Winter swimming on the Northern Beaches

Cold? Who said it was cold??

Australia enjoys relatively mild weather all year round and the strong-hearted take advantage of this to swim in the ocean as a way to keep fit and feel great.

If you love a dip and you live in Frenchs Forest, Allambie Heights or nearby areas, here’s how you can keep your swimming up this winter. This article honours World Ocean Day, which is held in June, but it mentions some indoor swimming pools if you’re not a fan of those lower ocean temperatures.

The benefits of cold water swimming

You don’t need a home ice bath when you live on the Northern Beaches. As well as keeping you fit, a dip into very cold water has been found by a report published by the USA’s National Library of Medicine to change in hematological and endocrine function, reduce upper respiratory tract infections and improve mood disorders and general well-being.

While some people take this to the extreme in the Northern Hemisphere and dip in genuinely freezing waters, at least in Australia the temperature still stays around 17 degrees.

People who live on the Northern Beaches have the highest level of wellbeing in Sydney; perhaps this is in part because we have access to such appealing natural surroundings, including the ocean!

Where to enjoy an ocean swim this winter

Freshwater Beach: Freshwater Beach is ‘down the hill’ from Allambie Heights and offers an open beach as well as a rockpool. There is a thriving cafe scene just up the road from the sand, or you can drop by Harbord Diggers, the local club.

North & South Curl Curl: This beach is better known as a surfing spot but there is a walled pool at the south end, plus the cafe at the Surf Club where you can grab breakfast and a coffee.

Fairy Bower: Fairy Bower, between Manly and Shelly Beach is a 30-metre ocean pool built by locals back in the 1920s. If you can find a parking spot, you can enjoy an early morning dip… or you can join the Bold and the Beautiful swim group, which meets every single day at 7am at the beachfront in Manly, outside the Life Saving Club. This informal group sets out to swim the 1.5 kilometre distance to Shelly Beach and back.

Around the corner from Manly, Fairlight Beach is a lovely snorkelling spot and it has a rockpool for swimming laps. If you’re up for a walk as well as a swim, set out for Forty Baskets Beach, which is located in Manly Cove. This one is only accessible on foot but it’s a nice change from the busier spots in Manly. If you’re looking for a coffee, try Forty Beans at nearby Lower Beach Street.

Your other option down this way is Little Manly, a harbour-side beach that feels very peaceful. There is a kiosk on site that is open in the mornings.

Want to swim indoors?

The most conveniently located swim centre if you’re in Allambie Heights of Frenchs Forest is Warringah Aquatic Centre. This is a very family friendly place, with lots of options for swimmers with different goals.

Meanwhile, Virgin Active offers its members a 25 metre pool as well as a spa and sauna. If you don’t love the idea of an ocean swim you can enjoy a few laps here during the colder months.

Swim safe!

It’s recommended that you swim with a friend as a safety precaution. A wetsuit and goggles will make your winter swim more comfortable.

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