November 23 - 29, 2014: Issue 190

Barrenjoey Breakers Swim Group

Barrenjoey Breakers Swim Group 

Many of the rock pools in Pittwater are community common watery or watering grounds. They are places where generations meet, exchange a greeting, catch up on all that has been going on and enjoy the salty brine together.

At Mona Vale, Bilgola, Avalon, Whaley and Palm Beach the Rock Pools are synonymous with community and early morning, before the rush and stress of a day can set in, people ease a muscle, invigorate the senses, and spend a half hour or so just enjoying the blessings of place. 

Scientific studies have shown the beneficial properties of salt water – it extracts toxins, relaxes you and the coolness is tonic for aching muscles. Sea water has a history of therapeutic use. Its application to the body, warmed and combined with massage, is referred to as Thalassotherapy, originating from the Greek word thalassa – a name for a mythological goddess that personifies the sea itself. 
Hippocrates (460 BC) made frequent use of salt, his works mention inhalation of steam from salt-water which more current studies have shown to provide anti-inflammatory effects from respiratory symptoms. 

Swimming itself, aside form cross country skiing, is the only form of exercise that gently, and supported by water, moves every muscle in the body. No other workout burns calories, boosts your metabolism, or firms every muscle in your body (without putting stress on your joints) better than a splash around in the watering grounds by swimming.

Meeting up with and spending time with people who enjoy a similar environment, has benefits beyond the obvious surface – if you’re having a hard time, or haven’t had a kind word from anyone for a while, head on down to your local Pittwater Rock Pool – you’ll find out everyone is smiling for a reason. From dawn until mid-morning, people who have swum together for decades are beginning their days in the best way possible – out in the ocean or in the ocean pool – and ultimately, are doing themselves and their community a huge favour by investing a little quality time in themselves.

This week we share an insight into one of these groups – our most northerly one – the Barrenjoey Breakers. We thank Virginia Head for her help with insights and fellow Barrenjoey Breaker Marcello Costantini for sharing some of his photographs among ours.

Where do you swim to?

We swim from here on the corner of Palm Beach Rock Pool, down to those two big Rocks. We then swim back to here, the pool, or to the shore – I swim to the shore. 
If it’s too rough, and some don’t like the rough water, they will swim in the pool. A lot of lap swimmers are ocean swimmers too.

Why is the group called the Barrenjoey Breakers?

We’re called the ‘Breakers’ because we swim outside the breakers all the time. We never come in to shore. Most just swim out there and come back again to here.

How did this group form?

A few of us were swimming up here of a morning – then somebody said to somebody else ‘do you want to join us?’ and it just grew from there. We get new swimmers all the time.

Virginia will take them through to where the flags are the first time, to build up confidence. They will then swim a little further and a little further until they are swimming to the rocks and back with us.

How many are in the Barrenjoey Breakers Swim Group?

There’s about 19 of us in total. Most of the Group are here on Mondays – many work as well so it varies.

If people want to get involved, what do they do?

Just show up. We’re here every day at 9 o’clock in the morning, although sometimes we will go into the swim at ten to nine.
We have people from overseas that come and join us  - they come and have a swim with us. 
It’s a lot of fun and you meet good people.

What is the age range?

We have kids swim with us when there are school holidays, the 30 year olds. Phil may be the oldest , he’s 79.

What is the Barrenjoey Breakers motto?


God in a delicate mood parted these headlands,
Bade His unwearying waters fret Him a bay.
All the bright breakers sang at the chance to adore Him,
All the blue breakers rolled from His feet to obey.

Cream as the clouds curves the sand where the light foam races,
Green, all a-patterned with grey is the gown of the land,
The land stepping down, austere, from the hill-top places
The sky in her hair and her silver feet in the sand. 

There is a pool by the cliffs that the waves wash over,
A clean-cut pool where a child may dive and play.
Low on the rocks it lies, like a sky-dropped mirror,
Never a light but it catches the live-long day.

For I have waked with the sun not over the headland,
All of the sea sun-grey, with one thrust of jade,
And in the heart of the pool, like a jewel lying,
One point of light from the cold green thrusting made.

Nearer the top of the hill, the slow sun struggles,
Primrose drifts on the sea with one purple stain,
And now in the pool's pale silver, is lying, lovely.
Violet, amethyst, amethyst, violet again.

Wild rose in the pool, white clouds and the sunset's rainbow,
A moon in the pool, a shy moon, bathing alone,
And, as I sleep, the stars sown in millions around me,
One shoots down and drowns in it like a stone.

God, in a delicate mood, parted these headlands,
God let the breakers fret Him this delicate bay,
Man made the pool, the clean-cut pool in the boulders,
God, in a delicate mood, glances its way.

PALM BEACH. (1926, February 6). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 11. Retrieved from

Some of the Barrenjoey Breakers 

Young Phil. 

 Margie Charlton!, daughter of Max Watt.

 Marcello Costantini