After looking at my photos of Coogee Beach, and thinking of all the years I've gone for a swim here and at other beaches in Sydney, I began to think about the beaches I first swam at as a child and a teenager in the UK before I came to Australia.
Monkstone Beach, Pembrokeshire, WalesFor a couple of years in the mid 1960s, I used to go on holiday to a campsite on a farm between Tenby and Saundersfoot in South Wales. There used to be a steep path down the cliffs to the beach. We spent most of our holidays on this beach, and that's where I first swam in the sea.
Carbis Bay beach, St Ives, Cornwall
When I was a teenager, I hitchhiked down to Cornwall, and, eventually, found myself in St Ives. I came back down here every summer for the next 7 years. I have swum at quite a few beaches in Cornwall and the Scillies, but my "own" Carbis Bay was my favourite. It was just a short stroll down the hill from the hotel where I worked and lived. Perfect for afternoon dips and for some wonderful midnight swims.
Blackpool Beaches (Lancashire)
Then there's good old Blackpool. I'm not sure that I actually swam here, but, as a toddler, I certainly paddled here frequently in the summer. Definitely my first encounters with saltwater.
All photos from Wikimedia Commons
Rhyl Beaches (Wales)
I also spent quite a few summer days as a small child paddling at dear old Rhyl. I even remember having a midnight swim here as a teenager.
Photo by Bob Abell. Copyrighted but licensed under Creative Commons for reuse (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ )