A Spring morning on the shores of the Parramatta River in Balmain. The jacarandas are in bloom in the park up above the low sandstone cliffs. A kookaburra is cackling from one of the tall gum trees. The Moreton Bay fig trees are casting cool shade away from the hot morning sun. And the Harbour is sparkling.
It's a perfect morning for a swim, and swimming is the order of the day. It's the day for the open water swim from Dawn Fraser (Dawny) Baths to (or around) Cockatoo Island.
The swim has been an annual event for the past nine years. It's a fundraiser for the Balmain Water Polo club (Australia's oldest) who train and play at the Dawn Fraser Pool (also Australia's oldest). The swim to the island is 1.1km long, while the swim around the island is 2.4km long. I entered the shorter swim for my second year. I'm not sure that I could make it all the way around, and certainly not in the time allotted. This year I was determined to swim front crawl all the way instead of reverting to breaststroke half way there.
In the end, I came somewhere very close to last, so obviously front crawl is not my strong point. Still, swimming across the harbour with so many others was a lot of fun. The water was warm (21°C), the day was sunny and even the bull sharks stayed away. After the swim, there was free fruit - mangoes, watermelon and bananas. There was also a free barbeque, but, unfortunately, no vegetarian options. Maybe next year.
Looking from Dawn Fraser Pool across to Cockatoo Island
Loading the marker buoys
Taking the buoys across to the island to mark the course
Swimmers return from the Dawny Challenge around the island