One Last Swim: Fond memories before pool shuts its doors
A MISERABLE day couldn't dampen the spirits of one Gympie swimming group who came together yesterday morning for one last lap around Memorial Pool.
This Friday marks the end of the pool's operation before the Aquatic Recreation Centre opens it's doors this weekend.
The mood among Bob Knox, Bob Watson, Bob Fredman, Paul Dixon and Tim Frodsham was jovial with a noticeable tinge of sadness.
"I swim less frequently now than I used to. I cycle a lot more now,” Mr Fredman said.
"One of the earlier lessees would sometimes be late for the 5am opening of the pool which is when we used to swim.
"Rather than go back home, we'd scale the gate and do our laps - a hazardous undertaking in speedos.”
For Mr Dixon, his first impression of the pool was a total surprise, coming from Redcliffe for a swimming carnival.
"I remember being in awe of the diving board,” he admitted.
"Coming from Redcliffe where we had a heated pool, we discovered the one at Gympie wasn't heated at all and our rivals would spend their winters training in the Mary River.”
Years later, he found himself living and working in Gympie as a dentist, where he would continue his lifelong love of swimming.
"We started a masters swim club in the mid 1980s, where we'd have these silly races,” he continued.
"You'd state the time you would swim and then swim it - the closest person won, if you swam faster than what you said you lost.”
It hasn't all been fun and games for the team though, with Tim Frodsham nearly drowning in the water 12 years ago.
After experiencing heart failure while swimming laps, he lost consciousness and sank to the floor of the pool.
It was only due to luck that nurses were nearby, and were able to administer CPR.
"Yeah thanks a lot for that, now we've got to put up with him,” Mr Fredman said, sending the group into a fit of hysterics.
The team had only praise for the work of the Manthey family, who have been the long-term (and now final) lessees of the pool.
"I helped pay my way through uni working as learn-to-swim coach so I know what makes a good one,” Mr Dixon said.
"When Liz Manthey started teaching the kids, she taught them properly.”
"I remember as a teenager in swim club, training beside Paul and the 'Bobs' as they swam their laps,” Mrs Manthey said.
With the Aquatic Recreation Centre signalling a new era for Gympie swimming, Mr Fredman said he was incredibly enthusiastic about the future.
"My first report to council on the need for an aquatic centre was back in 1998,” he said.
"Since then, the site had been reserved while the concept was developed.”