Friday, April 24, 2009

Swimming From Cronulla To Bondi (via rock pools and tidal baths)

About 18 months ago I finally got around to reading Waterlog by Roger Deakin. Those who are familiar with the book will recall it as a record of his idea to swim his way around the British Isles via rivers, lakes, ponds and lidos (open air swimming pools). In part it was inspired by John Cheever’s short story The Swimmer and by the film of the same name, starring Burt Lancaster. At the time I wondered what a similar journey in Sydney might look like, and thought about swimming in all the coastal pools along Sydney's coast.

However, I completely forgot about this idea until about a year later when, during a winter holiday in London, I went swimming in the (heated) London Fields Lido. Later I was discussing the remaining lidos in London with a friend. She suggested returning one summer and swimming across London via the lidos, and, also referenced the film, The Swimmer. Her idea involved recording the journey by taking photographs at the various lidos and ponds still open for swimming in the metropolitan area. While I'm still keen to attempt this, it also reminded me of my idea to swim along Sydney's coast.

So in April 2009 I started on the first part of the swim - from Cronulla to Bondi. My idea was that I would swim every swimmable rock pool and tidal baths along the coast and bays (but not west of Captain Cook Bridge on the Georges River nor west of Gunnamatta Bay on Port Hacking). Later I decided to include the baths and enclosures on the southern shores of Sydney Harbour. I would, as my friend had suggested, take photos at every location. My only rule was that I must swim at least one length in the direction of completing the overall swim. Of course, I swam many more lengths and laps than this, simply for the fun of it. It took three days to complete, and I immediately regretted ignoring the baths further west, so on the final afternoon headed west of the Harbour Bridge to The Dawn Fraser Baths and Chiswick Baths.

I will, at some point, return to places like Lilli Pilli tidal pool, Como tidal baths and Carss Park swimming enclosure.

The three days of the swim were divided like this:

Day One
Gunamatta Bay Baths
Oak Park Pool (Cronulla)
Shelley Beach Pool (Cronulla)
Cronulla Ocean Pool
Cronulla Rock Pool
Kurnell Tidal Baths
Sandringham Baths
Ramsgate Baths
Monterey Baths
Brighton-le-Sands Baths
Little Bay Rock Pool
Malabar Rock Pool
Mahons Pool (Maroubra)
(I missed Kymeeagh Baths as they were closed due to the construction of the desalination pipeline.)

Day Two
Ivo Rowe Rock Pool (South Coogee)
Wylies Baths (Coogee)
Ross Jones Memorial Pool (Coogee)
Giles Baths (Coogee)
Clovelly Bay
Bronte Baths
Bronte Bogey Hole
Bondi Baths
Wally Weekes Pool (Bondi)
(I missed Clovelly Baths as they had been emptied for cleaning, and, of course, McIvers Baths at Coogee is for women and children)

Day Three
Watsons Bay Baths
Parsley Bay Swimming Enclosure
Nielsen Park Swimming Enclosure
Redleaf Pool (Double Bay)
Dawn Fraser Baths (Balmain)
Chiswick Baths
Cabarita Pool
(I included Cabarita Pool because it is river fed and saltwater and heated - I was cold by this point. I was going to include The Boy Charlton Pool because it's saltwater and because i love it, but when I got there I forgot I had no money for the parking meters, so I could only take a photo and run.)

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