Synchronised swimming in Marrickville

Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre, Marrickville

A few years ago Marrickville was described as the new Paddington of Sydney. For those of you not familiar with Sydney suburbs, this is like saying Brooklyn is the new Wall Street. Yep, just kinda ridiculous.

The point this overzealous newspaper headline was trying to make is that like many other multi-cultural inner city suburbs around the world, it was now increasingly being gentrified, with rising real estate pricing out new immigrants and replacing them with young professional couples with a penchant for recycling and organic food.

All of that said, this inner-west suburb still radiates a level of acceptance not always seen in other parts Sydney.

So it seems only apt that one of its local swimming pools is named after a local who was, in everyway, an early flag-bearer of the Marrickville spirit of today.

Annette Kellerman was a big R radical before her time. The Swimmer cum actress/writer is credited with, not only being one of the first women to wear a one-piece bathing costume instead of the then-accepted pantaloons (she was even arrested on a Boston beach for doing so), she is also credited with inventing my favourite kooky Olympic sport – synchronized swimming.

This happy accident occurred during her 1907 performance of water ballet in a glass tank in the New York Hippodrome (as you do). She even has a star on the Hollywood walk of fame to prove it.

Annette rocks that radical one-piece. A Baywatch girl before her time

Annette rocks that radical one-piece. A Baywatch girl before her time

More than 100 years later you can be pretty sure the woman known as the ‘Australian Mermaid’ would approve of modern day Marrickville and the large community swimming complex named in her honour.

Situated in Enmore Park, home to a very large rocket ship and an extraordinary array of stray shopping trollies (more on that later), the pool is popular with families of all shapes, colours and sexual preferences.

With a colour scheme which resembles a citrus container of tic tacs the complex is home to a 50 metre pool and gym. It’s also toasty and warm, perfect for knocking out some lengths on a cold winter’s day.

After a decent swim there’s also two excellent café’s nearby, Petty Cash, on the edge of the park and West Juliet, home to famed cookies (although closed on the Sunday when we visited).

Trolleyed in Marrickville

Trolleyed in Marrickville

High points: The Psychic Sarah’s Queen of cups chai at nearby Petty Cash cafe. There’s also a large array of shopping trolley handy in every street.

Low points: Competitive swimmers, who kept getting overtaking me in the slow lane. Who does that.

Cost: $6.80 for an adult

Attire: Ode to Annette and think vintage– it has to be all about the seamless one-piece

Best for: Anyone who wants to breastfeed in public. Or start a new synchronised swim troupe

Overall score. 7.0

Petty Cash rainbow friendly

Petty Cash rainbow friendly

The mermaid swim school

The mermaid swim school. Doing Annette proud


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