Leah and Ryan Sullings, of Lismore, take a break from a training session at the Lismore Memorial Baths.
Leah and Ryan Sullings, of Lismore, take a break from a training session at the Lismore Memorial Baths. Jacklyn Wagner

Lismore pool to stay open for hardy few

IT'S nearly June and the 50-metre pool at Lismore Memorial Baths will soon close for winter.

But that doesn't mean swimmers will be left high and dry without any of the wet stuff to pound through. The 25-metre pool will remain open and kept at a very comfortable 27 degrees.

So dedicated lap swimmers will still see the steam rising off the pool's still surface on a chilly winter morning. Swimmers such as Lismore City councillor Vanessa Eakins, who described the experience of plunging into the pool on a cold morning as 'magic'.

Cr Eakins, who swims every day, would love to see the 50-metre pool kept open so more swimmers could experience the same delights. She said keeping the big pool open could also capture more revenue for council.

After two years of redevelopment work, the baths were reopened in September, 2005.

The 50-metre pool was kept open during winter last year, but the council's sport and recreation project officer James Voght said keeping it open this winter was not viable.

"Last year we monitored how many people used the pool, and even though we had a strong marketing campaign, use of the facility in winter only justified partly opening it," he said.

"I don't know where we would get more people from."

Mr Voght said last winter the 25-metre pool was not used to capacity and so the economics of opening the 50-metre pool did not stack up.

"The baths, along with all the other services council offers, is not run at a profit. While the baths run at a loss of around $250,000 it is not regarded as a loss," he said.

Mr Voght said the new Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre would include a heated 25-metre lap pool and a toddler pool.

Cr Eakins is concerned the new centre will dilute the need for the CBD baths.

"It's an expensive facility and is the only pool in our region open during the winter," she said.

Cr Eakins would like to see the baths marketed more extensively.

Mr Voght said the new centre would be promoted as a leisure centre and the baths as a sporting facility.

The baths will be open this winter, Monday to Friday, 6am to 8.30am, midday to 2pm and 4pm to 6pm. The pool is closed on the weekend.


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