Pool People

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Wading into The Pool exhibition in Melbourne
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Dancing in the water at Harlem’s Hansborough Pool
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Saluting John Clarke, sadly no longer telling jokes and swimming laps
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Celebrating the rich aquatic life of author Oliver Sacks
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Giving thanks for the gift of swimming
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A pair of Williams, a man called Max and Parsley the hermit down Vaucluse way
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Swimming with Peter, the porpoise of Petersham Pool
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Making a splash: Australians share their swimming stories
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The gentlemen of Sydney’s eastern ocean pools
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A multicultural morning at the Granville Pool

Wading into The Pool exhibition in Melbourne

The Pool, Australia’s exhibition at last year’s Venice Architecture Biennale, has had a second life and last Friday night was officially opened at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in Melbourne. The exhibition celebrates the pool in Australian architecture, culture and life and there was plenty of enthusiasm for its reincarnation at the opening, including[…]

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Dancing in the water at Harlem’s Hansborough Pool

“I never was a dancer but I can dance in the water,” says one of the members of the Honeys and Bears syncronised swimming team in this beautiful film by Veena Rao.

Since 1979, the group, who range in age from 62 to 100, have been meeting most days at the Hansborough Recreation Centre in Harlem, New York where they delight in the freedom of the water as they practise their moves.

The Harlem Honeys and Bears seniors synchronised swimming team.

Photo from the digital magazine, Aeon https://aeon.co/

They are more elegant and graceful than I was in 1978 when I led the green team’s water ballet routine at my school’s annual swimming carnival at North Sydney Olympic Pool.

Water ballet event at the Loreto Kirribilli swimming carnival, Term 1, 1978.

We performed to Carly Simon singing Nobody Does It Better but perhaps we could have done better than last place if I’d chosen something like Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite, which the Honeys and Bears move to in Veena Rao’s film. Thanks to my brother Mark for finding this wonderful short video.

Saluting John Clarke, sadly no longer telling jokes and swimming laps

When I heard the sad news that comedian John Clarke had died, and read how he loved to be in nature, to bushwalk and photograph birds, I remembered he was a swimmer too. He’d been part of the Save Fitzroy Pool campaign back in 1994 and when I dug around in a file I found[…]

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Celebrating the rich aquatic life of author Oliver Sacks

When I heard on Sunday that author and neurologist Oliver Sacks had died, I rummaged through my files for a letter I’d received from him more than 15 years ago. At the time I was writing a story about my love of swimming and had contacted him via his publisher when I discovered he had a[…]

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Giving thanks for the gift of swimming

On the 23rd anniversary of my mother’s death I’d like to pay tribute to her for passing on the swimming gene to my sister and brother and me. Mum’s love of water started on Maroubra Beach where her father Austin swam every morning before work and where he taught her to body surf. When the seas[…]

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A pair of Williams, a man called Max and Parsley the hermit down Vaucluse way

There’s no swimmers around when I arrive at Parsley Bay, just trim women jogging with their mobiles and doing boxing in the park. But when I walk around the path that leads to the deep end of the bay,  I spot a man in blue trunks, or rather he spots me. “If you want a[…]

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Swimming with Peter, the porpoise of Petersham Pool

“Last day,” says Peter when I join him in the water at the Fanny Durack Aquatic Centre, aka Petersham Pool. “Are you going to miss it?” “Yes,” says Peter, who swims every morning and talks to everyone who comes to the pool. “Look at it, it’s beautiful,” he says, as he pushes under the water and[…]

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Making a splash: Australians share their swimming stories

Last Friday’s talkback on ABC Radio National’s Life Matters invited listeners to call in with their memories of swimming, which was a great choice as we head into the summer holidays. The program featured former Australian Olympian Shane Gould, who as part of a Masters and now a PhD, is doing very interesting research into the[…]

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The gentlemen of Sydney’s eastern ocean pools

During August when I was writing, Into the Deep, a story for the travel section of The Weekend Australian, I spoke to a number of ‘chappies’ as my Dad would call them, who spend their days in and around Sydney’s ocean pools. At Wylie’s Baths I met 80-year-old Reg, who comes to the pool each[…]

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A multicultural morning at the Granville Pool

It was the tiles that drew me to Granville Pool; 1930s hexagonal-shaped with a border in red and chequerboard blue and white. Bruce discovered them when he swam there after work, and a few days later I was heading west along Parramatta Road to Sydney’s fourth oldest Olympic pool after Enfield, North Sydney and Bankstown (RIP). As I[…]

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