Shaye Kinson had been going crazy without swimming laps. She is now keen to get back in the water on Monday after the NSW government’s decision to reopen indoor pools earlier than planned.
“It is my happy place; I could swim before I could walk,” said Ms Kinson, a 24-year-old trainee veterinary nurse from Carlingford who worked as a swimming teacher for seven years before the lockdown.
She usually trains year-round in the heated indoor pool at Auburn’s Ruth Everuss Aquatic Centre. Along with pools across Sydney, its indoor pool will reopen to double-vaccinated adults and children under 12 for swimming lessons, lap swimming, squads and rehabilitation.
Ms Kinson wasn’t the only one in a happy place. Facility managers and water safety experts were delighted by the NSW government’s decision to bring forward the opening, originally scheduled for doubled-vaccinated people for mid-October.
Following the announcement, staff at Auburn Ruth Everuss and other pools were inundated with inquiries from members of the public who wanted to restart swimming lessons and fitness programs such as aqua aerobics, said Scott Vanderheyden, the manager of Belgravia Leisure’s aquatic facilities in south-west Sydney, which includes Ruth Everuss.
Squad programs and aqua aerobics classes would start at Belgravia’s pools as soon as possible, he said. The pools will also adjust pool space and put on extra classes to cater for the demand and allow as many learn-to-swim classes to operate within NSW guidelines.
After such a long lockdown, staff shortages were a challenge, Mr Vanderheyden said. Staff had moved into other industries that had been less impacted by COVID-19.
“In the last 17 months, the COVID closures and restrictions have meant that only 42 weeks of lessons out of a possible 70 weeks of swimming lessons were conducted. This has meant that swimming teachers have been unable to work for 40 per cent of their time in the last 17 months,” said Mr Vanderheyden.