‘Old farts’ beat chest for Classic
THE Byron Bay Open Water Classic is so much more than a 2.2km swim.
So much more than just turning up, donning ‘nettles’ (swimmers) and paddling through the breakers to the endless ocean.
The Open Water Classic, which celebrates its 22nd running tomorrow morning, is about rivalry and camaraderie; it’s about supporting and sledging and it’s about best mates and banter.
And these two larrikins – Saxon Smith and Dix Ozier – symbolise all that is good about the Classic.
Two old mates brought together by the culture built on Winter Whales will be scrapping until the very end, aware that only one can hold bragging rights.
Mr Smith, 62, will swim in the ‘crusty old farts’ division and while Mr Ozier, 55, fits a different age group there is no doubt the pair will be comparing times come Sunday afternoon.
Mr Smith, who has swum the Classic eight times with a second placing his best, is unsure how he will fare this year.
“I have the cardio-vascular system of a 25-year-old and the muscular-skeletal system of a 150-year-old,” he said.
“I see (Smith) as a walking carcass,” Mr Ozier said.
Now it’s gloves off as the barbs begin to fly.
“My friend Dix here has a rubber fetish,” Mr Smith said.
“He wears a wetsuit, but the rest of us go out bare-chested – like a badge of honour.
“We like to do plenty of psychological damage to each other before the race.”
It’s this competitive streak that keeps men like these coming back to swim the course week after week.
While Mr Ozier gets miles under his belt as a swimming coach, Mr Smith completes the Winter Whales course up to five times a week.
“It’s very competitive out there at times,” Mr Smith said.
“Last week we had 80 people here – Sundays are known as race day.
“But sometimes you have no one to swim with so if there is a turtle out, you race it.”