Swimming club numbers keep sinking

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Queenstown Swimming Club’s membership has plunged by more than half since the resort’s public pool closed for repairs.

Head coach Albert Szilagyi says the need to travel to Arrowtown to train is to blame.

Members have been using Arrowtown’s outdoor pool since last September after Alpine Aqualand was shut for a $2.3 million-plus repair job on its ceiling and ventilation system.

Szilagyi says membership’s gone from 70 to 32 swimmers since Queenstown’s council announced the closure.

“The majority quit because they couldn’t make it to Arrowtown.

“It’s not much of a struggle in the short term, but no club will survive with just a handful of members.”

The club teaches swimmers of all levels, from eight years old to 17, but also promotes competitive swimming.

While he’s grateful to council for preparing the outdoor pool “as best as they can” for members, it’s 29 metre length and challenging weather had made using it “a bit hard at times”.

“They [the swimmers] work really hard; before the council warmed the pool they were swimming in [water temperatures of] four or five degrees.

“Working on [race] times has also been difficult with the change in pool length.”

Despite the hiccups, 10 juniors and three age-group competitors are set to represent the club at national competitions this year.

The aim now is to get membership numbers back up for when the pool reopens on March 16, he says.

To that end, the club’s holding a sign-on day at Alpine Aqualand on March 21 to give prospective members a taste of what it’s all about.

From 10am to noon, they can watch a training session demonstration.

Szilagyi says it’s a chance to promote swimming as a sport.

“The goal is to help kids in the community to really enjoy swimming and the water, and to gain more trust in themselves.”

ed@scene.co.nz