opinion

What I See with Peter Fiorenza: Geraldton’s aquatic centre holds countless memories, but is past use-by date

Peter FiorenzaGeraldton Guardian
Swimming sensation, coach Angela Scott and some of her squad at the Aquarena.
Camera IconSwimming sensation, coach Angela Scott and some of her squad at the Aquarena. Credit: Arctic Moon Photography

In 1968, a few things happened.

Both Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated, we saw black gloves raised at the Olympic Games, Apollo 8 orbited the moon, Richard Nixon moved into the White House, Sonia McMahon brought some style into the Lodge, and I was born at St John of God Hospital, here, in Geraldton.

Well, I can tell you that something even more significant happened in Geraldton that year.

The Geraldton Aquatic Centre was opened.

Apparently, it was a huge day for the locals who came out in droves to celebrate a significantly historical event.

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Up until then, people only ventured to the ocean to have a dip, but now, Geraldton had a state-of-the art Olympic-size swimming pool, complete with professional starting blocks and a couple of impressive diving board structures.

As you can gather, I would not be able to remember the occasion, but that swimming pool has certainly been a constant in my life.

The aquatic centre was further improved in the 1990s, with extra indoor pools added and some relining maintenance.

Yes, there is no doubt, the facility has earned its keep, so much so, that the old girl has now reached her use-by date.

Other than that, the big outdoor pool has played a major part in the day-to-day life of Geraldton and surrounding areas.

Along with what seemed like every other kid in town, my brother and I spent many summer holidays attending swimming lessons at the pool.

Under the direction of the very capable Marleen Margetic, hundreds upon hundreds of kids learned how to swim.

In fact, Mrs Margetic helped me to successfully float on my back and, eventually, gain overall confidence in the water.

It would not be wrong to suggest that every youngster who attended school in Geraldton during the past 50 years swam at the pool at one time or another.

From my time as a student at St Pat’s College through to being a teacher at Nagle, school swimming carnivals have been regular events, along with swimming club and water polo seasons.

Yes, there is no doubt, the facility has earned its keep, so much so, that the old girl has now reached her use-by date.

Next month, the City of Greater Geraldton will empty water from her for the last time and start work on a new, state-of-the art Olympic-size swimming pool.

The new facility is expected to have all the bells and whistles, including up-to-date access for people with disabilities.

The new pool is expected to take Geraldton well into the 21st century, and if the current facility is anything to go by, we are expecting some great times ahead.

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