McIver’s Baths, Coogee – Kristin Hannaford

There’s a cool change in the sea, a touch of winter
that pierces her skin as a loosened bow.
The swimmer dives, tells the wanting ocean
to swallow her whole.  Submerged, water blurs
her body’s contours in a cloud of sea-grey smoke.
Mina’s* not ready to lose sight of the bay
and begins a gentle breaststroke.
Arousing sleepy muscles her arms move underwater
as if opening a door. In response, the low autumn
sky blushes a rose palette of morning.
Shafts of momentary daylight partition the sea,
a sword slicing into plates of sea-weathered sandstone. 
Mina spins into freestyle as the sea tumbles
and dissipates foam beside her. Plumes of silt rise.
Her long plait trails behind,
a chain of seaweed tethering her to the sea.
*Wilhelmina (Mina) Wylie was one of the first Australian women to swim competitively at the 1912 Olympics. She frequented the ‘women’s only’ McIver’s bath.