Leisure centre pool helped me to world championships

Pool success storyMine is one of many stories to have come from the leisure centre pool here in Port Lincoln.

I was brought up on a farm near Lock and so didn’t have the opportunity to learn to swim, I somehow managed to survive our once a year holiday at the beach without drowning!

At the age of 50 I started taking swimming lessons at the Port Lincoln Leisure Centre, something I could not have done in the sea.

My instructors were horrified; I could not float, I swam backwards, couldn’t breathe and so on. I have also noticed several other “retired farmers” taking lessons of late and learning to swim at the leisure centre pool.

Two years later in 2000 I entered my first triathlon (swim, bike, run) and managed to get through the swim leg and finish the event, what a feeling that was!

I have since competed in many different triathlon events with swim distances ranging from 750 metres up to a lengthy 3.8 kilometre swim in the ironman event.

This has only been possible thanks to the many swimming lessons given by Carol Veldhuyzen, Sylvia Dansie and Deb Wareing at the leisure centre pool.

While I swim in the sea over the warmer months, the lessons given at the leisure centre pool would have been impossible in an open air environment.

Fast forward 13 years to 2013 when I competed in two ironman triathlon events and finished both. They involved a first up 3.8 kilometre ocean swim, one with a wetsuit (Melbourne, definite help) and one without a wetsuit (Hawaiian Ironman).

That was a fantastic feeling but I also raised over $6000 leading up to the Hawaiian Ironman (Ironman Foundation), to repair plumbing in a secondary school in Tanzania.

Over my time swimming at the leisure centre, I still swim there two to three times a week, I can’t help but notice the other people involved in aquarobics, swim fit, learn to swim, rehabilitation etc.

There is no better way to exercise if you have had a knee or hip replacement. Water is a non-weight bearing medium. It is much easier for overweight/obese people to exercise in a pool; in fact the pool is the best exercise facility in the city as it caters for the very young and very old and all ages in between.

It is not gender or age specific and is open all year round; you can swim there any month of the year!

Obviously there are some people in the community who believe a swimming pool is an extravagance, if you haven’t been there or don’t go there it would appear that way.

But take the time to visit, sit down for an hour or two and observe those using the pool. You will be surprised at the different ages, the different programs, the different swimming styles (?) but most of all the number of people using the facility.

Children as young as six months take swimming lessons, which is most appropriate as children drowning in backyard swimming pools is something we don’t want. Conversely you don’t hear of many children drowning in the sea!

Is that because they have learnt water safety at a pool?

There are some people now making statements on the future of a pool in Port Lincoln having had the benefits of the leisure centre pool in the past but are now willing to deny future generations the same; this is shameful on their behalf.

The climax of my swimming story from the leisure centre pool was undoubtedly taking part in the 2013 Hawaiian Ironman World Championships, not only learning to swim but being able to swim 3.8 kilometres competently!


Port Lincoln

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