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Where to swim in Sydney if you're scared of waves

Wylie's Baths at Coogee is the oldest surviving communal sea baths in Australia.
Wylie's Baths at Coogee is the oldest surviving communal sea baths in Australia.

ABC: Lisa Clarke

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There's nothing better than having a swim in the ocean when the days begin getting longer and the temperatures start to rise.

As an added bonus to cooling down, being out in the sun gives you a healthy dose of Vitamin D, and sand is a natural exfoliator.

But what if you're just not confident swimming in the ocean because you didn't grow up somewhere close to the water? Maybe you didn't take swimming lessons as a child. Perhaps waves even frighten you.

There are still plenty of great options for you in Sydney if you want to go for a swim outdoors, without the added worry of having to keep yourself above the crashing waves. Here are five of the best:

Wylie's Baths

On a winters day you can almost have Wylies Baths to yourself. Almost.
On a winters day you can almost have Wylies Baths to yourself. Almost.

ABC: Lisa Clarke

Taking a short stroll south along the coastal walkway from the famous Coogee beach, lies the oldest surviving communal ocean baths in Australia.

The expansive deck overlooking Wylie's Baths in Coogee.
The expansive deck overlooking Wylie's Baths in Coogee.

ABC: Lisa Clarke

The historic Wylie's Baths look like they belong in another era. An expensive dual-toned deck sits high atop the water where you can lie in the sun, read a book, or even drink a coffee from the kiosk.

And of course, you can go for a swim right next to the ocean without being knocked over by monstrous waves.

The baths are located in the beachside suburb of Coogee, just eight kilometres south-east of the Sydney CBD, and cost $5 for a full day of swimming pleasure.

The construction of the baths was part of a wider emerging interest in seaside pools at the turn of the 20th century in Sydney, and were cut from the natural rock base surrounded by concrete walls at the southern end of Coogee Bay back at the turn of the 20th century.

Clovelly Beach

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Clovelly beach is unique in the sense that is more like a large ocean pool than an actual beach.

Concrete platforms have been constructed on both sides of the bay over the rocks which have become popular areas to lie belly up on a towel and soak in some rays or read a book without getting too much sand between your toes (if any).

The tranquil beach is a popular snorkelling spot with locals and tourists because of it's calm waters and diverse marine life.

If you really don't like the idea of swimming in open water there is even a 25 x 6 metre saltwater pool at the southern side of the beach for those who want to get in some laps.

Bondi Icebergs

A swimmer sits on the edge of one of the pools at the Bondi Icebergs Club.
A swimmer takes an early morning dip at the Bondi Icebergs Club at Bondi Beach, Sydney.

ABC Open Contributor edwardjlim

The famous Icebergs pool in Bondi Beach is mostly used by serious swimmers who use the venue to swim laps for exercise, but you can still mingle among some of the most beautiful people in Sydney from the sidelines or from the smaller children's pool.

The pool has been a landmark of Bondi Beach for over 100 years, and the club's veterans swim year round no matter what the weather.

Becoming a hard-core member of Icebergs takes true dedication:

  • Swimmers must compete three Sunday’s out of four for a period of five years.
  • Icebergs swimming season is from May until September.
  • If a swimming member fails to swim on at least 3 Sundays they must provide a written letter of explanation before the end of the relevant month. This is known as the Historic Rule 15B.

For those who just want a casual dip though an entry fee of $6.50 isn't a steep price to pay to say that you've taken a swim in one of the best ocean-front pools in the world.

North Sydney Olympic Pool

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It's probably fair to say that the North Sydney Olympic Pool probably has one of the best views in Australia.

Located snuggly between the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Luna Park, the pool has a long and proud history with 86 world records being set at the pool by swimming greats such as John and Ilsa Konrads, Lorraine Crapp, Frank O'Neill, Judy Joy Davies, John Devitt, Shane Gould and Michelle Ford.

The $7.80 entrance fee might be a bit above other pools across the city, but for a view like this it's well worth the cost.

Just a warning: in summer this place can be packed to the brim so you might be fighting for a little lane space. Leaving your visit until the weather cools down a bit means you can enjoy the heated facilities and have a bit of leg room to do your best breaststroke without kicking the person next to you.

Balmoral Beach

Balmoral Beach
Balmoral Beach is a beautiful harbour beach surrounded by parklands.

Flickr CC: Simon_sees

Just a hop, skip and jump from the more famous Manly beach, Balmoral Beach is a lot quieter and calmer, sitting along the northern shoreline of Sydney Harbour.

Surrounded by beautiful houses, expensive yachts and the Sydney Harbour National Park, this beach is a little more off the tourist trail.

It's a great place for a swim in the near flat waters of the harbour, and next to the boatshed are swimming baths which are enclosed by shark nets (just in case).

A popular spot for families with kids, be sure to grab some fish and chips for lunch after your swim, and enjoy the surroundings.

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