So what’s the problem?

It’s quite simple: we just have far too few decent swimming pools. In the big cities there are several but they are often very crowded. In smaller centres there may be open-air pools but they are available only for about a quarter of the year: bad value for money.

Most schools used to have a pool, which was nearly always open air, but many of those are unused now because of the cost of maintenance. Few of them have a “deep end” so that real water confidence cannot be taught.

Rural districts are the worst served. The money raised by rates is often insufficient to properly maintain the roads, let alone build swimming pools.

Where there is some money, there is often a “think big” policy: let’s build one monster complex with slides, wave making machines and similar frills rather than a number of smaller pools which are within easy reach of more people.


What’s wrong with a slide like this? Nothing, it’s great fun, except that it is expensive and needs a dedicated pool or part of one. Priorities please! The same is true of diving boards. We need MANY smaller basic pools: see “An Example”.

Who is to pay for the hundreds of pools we need? Few councils can afford them: but if many more people swim it will save the taxpayer a lot in health costs. A very large proportion of these is taken up in treating conditions which are caused by lack of exercise. The human and financial cost of fatalities due to drowning indirectly affects us all.

Obviously we cannot build all the pools required in a short time, but Government should start a programme which will provide all schools with a decent all-weather pool, probably heated by a heat-pump and assisted by solar means. This can be used by the general public out of school hours.

A properly run pool will offer affordable swimming lessons for people of all ages, with some specifically for (eg) older women, obese people and so on, as well as beginners. There will be competition, but it must not take precedence. Not all the pools will be 25 metres long: all the necessary skills can be taught in a smaller one, but there must be a “deep end”.

Of course, it’s appropriate that every swimming pool should have exercise equipment and a hall so that dry land exercise is possible too: and advice on healthy activity and eating ought to be available.

How pointless it is to tell us to exercise when it’s very hard for most of us and neither local not central Government will help!

Look what happens when a pool IS available for a change, though only in summer holidays

credit: Northern News

PS: do you think that we might discover more champion swimmers if there were more pools?

The leader writer of the NZ Herald, on the other hand, writes (18.01.11) “Public baths are for places with cold climates and windswept coasts”.

Does this person think that a NZ beach in July is suited to teaching toddlers (or anyone!) to swim? One wonders if the writer can and does actually swim!