SWIMMERS wanting to cool off in local pools now that summer has finally arrived will be glad to hear of changes to the shire council contract with the YMCA which allow for greater access to public swimming pools.
South Gippsland Shire Council’s community strengthening manager, Ned Dennis, explained that on occasion lifeguards are at the pools supervising swimming lessons, swimming club training and aqua aerobics, even when the temperature is below 26 degrees.
“These programs tend to go ahead even if the minimum opening temperature of 26 degrees has not been reached, and we have tweaked our arrangement with the YMCA to capitalise on the lifeguards’ presence and allow more people to have a swim,” he said. “There’ll still be some times, however, when exclusive use of the pools is required for activities such as school carnivals.”
Council and the YMCA are also looking at how they can respond more quickly when the weather is warmer than forecast.
“Currently we use the previous evening’s 6pm forecast to determine if the pools will be open the next day,” Ned explained. “If it predicts 26 degrees or more, this gives the YMCA time to organise staff for the next day, and gives people a mechanism to know if the pool will be open.”
“While the 6pm forecast trigger will remain in place, we now have the ability to respond should the early morning forecast surpass the 6pm forecast with advice that the temperature is likely to reach 26 degrees,” he added. “On this advice the YMCA will be requested to open the pools.”
Early morning lap swimming is now also available on set days each week at Foster and Mirboo North. The YMCA has generously supported these communities, with the approval of Council, to provide this activity. Lap swimmers have shown their appreciation, turning up in greater numbers than last year.
These various changes have been made in response to suggestions put forward by the community. However, despite the confusion the 26 degrees opening temperature rule is causing in some quarters as to whether pools are open or not, Council remains committed to the rule this summer and will review daily attendance, forecast and actual temperature data at the conclusion of the season.
Foster Swimming Pool was full of happy swimmers last Thursday, when the local primary school held its inter-house swimming sports in perfect weather conditions. Darby House was the ultimate winner with 366 points, followed by Waratah with 306, a whisker ahead of Oberon on 304. Championship medallions were presented to the top boy and girl swimmers – Archie Brewer for the boys, with Jasper Davis second, and Kasey Hoskins for the girls, with Ema Hodgson second. Medallions were also presented to the top four swimmers in the boys’ and girls’ individual medley events – Oliver Callcott, Oliver Lemchens, Archie Brewer and Harrison Garlick (from first to fourth place), and Kasey Hoskins, Yasmin Duursma, Etosha Shipley and Lily Lomax.
Attended by just about every student from grades three to six, as well as lots of cheering parents and teachers, the carnival came at the conclusion of an intensive fortnight of swimming training at the pool with some top notch instructors. The focus was on water safety and participation and the children were lucky to enjoy warm weather throughout the program.
Foster Outdoor Pool, which is also used extensively by nearby South Gippsland Secondary College – the school held its swimming sports at the pool on Tuesday of this week – will be open until March 9.
Toora Heated Pool has a much longer season. It is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 7am to 6pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6am to 6pm, Saturdays 10am to 5pm and Sundays 1pm to 5pm (longer if the weather is warmer). It has no 26 degrees opening rule and will remain open until April 12.
Carol Bennett, who manages the pool with husband Ernie, said the pool has been busier than ever this summer. As well as catering for casual swimmers, the pool has hosted swimming programs for Toora, Welshpool and Devon North primary schools, and the Waratah Cluster of primary schools (Fish Creek, Tarwin Valley and Tarwin Lower) held their swimming trials there.
Last Sunday the South Gippsland Swimming Association ran a fun family-friendly relay carnival at Toora. Teams were made up of swimmers from Corner Inlet (Dolphins), Leongatha, Korumburra, Mirboo North, Wonthaggi and Phillip Island clubs. The Bendigo Bank’s Community Enterprise™ Foundation sponsored club bathers for the Corner Inlet Dolphins Swimming Club in 2013. The Corner Inlet Dolphins train at Toora pool on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The club will host another carnival at the pool on March 22.