My 10 best swims (out of 985)
My 10 best swims (out of 985)

Date: Friday 11th November 2016

On Friday 11th November, Peter Hancock's 985th day of consecutive swimming in NSW Australia, he shares his top 10 most enjoyable swims

Today is my 985th consecutive day of swimming.  You might think that doing the same thing for 985 days, especially if it requires a bit of effort, would become a drag. But it hasn’t. Swimming is something I’ve always loved and I am extremely lucky to have had this opportunity.   I’m still as enthusiastic about swimming as I have always been.

Enjoyment is not usually measured by the tangible things, such as the distance or temperature, but by the overall quality of the experience.  The ingredients for an enjoyable swim are many. Often it’s the mix of company (usually my family), location, and weather that make a swim enjoyable, and overlaid on these are filters of mood and clarity of thought. Then of course there are the things you see in the water, in the air above, or along the waters edge.

 Here are some of the most enjoyable swims I’ve had since I started this challenge (you can find them in a collection on the wildswim map):

 1. Dumaresq Dam- Those of you who follow me on Twitter familiar with the seasonal changes at the dam, near Armidale in NSW.  I swim throughout the year hear through snow, frost, storms, and wind, as well as through the balmy days of summer. On my birthday last year, my wife Mel, organized a piper to come out to the dam to play as I swam. It was fantastic- a beautiful flat lake with mist rising from the surface, and me the only one in the water!

2. Hideaway Island, Vanuatu- In 2014 we took our four kids to Vanuatu. We swam over coral gardens full of fish less than 50 m from shore. Our youngest son was 2.5, and swam on my back over the coral. He wore a small mask and snorkel so was able to see everything underwater. On the same trip, but a different beach, Josh and I swam with banded sea snakes and lionfish.

3. Lightning Ridge bore baths- Every couple of years we have a few days at Lightning Ridge, fossicking for opals and soaking in the thermal baths there. Water in the baths comes up from about 1000 m underground, is naturally heated to temperatures between 41 and 46°C, and is approximately 2 million years. In winter.

4. Copeton Dam- This large reservoir near Inverell in NSW is host to the Copeton Freshwater Swim, a 5 km swim around huge granite boulders emerging from the water and small islands. The swim course changes each year depending on water level.

5. Copi Hollow, Lake Pamamaroo- This is an inland lake of brown, turbid water near Menindee. When I swam here in October, there was a strong wind that pushed waves into my face and the water was so turbid that I couldn’t see past the lens of my goggles. However, it was a lovely swim in a remote part of western NSW. Its beauty comes from it being such a large body of water in an otherwise arid landscape.

6. Urumbilum Creek- This small subtropical creek near Coffs Harbour on the NSW north coast is one of my favourites. Home to the exquisite ornate rainbowfish, the water is clear, cool, and shaded by rainforest trees.

7. Cobblers Beach in Sydney- Cobblers Beach is a secluded beach in Sydney’s Middle Harbour, surrounded but National Park. It is also the location for The Sydney Skinny, Australia’s largest nude swimming event.  Mel and I (along with more than 1000 other people) swam in it for the first time this year and found the atmosphere completely relaxed. We’re not usually the type for public nudity, but didn’t feel uncomfortable at all and even swam the course a second time. It’s a short, sheltered beach without waves and the water is clear.

8. Honeymoon Bay – This swim was on another family holiday (there is a theme to our family holidays)- this time to Jervis Bay on NSW’s south coast. Honeymoon Bay is a small, circular pool of flat water connected to the sea by a narrow entrance between two rocky points. We spent a good two hours swimming and snorkeling in the bay and over the rocks. I swam with Steph beside a 2 m long wobbegong shark. It didn’t seem too concerned about us, and settled slowly on the bottom between some fronds of kelp.

9. Veisari River, Nakavu, Fiji- Mel and I rode a water taxi up to Nakavu Village in Fiji. I swam upstream for as far as I could before the current defeated me, then drifted downstream with a local man through deep pools and past freshwater fish species that I hadn’t seen before. A highlight for me was finding some little freshwater crabs among the rocks on the bottom.

10. Boyd River at Dalmorton- Josh and I swam here after a long, hot hike. The river was clear and refreshingly cool. There were plenty of rainbowfish swimming against the shallow edge, and in the deeper water beside some logs we found a freshwater stonefish.

 So with less than 20 days to go I feel that I’m almost there. I’m looking forward to it, though like many milestones, 1000 days is a somewhat arbitrary one. I will probably wake up the following day and celebrate with a swim.

Peter Hancock, November 2016