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   20 episodes



The Pod: Ocean Swimming

Marc West

20 episodes

Nov 23, 2020

Ocean swimming... with Chloe McCardel 

Chloe McCardel is probably the world's best ocean swimmer. She holds the record for the world's longest unassisted ocean swim (124.4 km), has crossed the English Channel 37 times, was inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 2016 and was International Marathon Swimmer of the Year, 2014 & 2015. Her achievements are too long to fully describe! She is also an acclaimed coach, and in November is giving free online English Channel solo swim advice talks for which you can register here.

Image from Chloe's Facebook page.

Songs in this episode - all licensed under a Creative Commons License:

Oct 21, 2020

Ocean swimming... the Coals to Newcastle 

Craig Clarke is a champion Australian surf life-saver who has had a dream of swimming the English Channel since watching Des Renford in the 1970s. He had a slot booked in for this year, and then Covid-19 hit. Undeterred, not wanting to waste the training, and to raise money for Beyond Blue, Craig developed the 36 km “Coals to Newcastle” ocean swim on the Australian East Coast, a swim leg that has never been attempted before.  The course dates back over 100 years to when coal ships loaded at Catherine Hill Bay jetty (where the swim started) and transported coal into Newcastle Harbour past Nobbys Lighthouse (finishing point for the swim). It also has a great deal of personal significance to Craig as a coal-miner, with Newcastle being Craig’s home town and Swansea Belmont SLSC his club.

Craig also raised as astonishing $32000 for Beyond Blue. The swim took 12 hours and you can read more about the swim at the Coals to Newcastle Facebook page.

Image from Newcastle Herald.

Songs in this episode - all licensed under a Creative Commons License:


Sep 21, 2020

Ocean swimming... in extreme environments 

Heather Massey is a senior lecturer in the Extreme Environments Research Group at the University of Portsmouth. Heather has done extensive work into the human response to cold water, both the physical and mental effects, and her areas of research interest include thermal, altitude and survival physiology.

She's also an amazing ocean swimmer, having swum the English Channel and around Jersey, among other things. And has a podcast called Humans in Extremes, interviewing extraordinary guests who have done extraordinary activities in extreme environmental conditions.

Image from Heather on Twitter.

Songs in this episode - all licensed under a Creative Commons License:

Aug 12, 2020

Ocean swimming... with Bold and Beautiful 

Bold and Beautiful are an informal Sydney swim group for all ages and abilities who meet out the front of Manly Life Saving Club every day and swim at 7am, 7 days a week from Manly to Shelly Beach and back.

Dorset Sutton is a philanthropist and along with Bold and Beautiful has been a key part of Operation Crayweed, an effort to bring crayweed back to Sydney beaches - you may remember this from the last episode. Dorset, along with wife Jenny, runs the Lim-Sutton Initiative which is focused on marine philanthropy.

Image from Bold and Beautiful

Songs in this episode - all licensed under a Creative Commons License:


Apr 28, 2020

Ocean swimming... and Places We Swim 

Caroline Clements and Dillon Seitchik-Reardon run the beautiful website Places we swim and have just released a book, also called Places we swim, a travel guide for water-loving people, exploring Australia through swimming. The book takes us to beaches, pools, waterfalls, lakes, hot springs and gorges all over the country. Caroline and Dillon visited hundreds, if not thousands, of swimming holes to explore Australia's wild beauty and to curate the absolute best of every place they visited. Make this your list of places to swim when we come out of isolation!

Image from @placesweswim

Songs in this episode - all licensed under a Creative Commons License:

Mar 26, 2020

Ocean swimming... and COVID-19 

Hannah Sassi is a virologist from the University of Sydney who studies the persistence of viruses in the environment. She is also an ocean swimmer who trains with BondiFit, whose local beach is Maroubra. Right now during the Coronavirus pandemic, many swimmers are wondering whether it is OK to go for a swim. At the time of recording, a lot of world is in lockdown or headed towards it, so some of this is a moot point. If the local laws say don't swim, then obviously, don't swim!

In summary, should you swim right now?

  • In public pools: NO
  • In ocean pools: NO
  • In the ocean: If you take social distancing very seriously. But don't be a dick, if the beach is closed or you're in lockdown, don't swim.

While a properly cleaned pool will kill the virus, the virus can live for a long time in the surrounding environment and everywhere you go on your way to the pool. And in such places where people exercise, people tend to be breathing heavily. Viruses can persist for a longer period of time in fresh/salt water, and so there are further risks with ocean pools, especially those that don't get flushed or cleaned regularly. If you want to swim, swimming at some distance from others in the ocean is the way to go.

Songs in this episode - all licensed under a Creative Commons License:

Mar 9, 2020

Ocean swimming... and event organisation 

The Cole Classic is one of Sydney's oldest and largest ocean swims. It has a storied history and in 2020, ownership of the swim moved from Fairfax to Manly Surf Life Saving Club, meaning essentially a whole new swim had to be organised. 

Simone Hill is a member of Manly SLSC and runs her own company My Crew Travel. Simone coordinated the volunteers and logistics for the day, and helped create a new community vibe around the event.

Songs in this episode - all licensed under a Creative Commons License:

Jan 9, 2020

Ocean swimming... and The Memory Pool 

Therese Spruhan must be one of Australia's experts on the cultural impact of the swimming pool. Her recent book, The Memory Pool, is a fabulous nostalgic anthology bringing together reflections on the childhood swimming pools of 28 Australians including Trent Dalton, Leah Purcell, Shane Gould, Bryan Brown and Merrick Watts. You can taste the hot chips, smell the chlorine and feel the burning concrete. For many kids, the local pool is a place of imagination, freedom, friendship and romance. 

Therese is also the author of Swimming pool stories, a blog to which every Australian swimmer should subscribe!

We had a lovely chat at Therese's new local pool, the Fanny Durack Aquatic Centre in Petersham, about all things swimming pools. You can hear kids splashing in the background, but also the occasional flight overhead and a little bit of wind - it's very real! I've left it long, so put the kettle on, go for a drive or a long run, and dive into the memory pool!

Songs in this episode - all licensed under a Creative Commons License:

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