More than 500 swimmers from all around Australia gathered to Newcastle for the annual Winter Swimming Association of Australia National Winter Swimming Championships. It was the 41st time this event took place and this year the host club was Merewether Mackerels. The weekend started on Friday evening with a joyful get-together evening. On Saturday morning swimmers gathered on the beautiful Merewether Ocean Baths pool that is 200 meters long and 50 meters wide. The warming up swims was held on the 50m lanes. The ocean water was very pleasant +17C and sun was shining from clear blue sky. On Saturday the swims were mostly of fun and enjoyment. Still we could feel some small competition between clubs especially on the 10 x 50 meter relays.
On Sunday morning the real National Titles took place on The Charlestown Swim Center. During the day we saw great competitions of 50 m freestyle individual swims and 200 m relays. Women and men competed in all age groups while the oldest swimmers represented the age group “80+”. The overall atmosphere was very similar to all the winter swimming championships around the world.
As Mr. Greg Holland the president of WSAA said: “Winter Swimming in Australia has come a long way during the last 40 years. There are many active clubs all over the big Country and these annual events are very important opportunities for swimmers to meet each other. Some clubs are very far away, like from Perth they had to take six hour flight first to Sydney and then a two hour drive to Newcastle. So you really have to love your lifestyle in order to do this”.
For the first time ever International Winter Swimming Association was also present in Australia. In Australia there are more than active 42 Winter Swimming Clubs. Many clubs have home pools by the sea and also in rock pools in beautiful places close to the Nature. In big Cities like in Sydney there are many clubs who do also actively open water races in the sea. In Sydney one of the most famous Clubs is Bondi Icebergs; established in 1929. The beautiful Bondi Beach is an iconic venue and familiar also to many surfers.
Even the water in Australia is much warmer we still feel that winter swimmers are getting the same benefits, having the active lifestyle, interesting network and good social contacts. After presenting the IWSA Winter Swimming World to Australia we can be sure we will see more and more Australian swimmers in our future events as we all did agree ”The colder the water the warmer is our friendship”.