Let's be honest, we're water babies, us Aussies. Most of us live near water. First, we are an island Continent, which means we are surrounded by water and we as a nation never tire of living near the beach.
This is nowhere more obvious than when looking at real estate prices anywhere near the beach in any location anywhere in Australia. Australians love the ocean, and there are innumerable ocean water sports associated with swimming.
Surf Life Saving Clubs have swimming associated events. Moreover the various tri-athalon events including the Iron Man which includes a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim are fabulous water spectacles.
Moreover, most city or coastal places have some form of ocean pool which are very welcome as they host salt water and the beach is nearby.
Then there are swimming pools in cities, regional centres and country towns galore. Every morning and afternoon the swimmers turn up in their droves, and up and down the lanes they go, in training schedules prepared by innumerable coaches.
But there is more! Aboriginal communities and river systems are hand in glove. The original inhabitants of this vast land and water ways have a long and rich history and any newsreel will show the children enjoying themselves in such rivers and Billabongs.
And it doesn't stop with Aboriginal communities. Where towns are near rivers there are much admired water holes where swimming and play are an essential part of the culture. Australians love water.
All this leads us to competitive swimming that we see at local swimming clubs, regional events, state and national championships, and then, international events.
Australia's record at World Championships (long and short course), Commonwealth and the Olympic Games is remarkable. In 1956 Australia had a population of 8.5 million people. Yet, Australia won 8 Gold, 4 Silver and 2 Bronze in swimming. Names became legends. Jon Henricks, Murray Rose, David Theile, Kevin O'Halloran, John Devitt, John Moncknton, Dawn Fraser, Lorraine Crapp, Faith Leech and Sandra Morgan.
From that Olympic Games, Australian swimming was seen as world leaders in the sport and regardless of how well or otherwise our swimmers performed, this recognition never left.
In more recent times we've seen other great swimming names come to the fore. What about Shane Gould! Three Gold, one Silver and one Bronze in Munich 1972. Ian Thorpe the same tally in 2000 and 2004 (Sydney and Athens). Grant Hackett and Kieren Perkins, Susie O'Neill, Stephanie Rice, Michael Wendon have all won two Gold Medals.
The list of those Australian swimmers who have won one Olympic Gold or Commonwealth Gold Medals is as long as your arm.
Now we read that some of our swimmers are near their peak and winning this and that event leading up to the London 2012 Olympics. And we Aussies love it!!
Well-Being Australia theologian has noted that there is one swimmer who has enjoyed a very special post swimming role.
Angela Harris 1984 Olympian and a 1982 Commonwealth Games Silver medallist (remember the Australian girls relay were disqualified for Gold). Angela has been a chaplain at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and ministered with Dr Sam Mings' Lay Witnesses for Christ International (Chaplains to the World's Olympians) in Beijing in 2008 and will be there again in London in 2012.