East Gippsland Shire Council is making water safety programs more accessible for the Orbost community this summer with an extended Orbost Outdoor Pool season that will deliver increased access to swimming lessons and other aquatic programs.
In line with industry research and in consultation with the Orbost community, Council decided that the centre will dive into the 2022/23summer season a month earlier than usual, on Tuesday 1 November, and the season will run until Monday 13 March 2023.
Life Saving Victoria research has shown that many children missed important aquatic education due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Council has used this research along with findings in its Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan in deciding to extend the operating period of Orbost Outdoor Pool.
The popular six-lane, 50m solar-heated pool will offer two, five-week learn-to-swim programs – one in November/December, the other in February/March, plus a one-week VICSWIM program in January. There will also be a holiday swim program in January and Free Swim Fridays from 3.00 pm until close each week. Aquatic Group Fitness classes and summer fun activities will also be available.
Mayor Cr Mark Reeves noted that Orbost’s outdoor pool is an important social hub for the community and neighbouring areas.
“Last season, Orbost’s pool attracted about 6,000 swimmers, but a lack of swimming programs meant some 70 Orbost families had to regularly drive to Lakes Entrance to attend programs there. So, the new Orbost-based programs not only meet high local demand, they will also cut a lot of travelling,” Cr Reeves said.
Due to a downturn in numbers using Bairnsdale Outdoor Pool over the past five years, its summer season will run from Monday 26 December to Monday 13 March.
Morning lap swimming sessions will not be offered as part of the reduced season. Lap swimmers are encouraged to continue to use Bairnsdale Aquatic and Recreation Centre. The outdoor pool will remain accessible to schools for aquatic education and swimming carnivals, and clubs can book the venue for training outside of standard opening hours.
The season reduction was prompted by Council’s ongoing review of pool attendance figures and research that demonstrated an increase in other recreational swimming practices in the Bairnsdale area.
“Bairnsdale Outdoor Pool differs from the Orbost Pool because Bairnsdale’s water-safety programs are held at Bairnsdale Aquatic and Recreation Centre,” Cr Reeves said.
“Bairnsdale also has the most registered residential pools in the shire. Research has shown that the increase in home pools has coincided with a downturn in outdoor pool attendance.”
Bairnsdale Outdoor Pool will continue to offer Free Swim Fridays from 3.00 pm until close every week of the season, and Bairnsdale Aquatic and Recreation Centre pool will soon offer programs that promote inclusion.