I’m a swimmer… always have been. Look, I’m no Olympian but even by Australian standards I’m better than the average bear. It’s the ultimate sport because for me it’s very natural, and the fresh, tranquil feeling I get when I’m stroking through water with only bubbles in my ears is basically my idea of heaven.
In Australia, I’m not overly remarkable. I’m just one of many people who choose to wake up early and hit the pool for a refreshing pre-work swim. I can hold my own – I usually get away with swimming in the fast lane (unless there’s a pre-teen Ian Thorpe smashing out butterfly) and I’ve competed in numerous open water swims (though I’m definitely mid-pack in that situation).
But in Austria… in Austria I feel like a swimming legend.
I’ve always been an avid skier. In my younger years friends and I trekked to New Zealand multiple times to experience ‘real snow’, as well as undertaking yearly mandatory trips to nearby (ok frigging 5 hours away) mountains.
When I moved to Austria and realised I’d hooked up with the only Austrian who couldn’t be bothered going skiing anymore, he put aside his prejudices and organised a number of trips for me.
I love wandering around in the mountains. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to do it when the weather is suboptimal – if it’s excessively freezing, windy or raining – but otherwise, it really is the ultimate way to get some fresh air, exercise, and of course some traditional Austrian food!
I am an avid swimmer. It is my favourite form of exercise, probably even my favourite form of forward motion. I can basically swim better than I can walk. Our local pool is only open from May to September, but at least we have one, so I spent my first summer smashing out laps there. Although the idea of lake swimming (or wild swimming, as it’s commonly referred) appealed, travelling to a lake just wasn’t as convenient at the time.
Swimming is not big in Austria. Sure, there are people that do it, but not that many. Well, what did I expect from a land-locked country anyway? In Australia it seems like there is a pool every 5km – that is definitely not the case in Austria.