By Vita Forest
Sydney, as you might imagine, has a large collection of pools. We went to one of them on Tuesday – the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre. It is not the closest pool, or the most scenic, but it does have other advantages. We picked up Max’s friend Max (yes, two friends with the same name and even the same initial. That’s what happens in real life) and I battled through the pouring rain in the car.
It is a large indoor complex with a selection of pools to suit all swimmers. And the water is warm. Warm enough to stay in for nearly four hours (when the free parking runs out). There are pools to swim laps in, dive in, sit in and play in. And even one whose floor can be raised and lowered depending on the activity (Water polo? No problem). We spent a bit of time on the waterslide, in one of the spas, and on the wet playground (with its warning bell sounding when the enormous bucket of water at its peak was almost full and about to tip). But the funnest of the fun was indeed the Rapid River.
This is an undulating circuit which careers around in a snaking loop, it starts with a great surge of water at the path’s opening which propels you forward with great speed immediately, and ends in a larger open area where you can catch your breath, swing off and hang out under one of the shower-like fountains, or keep your feet up and be carried around again. It has jet outlets around the walls which push the swimmer forward and make it difficult to move backwards.
We spent most of our time here because this was the best place for a monster game of tip. Tip has evolved somewhat since I was at school. Now they use hand signals. It’s quite easy and quite fun. Holding up two fingers in a Peace sign means you are not “in”. If only one is displayed (as if you have just thought of a great idea), you better get away from there fast! If you get tipped, you have to give the tipper a ten second getaway. This can also be counted wordlessly, displaying the diminishing timeframe on fingers disappearing into a fist…
There were lots of strategies; you could wait opposite a screen which showed live camera images from further down the river (when another player surged closer, you could swim on yourself), you could float by at the back of another group of revellers and hope that you might be mistaken for a piece of flotsam (like Harrison Ford did in The Fugitive), or you could slowly drag yourself the wrong way back through the current and huddle behind a bulge in the tiled wall. And wait. Sometimes it was a case of speed – crashing and diving through the crush of bodies, sometimes it was crouching in the stiller water like a crocodile with only your snout and eyes above water.
I was not the only adult in the river and I was not the oldest. All of us had silly happy grins on our faces.
Because it was just a lot of fun.