Swimming enthusiasts in Pietermaritzburg have reason to be optimistic this summer as the Msunduzi Municipality has begun repairing and maintaining the city’s public swimming pools.
This raises the hope that the problems swimmers faced in the past are finally coming to an end.
The city pools are currently being deep cleaned ahead of the summer season, after they were neglected for quite a few months due to a shortage of chemical supplies.
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Throughout last year, pools in the city were sporadically opened and closed. The closures were sometimes due to the conditions of the pool or staff not being paid and left residents enduring the summer heat without any pool access.
Residents responded to the news of the overdue pool maintenance on Msunduzi’s Facebook page.
“It’s about time … I hope the municipality keeps this up,” wrote Corrinne Lowe.
Sibu Simelane said it would also be great if the Sobantu swimming pool could also get a facelift.
“Painting done over the years has weathered. There is no indication that there is a swimming pool there,” said Simelane.
Umgungundlovu District Aquatics Association president, Willy Williams, urged the municipality to reconsider the new token system that has been implemented to enter pools.
“Children from certain areas will find it challenging to acquire the tokens. It could lead to corruption where the tokens are bought in bulk and resold,” he told The Witness.
He said all pools are scheduled annually to open on September 1 and close on April 30.
Each pool has its challenges which need to be attended to during the off season and maintained during season, on a one-to-one basis. Our main concern is the tiles in and around the pools that needed to be attended to as a matter of safety and urgency, especially at Sobantu and Olympic swimming pools.
He said Buchanan Street Pool is a beautiful recreational pool which is in dire need of repair, as it is well supported by the communities in town. It is also of historical significance, as is Alexandra pool.
“All pools need to be upgraded to cater for the recreational bathers and the competitive swimmers by ensuring they have starting blocks, turn flags, false start ropes, anti-surge lane ropes and a PA System,” said Williams.
He said Pietermaritzburg is undoubtedly recognised as the hub of swimming in KZN, as it has the largest Open Water swimming event in the world and has been hosting the SA Short Course Championships here for many years.
He said the City of Choice has produced at least one Olympic swimmer at every Olympics since our country’s readmittance in 1992.
“There is no other city that can boast of this achievement,” said Williams.
“The association would love to work hand-in-hand with our municipality to promote and develop swimming and transformation in our city.
“Swimming is a life skill,” said Williams.
Msunduzi spokesperson, Ntobeko Mkhize said the cleaning and maintenance of the swimming pools is part of the turnaround strategy that the city is implementing to ensure the provision of basic facilities.
“Preparations are in place to have the pools open on September 1,” said Mkhize.
She said the new token payment system will also be ready by that time.
The members of the community will be notified accordingly through the municipality’s communication channels.