We were excited to recently meet Dawn who since moving to Australia from the UK has been a regular patron of Victoria Park Pool for over 20 years. Dawn shared with us about her experience moving to Sydney, and how centres like Victoria Park Pool have contributed to her health and wellbeing.
Dawn: "I grew up in central London and while I always loved swimming, our local indoor pools were all 25-30 metres long, a bit neglected, and usually over-chlorinated which made me feel dizzy!
“When I first arrived in Australia in 1990, I was blown away by the City of Sydney swimming pools. What a luxury - it was like a five-star experience.
"I couldn’t believe there were so many 50 metre pools in Sydney so close to the city and was amazed the beautiful outdoor ones were heated!"
Victoria Park Pool has played a special role in Dawn’s life ever since she settled in Sydney.
"I love this place - the greenery of the surrounding park, the blue sky, the sun on the water, the bird life, and dragonflies! It is such a beautiful spot.
"In my twenties and thirties, I worked mostly indoors doing very hectic and physically demanding jobs. After a long dayshift, it was wonderful, to come to the pool, catch some sunshine, swim and unwind.
"Whatever job I’ve had, Victoria Park Pool has always been on the way to or from home, so it has been a continuous haven for me for many years. I feel really attached to this place. Whenever I am here, I always feel happy."
The importance of staying active
"Like many people during COVID, I gained a lot of weight and lost a lot of muscle. I kind of lost my way as far as health and fitness was concerned.
“My weight was spiralling upwards, I kept injuring myself whenever I tried to exercise, and I felt sure I was heading for major health crisis if I didn’t do something different – and soon.”
Soon after, Dawn took a redundancy and self-employment gave her more freedom to prioritise her health and fitness in new ways.
“Since last year, I have been swimming laps and doing lots of aqua aerobics classes. Recently I’ve added training in the gym into the mix, first with a Personal Trainer, and now with a friend I made from the Aqua classes.
"I’ve really improved my fitness, I’ve dropped 20 kilos and am working on the next 10 kilos. I’ve still got a long way to go, but already feel so much better. I move easier, breathe deeper, sleep better, and have loads more energy through the day.
"When I started back at the pool last year, I could only do six laps - but I just kept adding two laps each time I swam and was soon doing 20 laps. Ten months on, I often swim 30 laps, sometimes twice a day.
"I then decided I wanted a new challenge, so I tried a Shallow-Aqua class. I did not find it easy at all. But I did find it loads of fun!
“I noticed people 20 years my senior were absolutely crushing the exercises, while I was really struggling. That was quite humbling, but I took it as a good sign too. There was a lot of laughter and good humour in the class and that’s what really hooked me in - I’ve been going to aqua ever since! I’ve made some good friends and now go to extra classes at Gunyama Park as I feel so invigorated after the class.
"The aqua instructors here are the best. They make the exercises fun and light-hearted, but at the same time - demanding enough to make a difference. They’re very smart with how they structure the classes to include all different fitness levels.
The classes were the game changer for me. They improved my fitness much more than I expected; and having a class to go to helped me to show up consistently to the pool."
What makes Victoria Park Pool your happy place?
"I love the easy, community feel of the place. Everyone’s welcome which means you meet all sorts of people here.
"Now that I work for myself, I often set up at one of the tables by the pool, writing, or sketching in between laps and a class. It’s so much more inspiring to be here, than being stuck inside on the computer at home.
"The staff and the trainers are so friendly and welcoming – it’s easy to ask for help if you need it.
"Early mornings in the winter when the steam is still rising off the pool, or after dark when the moon is up – these are my favourite times to swim.
"More than anything, I just adore the sensation of being outside, in the water in a heated pool. So simple, but such a treat!"
Hear more 360 member stories in our 'Happy Place' series:
Check out an article below!