Saturday, February 25, 2012

In the deep end at almost 80-year-old Enfield Pool


Fear, that's what I feel, just for a moment when the depth of the water in a pool drops suddenly. I experienced this the other day when I visited Enfield Pool for the first time. I was swimming along and then all of sudden a line appeared across the white tiles and the depth dropped from one metre to three metres.  A bit further along I was in even deeper water with the bottom of the pool five metres below.  I think it is the suddenness of the drop that startles me.


I had the same experience at North Sydney Pool and more recently at Maryborough Pool in the Central Goldfields area of Victoria. What connects these pools is that they were opened between 1933 and 1940. North Sydney and Enfield share the same architects’ Rudder and Grout, who also designed Bankstown (1933) and Granville Pools (1936).


The reason for the five metre depth was because they all originally had diving towers.  At Enfield Pool, Sydney's first Olympic-standard chlorine pool, there is an original poster from the early days advertising diving lessons with Harry Tickle. “Diving and swimming taught scientifically by Harry Tickle, ex-Australian and NSW Diving Champion,” the poster says. There are also old photos of the Australian High Tower Championships that were held there in 1954-55. Looking at the height they were diving from I can see why the pool had to be so deep.


When I used to swim at North Sydney Pool during the mid to late 1970s, only the 1-metre springboard was still in action. Although never a great diver I remember going in a couple of diving events at school swimming carnivals. After awhile I gave it away and concentrated on the swimming races, leaving the diving competition to more skilled competitors like our friend Cathie-Anne.



There's not many diving boards left at pools these days as they have become Occupational Health and Safety (OH and S) issues. At Northbridge Baths where I swam as a child, the tough boys hung out near the diving board.  They’d lie on the concrete with their bikini-clad girlfriends and smoke cigarettes. Then they’d have competitions to see who could do a bomb off the bright blue springboard and get closest to the concrete wall without hitting it. If my memory serves me well there was an accident or two?

The area where the diving board used to be at Northbridge Baths.

Leichhardt Park Aquatic Centre, which was opened in 1960, still has its diving tower because it’s in a separate pool. It is strictly controlled and only open at certain times. A year or so ago when I was at the pool with my now 13 and 11-year-old nieces, the older one became fixated with diving off the tower. When it eventually opened she couldn’t get up there quick enough. Her sister and I were a bit more tentative. I eventually jumped off the three-metre platform but I can’t say it was a pleasant experience. My niece, on the other hand, enjoyed it as she was relaxed and that’s what it’s all about. My younger niece spent an hour jumping and diving off the one-metre springboard and had a very enjoyable time.

10 comments:

  1. How funny to read your comment about CA. Cath stayed last night so I just called her over to show her the blog and she was chuffed to get a mention.

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  2. She's a follower so I was hoping she'd see the post so that's good. I can picture Cathie-Anne doing an elegant dive off the springboard at North Sydney Pool at one of our school swimming carnivals.

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  3. I know exactly what you mean about that spooky feeling when the water deepens under you as you're swimming along. I'd always thought it was just me, I get it when I'm swimming outside in lakes or the sea, which seems somehow more understandable, as well as in the predictable waters of a pool. Maybe it's a primitive instinct - I reckon I'd get it even if I was swimming with a blindfold on.
    Great pool pictures - and stories! Thank you!

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    1. Yes it is a spooky feeling. In a pool I think I feel a bit like I have swum into the bottom of a ship - and might end up like the Poseidon Adventure - searching for a way out. And yes I think even if you can't see the drop you would feel it. Thanks AquaMarina

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  4. Hi Therese
    I've just come across your blog (don't know how I've missed it all this time). What a wonderful briIliant idea. I grew up in Brisbane but now live in Scotland and reading all the stories and looking at the pictures took me right home.
    I think I just read all your entries in one go!
    When we were small, my sisters and I also bothered any neighbours who had pools. A highlight was creating a whirlpool in a friends' above-ground pool. The day we got our own pool was a great day!
    I shall be sure and follow your blog more closely now. Thanks again for all the great articles and pictures.

    Ann

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  5. Thanks Ann - great you found it. There are so many stories around pools, especially in Australia where most of us spent our childhoods in the water. Lucky you to get a pool in your backyard. What public pool did you swim at in Brisbane? Do you swim in chilly Scotland? Have you found any interesting pools there? Cheers Therese

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  6. Hi Therese,

    It's only been 18 months since I last commented (oops). I rediscovered your blog - hooray, you're still writing it! Scotland does have some amazing pools (mainly indoor). The Western Baths in Glasgow is quite famous, as is the Drumsheugh Baths in Edinburgh. I will try to follow your blog a bit more regularly now that I've found it again. I love seeing your photos. It's such a great document of past and present. Don't stop! Best wishes, Ann

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  7. Good to hear from you again Annie. If you sign up to the email you'll get all my posts. Still keeping the blog going as I am never short of a story about a pool. Thanks for telling me about the ones in Scotland. Will check them out - maybe you could write a guest post on one of them?? Best wishes to you too and have a great Xmas, Therese.

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  8. Uh how many feet deep is that deep end? 14 feet?

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    1. Just over 16 feet Helena so pretty deep!

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