12 Swims 4 Mum - 12 x 5km ocean swims in 2019

By Lara Solomon Join Me

June 5km DONE!

As avid readers will know I am trying to do a 5km ocean swim every month this year, however, blips such as thyroid cancer have slightly slowed me down. Therefore, my June 5km swim on June 10th ended up being with friends rather than an organised event.

Winter in Manly this year has been day after day of calm flat seas, on the June long weekend it was so flat on the Sunday that we decided Monday June 10th (the public holiday) was the day for the June 5km swim. We started out the swim with 8 of us, but just 2 of us did the full distance…..

On super flat days it is a lovely swim down to Queenscliff and back, but that is only 3km, so instead we swam down to Queenscliff round the cliff to Freshwater beach. At Freshwater we lost 3 people who decided they had gone far enough and swam back. The 5 of us left swam over to the other side of the beach where the ocean pool is, and back to Manly. On arriving back where we started we were on 4km – huh! At this point 3 of the group went back into the beach, leaving just 2 of us….

Chrissie and I much as we wanted to go in on arrival back at Manly were intent on swimming 5km, so we set off again to the Bower break, which is about 500m away. On arrival there Chrissie said “I think I’ve got hypertherma, I feel funny”, she was however still talking, which I pointed out. She asked if she was still making sense, to which my reply was “No less than usual!  :)” Needless to say we swam on back across the bay to look at some fish before heading in.

We managed to clock up about 5.3km on our June 5km swim, here you can see the route we took. For some weird reason my watch only decided to start working at the green dot, when it should have started at the chequered flag…

Swimming in June is usually a pretty chilly time of year, I remember last year I was in my neoprene one piece at this time. On this swim the water was so flat and clear you could see the bottom the whole way, and once you were moving the temp was fine – I think that the water always feels cold whatever time of year you go in until you are used to it.

My June 5km swim unfortunately wasn’t the 5km Marseille swim that I had planned, this was due to a new business opportunity that came up at the last minute which meant I couldn’t be overseas for 3 weeks. My friends are in Marseille this weekend swimming along and will send me photos I am sure! Nearly as good as doing it myself (or so I keep telling myself!)

This 5km swim was just 6 weeks after my thyroid removal op, I felt good doing it, yes tired at the end, but I felt tired after swimming 5km before the op (pretty sure that’s normal!) I felt in May that I’d never get back to fitness or speed and wanted to test my endurance. I am really glad that I did it and not in too shabby a time keeping up with my swim buddy.

Now that we have hit winter swimming and I am in Australia getting in a 5km swim in July and August might be hard, but the water is still reasonably warm, and if I wear my neoprene booties I am sure that I am up to that goal. I might need to get some more hardcore swimming buddies though… lets see when the Marseille swimmers get home.

April 5km swim with Thryoid Cancer

Waking up at 5.15am is not my favourite time on a Sunday morning, even when it is the day I’m doing my April 5km swim. The harbour swim at Balmoral beach on Sydney’s lower north shore was a 7am start, so there was no other option. The only silver lining was that it was that the clocks went back an hour, in old time 6.15am!

flat tyre on the way to my April 5km swim

The early morning drive to the beach was not great, I got a flat tyre about 1km from home and 3km from the beach, but there wasn’t time to change the tyre. Plus I have never done it on my own and I didn’t want the stress of having to do it in 30 minutes to ensure I got to the beach on time to swim. 
Turns out it was a slow puncture, the moral of the story is check my tyres more often – one thing I am not very good at, I just get in the car and go!

Balmoral beach at sunrise

The view at Balmoral beach when I arrived was stunning. Why is it that the thought of getting out ot bed to see the sunrise does not appeal, but when you do it you wonder why you don’t do it more?

You can see in the photo above that two of the pink buoys are already out ready for my April 5km swim. This course was two laps each about 2.5km. Not my favourite type of swim, I much prefer to swim from a to b (as I am sure I have mentioned before) but due to my thyroid removal operation I didn’t have any choice on this swim – I needed to get one in before the op.

Leading up to this April 5km swim there have been a few hiccups. The bulging disc in my back in February forcing me out of the water for three weeks, then the thyroid cancer diagnosis at the end of March both have meant that, yes I have been swimming, but not enough to do my March 5km swim as well as this APril one. I plan to make up the March swim later in the year. In the meantime I felt that I had to get my April 5km swim in, otherwise there would be two to make up or maybe more, as I don’t know how long the operation will wipe me out for.

On the beach with lots of CanTooers (I’m in the black cossie) I didn’t think to get someone to take my photo, so I only have the back of my head!

I felt calm going into the race, despite the flat tyre, I wanted to smash last year’s time by 10 minutes, however I wasn’t totally confident that would happen. I knew that I was faster than when I swam it last year, but I don’t know if my fitness was quite as good.

During the race I wasn’t concentrating as much as I should have, I managed to take 4 wrong turns. That is I’d be swimming on my own get to a buoy and think I am sure that I turn here, turn only to have a water safety person come up to me about 25-50m later on a board to tell me I was going the wrong way! The first time I did this I thought I can make this up, but after the second and third time I knew it would affect my time. I know why I wasn’t concentrating, the lead up to the race getting diagnosed with thyroid cancer has resulted in me being more scatty, forgetting things, lack of concentration and general lack of focus. I don’t know why I didn’t think about this before I got in the water…..

5km ocean swimmers set off from Balmoral

While swimming I realised that deciding to do the swim was not my best decision, I just didn’t feel good in the water. Taking wrong turns definitely puts me off my game, but it was more than that. But, there was no way that I was going to get out early. I knew I could do the distance, hell I have already done two this year, what’s another! I pushed through the “you could take it easy” voice in my head and felt that the last 1km was the best part of the swim for me – mostly because it was a straight line then a right run so I didn’t need to think too much!

Home Straight

On the home straight turning right to take the last 400m into the beach I started to see more swimmers and there was one thought in my head – I am not going to let anyone overtake me! On that last 400m I overtook about 6 people coming into shore. I love overtaking people when I swim, and I remember really focusing on the pull of my stroke, I could feel my arm muscles working, not really tired just working. Over a two hour swim like this it is hard to push yourself for the whole time, especially if you are swimming on your own as I was. I usually check in with myself am I going hard as I can? will I regret not trying harder when I finish? Half of a 5km swim and indeed all long distance swimming is mental, and it wasn’t really a good mental day for me :)

 

On the Beach

Luckily for me this swim had a very short beach run, about 10m I think, as I really hate running up the beach in a cossie. They took the timer off my ankle and made me sit down as I was very very shaky, probably worse than when I did the Rose Bay 5km in January. I then had to go to the first aid tent where my wheels fell off. I got very upset and was crying, it was all just very overwhelming, I felt like the reality of my thyroid cancer diagnosis hit, along with the fact that I had just swum 5km with thyroid cancer. It was hard, very hard.

I want to be honest here on my blog in the hope that it will help others who are going through something similar. I did too much last Sunday, the emotional strain of being told I have thyroid cancer along with the physical and mental stress of swimming 5km (regardless of whether I have done it before) just tipped me over the edge. There was a lot of crying. Looking back I am not surprised, I felt I was very relaxed about my whole diagnosis and it had to come out sometime. Friends afterward were amazed that I had actually done it given the circumstances. My thoughts are that FACT: it wasn’t my best 5km, but I did it. I have another nine 5km swims to complete this year and there is lots of time to get faster and better results once I get the cancer removed and am fully recovered. I need to not beat myself up about this, that I did it was pretty amazing, I doubt anyone else swam 5km that day with cancer…..

Now it is time to enjoy my swimming until the operation, one more 5km swim has been ticked off and I have much more glamorous (Marseille) swims to come and I need to fcous on getting better for them.

THANK YOU for all the support so far, I do really really appreciate it, now help me KICK ovarian cancer by donating to my fundraising page 

Love, Lara xx

March swim postponed :(

I am sorry to say that I have had to postpone the March swim I was planning.  Would you believe that I am raising all this money for cancer research only to find out on Saturday that I have thyroid cancer!  Apparently, it is the best one to get, and they can just cut it out no chemo.  

I go to the specialist this week and will know more in terms of timings then, but in the meantime, I am just focusing on me and sorting this out.

See you in the water.

 

Lara xx

 

February 5km DONE!

The start of the Cole Classic 5km, my February swim (photo by Robin)

Yesterday morning was my second 5km ocean swim of the year, the Manly Cole Classic. As my February swim I was looking forward to it because it was on home turf. This was the start line at Shelly beach, you see that haziness over the water? That is sea mist, and it only got worse…..

My February Swim was Misty….

The start of the men’s wave for the 5km ocean swim (photo by Louise)

Above you can see the start of the men’s 5km wave, the sea mist was even worse when it was my turn to set off. That always makes for a hard swim, when you can’t actually see where you are going! I knew that the first buoy was somewhere near the yellow hut (in the back of the photo), but it was hard to spot that at the start.

My February swim was always going to be challenging, because I had to move house on the Friday before the swim, and I only did my last 5km a week ago. I have to say that I was exhausted when I woke up on Saturday morning after moving and spent most of the day relaxing on the couch in between some unpacking, and I went to bed at 8.30pm to get as much sleep as possible ready for the swim. Sunday morning at 6ammy alarm went off, and it was time to eat, drink (and be merry – later). Down at the beach I got my timing chip and left my bag at Manly to walk round to Shelly for the start. The mist at the start meant that I couldn’t see the first buoy, but I knew that I wouldn’t be in the lead and would be able to follow others – sometimes being slow has advantages!

The swim went over to Freshwater beach near the pool, then across and back to Manly coming in near the Manly surf club. The ocean wasn’t the flat pancake I would have ideally liked, but it also wasn’t crazy choppy. There were waves, it was hard to breathe to one side at times, but not too bad – but, I had taken 2 sea sickness tablets to be on the safe side. The water was really murky on the way over which wasn’t much fun, however, as soon as I turned and got to Queenscliff there was crystal clear water all the way home.

After my last swim I said about the mental challenge of long distance swimming, this time, depsite the tired moving muscles I felt strong and KNEW I had it. I always seem to start off slower than others and then it was about 1.5-2km in that I started to overtake swimmers as they started to flag – I love that, swimming next to someone and drawing level then pushing through to overtake. It gives me a real sense of achievement. I feel (odd as it may sound) like a horse in a race, and that is what I was saying to myself, “come on horsey lets take the next one”, past the purple horse, past the spotty horse and past a blue one and on to the finish line.

As I swam along the beach from Queenscliff on the return stretch it was fabulous knowing that I only had 1.5km to go, then at North Steyne surf club just 1km to go, then to the point and 100m in. The psychological benefits of swimming on home ground – I would really recommend it, it made the second half of the swim so much easier. Also this was my first 5km ocean swim where I didn’t have to do laps, MUCH better mentally for me to just do a journey swim. You don’t have the “here we go again” feeling of laps.

february swim finish line

Unfortunately at the end I hit a whole group of 1km ocean swimmers, who had had the start of their race delayed by 40 minutes due to the sea mist – it was apparently too dangerous for them – what the?!?!? Those guys were only swimming along the coast, not out to sea like the 5km swimmers, sometimes the thought process behind these decisions really makes me wonder….. Here I am coming in at the finish line, smiling this week rather than sticking out my tongue 

medal at the february swim

Everyone who completed the Cole Classic February swim got a medal, here I am with mine. I was a bit disappointed that all the medals were the same and mine didn’t say something like “5km superstar” on it, but I guess you can’t have everything. It took me 1 hour 44 minutes to do the swim, which is 14 minutes faster than when I did the 5km swim at Balmoral last March, which is great considering that Balmoral is very flat compared to Manly.

Plus the dizziness wasn’t nearly as bad this week, although I was a bit shaky straight after. I am now seeing a dietician to get all that sorted out before my March swim.

I can’t believe it, 2 swims down, just 10 to go! Love what I am doing? Please donate to my fundraiser, we have now raised over $10,000.

January 5km ocean swim - TICK!

Last Saturday (Jan 26th) I completed my January ocean swim – wooohooo! It was the 5km Sydney Harbour Splash at Rose Bay in Sydney.

It was a glorious day, the swim started at 8.01am for the women (guys went at 8am). There were just 35 women in the 5km swim and it was an in water start – this meant that I had to swim 300m to the starting buoy before the swim even started!

This was the in water start for the race, I think I am one of the pink hats on the left! (photo from Sydney Harbour Splash)

Starting the swim I knew that I could do the distance, I felt “ready”. I felt that I had done enough training, I was strong enough, mentally and physically. I also knew that I wouldn’t be breaking any speed records!

The course was across Rose Bay with the boats, along the bottom and then back to the start, that was supposed to be a 2.5km lap, for 5km I had to do it twice. However, the course actually ended up being about 5.5km – my longest swim yet! Below you can see what I was seeing while swimming, the harbour bridge…. it was pretty cool to see that while I was swimming along.

Sydney harbour bridge from Rose Bay
Official Sydney Harbour Splash photo

It took me 2 hours and 2 minutes to do the swim, that might sound like ages to be in the water, but the time actually for me goes very fast, it doesn’t feel like a chore. On the other hand I can’t honestly say that I loved every second, it does pass through my mind “why am I doing this?” My answer in case you are wondering….  Because I love swimming, love challenging myself and obviously because I want to make a difference for Ovarian Cancer suffers. I did think about my Mum a bit while I was swimming, she loved the water, and loved visiting Sydney to see me. So to swim past the harbour bridge made it a real iconic swim, especially as my January ocean swim was on Australia Day.

The first lap of the swim it was rather hard to follow the course because I couldn’t see all the buoys, and had to stop at one point and ask for directions from the water safety people. I find that VERY frustrating when doing an ocean swim, I get into a zone and then have to break that to work out where I am going, or double check I am going the right way. The second lap I knew where I was going so it was much easier.

Rose Bay swim finish
Finally finished!!! Not my best finishing pose – will work on that for next week!

I have to say that the last few hundred  of my January ocean swim felt like a long way, I think it was because of the in water start, I had to swim back past the start line to get to the finish – whereas usually you run in from the beach and finish on the beach. Finishing I felt tired, I could feel it in my arms and my legs started to cramp up about the 5km mark, but that was fine I just didn’t kick for a while until they relaxed again 

Once on dry land, I felt a bit dizzy, but sometimes that happens when you are walking after swimming for so long. I drank water and ate some protein balls thinking that would make me feel better. However, I still felt dizzy after that, and ended up going to the first aid people. The doctor there said it was dehydration due to it being a BIG swim and also a hot day. I drank A LOT of water and had to drink a can of coke for the sugar and felt much better.

It has made me realise that I probably didn’t drink enough water before the race, and need to make sure going forward that I have my water levels and food intake right. All the fun and games that come with doing longer, harder swims…. but I want to make it through the year, and not fall in a heap after the first swim or two. Plus I need to be ready for the 10km swim in April, that is a biggy. Meanwhile there is only 6 sleeps until my next 5km swim at Manly.

I swam today, slightly tired, but I am looking forward to the February swim, as there are no boats to dodge, lots of stretches of open water, home ground advantage. I know that I will be able to get into a great rhythm, lets just hope that it is a nice calm day.

If you are impressed with my swimming, I’d love you to donate to my Can Too fundraiser page to help me reach my $120,000 goal.

Christmas Swimming hats

One of my fundraisers is Christmas swimming hats.  These are made from thick silicon and come in 3 different designs:

- reindeer
- santa
- snowman

Each one is $12 with free shipping available here www.12swims4mum.com/shop

Help me reach my goal of $120,000 to fund an ovarian cancer researcher full time for a year and beat the cancer that killed my Mum.

Why I am doing 12 x 5km ocean swims in 2019

In 2015 my Mum died from ovarian cancer, it's a horrible cancer, hard to spot and usually diagnosed too late to fix.  I want to raise enough money to fund a researcher for a year to help cure ovarian cancer.

 
To do this I will be doing a 5km ocean swim every month in 2019, I did my first 5km ocean swim in March 2018, which is my longest swim to date.  2019 will see me doing a 10km swim in April and 5km swims every other month.  Please support me and help me raise the $120,000 to fund a researcher.
 
To be kept up to date on my swim go to the blog I have set up here www.12swims4Mum.com

Thank you to my Supporters

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Lara Solomon

$700

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Swim Hat Donation

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Lara Solomon

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Swim Challenge Funds

$500

Lara Solomon

$500

Hat Sales

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Lara Solomon

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Lara Solomon

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Topla Trust

Hat sales

$400

Lara Solomon

$360

Michelle Flanagan

$350

Swim Hat Sales

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Swim Hats

$208

Nisha Sachdev

Great swimming caps thank you! And what a journey you are having. Stay strong. Thanks again xx

$208

Maria Palozzi

Lara you are truly an inspiration.....you go girl!

$104

Helen Whitford

An awesome effort. My sister died of this cancer. I afmire you for doing something positive. I would love to join you for one of your swims later in the year.

$104

Vida Goodvach

All the best in your quest

$104

Anonymous

You are phenomenal here’s to your grit and determination xx

$104

Plum Play Australia

Good luck and good onya !

$104

Chris Sutherland

$104

Kate

Go La! Good luck tomorrow.

$100

Annie Crawford

Lara - you are astounding !!! I am in awe of you

$90

Lindy Saint

$83.20

Mel

congratulations for the 4 swims so far !

$56

Lara Solomon

$52

Simone Salier

You are inspirational and what a legacy for your mum. An amazing challenge but i know you are up to it!

$52

Alison Lipshut

Good evening Lara, I hope the operation was successful. I know a little about the thyroid as my little granddaughter was born with congenital hypothyroidism and will have to have medication for the rest of her life. Look after yourself. Regards Alison

$52

Seana Smith

Best wishes Lara, I've swum with Can Too before and hugely enjoyed it. Love what you are doing. Niki gave me a gift of some of your swimming caps. Go you!!

$52

Ben New

Lara, fabulous idea....good luck with everything!

$52

Melissa Richards

Great effort x

$52

Barbie Dillon

$52

Niki Carey

What you are doing is crazy and wonderful! Go superfish!

$52

Catfish

A legend in a silicon santa hat! Keep swimming the talk mate! So proud of ya!

$52

Alice Dillon

$52

Alice Dillon

$52

Barbie Dillon

$52

Niki & Ryan

Happy birthday mermaid! You are an inspiration!

$50

Polly Stonelee

$50

Barbara Roser

$50

Susie Webb

The jam is fantastic - it hard to share it!

$50

Helen Rubin

Of course, I will support your challenge,

$31.20

Inez Maurer

Lara you are a power pack of inspiration and energy. We will work something out

$31.20

Eimear

Hi Lara conditions permitting I’m keen to do the 2.5k swim with you on Sunday. So is my friend Rex. He will register separately.

$31.20

Caity

$30.16

Melanie Junghans

$30.16

Jules Macdonald

Lara - I'm in for the March Swim Challenge. You are amazing doing this! Keep on swimming, I know you can do it!

$30.16

Deb Thackeray

Have donated $29 as entry for the 7kms per week in February I have a speedonShinevfitness tracker not sure this is compatible with Strava?

$30.16

Cookie

Count me in for the March swim challenge :-)

$30

Yvonne Rogers

HI Lara, I would like to join the March swim challenge option A

$26

Edwina Harrisin

All the best with your training , it’s great to watch 👍😍

$26

Denise Wilson

$26

Kim Wilkinson

Well done Lara. Wishing you all the best in your efforts.

$26

Liz

Congrats Lara!!

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Marilyn Luchetti

You are an inspiration Lara.

$26

Liz

Well done Swim #2! Go LaLa

$25

Hamish Mccracken

$10

Banana Bread

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Lara Solomon

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Edwina Harrison

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