Swimming enthusiasts remain on terra firma

THE reinstatement of entry fees, higher prices for adults and non-swimmers, a shorter season and the possibility of opening later in the morning has Tumut Pool swimmers hot under the collar.

Newly appointed councillors decided at an extra-ordinary meeting to overturn the decision to allow free entry to the Tumut Pool, a move that has residents questioning future plans for the centre and the longevity of the public service.

Although they have not received any official council correspondence regarding pool opening hours or when the pool will commence trading, the Tumut Swimming Club is hoping to get their young swimmers into the water as soon as possible.

Vice President of the club, Kevin Dodds, said any reduction in the swimming season is a disappointment.

“We read in the paper the council was opening the pool a month later than usual,” Mr Dodds said. “Any reduction to hours and season length in a town that doesn’t have access to ‘winter water’ is a disadvantage for our swimmers. We have to rely on when the pool is open so the committee and coaches have had to meet to discuss the implications of starting the season a month late.”

Anticipating a growth in club registrations after the pre-season information session was held, committee members are hoping these positive numbers will not be adversely affected by the  reintroduction of pool entry fees and the later start to the season.

“We planned our season on what was until now the norm,” Mr Dodds said. “Starting a month later will mean our swimmers lose a month of training and two club nights. Not having heated facilities to train in means our swimmers are already disadvantaged, so even less time in the pool is not ideal. It does appear that the season tickets have been lowered to take the later starting season into consideration, which is a good thing for our swimmers.”

Last year the club boasted 93 registered swimmers, several competing at elite events such as the Country Championships in Homebush and at the Speedo Sprints as well as other district and inter-club events.

Some members of the strong swimming club have been travelling weekly to train in heated pools, helping them to maintain swimming fitness whilst competing through the difficult winter season.

This year the pool will be run under a council employed manager, Rip Bye, who has previously leased the pool.

Concerns regarding the change in management structure were put to rest with the confirmation the Bye family would be once again be greeting swimmers upon entry.

Previously the pool has officially operated from 7am until 7pm on week days, and the same hours announced again for this season but with the change in management, lap swimmers are concerned there will be little room for flexibility regarding opening hours, meaning might will miss out.

During the peak swimming season, Mr Bye would open pool for the dedicated morning swimmers as early as 6am, with a large bunch of enthusiasts ranging from the young swimming club children through to the elderly enjoying the brisk morning exercise.

There is uncertainty if the past practice of opening earlier as the weather heats up will be in practice again this season.

In a bid to help prepare their swimmers for the summer competitions, Mr Dodds said they have taken the positive approach of heading off to Wagga, accompanied by the coaches, to improve water fitness levels.

“For the swimmers that are keen to get practice in before the opening of the Tumut Pool, training sessions are on offer in Wagga, provided by our Tumut coaches,” Mr Dodds said. “Dry land training is also an option for the swimmers to gain some level of fitness prior to our first club night swim meet, which will be the first Friday after opening, November 9.”

Hopeful of continuing a positive working relationship with council that benefits the town, the Swimming Club is keen to ensure previous decisions and suggestions adopted by council regarding the future development of the facility remain in place.

“The club developed submissions regarding the pool’s upgrades and we are hoping the new council maintains the decisions made by the old councillors, regarding our input and our suggestions that were adopted,” Mr Dodds said. “We hope these are not subject to a rescission motion.”