Recently I’ve posted a number of shots from Bronte beach in Sydney, and this one was also taken at Bronte on the edge of the salt-water pool. This is a great place to be when the surf is especially strong and waves come crashing over the edge. During an especially big swell, the waves can hit the pool with such force that the local life-guards will shut the pool to avoid any injuries. This might seem an extreme measure, but often so much water enters the pool that the outflow could potentially carry someone out with it onto the rocks. There is also a danger of being hurt by the sheer power of the waves.
One afternoon back in 1996, during a gigantic swell driven by a tropical cyclone off the coast of Queensland to the north, I ran down for a swim in the pool. The waves hit the water with such strength that it was constantly white with foam and the pool was full of violent eddies and currents. After about five minutes of being tossed around like a cork, one particularly large wave struck and hit me so hard that I was pushed underwater onto the bottom of the seven-foot deep pool and driven across the floor until I ran up against the back wall. Both thrilled and a little shaken by the experience, I got out of the pool immediately afterwards.
This shot captures a favourite sport for many people, especially kids, who visit the pool – hanging onto the boundary rope for dear life and getting smashed by the waves as they crash over the rocks. It’s both a test of strength and a fun way of being thrown into the pool in a shower of foam. I doubt anyone could ever get bored of this and most only stop when they become tired, get a fright or simply have to go home. This shot was something of a gift, nature and people combining in a dynamic scene – I was just lucky to be in the right place at the right time.