Swimming pools in Sydney: A long love affair

Municipalities are struggling to keep up with the cost of upgrading older pools, although the upgrades are often necessary to fund future installations. This dilemma has prompted a wave of protracted closures and demolitions to make way for more modern and sprawling watersports centers.

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Among the most controversial is the $64+ million transformation of the historic North Sydney Olympic Pool, which has been plagued by cost rockets, delays, design criticism and heritage concerns. The redevelopment includes pool upgrades, a children’s water play area and a gym. It is expected to open in November.

Baker, a council member criticizing the scale of the project, said: “If you look at the construction fences around the pool, it says something like ‘The most beautiful pool in the world will be Sydney’s largest aquatic centre’.

“That sums it up for me that we lost something. The role of the pool was simple – it was a place where people of all ages could gather, whether adults wanting to swim their laps or kids wanting to jump off the edge.”

Baker said public pools are expensive to run, but they are vital to the health and well-being of the community.

North Sydney Mayor Zoe Baker (left), pictured with fellow councilor MaryAnn Beregi, has expressed concern at the extent of the pool's redevelopment.

North Sydney Mayor Zoe Baker (left), pictured with fellow councilor MaryAnn Beregi, has expressed concern at the extent of the pool’s redevelopment.Credit:Nick Moir

“Nevertheless, I think we should consider more modest developments – they don’t all have to be Sydney’s premier aquatic hub.”

In Parramatta, residents are sweating their sixth summer without a pool before the new $88 million Parramatta Aquatic Center opens later this year. It will replace the 1959 Parramatta War Memorial Swimming Center that the state government ordered demolished in early 2017 for an improved sports stadium.

Green Councilor Phil Bradley said there was “still a bit of anger” in the community over the pool’s destruction, sparking a row between the council and the government over who would fund its replacement.

An artist's rendering of the new Parramatta Pool under construction.

An artist’s rendering of the new Parramatta Pool under construction.

“I think there’s a lot of nostalgia for the old pool. It was still a fairly functional pool. But the additional facilities will serve the community well.”

North Parramatta Residents Action Group spokeswoman Suzette Mead said the pool has crossed cultural and economic divides in the diverse community and is a meeting point for new Australians, mothers’ groups, the elderly and teenagers.

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“When we put our clothes on in the dressing room, we are all the same. There are very few places that can be that place of democracy.”

Baker said public pools embody values ​​like equality, diversity, tolerance and camaraderie.

“They have a mythical quality, but when you’re there those qualities are capitalized.

“It doesn’t matter if you live in public housing in Kirribilli or in a $20 million apartment.”

The Parramatta Memorial Pool was demolished in 2017, and residents are sweating through their sixth summer without it.

The Parramatta Memorial Pool was demolished in 2017, and residents are sweating through their sixth summer without it.Credit:Stefan Siewert

Metwally said public pools are universally appreciated places but not fairly available.

“In western Sydney, where the temperature is higher and temperatures continue to rise every year, the pools are packed to the brim. “We need to build more pools and it’s a shame we’re seeing fewer pools.”

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https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/they-have-a-mythical-quality-sydney-s-long-love-affair-with-its-local-swimming-pools-20230112-p5cc27.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_national Swimming pools in Sydney: A long love affair

Callan Tansill

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