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Swimmers get behind pool

Carterton’s indoor pool needs a significant upgrade to stay open. PHOTO/FILE

Erin Kavanagh-Hall
[email protected]

Without a significant upgrade – and a significant amount of cash – Carterton’s indoor pool will be forced to close.

But the Carterton community isn’t one to give up easily – and a committed group of residents have joined forces to keep the well-used facility (literally) afloat.

Since its opening in 1987, the pool – the only indoor swimming facility in the southern Wairarapa – has been a staple of Carterton’s landscape: as the training ground for the successful Carterton Swimming Club (CSC) and home of the Jolly Roger Swim School.

It has also been widely used by primary schools for swimming lessons, and individuals for their own fitness training or social swimming.

However, the facility, based on Carterton District Council land, was built with a 20-year shelf life – and a council report in 2019 found many of the building’s assets were in poor condition.

Requiring either replacement or rehabilitation were its steelwork, roofing rafters, solar heating system, toilets and changing rooms.

The pool also has no ventilation system – with the chlorinated air causing rust.

The CSC committee has put together a working group to raise funds for the indoor pool’s extensive makeover – focusing on commissioning an architect to design the proposed renovations.

The committee has planned several fundraising events, and launched a Givealittlepage earlier this month, which has so far raised over $1300.

The CSC has also secured funds from community development organisation Kai Pai Carterton, gaining $1500 from its Ka Pai SOUP project.

Ka Pai SOUP is a regular social event where individuals and organisations pitch projects that will benefit Carterton – and attendees vote on their favourite pitch, with the winner receiving a cash pot donated by the community.

The CSC was the winner at the latest event, with the vast majority of the vote.

CSC secretary Kellee McCurdy acknowledged fundraising will be “a long journey” – but said the club is heartened by the support it has received so far.

“It’s obviously a project that resonates with the community and that local people believe in,” McCurdy said.

“It’s an amazing community asset, and people don’t want to see it shut down.

“We particularly want to make sure our children have a place to learn water safety skills – especially in light of all the recent drownings.”

At present, McCurdy said the CSC and working group is focused on developing a business case for the facility, which will assist with applying for grants.

Eventually, the club plans to relinquish ownership of the pool, and set up a charitable trust to manage the facility.

McCurdy said the working group is keen to hear from anyone in the community interested in serving on a future trust.

“We’re keen to hear from anyone with relevant skills – building, design, grant applications, or governance.

“We need all the assistance we can get.”

The CSC is planning a fundraiser event to be held on March 13 – featuring both “fun and serious” swimming races between present and former club members.

Russell Geange, who has coached at the indoor pool for the past 30 years, commended the initiatives to save the facility.

Geange was part of a team of volunteers who started building the complex in 1984.

He recalled working on the build alongside an engineer from the former Waingawa Freezing Works, who repurposed steel beams, sourced from a building in Petone, in his lunchtime.

“He would spend a couple of days to do each beam. There were about 18 beams in total.”

Geange said heated pools have evolved since those early days – but he remembered the first person in the door, about 6am, would have to get the wood burner firing to take the chill out of the water.

“When we opened in ’87, we said we’ll give the building 20 years. And now, it’s done its day.

“It’s rundown to the point where if something’s not done very soon, we might not have a pool.”

If you would like to assist with the indoor pool project, email Kellee McCurdy at [email protected].

– Additional reporting by Mary Argue

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