The dream continues (despite COVID).
2020 was meant to be, in the words of the 45th president of the United States, “Great. Really great.’ I turned 50 so set myself the poetic target of 50 new pools-an inspiringly, dizzyingly ambitious goal when you remember 37 is the most I’ve ever conquered in a single year before. But COVID came along and smashed it all to pieces. Utter devastation. Nevertheless, I still managed to tick off 15 new pools. So, without further ado, here it is. You’ve waited long enough. This is 2020, the year in review.
Firstly, here are some stats to help get you up to speed:
- New pools conquered = 15 (I’ve already told you this. But I need to own this agony)
- New countries conquered (a valid sub-quest) = Zero (All international travel cancelled)
- New US states conquered (another sub-quest) = Zero (See above)
- Number of front page articles = Zero (A subtle reference to my 2019 Canberra Times spread. Fame is a fickle beast.)
Pool Of The Year (POTY) Griffith Uni, Queensland.
Never heard of Griffith Uni? I’m not surprised. They seem to build a new university every few years or so in SE Queensland in an attempt to bring some validity to the place. Seems somewhat culturally shallow to rely solely on theme parks and vast shopping centres. But the plus for me is obvious. Late in the afternoon after a full day at a theme park (well what else is there to do?) we swung in to savour these brand new, strikingly beautiful facilities. It’s a deep pool – you can’t stand at either end but that means it’s there for business. And so am I. I felt at home at once. Afterwards on the drive back to the hotel, we picked up Mexican and as I munched on my jalapeños and black bean burritos, I reflected, ‘That was a super nice facility.’ Indeed, it’s more than that. It’s the winner of that much coveted title, Pool of the Year.
(But you can’t see it because it’s so new, it ain’t on the map yet.)
Best Ocean Pool (BOP) Bondi wading pool.
This pool is evidence – if you ever needed it – that miracles still occur. The ocean pools of New South Wales are unique in the world. They are true aquatic paradises and, as I’ve been telling anyone who will listen, they’re not building them any more (a bit like dine-in Pizza Huts). Dynamiting an ocean rock shelf isn’t considered ‘green’ these days.
But I was wrong. I haven’t been to North Bondi in many years but here, at the most popular beach in Australia’s biggest city, there are two, yes you read that right dear reader, two new ocean pools. It was cold. It was wild. It was glorious.
REPOTY (Reconquered Pool of the Year) Bondi icebergs.
At the other end of Bondi Beach sits the icebergs. Surely the most famous ocean pool in Australia and one you’ll see on any advertisement for Sydney.
I haven’t swam it in 20 years. I went down there just as COVID was starting to bite and realised what a fantastic place is. There’s a cafe right next to the pool, so you can perch with your macchiato (I tend to save mine until after my swim) and peer down at the lap swimmers. And of course, there are the views. From every aspect this place has something to look at. It’s glorious. It’s Sydney with a Capital A (for Awesomeness). It’s open year round (yes, there are folk even more hardcore than I). It’s the icebergs.
GROORP (Grossest Ocean or River Pool)
A new category I’d rather not revisit. Chiswick baths on the Parramatta river was eerily deserted the day I visited. It’s got a nice view of the Gladesville Bridge however that’s not usually what I’m after in a pool.
The name’s deceptively charming. I mean, Chiswick Baths, sounds delightful. All Pimms and cucumber sandwiches, maybe an oyster or too. What’s not to like? Well, it’s got oysters all right. They cover the wall at one end as well as the wooden poles that hold up the netted enclosure at the other and they’re as sharp as, well, oysters tend to be. Turns are difficult therefore. Still, the baths have a nice sandy bottom and the water, well I’ve seen worse. But I’ve swum in some horrors.
Special achievement award. Laps 4 Life.
This was fun. A colleague at work asked me to join a team of swimmers to raise funds for Laps 4 Life where all sponsorship money raised goes towards helping prevent mental health.
I had to swim 20ks in a month (which I’d never done). Combined we raised just under $2000. We only swam as a team once. Here we are at Cook and Philip in the city.
That’s it folks. We’re already in June and I’m pretty confident this year will be a lot better than last. I’ve done 15 pools already and the COVID restrictions have all been lifted. Who knows though when you’ll see a new international pool here, but one day it will. Surely.
In the meantime, keep swimming. Keep breathing in the chlorine and I’ll see you on the pool deck.
I’ll see you on the pool deck.
Aquatic Regards, Kenton