'The best in the world': a love letter to Australia's public pools

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Tracing his conversion from pool refusnik to aquatic evangelist, Benjamin Law asks: is swimming the Australian version of baptism?

In Australia, you’re expected to just know how to swim. It makes sense: more than four in five Australians live within easy walking or driving distance of the sea. As writer Anna Funder recently said of those who call the driest continent on Earth home: “We cling to the edge of the continent, and we swim from a very early age.”

Growing up, I hated swimming – which was awful, because I didn’t just grow up in Australia, I grew up in Queensland: the sun-saturated state that gifted us Olympic gods like Kieran Perkins, Susie O’Neill, Grant Hackett and Stephanie Rice, a state where the main trade seemed to be sugar, coal and championship swimmers.

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