Bondi Icebergs & The Pool

Bondi Icebergs & The Pool

There is a very special place at the southern end of Bondi Beach in Sydney that is host to the most drop-dead gorgeous pool in the world, along with being the home to the Bondi Icebergs, Australia’s best-known winter swimming club.

First, the club, and then the pool.

The Bondi Icebergs Swimming Club was established in 1929 by a group of local life savers keen to keep up their fitness during the winter months. To this day, members gather on the Sunday mornings of winter for handicapped races and post-event camaraderie.

A defining characteristic of the club is a rule (the infamous "Rule 15B”that to establish full membership it is mandatory that swimmers compete on three winter Sundays out of four for a period of five consecutive years. To make it extra inconvenient, a written letter of explanation is required if a Sunday is to be missed. The rule doesn't care who you are. Former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull fell foul of it when work obligations saw him miss too many Sunday swims.

The most photogenic day of the year in Bondi Icebergs world is the first Sunday in May. That’s Open Day for a season that extends until the end of September. On that day all current and aspiring members jump into the pool en masse, holding large blocks of ice, as if to say: “You call this water cold? Let’s make it colder, shall we?”

The Bondi Icebergs is a very old school Australian institution; which was, for a long time also … very male. Indeed, it wasn’t until 1995 that women were permitted to become "Icebergs" rather than just "Mermaids" … but now it’s hard to imagine the club without its women. And long gone are the days of the all male nude sun bathing deck. [Ed: The author, Iceberg since 1987, has amusing memories of this.]

But, the real star of this Bondi Icebergs show is the pool … or rather the pools. There’s an eight-lane 50 metre main pool plus an 18 metre children’s pool perched at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, overlooking an ever-changing view of a Bondi Bay that is very often teaming with fish and sometimes host to pods of dolphins and migrating whales, with everything also visible from a sauna that can surely boast about having the best sauna view in the world.

The oft-photographed pool has become an international social media star, along with the site of some very creative brand promotions. Jim Beam anyone?

And this pool is also the focus for a community, the strength and flavour of which has historically been hard to explain. But, an exciting new documentary called The Pool (2024) has in fact been able to capture the magic of this special place.

This from the documentary’s website:

“This is where generations of children have learnt to swim, where the diehard have braved the frigid waters of one hundred winters, where the young and beautiful have come to bond and bake in the hot sun, and where sightseers from around the world have taken refuge during the scorching heights of endless Australian summers.

Icebergs is at once a meeting place, a resting place, a workout place and a place of romance and ritual. For those who seek it out, and return, it is a symbol of inclusivity, healing and resilience. It speaks to the enduring power of community and our collective longing to find it, whoever we are and wherever we come from. No matter your background or where you’re at — everyone is equal in their swimsuits.”

Check out The Pool online, and meanwhile you can watch the trailer HERE.



1. Aerial shot of the pools at Bondi Icebergs. Credit:
2. Bondi Icebergs, Founded 1929, original artwork
3. Group shot, Open Day
4. Open Day, 1980. Marathon swimmer Des Renford throws the first ice block. 
5. Open Day, 1959
6. Modern day Icebergs. Credit:
7. Big splash into the "Champagne Lane" at Bondi Icebergs Pool
8. Video: Jim Beam turned the pool into a giant seaside Esky. Watch HERE.
9. Video: Trailer for The Pool, Shark Island Productions, 2024. Watch HERE.
10. Race day poolside banner. REMO was a Bondi Icebergs sponsor in 2011.

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