For many of us it’s impossible to separate memories of summertime from the smell of suncream, sandy feet and swimming. But favourite swimming places each come with their own set of personal experiences.

Living in Sydney usually means being near (or in) the water a lot at this time of year, so we asked a few locals about their favourite places to swim, some memories and what they love about an Aussie summer.

Danielle Clayton, Salty Gypsy swimwear

Favourite place to swim?
Fairy Bower reef and beach in Manly.

What makes this place special to you?

 Fresh out of high school in New Zealand, I found myself living in an epic flat where our lounge looked directly over Fairy Bower in Manly – the best spot ever for a frothing young Kiwi surfer. I had my first dive experience there, cut my teeth surfing over the rocky reef break, endless beach days, and sea urchins from the Bower cut out of my feet. Great times.

What does an Australian summer mean to you?
Australian summers for me are all white sand, sunny days and hours in the ocean; mango and chia picnic breakfasts at dawn; and cold beers in the arvo. Coconut-smelling sunscreen and those languorous times reading a good book on your favourite beach towel. And it feels like they last about eight months of the year.

Salty Gypsy is a made-in-Australia-curated surf boutique and independent surf lifestyle brand based in Byron Bay.

Eugene Tan, Photographer, Aquabumps

Favourite place to swim.
Tamarama, especially Mackenzies Bay and the rock pools around there.

What makes this place special to you?

 Tama is such a small beach, a crack in our coastline, really. I love that it once had an amusement park – “Wonderland”; it has an amazing history. Most of summer Tamarama, or “Glamourama” as people call it, is out of the north-east trade winds – so when the sea breeze is ripping, Tama is calm, protected, blue and totally swimmable. I lived right on Tamarama for about a decade and proposed to my wife Debbie on the rocks there over beers and pizza – it’s very special place to us.

What does an Australian summer mean to you?
North-east winds and hot, hot arvos. Messina ice-cream. The smell of suncream. Thongs. Beach picnics.

A typical day in summer – we head down as a family to the rock pools of Tama. I might go for a surf and even get my eldest son (age six) out there for a few waves – he loves it. We all play down there for hours, my boys wear themselves out and we all wander home for an early night.

Aquabumps is a website and daily email dedicated to early-morning beach life. Aquabumps Gallery sells photos and observations of (mainly) Bondi – the waves, surfers, swimmers, sunrises and whatever else Tan captures.

Maurice Terzini, fashion designer and restaurateur behind Icebergs Dining Room and Bar, Da Orazio, The Dolphin, Bondi Beach Public Bar

Favourite place to swim?
The south end of Bondi most mornings between September and April.

Why is this special to you?
It’s a five-minute walk from home and is very quiet. There is always the same crew of people there, and we all acknowledge each other but there is no need to talk. There is a wonderful ledge at the far south end of the beach that is perfect to sit on, take five, review last night’s service and prepare for the day. The ocean always feels fresh and clean at this end.

What does an Australian summer mean to you?
It's so diverse, but in Sydney it means a long one, and it's the busiest time of the year for me. It is also the most social time, which means being able to entertain friends, family and colleges at Icebergs. God has been good to me.

Tom Higgson, Lifeguard

Favourite place to swim
Dawn Fraser Baths.

Why is it special?
You can feel the history in the walls, it's been a Balmain favourite for over a 100 years. I grew up swimming there and there is always someone I know when I head down for a swim. It's amazing that somewhere so close to the city can feel so hidden. It’s just a blur of good times with good company.

What does an Australian summer mean to you?
As far as I’m concerned, every other season is a just a waiting period for summer. It's the most sociable season by far; it seems to lift moods and make things happen. The good weather in summer creates opportunities to go out and enjoy what Sydney has to offer. 

Alessandro Pavoni, chef at Ormeggio, Sotta Sopra and Chiosco by Ormeggio

Where do you like to swim?
Dee Why ocean pool, at the south end of Dee Why Beach.

What makes this place special?
Having two kids, it's an ideal place because nearby there is a fantastic playground, as well as a children's pool and great rock pools. My wife, Anna, brings the kids down while I do some laps, and then we hang out together. We live in the area, so this is our go-to family place on our mornings off.

What does an Australian summer mean to you?
For starters, it’s a busy season for the restaurant. Generally, though, it’s about barbeques on rare days off, days spent at the beach with my family, surfing, paddleboarding, late-night swims and just being outside enjoying the beautiful city we live in.

Peta Heinsen, co-founder and director of Matteau Swim

What does an Australian summer mean to you?
Summer for me is so much about the scents it brings and how they make me feel, and the memories they evoke. The warmer air with salt on the breeze; the smell of sunscreen; barbeques; fish and chips; star jasmine and Murraya blossom in the evening air; distant bushfires on the breeze. Summer is really all about time with family, friends and being out in nature.

Where do you love to swim?
Balmoral Beach is my favourite Sydney beach. We head to the northern end near the tidal rock pool. I have three children, we’ve been going there since they were babies because the calmer waters mean a more relaxed beach visit. We often meet friends and take a picnic, usually later in the day, and stay until the sun starts to go down. 

Why is this place special?
Balmoral holds special memories of summer as a child for me. I have distinct memories of my parents taking us there almost every weekend, and spending the morning building sand castles, paddling in the rock pool and climbing on the rocks at the far northern end. On Saturday evenings on Balmoral Beach, having fish and chips and an ice-cream, and running with my sisters on the beach.

Matteau is a Sydney-based label making clean, simple and practical clothing for the beach.

Kieran Birchall, owner MyFlowerMan

Favourite place to swim?
It would have to be Nielsen Park.

Why is it special?
I grew up in Yamba on the NSW north coast, so when I moved to Sydney I was a little underwhelmed with the eastern suburbs beaches. But I do love the harbour bays and Nielsen Park is really beautiful. I like to go there after work and take family and friends who visit.

What does an Australian summer mean to you?
It actually means leaving Sydney for a bit and heading home to Yamba for a few weeks to unwind and hang with family and friends. But in Sydney it’s all about after-work swims, beers and getting in as many surfs as I can.

Launched in 2014, MyFlowerMan’s approach is to blend blooms that are unique with those that are more traditional. Birchall’s clients like their arrangements wild, rather than domed.

Pip Vassett, director at IN BED

Where do you like to swim?
On weekends in summer I love to escape the city and head up the coast to a beach called Spoon Bay on the central coast. 

Why is that?
We used to holiday there as kids so I have really fond memories of being there with my family. It's also just a really beautiful, secluded beach that's a dream to swim in; it never has more than a dozen or so other people. There's a bit of a walk through the bush to get to the beach, making it a little off the beaten track.  

What does an Australian summer mean to you?
Swimming before and after work, barbeques at every opportunity and sand everywhere.

Vassett is the former fashion director of Yen* magazine, and In Bed sells homewares and linen for the modern house.

Nikki To, photographer

Where do you like to swim and why?

I’ve been going there ever since I was a little kid, snorkelling with my dad and little brother. Now I live about 15 minutes away and it’s my go-to spot for a swim any time of the year. In fact, I love it the most in the colder months when it’s a little quieter and the water is crisp and clear.

What does an Australian summer mean to you?
Being outdoors. Whether it’s wandering around the harbour or heading to the beach, as soon as the weather starts to warm up I just want to be outside enjoying the longer days that summer brings.

A regular Broadsheet photographer, To also shoots food and restaurants for Australian editorial publications such as The Design Files and Qantas Magazine.

Adam Bull, principal dancer for the Australian Ballet

Favourite place to swim and why?
Off the rocks at the The Bower between Manly and Shelly Beach.

This place is my sanctuary. My partner does the early-morning Bold and the Beautiful swim from Manly to Shelly and back, and I usually drag myself out of bed to meet him sore and tired from the show the night before. We pack our breakfast and walk around to the wall at the Bower and bask in the warmth of the morning sun. I dive off the same rock and usually just “teabag” around in the water until our morning coffee from The Bower restaurant gets delivered to our rockstar spot on the wall – it’s heaven and a little bit ridiculous.

What does an Australian summer mean to you?
Sun, surf and making the agonising choice in the morning of which beach to go to. Packing a beach bag for the day, sunscreen, the new book from Mum for Christmas and a towel crusted with salt from the day before. Happy days.

Isabelle Tolland, director at Aileen Sage Architects

Favourite place to swim?
Shark Beach at the end of Nielsen Park. 

Why is that?
I have so many great memories of this place – of picnics and parties with friends and family over various summers. I love that you approach the beach through the park, under the canopies of huge fig trees. I love the underground tunnel directly from the beachfront to the old weatherboard change rooms that are completely open to the sky. I love the concrete steps and shady grassed areas at the edge of the beach, and that the waves and the slope of the sand are gentle enough so you can ease yourself into the cool sea water.

What does an Australian summer mean to you?
For me, Australian summer is the sound of cicadas piercing the hot, heavy air, filled with the scent of native trees, flowers and grasses. As a Sydneysider, it is, of course, also the beaches and the harbour, the hot sun and bright-blue skies, the sparkle of the sun off the surface of the water, and swimming at any opportunity. Whether in a harbour pool, a city pool, a paddling pool in the backyard, an ocean pool or the sea the itself.

Find out more about the best places to swim in Australia via @placesweswim.