Whether they grew up with backyard pools or were lucky enough to spend summers at the beaches of Sydney, these adults remember their youth with a fondness for swimming. They recall bombing competitions, parading, mingling, escaping parental scrutiny and, in the words of one 41-year-old television graphic designer, “getting into deeper water with girls, cigarettes, booze and wagging school.” They also remember a time when the city’s public pool system provided a democratic, egalitarian space of inclusion for all.
When the redevelopment of the North Sydney Olympic pool was announced in February 2015, it seemed like a sure thing. After all, the project was supported by a unanimous council motion and had the support of the entire state government led by Mike Baird and Tony Abbott. A few months later, the federal grant of $10 million was approved under a new program aimed at reducing barriers to women’s participation in sport. But the source of this funding is a matter of concern for some council members, who learned that the money came from a fund that had originally been intended for regional and rural areas.
The pool redevelopment was originally budgeted for $28 million, but the price tag has since ballooned to an estimated $36 million. It is now possible that the pool may be closed for two years while a design and construction process is developed. While locals are not happy about the delay, they have been largely supportive of the redevelopment. A survey conducted by the city found that 92 per cent of respondents thought the new pool would be a good investment.
Despite the delays and cost overruns, residents remain enthusiastic about swimming at Sydney’s iconic ocean pools. Many say that the new facilities are more beautiful than the old ones, and that it will be easier for people of all ages to enjoy them. The new pools will also feature an array of recreational and health benefits, including acoustic treatment and water-filtration systems.
Aside from the obvious benefits, Sydney’s public pools offer another advantage: they are free for everyone to use. The city’s public swimming pool network consists of more than 100 community, leisure and sports pools that are open during the week and on weekends. The network also includes more than 40 indoor pools and 20 outdoor pools.
The city’s rock pools are also popular with swimmers. Many of the sites are in parks, and they are usually fenced to prevent children from falling or being swept away by waves. Some have showers, while others are manned by lifeguards. In addition to being a great place for families, these pools are ideal for those who want to take a dip after work or during the winter, when the ocean is too cold to swim in. These pools are also a great option for individuals who want to avoid crowds and have more privacy. They are a great alternative to public and private pools that can be quite expensive.