Outdoor pools might be open but swimmers can't get a slot

Swimmers have complained of difficulties trying to book in for a swim at one of the few outdoor chlorinated pools that re-opened in Sydney last week.

Following the state government’s relaxation of restrictions, outdoor pools are allowed to open to ten people at a time, and no more than one swimmer per lane.

A maximum of 10 swimmers is permitted at Leichhardt Park Aquatic Centre under COVID-19 restrictions.

A maximum of 10 swimmers is permitted at Leichhardt Park Aquatic Centre under COVID-19 restrictions.Credit:Steven Siewert

Leichhardt Park Aquatic Centre reopened last Monday, with visitors limited to three sessions a week of no longer than 45 minutes which must be booked online.

A spokeswoman for Inner West Council said it was "challenging" to operate the aquatic centre in line with COVID-19 restrictions: "Most pool users have been understanding and respectful of the constraints staff have been working under."

However, swimmers have expressed frustration on social media about the difficulty in booking a time to swim.

“There has been a very high demand,” the spokeswoman said. “Luckily most users have been patient.”

Gerrit Fokkema has swum twice at the aquatic centre since it reopened, and said it was a delight to swim again after eight weeks.

“It’s a much more calm and meditative thing to swim 30 laps by yourself rather than dodging people at the end of the pool,” he said.

Mr Fokkema said he was able to swim at non-peak times because he is retired: “I imagine if you wanted to go before work, it would be more difficult.”

The COVID-19 restrictions on outdoor swimming pools have been criticised by Fairfield City mayor Frank Carbone.

The COVID-19 restrictions on outdoor swimming pools have been criticised by Fairfield City mayor Frank Carbone.Credit:Steven Siewert

While other outdoor pools across Sydney are re-opening this weekend and next, at least one pool in the city’s west will remain closed after a mayor said COVID-19 restrictions were impractical and unsafe.

Fairfield City mayor Frank Carbone said it was not feasible or safe to reopen the outdoor swimming pool the council operates in winter.

"Sadly, it is not currently feasible, convenient or safe to open the outdoor swimming pools at this time," he said. "Opening up our outdoor swimming pools to only 10 people at a time, and without change room access during cold weather is not appropriate.

"We don’t want people getting sick because they have to wait until they get home after a swim to get changed."

A council spokesman said it was not practical for swimmers to change in the open in the colder months and a "lack of access to change rooms creates privacy and hygiene concerns".


North Sydney Pool opened on Saturday under a booking system after it passed safety checks.

Outdoor swimming pools at four leisure centres run by the City of Canterbury Bankstown were scheduled to open on Saturday as well.

An online booking system has been set up to allow swimmers to schedule a one-hour visit, which a council spokesman said would be “regulated” to ensure fair access to timeslots.

“Opening our pools up under these restrictions is not about trying to make money, it is about trying to help our residents’ health and wellbeing,” he said.


The City of Sydney plans to reopen Victoria Park Pool in Camperdown and Prince Alfred Park Pool in Surry Hills on June 1.

Ocean pools within Randwick City Council have reopened except for Wylie’s Bath Rock Pool, which is undergoing renovations, and McIver’s Ladies Baths, which is managed by a Trust. Ocean pools at Bondi and Bronte beaches are also open with a 10-person limit monitored by rangers from Waverley Council, but Bondi Icebergs remains closed.

The outdoor pool at the Des Renford Leisure Centre in Maroubra is open for up to eight swimmers who book a timeslot.

A Randwick City spokesman said the restrictions on reopening outdoor pools had presented "some operational challenges".

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