Bold & Beautiful is an open group that meets seven days a week at Manly Beach for a refreshing ocean swim. Founder Julie Isbill tells us about the thrill of the open water, and the joy of a welcoming, supportive community.
Tell us about how Bold & Beautiful started…
It started quite accidentally when I offered to take a friend for a swim on Boxing Day, 2008. We committed to meet the following morning at 7 am. There were five of us that first morning, as my friend had done some ringing around to rally the troops for moral support.
Since that day, in nearly nine and a half years, over 16,000 swimmers have swum with B&B. It's common these days to see around 300 people swimming on any given morning come rain, hail or shine. Collectively B&B has never missed a morning swim since the day we started, thanks to a wonderful team of volunteers who work hard to keep the group running smoothly for everyone, 365 days a year.
How would you describe the group atmosphere?
It is a very eclectic group. The group spans from six-year-old children who swim with their parents, to three generations swimming with us. From job seekers to retirees, we cover the whole gamut of professionals including thespians and politicians. Not that you would know, as one of the most beautiful, levelling things about B&B is that everyone is equal in a pair of bathers, and most of the time, no one even knows what each swimmer does for a living.
The group atmosphere is truly special and totally inclusive. Some people travel for an hour or more to swim before work or on the weekend. People quite literally travel from overseas and include Manly on their itinerary just to have a swim with B&B, and many send messages saying they felt so welcome. The sense of camaraderie is palpable and infectious.