Day: May 24, 2024

The Closure of Sydney Pools

Sydney has an abundance of ocean pools, from post-war public swimming facilities to private backyard ones. The city’s rocky headlands provide ideal pools bases as they offer an ideal balance of being easily excavated while remaining stable over time. Australia’s southern two-thirds coast is composed of short to medium-length sandy beaches tucked between sandstone headlands, making it an ideal setting for swimming, bathing and surfing. The mild-to-warm air temperatures and tolerable water temperatures supplied by the East Australian Current are also conducive to swimming.

Sydneysiders love to swim and the City of Sydney proudly provides our communities with 6 outstanding aquatic centres. Most beach sites have ocean pools, to give swimmers protection when southerly winds bring cold air and big seas. Serene at low tide, choppy at high, these ocean pools are, in many ways, the original infinity pools.

But the pools are not for everyone. Some residents prefer their shabbiness and old-school charm to their newer, cleaner counterparts. Among them is Lisa Gaupset, 41, a television graphic designer whose kids—Lara, 4, and Jesse, 12—spend their summers splashing around the Canterbury pool. “I grew up with a backyard pool, and this is more fun,” she says. “It’s a little more crowded, but the kids are happy.”

For lawyer and community advocate Yusra Metwally, the closure of Canterbury is just the latest in a series of blows to Sydney’s post-war public swimming pools, which once were considered a symbol of modern Australia. The Greenacre Pool, where she learned to swim as a child in south-west Sydney, closed in 2018, followed by the Canterbury pool, and now the North Sydney pool, where scores of world records have been set since it opened in 1936, cheered by fans in the steep concrete grandstands.

The North Sydney pool is just three minutes from her home in the enclave of Neutral Bay, a residential neighborhood that was built around it. She remembers the intoxicating smell of chlorine, the hot chips and ice cream sold by the vendors, and days spent splashing and laughing with what seemed to be the entire neighbourhood. It’s a nostalgic time for her, but she knows it will be an even more difficult one for those who did not grow up with access to such a pool, or who are now struggling to find work and keep their families afloat.

Clover Moore, the Lord Mayor of Sydney, has unveiled a plan to turn part of Sydney Harbor into a public swimming pool. She hopes that the scheme will attract visitors and help city residents maintain a healthy lifestyle. Swimming is an excellent cardiovascular exercise that helps reduce heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Moreover, it is a great way to bond with family members and friends. Clover Moore believes that turning part of Sydney Harbor into a pool will be a game changer for the city. If the proposal is successful, it will be the first time that a major public pool has been constructed in Sydney since the 1970s.