St George Swim Club petitions Bayside Council to reopen Bexley pool

The St George Swim Club is petitioning Bayside Council to reopen the Angelo Anestis Aquatic Centre (AAAC) at Bexley to allow its young swimmers to recommence training.

The AAAC is owned by Bayside Council and operated by BlueFit but neither have given the club any indication of when the pool will reopen.

The St George Swim Club has 120 swimmers and an estimated 300 people taking part in its swim squads at the pool.

"St George Swim Club parents and their children as well community users, including local swimmers, disabled and elderly swimmers are being denied access to their local Public Pool, the Angelo Anestis Aquatic Centre in Bexley due to a closure since COVID19," a club spokesperson said in an official statement.

"As community sport and other public pools across Sydney and Australia are opening, Bexley's pool remains shut and not accessible to the St George Swim Club, or other community groups and the general public.

"We are very disappointed at the lack of interest nor support from the council who have not been keen to encourage the opening of the pool for our squads, as well as the general community and learn to swim program.

"Bexley's Aquatic Centre pools will not be reopening at this stage, the community and our Club have not been given any time frame other than it will "be a while" or September."

There are fears that their young swimmers are missing out on training to be able to compete in regional competitions next year.

"These children have worked extremely hard to compete and represent their club in local, metro, state and national competitions," the club secretary Karen Esposito said.

"It has been a big interruption to their training and fitness to have this facility closed, which is necessary under COVID-19 restrictions.

"The majority of pools in other councils have been open since mid-May allowing one swimmer per lane, mid-June allowing three people per lane and their swim squads are back in training.

"There is actually no pool in the Bayside Council area that is open where our children can train. So we are now at a disadvantage to every other club in the metropolitan, east, southern and south-western Sydney areas."

One of the club's senior swimmers, Lauren, 17, said," It's a mental and physical challenge for us now the pool is closed. It's been very hard not to be together as a team to try and achieve our goals.

"It's going to be pretty tough to get back to the standard we had reached. We should be training now for the Age Nationals next year and for the state and metropolitan championships for our younger swimmers."

The club has written letters to Bayside Council general manager Meredith Wallace, Bayside Mayor Joe Awada, Rockdale MP Steve Kamper, acting the Acting Minister for Sports Geoff Lee, and Swimming NSW to ask for their help for reopening the facility.

This week the club received a letter from Bayside Council in response to their request for a reopening of the pool: "Throughout the COVID-19 period, BlueFit has conscientiously implemented all restrictions of the Public Health Order.

"At this stage, BlueFit has chosen to open the Gymnasium under strict conditions and keep the pools closed until 1 July 2020, at which time this arrangement will be reviewed in accordance with Public Health Order requirements.

"Council will continue discussion with Bluefit about re-opening the aquatic component and we hope to have positive news very shortly. Council supports the provision of all sporting options for the children of Bayside and is very keen, as you are, to see activities return to normal."

But the club said that there was still no definite date set for the pool to reopen.

Georges River Councillor Nancy Liu has been involved with the SGSC since its establishment.

"I enjoy its team spirit, which is inspiring and supportive to our swimmers and members," Cr Liu said.

"I am very proud of being part of the SGSC community."

Cr Liu said during the lockdown period of COVID19 pandemic, the SGSC community has always been very vigilant and very sensible to the social distancing; at the same time taking positive attitude and keeping on Dryland exercises on Zoom guided by the Head Coach Robby Cox for these few months.

Councillor Liu would like to echo the position that the club is taking.

"With the current lifting of restrictions and community sport being allowed, we would expect the centre to be open.

"The financial viability of the centre should not be at the detriment of the community and use of their facility.

"This is a community facility, financed and built by the community, there to serve the community.

"Keeping closure is also a big loss on both physically and mentally to the broader community, not only the swimming club, but also the other users of the facility for health and fitness purposes."

The petition to Bayside Council to reopen Angelo Anestis Aquatic Centre, Bexley is at: