With winter officially here swimmers at Retreat indoor pool are feeling the cold and after they lodged a formal complaint with the City of Cape Town about the icy temperature of the water, the City has agreed to attend to the problem.
According to members of the local swimming club,
Retreat Aquatics, their membership has dwindled by 90% and many would rather trek to other heated pools than swim at Retreat pool – but then have to pay exorbitant fees.
The pool was upgraded and enclosed in 2016 to ensure that the community and swimming clubs from the surrounding areas could use the pool for formal swimming training and recreational swimming all year round.
Swimming club member Lincey van Niekerk said the situation at Retreat pool was a problem because it hindered training.
“As an adult swimmer, I use the pool to train for my swim races and I benefit from group training and excellent coaches (at the facility) but because of the icy water, I have had to trek across to
Long Street pool where I am able to swim comfortably in 26-28 degree water,” she said.
“Once again the people in our community are being marginalised and simply ignored. Schools that use the pool for extramural lessons have had to cancel lessons.
“Private coaches have gone elsewhere and clubs are losing members. We would like the heating fixed immediately. We want the temperature to be at a minimum of 26 degrees, the same as Long Street pools.
“We are sick of red tape and lack of urgency that prevails at the City of Cape Town,” said Ms Van Niekerk.
Another club member who did not want to be named said: “It is just unbelievable how cold that water is already and how unbearable it is to swim there this time of the year.
“I’ve only been a club member for about a year but this is not a new issue. Yet again our community has to suffer because of faulty equipment or a lack thereof.”
“Seems like every year this time we sit with this problem since the pool was opened,” he said.
Parent Zuneid Abrahams removed his children from one of the swimming clubs because of the temperatures.
“The water is too cold and my children are freezing while they’re in the pool and when they leave after a training session. The low temperatures have also made them sick in the past. There have been so many issues with this swimming pool since before the upgrade. I hope they can fix this soon because winter is here but we would still like our children to train and swim. There’s lots of potential and the next Olympian could truly come from Retreat pools but not under such circumstances,” said Mr Abrahams.
Zahid Badroodien Mayco member for community services and health, said the heaters at the pool had been broken up until 2017.
“While the work to enclose the pool was being completed, the heaters were not operational,” he said, adding that when the pool was re-opened in 2017, the heat pumps were serviced and in working order.
“However, feedback from regular aquatic club users that the water has remained cold despite the setting on the temperature gauge reading 35°C, has necessitated a reassessment of the system to heat the pool water,” he said.
Based on technical assessments the issue seems to be with the insulation used to retain the
heat in the pool once pumped.
“An upgrade of the technology or possible installation of an additional heat pump may help to raise the temperature of the water,” he said. A contractor has been identified and funding has been sourced to complete the necessary repairs to the heating system.
The work is expected to start this month and to cost about
R170 000. Mr Badroodien said the department encouraged professional swimmers and members of aquatic clubs to use the platforms available through their organisational structures to raise complaints when their performance was affected.
“This will enable us to give the latest feedback quickly, and keep accurate records of user experience in the water which will aid in implementing the best solution,” he said.