By Justin Flynn
City of Greater Geelong has endorsed concept plans for a new 50-metre outdoor pool for the north Bellarine in its proposed 2021-22 budget.
Council allocated $1.5 million for the facility in 2021-22, with a further $2.75 million projected in forward planning for 2022-23.
Currently north Bellarine residents must travel to Geelong if they want to access an Olympic-sized pool.
Rachel Evans from Portarlington said her three children all swim competitively and it takes 45 minutes to drive to their swim school in Bell Post Hill.
“The closest pool to us is in Ocean Grove and it’s operating at capacity,” she said.
“We might drive to Geelong and it takes 45 minutes to get there. It’s another 45 minutes home, so you’re driving as much as you are swimming.
“It’s not an attractive option. You can why people don’t swim anymore.”
Ms Evans’ daughter Millie recently came fifth in the butterfly in the State Primary Championships.
Millie gets up an hour before her teammates to be driven to swimming. She showers and dresses at the pool and eats breakfast in the car while her teammates go home before school.
She waits in the car after school for up to two and a half hours for squad lane space to be available at an overcrowded local pool.
She does her homework and eats dinner in the dark in the car before she swims. Sometimes she waits to do all of that until she gets home at 9pm from swimming because there is no lane space available at any local pool at an earlier time.
Ms Evans said despite calls that there aren’t enough competitive swimmers on the north Bellarine to warrant a 50-metre pool, the facility would be put to good use.
“Schools could use it, the surf club could use it for training and elderly people can use it, and people from Ocean Grove and Barwon Heads could use it,” she said.
“A 50-metre pool would benefit the whole community.”
Council’s endorsed concept plans for the facility at the Drysdale Sporting Precinct show the location of the pool, change rooms and kiosk, seating, lawns and perimeter trees, car parking and other supporting buildings.
The pool and supporting facilities have been estimated at $15.5 million to deliver, however the actual cost won’t be known until a tender for construction has been awarded.