Lismore club battles drought
By STEVE SPINKS
EVER heard the one about the swimming club without a pool?
Well, it's not particularly funny, especially for members of the Lismore Swim Club.
The swimming club is one of the casualties, while Lismore awaits the building of a new pool on the site of the old Memorial Baths.
Originally, the Lismore Swim Club were only going to be without a pool until December, but as construction and design drags on, the opening date has now been pushed back to May.
"It is starting to be a bad joke," Lismore Club president Scott Hahn said.
"We had no illusions and we knew it wouldn't be finished early, but we did hope to get in (the pool) at the end of January.
"Before you know it, the opening date will be June.
"We've become pretty philosophical about it."
With completion of the new pool still months away, Lismore swimmers have been forced to look elsewhere for their training sessions.
The club trains mostly at the Alstonville Swimming pool, but sessions have also been held at Lismore's four-lane indoor pool at the Summit Sports and Fitness Centre in Goonellabah.
Some of the younger children train in South Lismore at the Splash Factory.
"It's been really tricky for us," Hahn said. "At the beginning of the year we thought about going into recess as the worst scenario.
"But we've struggled along and tried to find alternatives."
It's been lucky that the North Coast swimming community has embraced the club, trying to squeeze them into already crowded pools.
"Greg Fettel at Alstonville has been wonderful, while Summit have also helped out," Hahn said.
Lismore businesses have also rallied to the cause with Northern Rivers Izuzu, Lismore Workers Club and David's Health and Lifestyle ensuring the club survives financially.
With most of the training being conducted at Alstonville, the Lismore club have had a considerable drop in numbers.
At the end of last season there were more than 140 members. As of this week, there are only just over 40.
"People are apologetic about not signing up," Hahn said. "But they can't really afford the petrol, the time or the logistics of going all the way out to Alstonville.
"Most of them are saying they'll wait for the new pool next year."
Hahn knows first hand how difficult the travel can be. He and his two daughters, Alex and Georgia, are out at Alstonville at 5.30am every morning.
"Basically it adds an hour to the activity every day that you didn't have to spend before," he said.
However, some members have been affected worse.
"One family comes from Dorroughby every day," Hahn said. "While one girl drives from Bentley, which is 40 minutes each way.
"We've got some really committed kids, who love their coaches