The word euphoric is mentioned, along with sparkling and alive. Could ocean pool swimming be an unlikely remedy to COVID-19 lockdown blues?
“Your body gets used to it and you realise how beautiful it is,” says Thirroul resident Johnny Corker.
With the closure of local swimming pools during lockdown, I have drawn an arc radius of 10kms via Google Maps around my home address to find the selection of Illawarra rock pools in my area.
These majestic ocean pools are the result of hard work by local coal miners in the early parts of the 1900s. Dynamited and carved from rock platforms, these pools were paradise after a hard day’s work in the local coal mine. As well as providing a good wash!
Today there is a wide range of people swimming at ocean pools, especially here at Coledale pool at this early hour of the morning. Young and old swimmers mill around the edge of the pool, all talking about the physical and mental benefits of winter swimming.
The air temperature is barely 12 degrees, but the Coledale pool invites me in with its sky-blue colour. The water makes me gasp at first as I turn to my fellow swimmers for some reassurance that this is good for me.
Johnny has also immersed himself under the water, warmed I gather, not only by the power of his mind but also his free-style swimming technique. He says cold water swimming can offer universal benefits to people. “Plunging into a cold-water rock pool makes you feel mentally stronger and happier,” he told me.
After finishing my first lap my teeth stop chattering and I do feel the cold-water experience has triggered a kind of rush. I feel alive! By my second lap I’m keen to get out of the water and warm up. Still the cold seems to work its way deep into my body like a shot of electricity kick-starting my system.
This could be the start of my relationship with early morning swimming in the beautiful Illawarra rock pools. Filled by the clear, turquoise ocean water and looked over by our beautiful escarpment, they are a gift for all of us to share.
Can’t make it out to your local rockpool?
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At time of publication (30 July 2021), residents of the Wollongong and Shellhabour LGAs are permitted to exercise within 10 kilometres of their home.