Andre Slade

Andre is the owner of OceanFit with over 20 years in the swimming education, lifeguarding and coastal safety industry.

Posts by Andre Slade

Complete Eastside Radio Surf Safety Interview Series

Sit back, grab a coffee and listen to OceanFit’s Andre Slade discuss a range of surf safety topics with Dan from Eastside Radio.

RIP CURRENTS

In this Eastside Radio Interview Andre from OceanFit talks about Rip Currents. What are they? How do you spot them? and How to you survive one?

OCEAN ANXIETY

In this Eastside Radio Interview Andre from OceanFit talks about Ocean Anxiety. What is it? What causes it? How can you overcome it?

SHARKS

In this Eastside Radio Interview Andre from OceanFit talks about Sharks. Should you be concerned? When is the best time to swim?

BEACH WEATHER

In this Eastside Radio Interview Andre from OceanFit talks about Beach Weather. Learn about what influences ocean conditions and when are the best times to swim at the beach.

OCEAN RESPONSIBILITY CODE

In this Eastside Radio Interview Andre from OceanFit talks about The Ocean Responsibility Code. Learn the inspiration behind the The Code and the positive guidelines it promotes so you can enjoy a fun and safe day at the beach.

Read the full Ocean Responsibility Code here

FAMILY BEACH DAYS

In this Eastside Radio Interview Andre from OceanFit talks about Family Beach Days. Get simple beach safety advice for the whole family and a handful of really helpful tips to make your family day at the beach fun and safe.

6 Ocean Swimming Products I Couldn’t Do Without

Given I have been ocean swimming (albeit more recreationally than in events) for most of my life, and more recently as the owner of OceanFit teaching up to six hours a day at the beach, I spend a lot of time at the beach.

There’s six ocean swimming products I swear by, on top of various swimsuits, that I just couldn’t live without when it comes to visiting the beach, and enjoying my ocean swimming. They just make things easier, more comfortable and fun!

Wetsuit Top

When you’re spending a lot of time in the water it’s always great to be able to keep warm. Wearing just a wetsuit top is a great way to keep your upper body core warm but still keeping the lower body free. The increased buoyancy also helps make swimming easier and if you’re teaching it allows you to float well while instructing. I wear a T1 Wetsuit Top and when it’s really cold, or I’m staying in the water for extended periods of time I wear Blueseventy full wetsuits – If you’re predominately swimming you need to buy swimming/triathlon wetsuit brand.

External Key Lock

Never again do you have to worry about leaving your car keys or valuables on the beach while you swim. With this mini lock-up safe you can lock your valuables in the car (or scooter as is sometimes the case with me), then lock the car keys in the lockup safe which has a pin code. I use this every day and sometimes even use it at home when I’m heading out for a run – you just lock it to the fence outside. The brand I use is KeySafe.

Goggles

Googles are a must for ocean swimming. And I’m not talking about the pair you bought 2 years ago which you are lovingly holding onto – throw them out. Get yourself a new pair of googles and replace them regularly. A good pair of goggles will let you see above and below the water and experience all that’s amazing about the marine environment. I wear Vorgee Missiles, they’re the best surf swimming goggle I’ve come across – they won’t come off when dolphin-diving or bodysurfing. There are other great open water swimming goggles too – like the polarized Osprey from Vorgee.

Sunscreen

If you’re spending a lot of time outside you need to be wearing sunscreen, if you’re ocean swimming you need good waterproof sunscreen. Buy a few tubes and leave one in your swim bag, car, home etc that way you’ll never be without it. I use a funky sunscreen called Sunpouch, it comes in cool little ‘pouches’ with designer prints so they look good in your bag too!

Swimmers Ear Spray

If you’re swimming a lot, and particularly if you’re swimming in the ocean in dodgy water (who can wait a few days after rain, really?) then you’ll want to protect your ears. Other than drying them out after your swim you can help prevent and relieve symptoms of swimmers ear with over the counter ear sprays. I just happen to use Audiswim which is a micro spray – it basically evaporates the water in your ears.

Plastic Tub

This is a new item for me this year, when I ran a clinic at Thirroul SLSC at the start of summer all the nippers had them and I thought they were fantastic. Basically they’re a large plastic tub with handles, they’re better than bags in that they don’t leak water when you throw your wet items in it. I like them so much I have 3 in the back of my car. They’re also great for lessons because you can spot them amongst the crowd when you’re hunting for your stuff!

Disclaimer: No brands have paid to be mentioned in this article. I just use them.

Dogpaddle: It’s Sink Or Swim, You’re More Confident Than You Think

Picture of a black and gold Gordon Setter puppy.When I was young my dad bought me and my brothers home a puppy. Tosh we called him, from his original litter name ‘Macintosh’. As it turns out, due to his keen nature later in life to regularly jump the fence, squash mum’s garden and disappear for hours on end, Tosh didn’t last long with our family.

But there was one lesson that I learnt from Tosh, with the help from my dad, that helps tell the story of ‘sink or swim’.

We got Tosh at the end of summer. He was just a little wee thing – with massive feet. By the next summer Tosh had eaten his way, including through most of mum’s furniture, to a healthy size.

Being a family keen on swimming and sailing it was only right, we thought, that we teach Tosh to be confident in the water. Unfortunately there weren’t any canine learn to swim centre’s around our town, so it was up to us to teach him.

Dad piled us all in the van with Tosh in the back and we headed for Kaiti Beach. It was where we went sailing and the beach had a large reef with a channel we used to sail through to get out into the ocean.

Tosh enjoyed being at the beach, he ran around, sniffed everything a dog sniffs and chased sticks – it really was a dog’s life.

Except Tosh didn’t chase the sticks into the water, sure he toyed with the idea, getting in up to the top of his legs, but after that he could only watch as his stick floated around aimlessly.

Sometimes he’d watch other dogs’ race out through the water, happily swimming their way towards the stick meant for him. These dogs would bring the stick back to the beach very happy with themselves. Sometimes I’m sure I could sense a smirk on these dogs’ faces towards the direction of Tosh…

We were never really sure why Tosh wasn’t so keen on the water. The major problem we had was we couldn’t ask him, and he sure wasn’t telling us. So dad had an idea to find out whether he was just finding it hard to take the next step.

We walked Tosh out over the rocks towards the end of the channel. Tosh didn’t suspect a thing, and before he knew it dad had picked him up and thrown him in the channel! For Tosh it truly was, sink or swim.

Tosh had never been in the deep water before. Up until now he hadn’t taken his feet off the ground, well except to jump the fence at home and bolt it up the road, mum in chase.

We didn’t know what to expect, we were all there on hand if he needed help, but it wasn’t required. Tosh had seemingly faced his reservations about the water, and was actually enjoying it, no doubt he would have surprised himself. I think my brother threw a stick, which he went and retrieved right then and there, before cruising back to the beach.

From that day on Tosh loved the water. We couldn’t keep him out. In fact we’re sure that on those times when he disappeared after that for hours on end, he had actually run off to the beach for a swim, or the pool for some laps.

Can you relate to Tosh? Are you hesitant about entering the ocean, do you have fears or anxieties that are keeping you out of the water, or from taking your ocean swimming to the next level?

The chances are you’re a lot more confident in the ocean than you think you are, you just need someone to help you realise it. At OceanFit we can help you discover where your real confidence level is, because the chances are it’s a lot higher than you think it is.

Where To Swim When Not Between The Flags

For some people in the lifesaving world this blog will be controversial.

The thought of promoting anywhere else to swim at a beach except for between the red and yellow flags would be enough to make them turn grey.

The red & yellow flags mark out the safer area to swim and are patrolled by lifeguards and lifesavers.

The last Newspoll research into this area conducted by Surf Life Saving Australia found that 93% of people in Australia knew to swim between the red and yellow flags – so why don’t anywhere near that percentage actually swim between them?

Coastal safety statistics tell us that the majority of drowning deaths occur on unpatrolled beaches or during unpatrolled times – and that the largest demographic is males, specifically young invincible males.

Rip Currents also account for a large portion of drowning deaths and most people wouldn’t be able to spot one if they were walking into it. The first time beach-goers notice a rip on a beach is when they’re caught in one.

I don’t have any hard facts for this, but I would suggest these are the reasons people don’t swim between the flags:

  • Too many people in the area
  • Hate being corralled like sheep
  • Not on my local beach
  • Only up on the weekends
  • Flags not up early enough or late enough
  • Not on remote beaches visited
  • The best waves are outside them

So is it really that bad to swim outside the flags?

It really comes down to your ability to cope with the conditions on the day.

If you’re a strong swimmer, confident in the surf and you’re swimming with a mate (always a good idea whether between or outside the flags) then you can pretty much swim where you want to – within your limits of course.

On a beach that’s patrolled by lifeguards (or our volunteer lifesavers) it’s not the end of the world. You will be watched no matter where you are on the beach, however, the closer to the flags or lifeguard towers you are the better. You can’t bank your life on being seen, but you’ll have a better chance. And all this is assuming you can handle being whistled at by the lifesavers all day – not quite the beach experience you were after, I’d imagine.

On unpatrolled beaches you’re really swimming at your own peril. Chances are there is no professional help in easy response time, and if you got into trouble you’d be relying on your mates or your own ability.

Relying on your mates isn’t a great idea. Many would be rescuers become victims themselves, and you don’t want that on your conscience.

So where do you swim when you don’t want to swim between the flags?

You’ll want to swim exactly where the flags would have been placed if there was a patrol operating – on a sand bar.

TAMARAMA BEACH: An almost perfect model of a sand bar with rip currents either side. This example also has a channel in front of the sand bar.

How do you locate a sand bar? This will be the area of the beach where it’s shallow and the waves are breaking consistently. The water here is more likely to be coming towards the shore as the waves bring water to the beach.

Remember, waves break in shallow water. So, the further out they’re breaking, and the longer the area of white-water the better – that means it’s a sand bank.

Conversely, if there’s a patch on the beach where waves are not breaking consistently, and there’s not much white-water around, then this is most likely the location of a Rip Current – so keep away.

This example is at Palm Beach at the start of the Palm to Whale Beach Ocean Swim. Can you spot the sand bars? What about the rip current?

You are likely to find a sand bar located between two rips. If you’re swimming on the sand bank and the water is sweeping you along the beach it’ll be pulling you towards a rip, so keep in the middle of the sand bar.

When you arrive at any beach you should observe the conditions for at least five minutes. This will give you a better picture of what the waves are doing over time and help you establish the cycle and consistency of the conditions.

Once you’re happy that you’ve spotted a sand bar (and the rips if you can) then you can go for a swim – but be careful.

Have fun and stay safe this summer – Know your Ocean Responsibility Code (except in this case you’ve chosen not to ‘Always swim at beaches patrolled by lifeguards’).

 

How Far Could You Swim Out To Sea?

I had a private lesson today in which I was helping a participant overcome her ocean anxiety.

One of the challenges was the transition from the relative safety of the shallow water, to the deeper water behind the wave zone.

Today we made it out a lot further than yesterday, we hung out for a short time to acclimatize, and then when the anxiety came back we made our way back to shore.

We’ll keep working on this and in no time she’ll be swimming out through the waves and along the back like a seasoned pro!

The sun rising on the horizon over the ocean.
Swimming off towards the horizon – how far could you swim before you got too anxious?

But this got me thinking…