Ian Lloyd Neubauer is a Sydney-based writer and photojournalist; he contributes to TIME magazine, CNN, the BBC, the Guardian and Al-Jazeera

When people ask me why I live in Sydney, my answer takes the form of a question – where else in the world are there clean, safe beaches and crystal clear water only 8km from the heart of a major world centre? The beaches of Sydney’s eastern suburbs first drew me here 22 years ago, and it’s the beaches that make me excited about coming back every time I jump on a plane to document beautiful and strange parts of the world as a photojournalist. Except in mid-winter, I start every day in Sydney with a swim at Bondi or Bronte Beach. It’s an awesome, invigorating and life-affirming experience. This year, early on Sunday December 1, as the sun crept its way into the sky, a few thousand like-minded Sydneysiders marked the first day of summer with the annual Bondi to Bronte Ocean Swim. These photographs document the the fun and laughter of pre-race activity, and the action of the starting line. But if you missed it, don’t worry, you’ve still got time to train for Australia’s largest ocean swim, the Cole Classic, which takes place at Manly Beach on Sydney’s north shore.

The sausage sizzle is an integral part of Australian beach culture.

The finished result – a beef snag with fried onions, tomato sauce and mustard on a white sesame-seed roll.

Members of the Bondi Nippers, learning about surf awareness and safety with an emphasis on fun.

As Bondi Nippers get older they go in for board paddling, surfing, swimming, sprinting, wading and beach-based activities, games and races.

The pink caps these swimmers wear signify they are members of the Elite, the fastest division of swimmers. The Elite Open Wave are first off the beach when races start at 10am.

Male and female members of the U19 (under 19 years old) division do a final check on goggles and caps before their race is called.

U19 competitors giddy with excitement at the starting line in front of the Bondi Surf Club.

And they’re off!

The course runs from Bondi, around McKenzies Point and south along the coast to Bronte Beach, 2.2-2.5km (depending on the buoy off McKenzies Point). Starting and finishing at different beaches is a unique aspect, giving competitors a real sense of achievement.

A couple watch the swimmers edge around the southern end of Bondi Bay from Marks Park on the Bondi to Bronte coastal walk.

Photos by Ian Lloyd Neubauer

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