Arriving in Melbourne at 11pm in the evening didnt leave much time for anything apart from a taxi ride, checking into a hostel in St Kilda and a quick beer, well it would habe been rude not to, the hostel had a bar!
Waking up early to explore the next day and check out if Melbourne really had become as swiming obsessed as we hoped it would we knew we were in the right place when phil spotted the Hungarian waterpolo team (2x Olympic and World champs) lapping up the rays on the beach!
The open water world championships were being held in St Kilda for a week and we had been lucky enough to land ourselves in the right place at the right time for it. We would love to say it was from careful planning but after 6 months of travelling we still have no idea whats going on and didnt even know there was an open water event!we did come the the conclusion though that these swimmers are extemely fit, very hardcore but most of completely crazy!Not only do they put themselves through 5, 10 + 25 k of salty, wavy water but they also share thier swimming space with not so friendly metre long jelly fish!
When we finally ventured into the city centre we found exactly what we'd hoped for. Banners for the world champs plastering the city, a weekend festival organised especially for the event, large screens and stages ready to screen it and huge people everywhere, possibly with bigger shoulders than ourselves!
Getting involved with all the hype we got oursleves down the to aquatic centre and bought tickets to see 4 games of mens waterpolo prelims. The games were awsome with packed crowds, fire blasting and music blaring every time a goal was scored. Phils waterpolo mate from Sydney was also making his debut for the aussie team.Â
We already knew that everyone knows everyone in the small world of swimming and waterpolo, but on the other side of the world its funny how small it actually is. After phil had already seen his team mate play, lau's house mate from last yr, Kate Haywood a GB swimmer, had just arrived in the city. Looking forward to seeing a familiar face we went to her hotel to meet her and ended up seeing a few more than expectedÂ as we met a load of the GB team while we were there.Â
We eventually had to leave them all to rest up so ventured on to the festival in aid of the world champs that was conveniently placed next to the Melbourne food and wine festival. Being back to poor backpackers again it made our day to find so many free testers on the stalls we didnt have to buy tea that night-classy!
Another major bonus to the fact that swimming is such a small world is the contacts!As always its who you know not what you know and dad had set up a sweet deal wtih their reps atÂ Speedo for us. One poor man had unfortunately been given the job of getting us as many tickets as he could for the event. Luckily (after a few pestering phone calls) he turned out to be awsome and came throughÂ with tickets for swimming and waterpolo on every day of the competition! These werent just any tickets either, they were A grade, front row, centre of the pool, $200 a pop tickets! We strolled into much every day of the swimming comp in the Rod Laver arena,Â a temporary pool had been put there holding 12,000 spectators. Again the aussies knew how to put on a sports event in style and wowed fans with 1000's of bubbles around the enterances, fire jets for world records, waterfalls from the ceiling infront of the blocks to start the finals and of course dancing mascots!
When we tried to tear ourselves away from the pool we did the odd bit of mandatory sight seeing. Drinks at the docklands, tramrides around the city and of course swims in great ourdoor 50m pools (we'd seen so many people in one we were starting to feel lazy!). We even watched swimming on TV one night only to find that Nikon are a sponsor ofÂ the eventÂ , and yes youve guessed it, the advert we 'starred' in on Bondi beach was being shown in every ad break of the swimming on prime time TV!We think we may start being recognised soon as we have made so many apperances recently!
So to cut a long story short we feel weÂ really managed to makeÂ the most of the 2007 world swimming champs, after 6 swim sessions and 6 polo sessionsÂ in 8 days!Â And just when we thought it was all over we were invited to one more event........... the AFTERPARTY!
Micheal Klim was hosting a party for every competitor in the championships, luckily Kate Haywood thought we were good enough to go aswel. Lau and kate are not controlable at the best of times around famous people, but this party sent them crazy! Pretty much every swimmer and polo player was in one room along with Ned from Neighbours, random i know! Weve never seen men so big in our lives, they were closer to 7 ft than 6. The highlight of the evening had to be when the girls went to talk to Ian Thorpe. InÂ his attempt to keep a low profile we scared the crap out of him by walking over and plonking ourlseves down. While kate managed to speak about 3 lines to him ( 2 of these being 'hows your night going' -smoothe!) i dont think he knew what to do as his 'people' tried to move him out of the room ASAP! We decided a quick exit would be a good idea too. We are now of course best buddies with a large majority of people there and may actually beable to call oursleves official swimming and waterpolo groupies!
With one day left in Melbourne we thought we had better make the most of it and hired a car to drive down the Great Ocean Road. The 1st day of the Rip Curl Pro-Surfing competition was being held in Bells Beach so we went to check out some totally radical surf dudes catching some waves man!Â We arivedÂ just inÂ time to see Kelly Slater (8x world champion and Cameron Diazs new bf) kick ass in the heats. We had perfect phot opportunities with him after but with phils luck the camers died just as we were trying to takeÂ them. Equally as famous we later foundÂ the lighthouse from 'Round the Twist' tv program on the cliffs that we didnt even realise was filmed in OZ!Â
So as always time is up so quickly and its off to Cairns to us to start our mamoth trip down the east coast. Lots of action and adventure to pack in the next month, we will need our organisatoinal skills on form to make sure we cartch our flight out of Brisbane. Hope your keeping your fingers crossed too!