by Emily Miers
The waters in and around Coogee Beach (NSW) have been familiar to me for as long as I can remember. As a child, a Sunday morning family ritual saw us making our way to Coogee to spend hours traversing the shore break and developing rivalries through swim challenges. Sunday after Sunday, the scope of the contests gradually increased and saw me compete in the 1km race in the inaugural Coogee Island Challenge at age 10. By age 11, I declared to my family that I would like to swim, not just to, but around Wedding Cake Island, approximately 800m offshore.
In the lead up to my first 2.4km Coogee Island Challenge I set myself two milestones which I had to successfully complete. The first involved swimming in a small local swim race to become accustomed to the hustle and bussle of the start line of a major community swim, and the second, swim 8 laps of Coogee Bay, being the equivalent distance. I safely ticked off both targets and in 2007, I lined up on the start line of the Coogee Island Challenge to embark on my first circumnavigation of Wedding Cake Island, and what an eye opening experience it was!
The memories of an Anzac Day dawn spent on Wedding Cake Island listening to a recital of In Flanders Fields before hearing echoes of bugles along the coast playing renditions of The Last Post will never be forgotten. I have swum with dolphins in the comfort of Coogee Bay, listened to the pulsed calls of migrating whales at the back of the Island, been surprised by the local seal sunning it’s flipper and I’ve raced a shark back to the beach until my hands scraped the sand.
I have travelled the world swimming in breathtakingly beautiful waters in Basque Country (France and Spain), the Amalfi Coast (Italy), and remote Fijian islands, however there really is no place like home. The waters off Wedding Cake Island are a swimmer’s sanctuary. On an ideal calm morning, clarity around the Island can provide a sensory overload, with hours to be spent exploring an abundance of sea life and rock formations. When conditions are more turbulent, the Island provides protection to nearby Wylies and Giles Baths which form part of a great swim route for what I describe as ‘easy mileage’, where kilometres fly by while being distracted by spectacular sights.
While Coogee and Wedding Cake Island can be host to heavenly conditions, calm winds and warm waters, some days the conditions can be levelling and should only be braved by experienced and skilled swimmers. In 2019, I swam the English Channel and faced a large swell which pounded my support boat and can only be likened to a spin cycle of the washing machine. While ‘digging deep’, I relied on the reassurance gained from countless hours swimming off Coogee beach facing tough tides, strong winds, jellyfish and on some occasions storms.
This versatility in surf conditions is a swimmer’s dream as no swim at Coogee is ever the same. Anyone who has regularly competed in the Coogee Island Challenge will be sure to relate, need I mention buoys that seem to be unreachable, cool water temperatures and the harsh shore break greeting exhausted swimmers.
During the recent COVID-19 induced lockdown, I was fortunate enough to swim every morning at Coogee Beach before settling in to a working from home routine. While swimming, I was constantly astounded by the number of fellow open-water loving swimmers who braved the winter chill to discover the paradise offered below the surface of the water at Coogee. During this time, swimming provided an opportunity to stay active, prioritise mindfulness and a safe way to check in with locals during what eventuated in an extended period of isolation.
As we approach the Spring edition of the 2021 Coogee Island Challenge, I would love to see the swimmers who enjoyed the ocean all around Australia during lockdown, to come and see what I enjoy so much about Coogee and what Wedding Cake Island has on offer.
In my opinion, there is no better race to combine ocean swimming with navigation, strategy, challenging conditions and friendship based rivalries. Building on my experiences since first competing in the Coogee Island Challenge in 2005 and as the Club Captain of Coogee Surf Life Saving Club, I offer four inside tips and reminders to anyone embarking on the swim.
Don’t go in underprepared. You will enjoy the swim a lot more if you have followed a training program in the lead up – it’s not too late nor is it time to deploy an extended taper.
Stay calm throughout the swim and don’t go too hard too early. The distance of the swim can be broken up into thirds – one third to get to the Island, one third to swim around the Island and one third to make it to the finish line.
Find a sustainable tempo. A component of the swim always poses challenging conditions so be sure to save something in your tank for then.
Be kind to your fellow swimmers. The Coogee Island Challenge is not the time to ignore common swimming courtesies by swimming aggressively. Everyone is returning from a racing hiatus so give people distance. Take the time to familiarise yourself with the course so you can safely navigate through other participants.
I’m looking forward to returning to the start line of the Coogee Island Challenge in December and I hope to see you there too.
Emily Miers is a passionate and experienced open water swimmer and lawyer. Emily has swum the English Channel (England to France) in 10 hours 51 minutes (2019), six solo crossings of the Rottnest Channel (Cottesloe to Rottnest Island) placing 3rd female in 2021 and is a two time consecutive winner of the South Head Rough Water Swim (Bondi to Watsons Bay). Emily is the Club Captain at Coogee Surf Life Saving Club and is an ambassador for the Children’s Cancer Institute.
Coogee Surf Life Saving Club in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, is excited to announce a new partnership with Register Now, in handling the online event registrations for the Coogee Island Challenge ocean swims, plus the new RunSwim Coogee event.
With easing NSW restrictions, and a revised date of December 5th 2021, online registrations for Coogee Island Challenge Summer ocean swim are now open via Register Now.
The Coogee Island Challenge (Summer edition) is the first ‘cut of the cake’ for swimmers looking to take on this epic island journey swim, with its Autumn equivalent swim to be held on Sunday 10th April 2022.
As part of the club’s digital transformation and to make the most of the current situation (aka the global pandemic), we have been working hard reviewing all of the elements and touch points of our major events and where improvements could be made.
When it came to managing registrations and data, we recognised the need for an efficient, streamlined platform to access data and safely process payments. As part of this activity, we put together a detailed tender process and we are pleased to announce that Register Now has been the successful candidate.
One of the key features that we are excited about is the Register Now API integration with Multisport Australia (official timing partner for the CIC) which will allow us to keep online entries open right up until the start of our events.
Multisport pulls the data directly from the Register Now database for precise timing and results - no paper entry forms, no USB drives, no outdated spreadsheets - just clean, accurate data.
Live, up-to-date and accurate data is so important for the smooth operation of these major events
We were also impressed with the level of customer service that Register Now provides, at the same time having full access to our database and registration form set up was of vital importance.
The Coogee Surf Life Saving Clubs Annual Report has arrived.
You can download it here, it's rather large so be patient!
Yesterday, we held a Special General Meeting to approve the adoption of an updated and modern constitution. With over 50 members voting 'Yes', the motion was granted.
Many thanks go to the members who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to update and modernize our club's constitution. It has been years in the making.
Thanks also go to the attendees for coming out on a Sunday, and those members dialling in from various locations around the state.
Building Company Xenia Constructions have been awarded the Contract to renovate the club's upstairs bar, kitchen, education and function rooms.
The Xenia Team have met on-site with club representatives and have started to make their presence felt with site perimeter fencing being erected as well as a site shed.
These initial works are the commencement of a 6 - 7 month build schedule, with the new facilities enabling the Club to deliver more Functions in a modern and flexible setting, supported by new kitchen and bar facilities, while still ensuring we can continue our core roles of education and lifesaving.
For everyone's safety all Members and the Public are advised not to enter the Club area, or access the construction site.
Randwick City’s beaches including Coogee, Maroubra and Clovelly Beaches will be made available for exercise purposes only as of Monday 20 April 2020.
All Randwick City beaches were closed three weeks ago on 28 March to discourage large groups congregating at the beach.
Measures will be in place to ensure the beaches are accessed for exercise purposes only including sand jogging and walking, swimming, surfing and other exercise activities.
People must maintain 1.5 metres between each other, limit groups to two people and move on once they have completed their exercise. Sitting or sun-baking on the sand will not be permitted.
“Living along the coast, I know how important our beaches are to the mental and physical health of so many in the community,” explains Mayor Danny Said.
Members are requested to please follow Councils guidelines in accessing the
beach and the ocean.
Coogee SLSC has just completed their 2020 State Titles campaign with some very impressive results by all or Teams
Our Nippers came 2nd in the State, which was our best result to date, and against some very tough competition, and topped the Sydney Branch results
Our Masters (over30s) team came 5th overall with a bunch of Gold, and some very solid effort in some tough conditions
Our Opens team came in the Top 10 of all the Clubs in the State finishing 9th overall with some excellent results in the R&R and a great effort by our younger team members.
Roll on the Australian Titles - Go Coogee