• Tony Bosworth

Out-of-area schools leave local swimmers high and dry at Hawkesbury pools

Regular swimmers who use Richmond Swimming Centre’s pool and Windsor’s Oasis outdoor pool are angry about the number of school galas – many held by schools outside the Hawkesbury - which effectively block them from using the two Hawkesbury public pools in the week during all of February and into March.

Lisa Burns gets to Windsor Oasis pool as early as she can to try and beat the gala swimmers

Some 14 out-of-area schools use the two pools for galas, most of them from the Hills Council area – 11 hold galas at Oasis and three at Richmond.

Both pools have been booked back-to-back during mornings on school days in February and for the first week of March, and it’s left some regular swimmers seething.

And even when schools are rostered on for a set time, they often begin earlier, which means lap swimmers have to suddenly get out of the water, sometimes mid-lap.

“I’m always waiting for a tap on the top of my head and someone telling me I need to get out of the pool,” says nurse and Sackville resident Lisa Burns who visits Oasis to use the open air pool after nightshifts.

“There are only the two pools in the Hawkesbury and we’re not really getting full access to them,” Ms Burns told the Post. “I recently even came along on a Sunday and there was an event on then so we couldn’t use the pool.

“Often we might have got in the water and then they start hassling us and saying it starts at 8.45, when it’s due to start at 9am.”

Swim carnivals take a good deal of the time up at Windsor's Oasis outdoor pool

Ms Burns says that given the Hawkesbury population in general have their health issues it is vitally important for people to be able to easily access pools for their own health.

“It’s simple really, the locals should be able to use our local pools. We pay the rates, they should be open for us.”

Ms Burns aims to swim at least four days a week, but because of the galas she often finds this very difficult.

“When we get in the water to do laps we often feel really harassed, it’s very disappointing.”

Lap swimmer Janice Lewis from Windsor said she feels one of the issues is some other local authorities have closed pools in their areas, so that puts more pressure on Richmond and Windsor pools.

“People in Windsor have very few places to go, especially when it’s hot and the best place is an open-air pool, so we should be able to use the pool in our own town.

“Plenty of times I have gone to Oasis and start to swim and then someone tells me I have to get out. We arrive and we only have a few laps. And often the rosters they put up are not correct, we are often told to get out early, well before the galas start.”

Get there early or you'll need to get out...

Hawkesbury Council confirmed the Richmond Swimming Centre is hosting school swimming carnivals on weekdays during all of February and on March 1.

Sean Perry, Manager Parks and Recreation, told the Post lap swimming has been available during the day at the following times:

  • 6am-9am every morning (except it will cease at 7:45am on 25 and 26 February due to carnivals)

  • 2:30pm -6pm every Monday to Thursday

  • 2:30pm- 6:30pm every Friday (the 50m pool has closed from 6:30pm on Friday nights for well over 40 years for Hawkesbury Amateur Swimming Club’s race night)

  • 8am-8pm on Saturday and 10am-8pm on Sunday.

Emma Galea, Acting Director Support Services at Hawkesbury Council, said the Oasis Aquatic and Leisure Centre is managed and operated by YMCA on behalf of Council.

“The Centre is hosting school swimming carnivals on weekdays during February and the first week of March,” she said.

“The indoor 25-metre pool and lagoon pool is open to the public during carnivals with a minimum of two public swimming lanes available at any time.”

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