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Xmas 2016 – Vikings on tour!

Report by Al Byrne

At Thredbo training camp (hosted by our friends from Ryde AUSSI Masters Swimming Club (RAMS) over the long weekend of 30 Sep – 03 Oct 16) some reminiscing over dinner and a glass or two of wine led to a pretty vague, but very cunning, plan for a number of Vikings to stay wet while our coaches took their Christmas break from formal training sessions. Our aim was to get away from the comfortable environment of our home pool at Tuggeranong’s Lakeside Leisure Centre, and enjoy visiting some of the unfamiliar or unfashionable regional swimming pools around our area. We were particularly keen to recreate the fun childhood swimming experiences we all remembered from years ago, so there would be no visits to any fancy-schmancy indoor pools, nor to anything measured in those new-fangled metres!

Tue 27 Dec 16 – Dickson Aquatic Centre. Located amongst lush grounds in North Canberra, Dickson pool was our first destination. While relatively recently refurbished, and a sparkling 50 metres long, this one was, apparently, the teenage stomping ground of a couple of long-term Vikings members. After a leisurely hour or so in the water battling the crowd, we all adjourned across the road for a relaxed brunch and coffee at one of the nearby cafes at Dickson shops. Well, it was relaxed for most of us – don’t ask Leisa how long it took to get served her coffee!

Thu 29 Dec 16 – Braidwood. Just over an hour to the east of Canberra on the King’s Highway, we were greeted by a grey and drizzly Braidwood, and plenty of holiday traffic heading over to the coast. Arriving just before opening time, our handful of Vikings were amongst the first into the pool for the day. It didn’t take long, however, for the one local swimmer to admit defeat and leave us to it. The pool certainly met our criteria – six lanes, 20 yards (yes, yards; that would be 18.3 metres – we all got plenty of turns practice), changing rooms without a roof, and hot showers in VERY short supply. In keeping with the ‘fun and friendship’ part of the Masters Swimming aims, we naturally had to follow up swimming with a stroll through Braidwood’s tourist strip, and lunch at the hippest establishment in town, completely polishing off their stock of smoked salmon!

Thu 29 Dec 16 – Bungendore. While several of the contingent couldn’t handle the idea of a double-header, a small group of diehards interrupted their drive back to Canberra with a visit to the Bungendore Community pool later in the afternoon. While not as quiet as the Braidwood pool, this relatively new 25 metre pool was not exactly busy, either. Having been at work at Braidwood earlier in the day, the Bungendore pool attendant recognised us, and immediately offered to cordon off a lane for our exclusive use, presumably so that our pace wouldn’t disturb the ‘Mum and the kids’ swimmers already in attendance. We might have been a disappointment – after two back-to-back sessions, none of us were at PB speeds!

Tue 03 Jan 17 – Manuka. Definitely no modern ‘splash park’ facilities here! This gorgeous heritage listed pool was Canberra’s first, opening in 1931. With the exception of the removal of the diving platforms, the 33 1/3 yard main pool and the surrounding wooden benches, etc, have stayed almost unchanged since then! We learned exactly the tree behind which one then teenage Viking had her first (and only, as it turned out) exploratory cigarette, as well as hearing about the amazing range of ‘offences’ that would get you banned for a week. As well as attempting some recruiting, and meeting a former South African Masters Swimmer, we even swam a relaxed few laps in the glorious sunshine! This one was actually a pretty magical experience!

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