The people’s pool

A simple question asked by many: why spend $21 million on a swimming pool when we live by spectacular beaches?
Sadly, of the 280 people who drowned in Australia from July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016, 63 or 23 per cent died at our beaches. Of them 19% were generally fit and healthy and in the prime of their life – aged 25-34.
According to the National Drowning Report 2016 prepared by Royal Life Saving Society Australia, many of these tragedies may have been avoided had the victims been taught how to swim.
This week the Alexandrina and Victor Harbor councils unveiled the most stunning building on our south coast – the Fleurieu Aquatic Centre – appropriately on their Port Elliot-Victor Harbor boundary on the corner of Ocean and Waterport roads.
Inside are three state-of-the-art pools of international standard – not one. Included is a multi-use program pool encompassing a kids’ internal water play and a shallower pool, which is perfect to teach them how to swim involving their parents.
There is evidence to suggest learning to swim here will save the lives of young children. Imagine asking their parents whether we should have had one 50m pool or three pools for the entire community with a commitment to saving lives by offering swimming lessons to little kids?
Forgive the serious approach, but hopefully this ends the 50m pool debate. We have a people’s pool in every sense, and let’s enjoy it.
We also have 25-metre lap pool with full starting block and lane rope facilities. Not only is it magnificent for the wider community, it will attract school children by the bus loads from afar.
The third pool is the warm water pool, which has spar jets and a seating area all for those under-going therapy, plus a full lifting rail system for non-ambulant people. Should they be with a carer, they may get changed in a room designed for people with a disability, then placed in a lifter and gently lowered into the pool.
There are ramps that allow for waterproofed wheelchairs to be rolled into the pool, plus stair access. There are full stainless steel rails on every side. Overall, it is an excellent multi-purpose pool running warmer than the lap pool that can be used for various therapies. Brilliant.
Our aquatic centre also comes with an outdoor splash park, a group fitness come gymnasium facility that adds to the rehabilitation process, a creche and cafe. There is full public access to the grounds to the east including public barbeques. To the west we have playground spaces, all fully landscaped where the children can play; picnic areas for families.
For the record, the centre is owned by the councils, run by the Fleurieu Regional Aquatic Centre Authority – David Cook as chairman, with other independent members being Alison Kimber and John Coombe. Elected members are councillors Pat Chigwidden (Victor Harbor) and Madeleine Walker (Alexandrina). There are also deputy elected member representatives, Victor Harbor mayor Graham Philp, and Alexandrina councillor Grant Gartrell. The centre is being managed by the YMCA. The centre has been funded by $6.5 million from each council, $7.5m in federal government funding, and $0.5m from the state government.
The dedication and commitment by these board members and representatives of the other statutory bodies has been admirable, and not forgetting the generosity of the Wright family of the adjacent Beyond development which sold the pool-site property for a dollar. Then there is the magnificent effort by Alexandrina Council senior project manager David Moyle on behalf of both councils.
However, this overall contribution by many is not entirely surprising given the need and the region’s enthusiasm for this pool.
It took 18 months from the day the project leader, Kennett Builders Pty Ltd, arrived on site with earth moving contractors until this opening, and the 788 tradespeople including 40% locals have every right to feel incredibly proud.
Kennett has a long building history in the region, including working on the Corio Hotel in Goolwa and building the Seymour and Clifton boarding houses in Victor Harbor in the 1920s. The plans for those old projects hang proudly in the company’s foyer, and now there is also a magnificent photo of our aquatic centre.
Upon completion, Kennett senior project manager Paul Jennings said the development represented an amazing achievement, not only for his company on behalf of the region, but for South Australia as a whole.
“This is special,” Paul said. “It is a fabulous project for the community, and the collaboration between the two councils to deliver it with both federal and state funding is outstanding. It is a commitment to the region and will be most enjoyed by the community.
“This building has been designed by the consulting team to achieve minimum air leakage reducing the need to repeatedly condition fresh air.
“By achieving this, it means the system is running much more efficiently and you haven’t got the operating costs of constantly supplying new conditioned air into the building.
“There are wet and dry zones isolated in this air pressure testing, and it becomes even more sophisticated when remembering there are two pool areas with the water set at different temperatures.”
In simple terms, minimal air leakage represents huge environmental benefit because less power is needed to maintain the temperature of the pools. This centre has twice the benefit of minimal air leakage than the required standard; six-times more efficient than the average household which is remarkable given the enormity of this building. In this regard alone, it rates alongside the best buildings in Europe. The results that have been achieved are rare.
Paul rolled out countless other specifications as to why our aquatic centre is environmentally brilliant; the double-glazed windows with solar controlled glass, the shading to the proximity to the sun on the terraces around the building. There is the electrical, plumbing pool and solar systems also keeping the running costs to a minimum.
“There is so much natural resource operating the building and keeping it controlled,” Paul said.
“This is a state-of-the-art facility that would hold its place anywhere in Australia – comfortably. And as far as the environmental side it is up there with anything in the state.
“The landscaping is also amazing. When we arrived here it was just a paddock, and after a very wet winter it was a very wet paddock. The pools are deigned so there is no issue with the ground water. There is additional concrete, footings and hydro-static valves to prevent any issues should there be flooding in the future.
“Passive ventilation has not been included in relation to keeping the building air-tight and not having to recondition that air.
“It has been a fabulous project for Kennett to be able to deliver something to the community in the recreational portfolio, and we have thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
“It was a rigorous and open tender system that was not based purely on price even though we were lower… we had to illustrate our abilities to deliver the project and work in a collaborative fashion. It was the most thorough interview I had experienced to win a building project.
“We were lucky enough to be the successful bidder. It was always put forward by both councils that it had to be a pool for the people of the region; very much so. It had to be a community facility and I believe firmly that when people walk through the door for the first time and see what has been delivered they will be magnificently surprised.
“This project has also been very much about the employment we sourced from within the wider community. There were four local civil earth work contractors; the plumber and electrician were local. We used Brooks Turf for the landscaping down the road, all the concrete from Direct Mix, the waste was locally controlled, our labour and cleaning forces were all local. All the rock work is from Tooperang, the rammed earth is Yankalilla Sand and we had a contractor based out of Willunga construct the walls and entry signs.
“It is fabulous that we have been able to involve so many of the locals in the build, and they should be all proud of their contribution.
“I think the greatest impact it has had on me is that it showed how clever and creative people are. I love the way it sits in the landscape; how it doesn’t jump out at you as you approach. It blends in beautifully with the earthy materials. It really looks like it belongs.”
The Fleurieu Aquatic Centre is a stunning facility created and made possible by a lot of remarkable people, going 20 years or so back to when former mayors Kym McHugh and Mary-Lou Corcoran believed that everything was achievable.
Now imagine this; every little tacker now has a better chance of learning how to swim. Thank you.