Morning swimmers

A cold morning, the time just shy of 8. Cloud cover is complete. A chill breeze drifts in over the ocean, stirring the swell as it surges in to shore. Gulls flock around mounds of seaweed dragged in by the night tide. A large cormorant dives for fish just beyond the breakers. The light is soft, almost incandescent.

I wait for the three swimmers to struggle out of the ocean. Twenty minutes ago, they marched resolutely into the surging waves, diving head-on into the surf as it curled over their pale forms. Now, the stride one by one out of the water as though their feet are heavy, trotting like Clydesdales battling through muck and mire.

I head up to the first, holding my camera up. ’Scuse me mate, do you mind if I took a photo?

What for?

I’m taking photos of morning swimmers for a personal photography project.

I suppose so.

He glances back nervously at his compadres who are just now emerging from the Indian Ocean.

Oh they’re going to be laughing at me, he says.

But he poses, briefly, and I compose and snap.

Cheers mate!

The next one heads in my direction. It’s easier this time as he has seen me take a picture of his mate.

Can I take a photo?

Sure.

He stands in his dripping boardies, looking at the lens. Behind him, the third swimmer approached, out of focus. I have the aperture set on f2.0.

Snap.

Thanks mate.

Now, the third swimmer. I grab a shot as he tambles up the beach.

Can I take a photo?

Yeah, why not. He stands, hands on hips, hair plastered over his face.

What’s the water like, I ask as I frame and compose. I go for a lower angle.

Bloody cold.

Snap.

He’s on the UWA Swim Squad, or so the label on his speedos proclaim.

Cheers, mate.

He heads up to his mates.

Further south along the beach, I see the Polar Bears prepare for their morning constitution. Rugged up in swim caps and rashies, they are a starburst of colour in the otherwise flat light of the beach.

I run towards them.

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