Bondi Bluewater Challenge ocean swim
Sun, 23 Feb 2020
The Bondi Bluewater Challenge harbours one of the suburb’s best kept secrets, but one that ocean swimmers have been privy to for years: the best time to swim is towards the end of summer.
The water is warm, the crowds have gone back to work, and preparations for the Bondi Bluewater Challenge are well underway.
It offers two swims (1km and 2.1km) and a 4km soft sand run – that’s four laps of the famous Bondi beach.
The Bondi Bluewater Challenge falls on the last weekend of summer (officially), so the club is turning the event into an end of summer party!
Chill out after the event with friends at the newly-refurbished Blue Room – upstairs at the surf club – with a drink and something to eat overlooking the course you’ve just swum or run… the perfect way to end the day.
The perfectly timed swim
Once Christmas, the New Year, and January pass, beaches around Sydney begin to quieten down.
But to those in the know, February and on is prime time for ocean swimming.
Ocean temperatures are at their warmest around February and March, and with the crowds gone, it should offer great conditions for ocean swimming.
The Bondi Bluewater Challenge is the perfect chance to take advantage of that.
If you’ve been hesitant to take on an ocean swim for this reason, fear no hyperthermia; ocean swimming at this time of year is perfect.
Both of the swims in the Bondi Bluewater Challenge start mid-beach, offering a different kind of journey around Bondi (than the North Bondi swims).
The main 2.1km swim follows a champagne glass-shaped course.
It runs out from in front of the Bondi Surf Club, out towards McKenzies Point, across towards Ben Buckler at the northern end of Bondi, and then back in towards the Bondi Surf Club near the centre of the beach.
The 1km course also starts mid-beach, but instead offers a straight swim out past the break, around two turning buoys and back in to shore.
Both these swims offer a different view of Bondi Beach, and you are unlike to face conditions like these in other swims.
The 4-km beach soft sand run, new in 2017, is for the ‘land crabs’ (that’s what clubbies call the beach sprinters who don’t really like swimming) and consists of four laps of the golden sands of the iconic Bondi Beach.
1km small wine glass
The 1km course starts mid-beach, straight out past the break, inside the chute, around two turning buoys, and back to shore inside the chute again.
2.1km full wine glass
The main 2.1km swim follows a champagne glass-shaped course that runs out from in front of the Bondi Surf Club, out towards McKenzies Point, across towards Ben Buckler at the northern end of Bondi, and then back in towards the Bondi Surf Club near the centre of the beach.
4km beach run
The 4-km beach run is your classic soft sand run, and there’s really only one way to do it on Bondi Beach, and that’s four laps north to south, south to north like the daily beach joggers do (get down in the mornings to see the regulars slugging it out).
Video: Soft sand running
While you’re there
After all that talk of wine glasses, it’d be rude not to have one to celebrate after your swim.
You’re spoilt for choice within striking distance of the beach. You can stay on the beach and have a glass upstairs at the surf club’s Blue Room (recently renovated with the best views in town), the very hip Bucket List or venture north to the North Bondi RSL, behind to Ravesis (across the street on the corner of Hall & Campbell) or south to the Icebergs club.
All these places also serve coffee and food, so either way you’ll be covered.
After brunch, explore the inner streets of Bondi off Hall street for fantastic shopping, hang out and people watch at Icebergs pool, or for the very energetic, take a walk along the coastal walk towards Bronte.
Travel and parking
Hopefully by this time in the season the parking will be better… but just the thought of a sunny day will fill up every last spot before sunrise.
There is beach parking along Elizabeth Drive and behind the Pavillon, 2-hours parking within a couple of blocks of the beach, and free parking lightyears from the beach (but the walk to the beach will be a good warm up). Try Military Road up past the golf course in North Bondi.
The buses to Bondi are the 308, 381, 333. The 389 also comes to Bondi, but you’ll need to get off on Hall Street or at the North Bondi terminal and walk.
If the weather is looking great, get there early as it’ll be heaving.