Daily swimming in the dam

The dam was my daily early morning swim spot for a few days on a key part of my trip to Australia and New Zealand. I swam in many different waters, but this was the place I got to know best.

I visited my friend Phil, who I last saw over 25 years ago, at her home in the lovely Adelaide Hills. She and her daughter have horses, chickens, dogs and cats, and the dam – a man-made pond fed by a natural spring – is used to provide water for stock. Sometimes Ronnie the rescued greyhound swims there. So do moorhens and ducks, and herons and cormorants dive into it for fish.

Pond in bright sunshine with reeds, trees and a horse reflected in still water
Dam in the Adelaide Hills with reeds, reflections, and Bubbles the horse

Phil’s son in law said the dam would be warmer than the pool: he had been in up to his waist recently to do some maintenance. And he reassured me that the deadly brown snakes that lurk in the reeds in summer should not be a problem. So I got up early and squelched into the muddy shallows in neoprene socks and swimsuit, then braved the cool deep water. It was a refreshing start to the day, and I had a dip each day I stayed.

Throughout my trip I swam to start the day whenever I could. It’s not always easy to get out of a warm bed and persuade yourself to get into cold water, but I never regret it.

pond with eucalyptus and weeping willow tree, in sunshine
Dam in Adelaide Hills

At Phil’s it was a joy to get up and walk a few yards to a natural swimming pool. I liked seeing it in different moods over the few days I stayed. It felt a bit like Roger Deakin and the moat in which he could swim daily and observe it and its wildlife (as he describes in the seminal wild swimming book, Waterlog (discussed on the Caught by the River website).

One morning the sun warmed the water. On another dawn the air was cooler than the water, magically swathing it in mist.

pond with mist above the water, trees and reflections, ripple in the water
The dam on a misty morning

On every dip the dam was beautiful. On one side it is overlooked by a magnificent gum tree, often with locally common birds such as galah cockatoos, a heron, Australian magpies or a hawk perching on it. Shading the other corner of the pond and providing a handy changing place is a weeping willow. Such trees are seen as undesirable aliens in Australia, but Phil and many others love them. Perhaps, as for me, they are a reminder of river landscapes of home?

weeping willow tree with the pond and shadows
Weeping willow at the dam

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