed 55 minutes, but given that I didn’t spend 22 minutes snapping photos, I’m quite prepared to accept that you may have chicked me! 😉

      Was able to catch a wave in at Whale which was a bonus.

      Perhaps Bilgola next Sunday.

Leave a comment
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *