2016 was the best pool-conquering year since this Great Challenge began over 20 years ago.
37 new pool scalps hanging from my Speedos, 13 ahead of target. Indeed, so quickly did they fall that at one point the dizzying, tantalising thought entered my head: could I possibly reach 48 pools in one year, ie double the target? It wasn’t to be. It must have been the chlorine talking. But a great year and some real beauties conquered.
Read on Aqua-Lovers.
Firstly, here are some stats to keep you up at night:
- New pools conquered = 37 (I’ve already told you this, but it’s worth gushing over)
- New countries conquered (a valid sub-quest) = Zero (Will do better in 2017)
- New US states conquered (another sub-quest) = Zero (Overdue for a visit Stateside)
nb: Click on images to see in full
Most impressive kiddie pool structure – Carnegie, VIC
Let’s start with something trite.
One early, freezing, overcast day I walked across the acres of wet concrete (there’s a lot of that in Melbourne) and conquered pool #420. Only a few hardened souls shared the thrill with me and the morning would have hardly rated a mention if it weren’t for this delightful amphibian in the kiddie pool. The anatomically approximate and delightfully generously tongued Mr Frog.
Most spellbinding Ocean Pool – Forster
Our family roadtrips are punctuated by McDonald’s restaurants and pools. That should be obvious. My long-suffering family will happily submit to a two hour detour in order for daddy to conquer yet another pool. And such it was with Forster (though only 20 minutes off the highway). It was more than worth it. It’s a beautiful pool; vast, plenty of little fish to watch, and sand across the bottom. Ocean pool of 2016 ( a not inconsiderable title).
Best reconquered pool – Wolloomooloo
I conquered this beauty years ago – before selfies, if you can imagine such an innocent time – but thought I’d pop by one beautiful summer’s day to revisit. Its location is superb and the renovation job is just spectacular.
All praise to Sydney City Council. It’s pools like this that make Sydney the best city in the world for swimming. No where else comes close.
Best regional pool – Moree
Also wins the prize for the biggest detour. Those of you who know your geography would know the most direct route from Brisbane to Sydney is not via Moree. However, I’ve always wanted to see the famous artesian spas out west. The kids didn’t complain about the extra 8 hours’ travel time. Of course not.
These spas attract an incredible 200,000 people a year. Not bad for an isolated town of 9500. At 8am there were hundreds of people there. And there’s an Olympic pool too (of course, says you) which I had, I kid you not, entirely to myself.
Achievement award– Muswellbrook (pool #400)
A small town on the way to other small towns and not much else, Muswellbrook would hardly rate a mention in a 50 year saga such as this if it weren’t for the fact that there Pool #400 was conquered. I’d already done two others that day – Moree (see above) and Gunnedah – and it was only at the urging of my kids (you think I’m joking, don’t you) that I swung off the highway and slid on those still wet Speedos (apologies for that image).
3 K’s in a day is no trouble for a man with a clear purpose. And so Muswellbrook enters history.
Furthest from home – Craigie, WA
Just shy of 4000 k’s from home, Craigie, Western Australia was the most remote I got in 2016. Nice pool, blazing hot day. Persuaded a bemused local to take my picture. Other than that, there’s not much to say.
Best hotel pool – Silver Seas, Maroochydore
A weekend with my lovely wife on the Sunshine Coast, sans enfants. Could it get any better? Hotel pools don’t feature too much in the quest, as avid Quest-Watchers will be aware, because I don’t find myself much in hotels to be frank (though I would if I could, I assure you). GoogleMaps revealed this little beauty so it was here, to the Silver Seas in Maroochydore, we lugged the Louis Vuitton.
Best overall – Springwood, QLD
Half a dozen pools could have won this prize this year. As you’ve probably noticed, it’s been a bumper harvest but I’ve chosen Springwood for a host of reasons. We were nearing our destination – Noosa, no less – so I was in a pleasant frame of mind. The whole family was on board, happy and expectant of a week at the beach. The Kia Sorrento was swallowing the 100’s of k’s effortlessly. And the weather as they say in Queensland, beautiful one day and perfect the next. Then we stopped at this place.
Had it been raining and had I been alone, it might have slipped into the recesses of my mind. But it wasn’t and I wasn’t and so it wins Pool of the Year.
Location here (though the photo doesn’t do it justice)
There we have it. 37 pools.
Though admittedly, you only got to view a few of them. I’ll try to be a better blogger in 2017, really I will (but as it’s already late July, it ain’t looking good). No matter. Rest assured, though I’m not spending much time at the computer writing about my wondrous aquatic adventures, I am instead out there swimming, swimming, swimming. Conquering, conquering conquering. Those 1000 pools will be mine (and yours too, after all, you’re with me on this journey).
Let’s hope I’ll see you on the pool deck in 2017.