One of the delights of The Quest is it takes you places you’d
otherwise avoid otherwise not have the pleasure of seeing. Bear in mind that the smallest town in NSW with a public pool has only 500 people, I get to see a lot of towns. And then there are pools living under my nose right here in Sydney that somehow I missed.
Crookwell – pool #288
For so long it had evaded me. Rightly so, for it’s on the way to nowhere (via Goulburn). So, it required a special detour on my trip to Canberra in the Budget Rent-a-van full of furniture I was about to dump at my brothers before we headed off to the US.
As is so often the case with our country pools, it was a delight. Filled with sparkling, clean water and dozens of locals who hadn’t a hope of keeping up with me as I blazed back and forth (their slack jaws suggested not many of them had seen an elite athlete up close). Pools are a big, ahem, social scene for teenagers in the country. But my mind was on purer motives as I donned the Speedos (again, the only one to do so) and ate up the laps.
Greenwich Baths – pool #289
This place deserves a slide show. A true jewel on Sydney Harbour. It’s got its own little beach, an enormous fig tree to sit beneath, grassed areas for your BBQ, and hammocks. Yup, hammocks. Courtesy of the council.
The water isn’t as clear as it is closer to the mouth of the Harbour, but that’s to be expected but it’s still pretty nice. It was blazing hot when I went there and I didn’t want to leave – I found myself lounging around (which, as I’m sure you’d know, is not my style, so committed to finding the next pool that I am).
Treat yourself to Greenwich Baths – it’s got a lot of history (and frankly the change rooms could do with bulldozing), but you won’t care about that as it’s simply a beautiful, beautiful place.
Woolwich Baths – #290 (but it nearly wasn’t)
This is the pool that nearly got away. But it didn’t. I conquered it via the internet. Let me explain.
Back in October, when we first learnt we were heading off to New York, I set myself the goal of hitting 300 pools before we went. Now, those power-achievers among you would recognise the sense of purpose setting such a goal gives one. But it proved a bit indulgent, meaning I’d have had to have taken off 3 days in order just to swim. Wasn’t to be. So, 290 pools loomed as more than possible. Inevitable. Indeed I had the pools in sight, the last two in my hometown of Sydney (that somehow, I’d managed to miss years ago).
So, you can imagine the spring in my step as I headed off to Woolwich Baths. Glorious day. Superb location. Young, fit and 42. How good does life get?
And then, when I got there, I took a closer look.
Pay close attention. You’ll notice, in the photo below, two very nice decks marking the ends of the swimming lanes. Thing is, when I was in the water I couldn’t actually reach them, and as you’ll know from reading the section on what exactly is a pool, a pool needs two hard ends to qualify for this little quest. I can hardly explain how disappointing this was. The barge boards were about a foot too high above the water. Nevertheless, I swam a K, touching the net at each end, and headed home dejected knowing I was going Stateside with a mere 289 pools under my belt. What kind of number is that??
At least that’s what I thought. Perhaps put it down to the fact that most of my swimming is not done in tidal rivers or the ocean, but only now, sitting in New York have I realised I have truly, honestly, conquered this pool. Meaning, it qualifies. Like a bolt of lightning, I wondered, ‘What if those decks didn’t float? If they were fixed and I’d swum at low tide, then at high tide the barge boards might touch the water.’ And so the internet proved me right.
You can see very clearly that at high tide, the barge boards touch the water and so the pool qualifies. Click on the image to enlarge. 290 pools conquered. 29% of the quest complete. One happy porpoise.