Friendship burns strong among Australia's winter swimmers

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Australia's winter swimmers
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Australia's winter swimmers
A member of the Maroubra Winter Seals swimming club prepares to dive into a rock pool as a fellow member swims underneath him at Maroubra Beach in Sydney, Australia, June 19, 2016. Picture taken June 19, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray SEARCH "WINTER SWIMMING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Terry Chisolm, a member of the Clovelly Eskimos winter swimming club, reacts as he dries himself with a towel after completing a race at Clovelly Beach in Sydney, Australia, May 15, 2016. Picture taken May 15, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray SEARCH "WINTER SWIMMING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Jimmy Grant, a member of the Coogee Penguins winter swimming club, steps around a block before the start of a race at a rock pool at Coogee Beach in Sydney, Australia, May 22, 2016. Picture taken May 22, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray SEARCH "WINTER SWIMMING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Members of the Clovelly Eskimos winter swimming club listen for their names to be called before the start of a race at Clovelly Beach in Sydney, Australia, May 15, 2016. Picture taken May 15, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray SEARCH "WINTER SWIMMING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Members of the Clovelly Eskimos winter swimming club huddle together before the start of a race at Clovelly Beach in Sydney, Australia, June 5, 2016. Picture taken June 5, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray SEARCH "WINTER SWIMMING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A member of the Clovelly Eskimos winter swimming club adjusts her cap before the start of a race at Clovelly Beach in Sydney, Australia, May 15, 2016. Picture taken May 15, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray SEARCH "WINTER SWIMMING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A box holding the timing devices for the races involving members of the Maroubra Winter Seals swimming club, sits on the side of a rock pool at Maroubra Beach in Sydney, Australia, June 19, 2016. Picture taken June 19, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray SEARCH "WINTER SWIMMING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
'Big' Dave, a member of the Coogee Penguins winter swimming club, waits for his fellow competitors before the start of a race at a rock pool at Coogee Beach in Sydney, Australia, May 22, 2016. Picture taken May 22, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray SEARCH "WINTER SWIMMING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A member of the Clovelly Eskimos winter swimming club floats in the water after finishing a race at Clovelly Beach in Sydney, Australia, May 15, 2016. Picture taken May 15, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray SEARCH "WINTER SWIMMING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Members of the Maroubra Winter Seals swimming club prepare to compete in a race at a rock pool at Maroubra Beach in Sydney, Australia, June 19, 2016. Picture taken June 19, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray SEARCH "WINTER SWIMMING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Members of the Clovelly Eskimos winter swimming club stand together before the start of a race at Clovelly Beach in Sydney, Australia, May 15, 2016. Picture taken May 15, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray SEARCH "WINTER SWIMMING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A member of the Maroubra Winter Seals swimming club competes in a race at a rock pool at Maroubra Beach in Sydney, Australia, June 19, 2016. Picture taken June 19, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray SEARCH "WINTER SWIMMING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A member of the Coogee Penguins winter swimming club dives into a rock pool at the start of a race at Coogee Beach in Sydney, Australia, May 22, 2016. Picture taken May 22, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray SEARCH "WINTER SWIMMING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Members of the Clovelly Eskimos winter swimming club hold cards as a means of determining positions for the start of a race at Clovelly Beach in Sydney, Australia, June 5, 2016. Picture taken June 5, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray SEARCH "WINTER SWIMMING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Members of the Maroubra Winter Seals swimming club stand together as they prepare to dive into a rock pool at the start of a race at Maroubra Beach in Sydney, Australia, June 19, 2016. Picture taken June 19, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray SEARCH "WINTER SWIMMING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Members of the Maroubra Winter Seals swimming club prepare to compete in a race at a rock pool at Maroubra Beach in Sydney, Australia, June 19, 2016. Picture taken June 19, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray SEARCH "WINTER SWIMMING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A member of the Maroubra Winter Seals swimming club dives into a rock pool as his fellow competitors prepare to follow during a race at Maroubra Beach in Sydney, Australia, June 19, 2016. Picture taken June 19, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray SEARCH "WINTER SWIMMING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Members of the Clovelly Eskimos winter swimming club swim in the rough seas during a race at Clovelly Beach in Sydney, Australia, June 5, 2016. Picture taken June 5, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray SEARCH "WINTER SWIMMING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Members of the Clovelly Eskimos winter swimming club dive into the water at the start of a race at Clovelly Beach in Sydney, Australia, June 5, 2016. Picture taken June 5, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray SEARCH "WINTER SWIMMING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A member of the Maroubra Winter Seals swimming club prepares to dive into a rock pool at the start of a race at Maroubra Beach in Sydney, Australia, June 19, 2016. Picture taken June 19, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray SEARCH "WINTER SWIMMING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Members of the Clovelly Eskimos winter swimming club are nearly swept away by a large wave breaking over the wall before the start of a race at Clovelly Beach in Sydney, Australia, June 5, 2016. Picture taken June 5, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray SEARCH "WINTER SWIMMING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A member of the Maroubra Winter Seals swimming club stands under a shower after competing in a race at a rock pool at Maroubra Beach in Sydney, Australia, June 19, 2016. Picture taken June 19, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray SEARCH "WINTER SWIMMING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Members of the Clovelly Eskimos winter swimming club assist a fellow swimmer who got into trouble in the rough seas during a race at Clovelly Beach in Sydney, Australia, June 5, 2016. Picture taken June 5, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray SEARCH "WINTER SWIMMING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A member of the Maroubra Winter Seals swimming club dries himself off with a towel after competing in a race at a rock pool at Maroubra Beach in Sydney, Australia, June 19, 2016. Picture taken June 19, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray SEARCH "WINTER SWIMMING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Members of the Coogee Huskies winter swimming club talk as they stand together in a rock pool after competing in a race at Coogee Beach in Sydney, Australia, May 22, 2016. Picture taken May 22, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray SEARCH "WINTER SWIMMING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Terry Chisolm, a member of the Clovelly Eskimos winter swimming club, holds onto a rail as he gets out of the water after completing a race at Clovelly Beach in Sydney, Australia, May 15, 2016. Picture taken May 15, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray SEARCH "WINTER SWIMMING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Members of the Maroubra Winter Seals swimming club drink beer and hot soup in their clubhouse after competing in races at a rock pool at Maroubra Beach in Sydney, Australia, June 19, 2016. Picture taken June 19, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray SEARCH "WINTER SWIMMING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A member of the Maroubra Winter Seals swimming club drinks hot soup and eats bread in the clubhouse after competing in races at a rock pool at Maroubra Beach in Sydney, Australia, June 19, 2016. Picture taken June 19, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray SEARCH "WINTER SWIMMING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A sign is displayed underneath a soup container inside the clubhouse of the Maroubra Winter Seals swimming club at Maroubra Beach in Sydney, Australia, June 19, 2016. Picture taken June 19, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray SEARCH "WINTER SWIMMING" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
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SYDNEY, July 26 (Reuters) - Sydney, a city of sand, surf and bronzed lifesavers is less known for its fraternity of winter swimmers, who brave the colder temperatures to dive, nearly naked, into the ocean rock pools scattered around the iconic coastline.

Clubs like the Clovelly Eskimo's, Coogee Penguin's, Maroubra Seals and Coogee Huskies hug the eastern shoreline every Sunday morning with the common catch phrase 'fun and friendship'.

"The friendship keeps you warm," Glen Sewell, a member of the Maroubra Seals Winter Swimming club, told Reuters.

SEE ALSO: How much is an Olympic gold medal actually worth?

Sewell hasn't missed a swim with the club for 32 years, earning him the prestigious recognition for 100 percent attendance every year.

Over 5,000 swimmers compete weekly, observing the 'no wet suits' rule. The water temperatures in Sydney drop to about 15 Celsius (59 Fahrenheit) in August when it's more likely to be warmer in the water than out.

Broad shoulders, tanned, healthy men and women depicts the image of Australian Olympic swimming legends but the pressures of sponsorship and body image is less important for the winter amateurs where beer bellies are not an uncommon sight.

The Huskies, motto is, "eight seconds in the drink, eight hours on it!"

Winning is the goal, but not all swimmers can be successful.

Eighty-four-year old Rata Hing has been a member of the Coogee Penguins for 40 years. Hing said she only learned to swim after she retired.

"I'm not a champion swimmer but it's healthy and quite invigorating. It stimulates the blood circulation which I need," said Hing.

Joy Marsden, 73, has been swimming with Clovelly Eskimos for 12 years, she is the oldest female swimmer in the club and is recovering from a knee reconstruction. Her claim to fame is her age is the same as her weight.

While camaraderie and laughter are two of the key ingredients, it is not a sport for the faint hearted.

As storms destroyed buildings and eight meter waves ravaged the eastern coastline last month, members of the Eskimos bravely took on mother nature in the relative safety of their protected bay.

Handicap races were ditched for 'luck of the draw' starts as contestants selected a playing card and jumped into the water as their number was called.

Safety is paramount and casualties few.

Most members agree, though, the hardest thing about winter swimming is getting out of bed when on a wet and windy day, but the spirit of friendship makes it a worthwhile outing.

Related: Olympic swimming explained:
Olympics - Swimming explained

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