Don’t fool with the rules of the pool

More lanes for locals will be available in the swimming pools of the Tweed this week as banana benders head back across the border to swim in their own back yard. They have been down here, using up our water, because the Gold Coast Council closed 23 pools last month as a result of stray electrical currents.

As everyone knows, electricity and water do not mix, well they do mix, but not safely. The discovery that a number of pools exhibited quite strong electrical currents had council safety officers scratching their heads, caluthumpians convinced that aliens had finally arrived, pool managers tearing out their hair, and swimming clubs renting lanes from local high schools, gymnasiums and people with very big back yards. The scare is now officially over. Gold Coast Council will bring the pools back on line over the week (weather permitting) as the repairs to deteriorating electrics that affect all pools eventually are tested and approved. Conspiracy theorists know this is a cover up proving that aliens have taken over Ron Clarke’s mind.

The municipal pool has been iconic since the Melbourne Olympics in 1956. That spectacular event kick-started a national campaign to get a pool in every community. Some communities, like Mullumbimby on the Brunswick River, raised the money themselves, selling scones and doileys to each other, with local men digging the hole. The Mullumbimby men did it twice, digging up the original pool to go Olympic for local legend Petria Thomas.

Against this background, Mur’bah celebrated the return of the local pool, now officially known as TRAC(IM). “’Owju find Wayne, Darleen?” “Oi tracked ‘im down at TRAC(IM).” The Tweed River Aquatic Centre (In Murwillumbah) features the standard Olympic Pool, toddler pool, hill slide and that’s all outside. Inside, there is a 25m pool, diving pool, hydrotherapy pool and learn to swim pool. That’s really more pools than you can poke a stick at, and the Mullumbimby men have given up keeping up. If we dug that many holes in Mullumbimby the place would look like a Swiss cheese, or Darwin after Baz Luhrman.

Amidst the crowds of swimmers enjoying a free gawp at the TRACIM celebrations, there were a few cautionary notes. Some families balked at the $14 family ticket, which is cheaper than buying four tickets at $4.50 but more expensive than getting every one to take turns lying in the bath. Others had a little grumble at the length of the lines at the water slide, but the ticket prices will soon take care of that. In fact you could say that one problem will solve the other.

The deepest fears come from those with bitter experience. A number of parents in the tragic position of having buried a child are concerned about the lack of safety fences around the toddler pool. Ironically, in the same issue of the Tweed Daily News that celebrated the pool opening another story ran under the heading, Third child drowns in horror week. Safety fences are a legal requirement to prevent tragedies, which often happen in neighbour’s pools. No-one, least of all me, Dear Reader, likes over regulation but most suburban pools do have fences around the toddler zone. It allows a parent with more than one child, or a less able grandparent, to glance at a magazine once every fifteen minutes and let the child off the leash for five minutes every hour. For the sake of those people, I encourage our councillors and pool managers to fence the toddlers in. Besides, it’s so much fun taunting them with ice-creams from outside the fence.


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