Cooper Parry makes the most of his time in the pool with swimming teacher Leanne Donovan.
Cooper Parry makes the most of his time in the pool with swimming teacher Leanne Donovan. Gemima Harvey

Toddlers to lose if centre closes

LITTLE Cooper is just one of 250 toddlers in the learn to swim program at Nambucca Aquatic and Fitness Centre who will lose out if the centre is forced to close.

And it’s not just the littlies who will be affected but 165 people in squad training and countless patrons who enjoy the indoor heated pool and sporting facilities.

Centre operator Christine Johnson said she was two years in to a five-year lease when disaster struck. The owner of the property went into receivership, triggering her discovery the lease was never registered.

“We’ve applied for grants and written to council but there is nothing they can do for us. We are renting week by week from receivers at the moment and the place will be auctioned on April 30,” she said.

“We’ve put a lot of money into the place. Two weeks after we moved in all the heaters and pool pumps broke. We put so much into building this place up and it’s being pulled out from under us.

“We can’t take any new memberships and many people can’t afford to pay each day. We have five-week swimming courses which we can’t run because of the uncertainty surrounding our future.

“The learn to swim classes started with 15 and now we have 250. One of our special needs kids started off with little movement in his arms and now he is off to State. There is so much happening here.

“It’s devastating for the whole community, the pool is being utilised by so many and it’s sad that it might go.”

The centre’s closure would have a wide-reaching impact on community, school and sporting groups. Sport clubs use the facility for cricket, soccer and volleyball and schools for their weekly sport sessions. Disability organisations including Phoenix, Action Support, Life without Barriers and Indigenous Health also use the centre.

Ms Johnson has 40 years’ experience in the industry and said her whole family was heavily involved with swimming. Her two sisters and mother also work at the centre.

“Macksville has a wonderful facility but many can’t get there and lots of elderly people from the area catch taxis here.”

Cooper’s mum, Bozena Parry, said the loss of the pool would be a disaster and huge disappointment.

“Cooper has been doing swimming lessons for two months and absolutely loves it. We want to keep him in the program for as long as we can because the teachers are so experienced and I know he is in safe hands.

“There is not much to do in Nambucca so the pool is a real asset to the community and I can’t imagine Nambucca without it.

“The pool is a two-minute drive for me and to go to Macksville means a whole trip. I am a business owner and just don’t have time to drive there, so would have to give up the lessons.”

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