Cool pool open in Rakaia

Rakaia Community Pool committee member Michelle Scrivener, left, and committee president Helena Dunlea ahead of the pool's opening on Monday afternoon.

It’s been a community asset for 65 years and after a delayed start to the season, Rakaia’s swimming pool is now open.

The unheated pool opened on Monday and the cool water was a welcome spot for swimmers this week.

The 33m pool complex is fully fenced, has high and low diving boards, as well as a hefty water slide.

Located on the corner of Cridland and Bowen streets, the community facility is spacious and has always been a popular summer drawcard for Rakaia locals.

It opened in late 1956 and was mostly funded through public subscription.

With the assistance of voluntary labour, the final cost came in at £6000.

Rakaia Community Pool president Helena Dunlea said the opening of the pool had been announced through Facebook and the shorter swimming season would run through to mid or late March, depending on the weather.

The delayed opening was due to a need to demolish the old changing rooms and toilets following a health and safety pool assessment commissioned by Ashburton District Council last year which identified them as a seismic risk.

The changing sheds were demolished just before Christmas and two temporary portaloos are on site.

rs Dunlea said she was disappointed over some pool communications with council staff over the past year, which had resulted in the unnecessary demolition of the pool office.

“The pool audit was done at the end of last season and we were keen to see the changing rooms demolished over the winter months, but for one reason or another, including covid delays, that didn’t happen. We were told the pool office needed to go as well, so we went ahead and got rid of it, only for council to come back later to say it was good to stay.”

The newly opened Rakaia swimming pool has been steadily filling over the past few weeks in preparation for this week’s opening.

The pool took a long time to fill and the concrete took a lot of water to soak in, pool committee president Helena Dunlea said.

It had been tested and was now good to go.

Water is kept in the pool year round and drained and refilled prior to summer opening.

The neighbouring Rakaia Volunteer Fire Brigade is able to tap into it in an emergency.

The deep end is 2.7m and the shallow end is just under a metre deep.

Mrs Dunlea said typically 50 to 60 families bought a pool key each season.

The key system had been introduced five or six years ago and previously a rostered parent system operated.

In recent years pool key revenue had funded a supervisor at the pool at peaks times and over the holidays, which meant the general public could use the facility.

The search is on for a volunteer supervisor this season. Updates are on the Rakaia Community Pool Facebook page.

-By Mick Jensen