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80-year-old fits a lifetime of ocean swimming into a decade

Norm McIntyre was a late starter to the ocean swimming world, but now he swims up to 17 events a season, including his favourite, the Bondi Blue Water Challenge.

Norm McIntyre was a late starter to the ocean swimming world, only getting into swimming at 70-years-old, but since then he has well and truly made up for those lost swimming years.

Mr McIntyre, now 80, describes ocean swimming as a saviour and credits his late start to ocean swimming as to why he still loves the sport.

“Ocean swimming really has kept me alive because my wife and son died 15 years ago in the span of one week,” said Mr McIntyre.

“I was a little bit lost for a couple of years and didn’t know what to do with myself.

“But, one day I thought I don’t mind a bit of swimming so I took it up and now it is a big part of my life.

“I just love it and I think because I started later in life I don’t get bored of it like some people do who started swimming at an early age.”

Mr McIntyre finds solace in the water every day at one of Sydney’s most iconic pools.

“I like to think myself pretty lucky because I train at the Dawn Fraser Pool at Balmain every day for one hour,” said Mr McIntyre.

“I like it because it’s not like your normal pool, it’s like swimming in the ocean.

“You have the resident stingrays you see every day, there are fish everywhere, occasionally you touch a jellyfish and you can feel the currents rushing past you.

“Swimming at Dawny keeps my swimming exciting and I like being in nature, rather than following the black line.”

Since getting into swimming, Mr McIntyre has swum the Bondi Blue Water Challenge and a multitude of other ocean swim events every year.

“I have kept a log of all the swims over the years and there are about 17 different ocean swims I tend to do in and around Sydney,” said Mr McIntyre.

“My friend Ronnie White and I have tried to do most of them every year, we drive to the swims together, and then swim it together and just have a good time.

“Some of the swims we go to are Narrabeen, Collaroy, Balmain, Coogee, North Curl Curl, Bilgola, North Bondi Roughwater, Avalon, Mona Vale, Newcastle, Palm to Whale, North Bondi Classic, Malabar, Bondi Blue Water, North Stein and Newport.

“So there are quite a few to choose from and I love doing them and I don’t think I will stop anytime soon and it keeps me healthy so I will keep going.”

When asked what Mr McIntyre’s favourite thing about the Bondi Blue Water Challenge was, his reply was simple, “finishing it”.

“I like knowing I am getting close to the end and that there is only a couple of hundred metres to go and then finishing it,” said Mr McIntyre.

“I also like when the surf isn’t too rough on the way in, it can be quite rough on the way out sometimes which is ok, but I like it being a little less rough coming in.”

Events discussed in this article

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  • Written by Ocean Swims on 21 February 2022
  • (Updated on 10 August 2023)

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