Sunday morning, 7:45am, at Bonbeach Beach is both warm and cool. A slight breeze flicks at our hair, tickling our shoulders as the sun glares down, peeking out between the slim cloud line, reminding us that sunscreen is a must. We manage to get a carpark on Monica Avenue; a little residential road that ends with a set of wooden steps covered in sand, and the smell of salt water.
As we take the last steps of Monica Avenue our hearts race and excitement bubbles. The sand of Bonbeach is littered with tiny white shards of shell, perfect for children to run around and collect. We can feel them now, soft and peaceful beneath our feet. A large red banner sits in front of Bonbeach Life Saving Club. An event is happening here today: The Bonbeach Open Water Swim.
Bypassing the banner, we walk up a small boat ramp, turn left, and enter the club. First stop: the bathrooms. Second stop: registration. An elderly lady smiles at us as she asks what our names are, and what our t-shirt size is. Grinning, we walk past the kiosk and back outside, a goody bag, grey race t-shirt and race timing strap in hand.
The beach is busier now, more crowded. We sit by a grass bank and begin to hop and jump our way into our wetsuits. An announcement over the intercom informs us of a coffee van ready to serve, and hot food at the kiosk. Our stomachs grumble. We squeeze our race swim caps over our hair, slip on our goggles and race each other to the water. It's warm and clear. We marvel at the small grey fish darting between our legs.
The intercom announces ten minutes before race time, the safety briefing is about to start. Standing beside the red banner with the other twenty or so competitors, we're informed of the lifeboats and lifeguards scattered over the 2.5km course, we're told about the buoys placed at regular intervals, and are, very firmly, instructed to raise our hands if we need help.
Five minutes 'till start. Standing at the edge of the beach, water lapping over our ankles and toes, we look out into the distance at the ocean and township stretching to the right, and at the buoys marking our course. Our stomachs churn and we imagine the food from the kiosk that we're going to eat when we finish.
A siren squeals and we run through the shallow water, over the sand banks, dolphining as it gets deeper, until we have no choice but to start our strokes, kicking with the motions. The first buoy is getting closer. Almost there. I tell myself. Almost there.