Testing the water

My elder sister, YY, lives in London – in Pooter-country.  For those who don’t click on the links, that’s Holloway, near the women’s prison and just across from Camden.  In fact, these days she lives in Upper Holloway.  From there it is not too far to Highgate and Hampstead Heath.

In recent years  YY has attempted, not entirely successfully (last winter was just too cold) to swim year-round at Hampstead Ponds.

The secret, apparently, is to maintain your acclimatisation to the temperature throughout the year.  The City of London, which (reluctantly) administers the ponds, recommends that, if you are planning to swim in waters below 12 degrees (Celsius) you should maintain acclimatisation by getting in to the water, even if just for a minute or so, three or four times a week.  Otherwise (though this has not ever happened, they say, at Hampstead), the cold water could kill you.

That shouldn’t be necessary in Sydney, given that the water temperature never gets much below 17 degrees even in winter.  It all puts the big splash at the Bondi Icebergs into proportion.

I have found it difficult to swim in the sea in Sydney much past the beginning of June, and a dip at Wylies Baths last August in the company of my sister definitely gave me something of a chill.

Maybe that was because I was not acclimatised.  I’m seeing this year if I can keep things up, even if I only manage to get there on weekends.

Today, after a few windy days in Sydney, the water temperature was reported as 19 degrees.  That was one degree down on last week, and I could really feel the difference.  The tide was high and there was a lively swell.  There were only 3 others in the water when I got there at about 3.30 pm and notably they were all sporting bathing caps.   It was all very invigorating.  A hot shower afterwards was definitely a comfort.

Apparently a bathing cap helps keep your head warm. Previously my only familiarity with bathing caps has been in China where they are compulsory at swimming pools, along with a little health check from the doctor and even a little swimming test before they’ll let you in the deep water in some pools.

But I digress.

Afterwards, D and I went to the back of the Botany Cemetery, next to the Yarra Bay Sailing Club.  It’s a funny pocket of Sydney.  I was interested to see the Chinese market gardens, currently being eyed by  the Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park (that is, the cemetery), backed by the Greek Orthodox Church, in particular, as land for potential expansion.  There’s not very much to see from a distance, but then nor is the cemetery particularly prepossessing.

My own allegiance is to the preservation of the gardens.   If people want to continue burying bodies, let them do it some place else.

As I said, it’s a funny, scrappy, area.  There are even a few horses kept here.  D patted one.

At Yarra Bay itself the lads (and a few lasses) from the State Emergency Service were finishing up some kind of marine rescue exercise.  Their red overalls were quite eye-catching in the late afternoon sun, even if I didn’t quite manage to get them properly in focus.

4 Responses to “Testing the water”

  1. LibertyLondonGirl Says:

    Hey thanks for the link! I swam in 18C in Austria a few weeks ago and it was LOVELY, although I could only manage two lengths between jetties before I thankfully got out. LLGxx

  2. Legal Eagle Says:

    Lovely photos Marcellous

  3. wanderer Says:

    There’s feeling the cold, and then there’s getting cold. The head is interesting – 10% total surface area in adults but nearly 20% in neonates and richly perfused with blood so it is an extreme source of heat loss (and blood loss if you’re scalped!). And there’s another interesting reflex – the diving reflex – which occurs when the head is exposed in cold water and the peripheral circulation shuts down centering blood into internal organs and the heart rate slows – a sort of hibernation staying alive reflex from when we were still aqua-babes.

    Anyway, just saying hello and nice shots of the afternoon.

  4. marcellous Says:

    Hello to you, too, W. (And to youse two, including LE, for that matter.)

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