Pool welcomed back by users

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The sounds of splashing and laughter are once again filling the Waitaki Aquatic Centre.

The Waitaki District Council-run facility reopened to the public on Saturday after being closed since April for much-needed cosmetic and plant maintenance, which was extended to cover future planned work during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Aquatic centre manager Matthew Lanyon said a “steady and constant” stream of poolgoers enjoyed free entry and the activities on offer over the weekend.

One of those was Oamaru woman Leanne Kennedy, a frequent swimmer. She won a competition to jump the queue and enjoy a tour of the refreshed space and a solo dip in the main pool before opening time on Saturday.

Mr Lanyon said it made the day even more special.

“She is a regular user so it was quite cool her name came out of the hat. It’s one of the things she said she had really missed over the last 100 days.”

Demand for lane swimming in the main pool had increased over the years, particularly at peak times.

To help ease congestion, a solution used at other pools in New Zealand – with some success – will be used in Oamaru when needed.

“We intend to increase our pool space by utilising the width of the pool as well as the length of the pool,” Mr Lanyon said.

He said people swimming widths as opposed to lengths would create more space for poolgoers and allow lane swimmers, the Oamaru Swim Squad and swim school, and people doing aquatic-based exercise, such as aqua jogging, to use the pool at the same time.

Mr Lanyon stressed the practice would only be used when demand called for it.

While the the width of the pool was about 7m shorter than its length, those training for competitive meets would not be disadvantaged, he said.

It would also give staff the chance to introduce new activities.

“We are hoping to be able to offer more than we have done in the past.”