Freestyle through the frost
They have braved the chilly winter waters for more than three decades, and Peninsula Living finds out why the Dee Why Ice Picks is one club worth diving into.
Tom Dickenson is a life member of local winter swimming group, the Dee Why Ice Picks.
It’s currently not possible to exercise in large social groups, of course, but pre-COVID restrictions, Tom and some 50 fellow Ice Picks would meet every Sunday morning between Easter and the end of August for their weekly swim in frigid temperatures at Dee Why Rock Pool.
The Ice Picks’ membership total of 50 is down from a peak of close to 200, but the current crop of swimmers are all very committed to the club and there is never an issue with filling out the leadership team.
“We’re one big, happy family now,” Tom tells Peninsula Living.
“In 1987, we had about 190 members, so we have diminished in numbers a bit, but we have always had strong camaraderie.
“We have a very committed group of about 50 swimmers these days – and there’s never a problem with filling committee positions.
“After a swim, we always head down to the [Dee Why] RSL and have a nice time.”
Historically, the Ice Picks were a male-only organisation, but with time, women started to join the club and now the ladies are represented in the club’s top swimmers.
In 2020, the ‘Dash for Cash’ – in which swimmers compete for a $50 prize – had a female victor for the first time.
“The ladies are swimming quite well – they are giving the blokes a run for their money,” Tom says.
“It’s good to see the girls doing really well.”
The temperature of the water can dip below 14 degrees Celsius on frosty winter mornings – so swimming as part of the Ice Picks is certainly not an endeavour for the faint of heart.
And while the club’s members enjoy the social and physical benefits of meeting up every week, there is certainly a competitive edge to the weekly swim meets too.
Thirty and 50-metre races, as well as the coveted Dash for Cash, mean the swimmers are always pushing each other for personal bests and, of course, bragging rights.
“Yes, there is healthy competition in the races, as well as the Dash for Cash,” Tom says enthusiastically.
“There’s some banter, of course. We pick on each other a bit, and it can be competitive at times.
“But it’s all in good fun. We don’t go overboard with it.”
So, prospective members can expect some friendly competition, as well as the social aspect of the Ice Picks.
The Ice Picks also face friendly competition from other Peninsula swimming clubs, such as the Harbord Frigid Frogs and North Narrabeen Shivering Sharks.
The Sunday swims are followed by brunch and the handing out of prizes at nearby Dee Why Surf Club.
Tom is always looking to recruit new members to the Ice Picks.
While the swimming can be competitive, there is a handicap system, and anyone is welcome to join.
“The average age of our swimmers has climbed a bit since the early days, so age is no barrier to entry.”
If you would like to learn more about the Dee Why Ice Picks, you can find them on Facebook, or visit dyicepicks.com.au.