Ararat pool closure has ripple affect

ARARAT - Prior to the Save Our Pool Committee's announcement it will seek Committee of Management status of the Ararat Outdoor Olympic Swimming Pool, schools and the local swimming club joined vocal citizens in expressing their concern Ararat was becoming less and less competitive in the pool.

No where has the affect of the closure been felt more than by the Ararat Swimming Club which after having to disband is attempting to regroup in the absence of an outdoor pool.

Ararat Swim Club vice president Kadina Dalziel said the club, which has 30 members between the age of seven and 12, is at a disadvantage when it comes to training and competing.

"We don't need a brand new pool we just need this one fixed. At the moment it isn't the pool itself, but the facilities. The wear and tear as a result of the longer we leave it will only cost us more," she said.

Marian College principal John Crowley said there is no question that swimming at the secondary school has been affected as a result of the pool closure.

"As you can imagine travelling to Lake Bolac for school sports, not to mention busing close to 600 children can be quite a logistical effort," he said.

"It does impinge on our swimming program, because it is much more difficult to arrange at the indoor complex.

"Obviously it's in the best interests of everyone to have it fixed and opened up again but we understand that needs to be within a reasonable budget."

Ararat College principal Geoff Sawyer said the once popular swimming as a sporting alternative has become a shadow of its former self.

"The atmosphere has really changed and it's disappointing our children don't have the chance to swim in cold water. As a result we have become less and less competitive."

Long-time physical education teacher at Ararat College Michael Spalding said over the years they've found less students can swim adequately and more students refuse to bring their swimming equipment.

"When I first started we took two big buses away to interschool swimming carnivals at Horsham, that number has dwindled," he said.

"Our main concern is that we haven't had our swimming sports for two years, we have held trials at the indoor pool in preparation for the interschool sports.

"We are not prepared to bus students to another venue (the students apathy towards these type of days is becoming increasingly frustrating).

"When I first taught at this school in 1984 swimming was part of our physical education curriculum. Our focus was more on survival swimming skills Often in cold water."

Ararat Rural City Council CEO Andrew Evans admitted the last two years was unfortunate, but the fact people have to travel out of town should be kept in perspective.

"In Melbourne people don't think anything of travelling 25 minutes from one place to another," he said.

"And at the end of the day most people keen on swimming either choose to use the indoor pool which is available or travel the 25 minutes to Stawell where they have a 25 metre outdoor pool and activity centre or 50 minutes to Beaufort."

"Council say it is alright to send people elsewhere to swim, why should it be alright? We should have a facility in our town with the size of our town," Ms Dalziel said.

"They say the community wasn't using it, well that was because it wasn't maintained. There would be no reason for anybody not to use it if it were."

Members of the Ararat Swim Club compete on average at a total of nine competitions on a yearly basis and although they appreciate the ability to train at the Ararat YMCA indoor pool it isn't ideal having to share lanes.

"We aren't as competitive because our preparations are hampered. We want Ararat to once again be a very competitive club and the kids we have now are just up and coming," Ms Dalziel said.

"For the local swimming club to survive and grow it is very important we have a 50 metre outdoor pool. It will be fantastic for the kids if they can get the pool up and running.

"To be competent, competitive swimmers people need to be able to learn how to swim in a real environment. An indoor and heated pool is not the same thing."

While there appears to have been a break in the impasse with the Save Our Pool committee accepting council's offer to obtain committee of management status on behalf of the community it will still be a while yet before swimmers will be able to take to the cold water and begin building a swimming legacy.

The Ararat Swimming Club meets Wednesday night's at the YMCA 6.30pm for the 7-9 age group and above that at 7.15pm. Those interested in signing up can speak with Kirsten Carr during those training sessions.

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