Long, hot summer looms for Kaikōura with public pool closed

8:01 am on 28 November 2016

Kaikōura's only public pool appears to have been damaged beyond repair in last week's earthquake, but it has rekindled the dream of a new indoor complex.

Kim Boyce-Campbell manager of Kaikoura Lions swimming pool

Kim Boyce-Campbell, manager of the Kaikoura Lions swimming pool, says the damage is worse than she first thought. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The 46-year-old Lions Pool - located on the town's waterfront - was due to open for the summer season when the quake struck just after midnight 11 days ago.

Manager Kim Boyce-Campbell said she came to look at the pool soon after the earthquake and was horrified. She told RNZ she was still discovering the extent of the damage.

The benches have been buckled, while concrete paths all around the pool have been badly cracked - some tilted down by up to 20 degrees.

She said the damage was worse than she feared.

"It's worse. It's been here for a long time, and it's not perfect, but it's still here," said Ms Boyce-Campbell.

"It's been through many violent storms and each time we patch it up and carry on, but this is a bit of a death blow, I think".

The pool's managers and the local council said the pool was a write-off.

There has been talk for years about getting an indoor pool, but Ms Boyce-Campbell said the community's hopes and money went into new council offices instead.

"There are many people for a long time saying that this pool is just not adequate and what the town really needs is a proper indoor pool that people can train in all year round."

She said the pool would need to be suitable for older people, learn to swim programmes and rehabilitation, because people currently needed travel two hours away to use bigger pools.

"Even though this is pretty heart-breaking my big hope is that if we can get together as a community and really focus on getting a new pool, it will once again be the lifeblood of our community," she said.

Olympic hopeful 2020, Chris Elson has no local options for swimming now since the quake caused major damage to the pool.

Olympic hopeful 2020 Chris Elson has no local options for swimming since the quake caused major damage to the pool. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

But this summer could be a long, hot one for Kaikōura families.

The sea is not swimmable for now, and sprinklers have been banned because of water restrictions.

The pool's closure also meant no work for five lifeguards, including competitive swimmer Chris Elson, who was also shocked by the damage.

He has set his sights on the 2020 Olympics and the pool's closure would make realising his dream just that much harder.

Mr Elson said after a week and a half without the pool, he was feeling a bit twitchy and really needing a swim.

"It doesn't have to be anything fancy. Just a 25 metre pool, indoors, that's it, and it would make a whole lot of difference to the town," said Mr Elson.

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