If you are thinking of dabbling in Ocean swimming, then this race might be for you.
The biggest concern with Ocean swimming is safety as you are going to be all alone in the sea and anything can happen. The famous 19.7 km Rottnest Channel swim (at Perth, Australia) for example, requires all solo swimmers be accompanied by a proper boat and skipper. I was quoted AUD 4,000 just for the boat and skipper, and that has immediately put me off doing that swim.
The Bali Ocean Swim on the other hand is organised by the Bali Lifeguards and believe me, the Lifeguards are everywhere on the swim course. Its even safe for the blind participants that did the shorter 1.2km event. I was last in the 10km event and at least one kayak was shadowing me the whole way. Sometimes there would be an additional kayak and even a boat shadowing me. I was so grateful for this that I donated half a million rupiah after the event to the Lifeguards' association.
The Bali Ocean Swim is a Charity Event. The entry fee and donations all go to charity. When you do the reporting on race morning, all the staff behind the registration table were in wheelchairs. After the race, so many charities were honoured. One gets a very good feeling doing this event.
The entry fee is only USD 100. This is really nothing compared to the cost of hiring a boat that is required for some races. Registration can be done at the lobby counter of the race hotel (Bali Garden Beach Resort) the evening before the event. I think one could even register on race morning itself.
RACE LOCATION, HOTEL and FLIGHTS
The race is held at the Bali Garden Beach Resort which is the official hotel. Its located essentially at the heart of Kuta which is the most happening place in Bali. Other Hotels, places to eat and stroll around, abound. Don't worry, you won't be bored.
If you have been to Kuta or anywhere else in Bali, I'm sure you would have noticed that the Bali Ocean appears so inviting. It is indeed a lovely ocean to swim in.
We stayed at the Kuta Station Hotel which is just across the narrow road (Jl. Kartika) and has a 40m pool. There are many other hotels, of course. With the internet, you can take your time choosing the hotel and flights that suits your budget. I found that MAS was actually much cheaper than the budget airline.
Bali has a very nice new airport now and Kuta is only a short taxi ride away, so its very convenient.
THE ACTUAL SWIM, NUTRITION and SIGHTING
The 10km event is the first to start at 9 a.m. Its already quite hot and you do have to keep on taking water from the kayaks. Your personal nutrition can be placed on the last turnaround traditional boat but I carried my gels in my swim wear.
Its four laps of about 2.5km per lap. The ocean was pretty flat for my first 3 laps but it was bouncing on my last lap (probably because I was too slow).
I estimated a four hour swim and started slowly. I was in last placing right from the gun. I didn't do my sighting properly initially and went slightly off. It was only after two laps I realised that the buoys were actually in a perfectly straight line.
I finished the swim in 3.5 hours because the swim was only 8.6km according to my new Garmin 920XT.
The winner was a woman in about 1 hour 50 mins which is faster than the FINA World Championships winning time at Kazan. So the swim is definitely short.
THE FINISH (the only downside)
Until now I have no idea where the actual finish line was. The swim start gantry was no longer on the beach when I finished. I remember seeing someone on the beach but I kept on running to the registration tables. They were already giving away the prizes, The Race Announcer / Director did acknowledge me, the last person was finishing, everyone looked and clapped a bit, but that was it.
In Triathlons, the finish line is the happiest moment of your life. But there wasn't even a Finisher's medal this time.
But overall I was very very happy with the event and was more than happy to give a small donation to the Lifeguards who made sure I wasn't alone at the back of the race.
The next race is on 3 July 2016.
THANK YOU TO THE LIFEGUARDS AND ORGANISERS
Buoys and traditional boats used to mark the swim course
Tip and Me
The 10km start. Maybe 20 participants finished
Well this was my best placing. 2nd Last at the start
The shorter races had more participants
I suppose this was the finish line!!
The wonderful lifeguards