Sydney's outdoor pools are loved by residents and visitors alike. With one iconic swim spot getting a much-debated upgrade, Gary Nunn revisits how the city's pool culture came about.
Beyond the famous opera house and bridge, Sydney harbours somewhat of a secret.
Its lesser-known claim to fame is that it has more ocean pools (35) than any other city in the world. Cape Town is its closest rival, boasting 19.
"Sydney's big collection of ocean pools in one city is unique," says Dr Marie-Louise McDermott, an expert who has written on the subject.
She defines ocean pools as man-made public seawater pools situated on a surf coast, so waves can wash over the sides.
Sydney's ocean pools, she says, came about as a result of "rips, sharks and respectability".
In the 19th Century, swimming costumes weren't commonplace - people bathed nude or in clothes they didn't care about getting wet.
"Public bathing was illegal in daylight hours, but you could bathe in private baths," Dr McDermott says.
This led to gender-segregated bathing hours or pools. It's why Coogee, a beachside suburb, still has McIver's Ladies Baths, built in 1876.