MasterChef Australia’s first-ever winner, Julie Goodwin, was a latecomer to ocean swimming but since finding it in 2019 she hasn’t looked back.
“I had always loved the ocean and the beach and I loved the idea of properly swimming in the ocean but I was a bit afraid of it,” said Ms Goodwin.
“It wasn’t until 2019 that I found myself in a really difficult place with my mental health and exercise was something that helped me.
“I started pool swimming and it became part of my daily routine but then I saw Laurie McKinna, an old mate of mine, on the local news. I knew that he had become an avid ocean swimmer, so I texted him and asked how far is it out to the yellow buoy that he swims to every morning. His reply was ‘I’ll see you at 6 am and you can see yourself.’
“So I thought, OK, I’ll just dive into the deep end and just turn up. I did that and the rest is pretty much history.”
Ocean swimming with the Scozie’s is now the highlight of Ms Goodwin’s day, and recently, when travelling for work, she felt the difference in her body when she wasn’t able to ocean swim.
I had to travel for work for a week and a half and I could feel the difference in not only my brain but also my bones when I wasn’t able to ocean swim. Ms Goodwin
“Getting into the water does something to my body and brain chemistry and helps to keep my brain on an even keel which is one of the most important parts for me.
“It’s not just one thing about ocean swimming that helps me but rather all of the benefits combined from the water being cold and invigorating to the feeling of being almost free from gravity. It’s also knowing that I have put my feet on the floor that morning and actually gotten up and done something.
“Once I get into the water, I forget about everything else going on and nothing worries me, I just focus on my breathing and moving my arms and legs.
“I also love getting out to the yellow or sometimes red buoy and having a laugh with my swimming friends before heading back in for a cup of tea or coffee and a chat post-swim.”
Ocean swimming to Ms Goodwin is much more than swimming; it’s an opportunity to be social and smooth her body and brain while being a part of something bigger.
“For not only me but also the people I swim with, ocean swimming is about the social interaction,” said Ms Goodwin.
“It’s also much more than exercise for me, it’s a balm for my brain and it lifts my spirits and makes everything better.
“Ocean swimming is like coming home for me and there’s something beautiful about being a part of something really huge and connected to an ecosystem that is largely unseen by the human eyes. It’s like we are just a little dot in a giant, giant thing and that to me is quite beautiful.
“For many of us, there’s not a single day that we walk away from Terrigal Beach wishing we hadn’t swum that morning.”
Ms Godwin tries to swim multiple times a week while she figures out the optimal work/life balance.
“When I am home and not travelling for work, I try to swim three to four times a week,” said Ms Goodwin.
“If I aim to swim every day then I feel I have that pressure on myself. I am also trying to find a good balance in my life and that includes time with my granddaughter, my work and some days that is sleep because that has to be my priority when things get exhausting.
“I am quite old to be working out what life should comprise of but I am only just working it out now and that is ok.
“Up until very recently, my life was all about working and taking every opportunity and going hard at everything which is one of the reasons I burnt out, but now I am figuring out a balance and swimming is a huge part of that for me.”
We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ask Ms Goodwin what her favourite dish is to celebrate a good swim and her answer was an Aussie favourite.
“I love banana bread and it’s the perfect thing to have after a swim to celebrate a good swim,” said Ms Goodwin.
“It’s the food that I most closely associate with swimming because we often have some fruit and banana bread with our tea and coffee post-swim.
“I also have a pretty good banana bread recipe that tastes incredible.
“Plus, it’s cake, but you can have it for breakfast and eating cake for breakfast just makes you feel happy.”