There's no photos - but I swear I was there! (Shellharbour)

In early January, in an effort to get into some kind of gear, I attended the Openwater + swim camp down south which some may know as the “warm” camp (compared to Vlad’s cold camp in April held in Melbourne). This camp is extremely well organised by the infamous Lawrence Stubbs, with the help of his amazing wife Elaine, and obviously our very own Vlad. There was a great variety of swimmers there, of all ages and various speeds.

Things kicked off with a casual swim at the “farm” on Friday evening for everyone to stretch their arms and find their swim buddies for the weekend. I hadn’t done anything like this in a very long time, but was very excited about what the weekend held as I had heard great reports.

I had been south of Sydney before but never made the effort to spend much time around this particular area – but it was stunning! We covered about 5kms that evening at a solid pace, with a few sprints chucked in by Lawrence for good measure. As we were swimming, I was trying quite hard as I wanted to be in a faster group that weekend so I would be pushed. To my absolute delight, two of the fast girls that swam in Vlads 10K were there, so was there was plenty of chasing to be done. This both sacred and excited me at the same time!

The next morning, we headed off to a tidal river – which was amazing. I tried to be quite crafty and swim as close to the edge as possible, so that I wouldn't get pushed back as hard by the tide that was moving in and out from the ocean inlet. I was working very hard to stay with one of the girls in particular (Tessa) – and we actually ended up pushing each other - which resulted in a great hit out for both of us. Nutrition was really being tested on this swim and, as I wolfed down a peanut butter cliff bar, I literally felt as if the power was going straight into my blood stream! I then had about 15-20mins of feeling absolutely epic and invincible, until the high wore off and we had to come back down the river for the millionth time. But it was a great hit out and I definitely was pushed outside my comfort zone.

That morning we covered something like 10-13kms (I'm giving you a range as I actually can't remember and wasn't wearing a watch)… but whatever the amount, it was worth so much more given the strength of the tide. We returned back to our cabins, ate, stretched and geared up for the afternoon swim. Oh, one of the coolest parts of the day was that we met Jarrod Port, the Olympic 10km Openwater swimmer that competed in Rio. What an absolute legend! Jarrod was so unassuming and if you saw his stroke under the water – WOW it was like poetry in motion. Fantastic! If you want to see just how epic this man is, check out his performance in Rio for the Men's Open Water 10km Marathon Final - holy sh*t!

The afternoon swim was deceiving. It was to be a chilled-out, rolling-the-arms-over kindof swim, after the morning hard long one. Oh but no.. it was a few long widths of the beach followed by sprints. There was a large industrial bridge for the coal / steel works that is dormant now – but it had huge columns spaced perfectly for interval sprints. How unfortunate for us. Other than not eating enough at lunchtime and being ready to eat my arm off, or constantly fantasising about the tiny mars bar I had in my swim bag, I actually enjoyed this swim and the crystal clears waters.

That evening we were fed like kings and queens. I went to bed with a swollen belly like a poisoned pup – happy out! We woke up and finished off the camp in the old town of Shellharbour – it was beautiful (once we got out of the dock area), the pace was good and my arms were feeling surprisingly okay. This session ended with a few fun sprints - all round a great group of people and ill definitely be back!

P.s. I don't have any photos sorry - I tried to stay off my phone and zone out from the world for the weekend!

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