Eyes open to pool potential

CROWDED LANES: Swimmers from Blue Lake Y and Mount Gambier Swimming clubs often share one lane when they train together at Swimskool in Mount Gambier during winter.

REWARDING experiences at Portland’s indoor pool complex this week have left forty local swimmers eager to see a similar centre developed in Mount Gambier.

The Blue Lake Y and Mount Gambier Swimming clubs participated in swimming clinics at the Portland Leisure and Aquatic Centre with former Swimming Australia head coach Leigh Nugent.

“It was really disappointing we were unable to host the state clinic in Mount Gambier, but our city just does not have the facilities to cater for that type of event,” Mount Gambier Swimming Club coach Julie Moran said.

She said talented local swimmers selected to represent the state over the last few years had limited pool access and restricted training in the lead-up to national events.

This year, swimmers travelled over the border to use Portland’s pool during winter for intensive training sessions ahead of the South Australian Short Course Swimming Championships.

“Regular trips over the border in the past month have really highlighted the need for an indoor pool in our local community,” Ms Moran said.

“One swimmer who returned from nationals several months ago was unable to practice dives and turns in the lead up to this major event as there were no facilities available locally.”

The swimming coach said while both clubs were grateful to be able to train at Swimskool during winter, swimmers were disadvantaged as they were not able to practice all of the necessary skills required to compete at swim meets.

“Training times are limited and so is lane space,” Ms Moran explained.

“Currently there are up to 11 swimmers squashed into one lane during morning sessions.”

She said both clubs agreed the 25 metre indoor heated pool proposed as part of the Mount Gambier Regional Sport and Recreation Centre would adequately cater to training needs and provide an opportunity for clubs to host major carnivals.

“We love the idea that one day we might be able to host our own winter inter-district and cross border swim meets to bring swimmers and their families to our region,” she said.

“With the current 50 metre pool at Olympic Park and the addition of the proposed 25 metre indoor pool as part of the centre, there would always be a pool open for public swimming in Mount Gambier, unlike when we currently host the South East Swimming Association summer carnivals.

“Even Adelaide clubs have welcomed the proposal and have indicated they would consider running training camps in Mount Gambier.”

Ms Moran and Blue Lake Y Swim Club counterpart Jamie MacDonald represent their respective clubs as members of the Mount Gambier Regional Sport and Recreation Centre Community Reference Group (CRG).

The group provides input into the design, functionality and operations of the proposed community centre to ensure current and future needs of potential users are considered.

“An indoor 25 metre pool will be perfect for winter training and is also a far more economical option for our region where pools need to be heated significantly in the cooler months of the year,” Ms Moran said.

“The proposed sporting facility will provide benefits to many sporting groups incorporated within the plan and the dry area will be fantastic to help offset the running expenses of the pool.

“We are the largest city outside of Adelaide and now is the time to look towards the future before costs go up any more and this project becomes unachievable.”