Tim Freedman is listing his favourite swimming pools in Sydney. "In the daytime you can't go past the Clovelly [Ocean Pool], plus there's the ''Billy'' [Ian] Thorpe in Ultimo – that's a good one, it's a Harry Seidler building," says the singer and songwriter behind The Whitlams. "Swimming is my form of solace. It's so gentle and it's one of the few things that doesn't make me feel creaky."
The 53-year-old Freedman is speaking from NSW's South Coast, where he's on his version of a training camp before a two-month national tour that will conclude the band's 25th anniversary celebrations: "I'll try and do 30 laps and then scrape the cobwebs off my voice for a few hours," he says, outlining his afternoon.
With Freedman seated behind the piano, delivering involved and idiosyncratic lyrics to accompany generous pop melodies, The Whitlams have endured through multiple eras. The band began as a trio that propped up the bar, and each other, at Newtown's then Sandringham Hotel, and acquired a prominent profile through breakthrough singles such as 1997's No Aphrodisiac even as Freedman's co-founders Anthony Hayes and Andy Lewis died in 1996 and 2000 respectively.
There was a succession of hit albums, including 1999's Love This City and 2002's Torch the Moon, but this decade Freedman has tied the band's legacy to annual national tours. The reasons for those self-contained eight-week stints – backed by guitarist Jak Housden, bassist Warwick Hornby and drummer Terepai Richmond – include logistics and the tightness derived from playing frequently, but there's also Freedman's reluctance to have The Whitlams dominate his every day and decision.
"I don't like thinking about it all the time," he says. "It was the central part of my life from the age of 22 to 45 – crowds and couplets and clawing up the mountain. I worry about it for those two months and then look elsewhere."