Seawater-filled swimming pools called ocean pools are a key part of seaside life in Australia, particularly along the New South Wales coast. From Olympic-sized pools to smaller walled-in rock shelves, ocean pools are fed by ocean water either pumped from tidal tanks, or from the force of the waves breaking over the walls of the pool itself. As far back as 1819, when convicts built Newcastle’s Bogey Pool, Australians have enjoyed seawater-filled ocean pools without the dangers of rip currents, heavy surf or sharks.
In the late 1800s, with the support and funding of the NSW government, programs were established to teach boys and girls to swim—in regulated swimming costumes, of course. Ocean pools were built to accommodate newly formed swimming clubs. Competitive swimming became popular, and rectangular pools were built with marked lanes, as well as bleachers for spectators.
New ocean pool construction continued until the 1970s when home pools became more affordable, and public pools were built away from the shores. Ocean pools remained popular, though, with more than 100 still in operation to this day.
Kyle flew to Sydney to photograph several of the local pools still in use today. “I arrived on a rainy day and I was there solo. The person who was going to assist had some passport issues, so I was there solo for two weeks. It was overwhelming traveling solo. I encountered complications like driving on the “other” side of the road. I grew up a lot during that trip because I had to push myself. I visited each of the ocean pools along the coast.”
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