North Sydney Olympic Pool

As a teenager I spent many hours training in North Sydney Olympic Pool.  Perfectly positioned between the harbour bridge and Luna Park while nestled on the foreshore of Sydney harbour, and with all its retained charm of its 1930’s era, it is absolutely my most favourite pool to swim in.

The original entrance of the pool

The original entrance of the pool

But this week it was Alfie’s turn.  Having qualified at his school’s swimming carnival to compete at the Zone Swimming Carnival, we caught the bus to the swim centre on a perfect Autumn day.

Heading into the carnival

Heading into the carnival

Eleven schools were represented that day at what was Alfie’s first Zone Swimming Carnival.  He was to swim in just one event, the Under 9’s 50 mtrs freestyle.  He was a bit nervous.  I asked, ‘What are you worried about?’ and he said, ‘What if I do a false start?  What if I fall off the diving blocks?  What if my goggles come off?’

The marshalling area

The marshalling area

‘Well then, you’d be in very good company.  Because there are a lot of Olympians who have experienced all of those things but, like them, you just have to be positive and if anything like that happens, get back up and try again.’  But he was still rather anxious; I was nervous for him myself.

The Olympic pool, the baby pool and Luna Park in the distance

The Olympic pool, the baby pool and Luna Park in the distance

There were six heats and Alfie was in the last one and given Lane 6.  I managed to get an action shot of him diving into the pool.  Apart from the fact his head needs to be tucked between his arms, this was a great dive.  But am I allowed to say that I find it very frustrating watching Alfie swim?  He has beautiful style; he’s on top of the water, he swims perfectly straight, he bilateral breaths while only allowing just one eye out of the water and he’s a strong swimmer.  His technique is actually great.  But he moves through the water like he’s trying to unwind after a hectic day.  Those arms move over his head so slowly and his kick is leisurely.

The pool

The pool

I complained about this to his swimming coach and she said, ‘I can’t give him the killer instinct, no one can teach that’.  Fair enough.

Pre-race nerves

The anticipation of the race.    My little guy is in Lane 6

He didn’t win.  You can pick the winner of this heat.  That’s him in Lane 3.  First off the blocks, first into the water, head tucked in between his arms doing a perfect dive and sporting a speed-suit.  Killer instinct in spades.

The starting positions are quite varied

The starting positions are quite varied

My little guy came fourth.  It was such a close finish I thought he came third but alas, by .0001 of a second, third place was given to the other good diver, the one in Lane 8.  We didn’t need to stick around for the finals.

And the race begins.  That's my little guy in Lane 6

And the race begins. That’s my little guy in Lane 6

Alfie swam his race in 46.10 seconds which was a personal best so that was something to celebrate.  However, just to put that time into perspective, Australia’s most successful Olympic swimmer is Ian Thorpe.  Among many records, Thorpe holds the Under 10’s 50 mtr freestyle record.  I don’t know how long ago it was that he set that record but his time was 29 seconds.  Next year Alfie will be in the Under 10’s.  We have a lot of work to do!

It's such a beautiful location for an Olympic pool

It’s such a beautiful location for an Olympic pool

After the race I showed him around the swim centre.  It has changed a lot since it opened in 1937 but all the original charm remains.  I took him to the kiosk that is now run by Ripples and alcoholic beverages are served.  Tempting, but I thought it was a little early for my first drink.

There was no cover over the baby pool back in my day

There was no cover over the baby pool back in my day

I showed him the ‘Hall of Fame’ where there is a wall of photos of famous Australian swimmers who have set world records in that very pool including John Konrads who won the 1500 mtrs at the Rome Olympics and Dawn Fraser  who won medals in Melbourne, Rome and Tokyo Olympic Games.  I said to Alfie, ‘Do you find this inspiring?’ and he shrugged and said, ‘A bit’.  I blame his father; when it comes to sport he has no killer instinct – these are his genes I’m battling.

An outdoor sunbathing area beside the kiosk

An outdoor sunbathing area beside the kiosk

Never mind.  Alfie didn’t do a false start, he didn’t fall off the blocks, he kept his goggles on and he swam a PB;  in my favourite Olympic pool.  And as my boy with no killer instinct added, ‘And it was a day out of the classroom’.

The sun deck above the pool.

The sun deck above the pool.

Not a bad day out at all. North Sydney Olympic Pool:  4 Alfred Street, Milsons Point NSW 2061 Ph:  9936 8368 you liked this post, you’re welcome to share it.


  1. Danielle says:

    Awww, well done Alfie on his PB. I was like Alfie around that age, great swimming style, just not enough speed, despite all the training. But I never got to swim in the Olympic pool in a zone carnival, so kudos to Alfie for making it that far. Must add the pool to my list. You can’t beat that setting!

  2. Personal best, a day out of school and you didn’t fall off the block – a stunner of a day. I love that he gives everything a go, what an amazing kid you’ve got.

  3. Its a killer that killer instinct! But a PB what could be better than that. A lovely day all round I would say!

  4. What a gorgeous pool!!! Congrats to Alfie on his personal best…that’s certainly something to celebrate!!!

  5. What a stunning setting and a beautiful art deco building. I had to read Thorpie’s time twice – 50 m in 29 seconds in the under 10s? Thats some record isn’t it. Anyway, back to Alfie – he’s a trooper, enjoys his sports and a PB always deserves an ice cream.

  6. What a beautiful setting. I can see why this pool ranks as your favorite.

    As for Alfie, as long as he enjoys himself, that’s what counts. And he really did do quite well.

  7. Great photos as usual, Charlie. Your little guy did great! As long as he enjoyed it and you did too! Just being in a place as awesome a that has to count for something!! 😉 xo

  8. Give Alfie time — the competitive genes just may not have kicked in yet. And even if they never do, you’re both have a great time together, which is awesome. Fun read — thanks.

  9. PB = Personal Best … I did NOT know that. 🙂

    Congratulations to Alfie and, in spite of having no killer instinct, he got out of classes and got to swim in an amazing location, continuing a family tradition.

  10. What a pool! What a setting! What a nice event! And kudos to Alfie.

  11. Wow, nice pool Charlie…congratulations to Alfie…the most important it so enjoy and the rest will come along.
    Hope you are having a great week 😀

  12. Looks like a pretty nice way to spend a day odd school! Well done Alfie on your pb.

  13. That’s not bad at all, congrats to the young man. Are all the men we married without the killer instinct? What happened to competition? The pool is absolutely beautiful and I love the way it’s juxtaposed to that gorgeous bridge and the giant face with the ferris wheel behind it. It looks like you had a great day, the sky looks mesmerizing!

  14. What a great setting for a pool. Those lounge chairs under the bridge look inviting. Never knew that this pool existed. will put it on my “Sydney list”.

  15. That is a gorgeous pool! I absolutely love these pictures and the surrounding scenery too. Congrats to Alfie. He sounds very zen. 🙂

  16. Hey Alfie… After 44years I still can’t dive! You are a legend.

    • Hi Suzanne, my swimming coach still makes me practise my diving and he puts a hoop out in front of me and I have to dive through it. I feel like I’m five years old!

  17. If a prize were to be given for the best-looking dive it would definitely go to Alfie. He looks good. The boy in 7 looks as though he’s about to walk on water; and is the boy third from the left diving into the wrong lane?

    Great photos, Charlie.

  18. Good for you Alfie, it sounds like a great day out indeed! Just imagine if he had won though Charlie…. all those 4am early starts in all weathers, driving around to meets all over the place, so much effort! I’m all for killing off the killer instinct unless it comes naturally, I’d much rather sleep in 🙂 xox

  19. Congrats to Alfie on his PB and who knows? Kids change so much from one year to the next, he may evolve that killer instinct before it’s all said and done. Meanwhile, there’s a lot to be said for being “game.” 🙂

  20. That puts my local pool to shame – I grew up swimming outdoor but these days I find it easier to swim indoors because of all the skin cancer worries. But I would leap (not dive as I don’t do that) at the chance to swim in this pool – sounds like it was built around the time of the harbour bridge – imagine being in sydney back then when so much was happening!

  21. What a beautiful setting and place. 🙂 I sympathize with Alfie for I don’t have the killer instinct either. 🙂

  22. Congrats Alfie re PB, true!
    What a great pool with lots of history and wonderful day and memories made with mum too!
    Thanks for sharing another Alfie story Charlie…makes it feel like we now know all your family!
    Cheers! Joanne

  23. Congrats Alfie on the PB, and what an amazing pool to swim in… just perfect 🙂

  24. Whenever I go to Luna Park, I always pass this pool, it is in such a beautiful location 😀
    And go Alfie, he is so talented!

    Choc Chip Uru

  25. Great job, Alfie! How sweet his nerves got twisted. You just want to hug them tight during those times. My kids took lessons, never competed. Lessons were held in a pool at our local high school. Nothing compared to this incredible pool!

  26. Fourth place sounds pretty good to me! And his dive had serious style – definitely a winning start even if his head wasn’t 100% correct in position. I think technique is harder to learn than ‘killer instinct’, so he is well positioned to suddenly develop a zest for winning and catch up with Thorpe soon 🙂

  27. That pool is just so beautiful isn’t it Charlie. He may not have the killer instinct but his Mum does so he will go far in this world ( maybe just not sport)

  28. I couldn’t swim at all nut like Alfie, I would have loved a day out of the classroom! 🙂

  29. A “personal best” – fantastic – you can’t ask for more than that!

  30. This has got to be one of the prettiest pools I’ve seen! The view is simply breathtaking! As much as I love Melbourne I must say the Sydney Harbour bridge is just so beautiful! Congrats to Alfie for doing such a great job!

    And don’t worry the sport genes might kick in soon hehe 🙂

  31. What an absolutely gorgeous pool and setting, Charlie. It really is spectacular. I know how proud of Alfie you and Carl must be. He is really adorable, but on top of that natural charm, he seems ready to try most anything, and that’s adventurous, with or without killer instinct! LOL! He did well. My brother’s youngest son was a really very talented basketball player, with so much natural ability! But he was too “polite” on the court to really take that talent anywhere. We would watch him and just laugh–that was his natural instinct. He wasn’t pushy! I really enjoy your mother-son stories. 🙂

  32. My congratulations go out to Alfie. His personal best…that’s what counts.

  33. At 9 years of age, I think there’s still time for the “killer” to come out in Alfie. The fact that he’s competing says something. Many won’t do it. As others have said, that pool and setting are beautiful. What a gem from the past! Good to see it’s not just well-kept but that it’s still in use.

  34. Great job Alfie!
    That pool looks like a fabulous spot to spend the day!

  35. Well done, Alfie! What a gorgeous setting for that pool. As long as he had fun and it was a day out of the classroom, its all good. He’s still young. I know how you feel though, because Laith is the same way with football. I don’t understand the non urgent or the relaxed attitude on the field! And we’re not battling genes, Trace and I were very sporty and in competitive sports. I put it down to age, maybe they are too young to be so committed. I didn’t even sign him up this season, thought I’d give him a break and maybe he’d want it more!

  36. You are such a good Mom Charlie! And yours is the handsomest dude there. And 4th isn’t bad! And don’t you worry….you can yet be surprised. Bet he had a grand day.

  37. What a gorgeous setting, I can see why it’s your favorite pool. I asked my daughter’s teacher that very same thing.. why my daughter didn’t try to go the extra distance on assignments, etc. And she told me the very same thing, it comes from within and it can’t be taught. I wonder about that.. I do set an example, but I think some kids figure it out earlier than others. At least he’s having fun. xx

  38. It is a beautiful pool. I loved the dive of number 7. I remember Adriano watching me in a swimming race many years ago and he said exactly the same thing. I swan beautifully but so slowly. Not having the killer instinct is not so bad.

  39. Aww Alfie did great!! And yes, I guess that killer instinct would come handy in swimming competitions…but It has its pros and cons in general!

  40. Sweet Posy Deams says:

    What a lovely venue!

  41. This pool is gorgeous! Congratulations to Alfie!

  42. Great job Alfie! This is a beautiful swimming pool (with the view!!). I don’t mind spending the day there while enjoying the beautiful sun (while kids swim). =P

  43. Oh good on him! A PB in a very picturesque pool! Love your photos Charlie… and there is nothing better than a day off school when your 9 🙂

  44. Dear Charlie,

    I think Alfie has the best dive among all the kids. I’m sure he will improve and do better next year.

  45. This has got to be the most beautiful pool I’ve ever seen – love the views! No doubt it gets packed on hot summer days.

    And good on Alfie!

  46. Just the best pool in Sydney Charlie, and that’s saying something… lovely to gaze upon it.

  47. Well done, alfie! What a cool pretty swimming pool & surroundings too! Great swimming action shots! x


  1. […] was held at my most favourite pool, North Sydney Olympic Pool.  My favourite not only because I used to train there as a child, but because of its unique […]

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