The gentlemen of Sydney’s eastern ocean pools

Reg, a regular at Wylie's Baths Coogee, photo Therese Spruhan, August 2014
During August when I was writing, Into the deep of Sydney’s ocean pools, 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 sea baths at Coogee, Bronte and Bondi. Wylie's Baths Coogee, photo Therese Spruhan, August 2014 At Wylie’s Baths I met 80-year-old Reg, who comes to the pool each day but only if the sun is out.
Reg, a regular at Wylie's Baths Coogee, photo Therese Spruhan, 2014 He does eight to ten laps and then retires to his spot at the north end of the striped timber deck to read. His favourite writer is Tom Sharpe and he doesn’t mind a bit of Stephen King. “I’ve read nearly all Tom Sharpe’s,” he says. “He’s funny and when I sit down and start laughing people wonder what’s wrong with me.” Reg, a regular at Wylie's Baths Coogee, photo Therese Spruhan, August 2014 A former Bondi Iceberger, Reg shifted to Wylie’s when he moved to Coogee 15 years ago. “This is a good one,” says Reg. “It’s got an old world charm and friendly people and you are quite protected from the wind.” Winter at Wylie's Baths Coogee, photo Therese Spruhan, August 2014
Reg believes his swimming keeps him fit and well and finds Wylie’s the perfect place to relax. “You can’t let yourself go for too long without doing something,” he says, “and there’s nothing like salt water to make you feel good.”
Light blue cap, Wylie's Baths Coogee, photo Therese Spruhan, August 2014
A few headlands north at Bronte, you can’t miss Les and his band of multicultural mates who spend their days swimming, talking and soaking up the sun outside the gents change rooms on the edge of the park.
Les (left) and his mates soak up the winter sun at Bronte, photo Therese Spruhan, August 2014
“I’m Irish, then there’s Greek, Russian, Croatian,” says 76-year-old Les. “We all get on terribly!”  Les alternates between the baths and the bogey hole but adds he’s doesn’t swim in the bogey hole unless the beach inspectors are around. “It might look lovely but you never know?”
Bronte bogey hole, photo Therese Spruhan, August 2014
More of a dipper than a lapper, his mates say he does more laps with his tongue and if they had a dollar for every furphy he told they’d be multi-millionaires.
Les spends all year-round at Bronte Baths and Bogey Hole, photo Therese Spruhan, August 2014
“If you come here every day you will know everything,” says Les, who has been swimming at Bronte for 64 years. “Swim, talk, sun; that’s the way to live.”
Bronte Baths, photo Therese Spruhan, August 2014
At Bondi Icebergs I introduced myself to Grant, a long-time Iceberger, who’d just spent half an hour doing laps in the 16 C water in the 50-metre pool.
Grant, a regular at Bondi Icebergs all year-round, photo Therese Spruhan, August 2014
Recently retired, Grant learnt to swim at the pool when he was six and says he likes it because it’s where he comes from. He says swimming in the cold water in winter certainly brightens you up and considers people who swim in wetsuits are cheating.
 Bondi Icebergs, photo Therese Spruhan, August 2014
“There’s nothing better than a winter’s day down here when the sun’s out,” says Grant, who finishes off his visit with a beer in the clubhouse with his mates.


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  • Thanks Jen, Yes, Les is a real character! Was happy for me to take his photo as long as it wasn’t for a Cancer Council publication! I remember hearing someone on the radio talk about the kindness of old men and these gentlemen were very much like that!

  • I finally remembered to pop over and have a look at your new blog style. Love the photo stream at the top. It looks really good. Lots of activity with the twitter feed. Most impressed. Ciao j

  • Thanks Jen. I have really only made minor changes like making the post space larger so can have bigger photos and added some social media. The Twitter feed works well but would like to improve the others. All takes time but still thinking of a total makeover. Thanks for popping by – I think yours looks really good.


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