2015 was another good year.
28 new pools were conquered which is 4 ahead of target (as the 2nd fascinating chart shows) and I’m well on the way to 40% of The Quest being complete.
Passing through Europe on the way home from New York opened up a slew of opportunities, but now we’re back home, I fear hitting the 24 pools per year target is going to get increasingly difficult.
But as Joe Bjelke-Petersen would say, ‘Let’s burn that bridge when we come to it’. For now, here’s the best and worst of 2015.
The Most Expensive Pool
Turkey. And in winter.
Istanbul has something like 22 million people (give or take) and only 15 public pools (give or take). In order to swim in them you need to provide, among other things, a blood sample (I kid you not) whereupon you will be assessed and against odds not much better than winning the lottery, you may be approved to swim at a public pool many months later. It’s difficult to organise all this when you’re in town for 3 days.
My concierge deserves a medal for the committed effort he took in ringing clubs and hotels in order to track down something, anything, that I could swim in. He succeeded and so I headed to the suspiciously named, ‘Titanic Business Hotel’. This was the most expensive swim I’ve ever undertaken. Entry alone was $110, plus the cab ride there and back. Effectively, I bought a day pass to the spa (and no amount of negotiating got me out of having a massage first).
It was nice, clean and I had it (almost) to myself.
Best Ocean Pool
Blackhead is 15 minutes off the Pacific Highway, but it’s worth the detour (for the pool, that is, the town ain’t much). It was overcast when I was there, but it’s a beautiful spot. My family watched dolphins in the surf while I swam.
Worst (or Most Frustrating)
As one travels the world, one discovers little idiosyncrasies. Australians are fairly laid-back about most things, so when one goes for a swim, you pay your money, say ‘G’day’ to the attendant and everyone leaves you alone. If you drown, it’s your fault you silly bugger.
In Paris, however, there’s a right way and a lot of wrong ways to go for a swim. I’m not going to go into the entire painful episode here (I’m sure it’s normal to disinfect Australians), but suffice to say it took so long to jump through all the hoops in order to get my previously-innocent family through the security apparatus and into the water, that I ended up running out of time to complete the requisite laps. So, I had to return the next morning pre-dawn.
My advice regarding swimming in Paris. Learn to speak French. Aquaint yourself with the City of Paris Public Pool Bylaws. Don’t take children with you. Don’t make jokes. Say ‘Sorry’ (in French) a lot. In fact, don’t bother. Go to the Eiffel Tower instead.
Location here (though you can’t see it, as the pool is in the basement under the Montparnasse Tower)
Prince Alfred Park, Sydney
Truly magnificent facility on the edge of the Sydney CBD. This was ‘done up’ (as we say in Australia), when we were living in New York and they’ve done a great job. It’s somehow nestled in the gentle undulating hills of the park and the black chain-link fence that surrounds it is barely noticeable. One simply wanders up the path and then you’re in the place.
It’s pools like this that make Sydney the best city in the world for swimming.
Perhaps because my lovely wife had a day off and the weather was superb. Perhaps because I had the place pretty much to myself. But this pool gets my vote for the best pool of last year.
Like Prince Alfred Park above, it’s had a renovation of late and it is a superb facility. You enter high above the pool deck with sweeping views over the whole complex and then the Harbour beyond. Lots of dark timber has been used around the place and glass fences so the views are unobstructed.
A real (isolated) gem.
There we have it.
I’ll see you on the pool deck in 2016.
Aquatic Regards, Kenton