Swimmers may stay away as pool opens
ON the eve of the official opening of Rockhampton's multi-million-dollar, world-class heated competition swimming pool, there's a renewed call from the region's swimming clubs for a fees regime they can afford.
Cyril Thomasson, a life member of the CQ Aquajets and a past president of the CQ Swimming Association, fears the council has already decided to charge clubs $10 a lane an hour to hire the 10-lane pool.
And he says if the strong rumours are true, the scores of juniors who train hard with clubs in the hope of one day representing their city, State and country, will be forced to swim elsewhere.
"What is the point of having one of the best training and competition set-ups in Australia if our clubs can't afford to use it?" Cyril said.
"We calculate it would cost a club about $600 a week to hire the new pool, compared with $600 a month to use other facilities in the city. The maths doesn't add up. It will be a white elephant and a waste of money unless there's a rethink."
He said some of the city's top youth swimmers trained 10 sessions a week and it was almost criminal not to encourage them by making the new pool available at minimal cost.
The pool, part of a $17 million redevelopment of the old Southside complex funded by the state and federal governments and the council, will be opened tomorrow morning by Premier Anna Bligh.
But if Cyril is right, there are doubts about whether the pool will be heated next winter.
He says he believes it is a backward step to dig up and replace the original 50 metre pool at the complex.
"Having two Olympic pools at the venue would give us a competitive edge," he said.
Rockhampton Regional Council denied yesterday that charges had been fixed.
A spokesman said there would be a meeting tomorrow of the project control group, which includes representatives of the region's swimming clubs and swimming community, when the issues would be discussed.
"The swimming community should feel confident that when complete they will have at their doorstep the most state-of-the-art swimming faculty in regional Queensland," he said.