Today we do our 18th and 19th pool – Mona Vale and North Narrabeen. We have planned this trip with stops along the way. For the last few days, we have been staying in Narrabeen with the lovely Sarah H. and Leigh B. and have been to a total of 7 pools in 3 days. We are finding our stride.
We rise early for Mona Vale Beach Pool. From what I have read, this is a pool situated on the north side of the beach. Most – but not all – pools are on the south side of the beach, positioned at the bottom of a cliff for protection to catch the most of the north-passing sun. But in fact, Mona Vale is buried into a rock platform sitting between two beaches – Mona Vale and Basin. The platform falls out into the sea, making the pool romantic, at once deeply connected to the ocean and open to the elements. It is an excellent location for a pool. I particularly like how one of the pool walls is the platform rock. The best pools make use of what’s already there. The water is the clearest it has been since we started as the impact of the cyclone has melted away.
We drive down to the North Narrabeen Beach Pool to find it has been emptied for cleaning. The Northern Beaches Council runs a tight ship with a weekly cleaning schedule for all the pools and I salute them for it. Although we can’t get it, it gives us the opportunity to study up close the floor and how the pool has been built. Again, it sits in a rock platform and it’s fairer to say it is also between two beaches – Narrabeen and Turimetta. This gives it a similarly exposed outlook and with a 50m lap pool as part of the offering, it feels like the big sister to Mona Vale.
The aim is to get in every pool, but I like to see pools being looked after so I don’t mind too much about North Narrabeen. I swam here once 20 years ago. It was the second-ever ocean pool I had been in after Yamba, and I remember the day I got in the water here with absolute clarity. It was a stunning Sydney day and I had tramped across the sand in search of the pool. As I got in a swimmer turned to me and said, ‘the water’s beautiful and I responded that it was. What I didn’t know then was that I would hear that particular phrase hundreds of times after that, because it’s common for the ocean swimmer already in the water, to say as an encouragement to the swimmer about to get into the water, that the water is beautiful. Because it is.
PJ was not so lucky. He had eschewed Mona Vale with the intention of getting in at North Narrabeen. It made me think that we should swim while we can. Embedded into the small cliff face at North Narrabeen are remembrance plaques of people who often swam there. Plaques that note the passing of people that are the same age as PJ and I. Swim while you can.