It’s A Call For The Times: Masks Off Swimmers On!
It’s another small step, or should that be stroke (?), towards some kind of post-COVID normalcy.
And the start of the winter swimming season at Bondi on Sunday also heralds an event where age makes no difference to the results.
Every year on opening day at the start of May, the Bondi Icebergs dump ice blocks into the famous beachside pool.
Like so many enthusiastic polar bears (their mascot), they then indulge in a gleeful frenzy of splashing if not feeding.
The ice, of course, does not materially affect the temperature of the balmy water, but like the many Instagram-ed photos of this sacred spot, it looks out of this world.
There are many legends about this 90-year-old club, not least how you have to undergo an apprenticeship of swimming 75 times to qualify as a life member.
The 15B rule requires mandatory attendance on three Sundays out of four for five years unless you have a good excuse delivered in writing, not email!
The 40m and 50m handicapped staggered start races then commence. The mathematical reasoning behind the system is that everyone, even the club’s worst swimmers, of which I am one, should win at least one race.
It doesn’t always work like that, but the many older swimmers, men and women (they were allowed to join in 1995) can give the youngsters a real run for their money.
In competitive swimming, a svelte body might help, but in the rough and tumble of the seawater pool, some unashamed beer bellies seem to prove slight hindrance to victory.
Don’t believe all the guff you see about Bondi being awash with celebrities and silver tails. Hang around this community event, and you’ll appreciate dressed only in bathers we are much the same.
It’s an ethos that embraces the club. Yes, some are elite swimmers, but others happily bellyflop and take their time getting to the other end.
The term ‘inclusive’ can be much abused by those seeking to score a political point, but it’s very much a word infused in the waters of this club and many others.
We know joining in with community events, doing exercise and being part of something bigger than ourselves can only be good for health. Not everyone can get to the Icebergs, but there are plenty of other clubs out there which offer the same benefits. Give one a try.
Each year we are given a celebratory T-shirt. As you may see from the photo of yours truly having started first and finished last over 40m it simply says:
"Masks off, swimmers on."
It’s a great motto to kick off the season, and God willing I hope it can last.
Any information is general advice, it does not take into account your individual circumstances, objectives, financial situation or needs.