Building the Kogarah War Memorial Swimming Pool (1966)

Why is the pool called “Kogarah War Memorial Olympic Swimming Pool”?

Below is a chapter from Beverley Earnshaw’s book titled “Carss Park”.
Beverley has agreed to the publication of Chapter 14 of her book.
Published in 2009 by Kogarah Historical Society Inc.

Chapter 14
Kogarah War Memorial Olympic Pool

After 30 years of swimming in the tidal pool people were beginning to grow dissatisfied with the facility that had so delighted their parents in the 1920s. A number of possible sites were investigated on which to build a ‘swimming pool’. These were Sans Souci Reserve, The Head of Kogarah Bay, Prince Edward Park (present site of the St. George Leagues Club), Nundle Street Reserve, Blakes Quarry, Todd Park, Terry Street Quarry Reserve, Mimosa Street Reserve, Hurstville Road Quarry and Oatley Embankment.

The Council received several suggested plans and one from the Carss Park Amateur Swimming Club was seriously considered for a pool to be constructed wholly within the area of the tidal baths. This pool, however, was only to be 30 feet wide and the Council Engineer pointed out the dimensions would not adequately cope with a large school, let alone the numbers that visited the park on a warm summer’s day. And so the plan was shelved.

By the 1960s people did not want to swim in the mud hole, as the tidal pool was referred to at low tide. Mrs Doris Hatton and Mrs Elizabeth Corry, both active members of the Kogarah Bay Progress Association, convened the first meeting to discuss establishing a full sized Olympic Pool at Carss Park. Many organizations committed themselves to raising funds and on February 12, 1964 the Building Fund was able to forward to the Council its first cheque.

The pool was built on reclaimed land just slightly north of Carss Cottage and could have been opened for the start of the 1965 swimming season but the Dept of Health prevented the opening until the toilets within the enclosed area were completed. The pool was opened for public use on December 26, 1965 and on October 1, 1966 an official ceremony dedicated it as The Kogarah War Memorial Olympic Swimming Pool in honour of all men and women who had served Australia in war.

Dick Caine became the swimming coach in 1965. During construction, the Council could not find sufficient funds to provide the pool with heating. Realizing that serious athletes and swimmers needed year round facilities in which to train, Dick Caine sold his home unit to provide the boilers for an oil heating system for the pool and lived for three years in a caravan.

Construction of a babies’ pool in 1968 answered the need for a shallow pool where young children could learn to swim.

By 1986 Dick Caine could no longer sustain the bill for heating oil which amounted to $9000 every quarter and the pool was in danger of losing Caine to Queensland. A gas line was run across the park from Torrens Street, again at Caine’s expense, to reduce the operating costs of the oil-fired furnace.

The Carss Park Olympic Pool, heated and fitted with anti-wave ropes, is now the most used facility within the Kogarah Municipality. Ten thousand people every year pass through its doors. Ninety percent of schools in the Kogarah and St. George area use it. The elderly use Carss Park pool for rehabilitation and health and the age of pool users ranges from two years old to people in their nineties. There is a fully equipped gymnasium where people involved in other sports, football, boxing, cycling and athletics train.

The walls of the pool foyer display Dick Caine’s many coaching awards and photographs of his protegees among whom are Australian, State and Olympic champions. Michelle Ford, Janelle Elford, Stacey Gartrell and Karen Phillips were Olympic medal winners. Susie Moroney made a double crossing of the English Channel. She was the first person to swim from Cuba to the United States, from Mexico to Cuba and made the world’s longest swim from Jamaica to Cuba. The largest crowd ever assembled at Carss Park Olympic Pool gathered to watch a 24 hour endurance swim by Susie Maroney to raise money for the heart foundation.

The Olympic Pool is one of Carss Park’s greatest assets. Dick Caine is ever mindful of the fact that it is a War Memorial pool and it is the only Olympic Pool in Australia where those who have served Australia in war can enter free.

Following the tragic terrorist attack in Bali, Dick Caine organized a memorial in the form of a gazebo and a plaque to be unveiled in memory of the 88 Australians who lost their lives. The crowds that attended the fundraiser and a Remembrance Day of Champions included many prominent sporting identities.

RSL helped fund the Kogarah War Memorial Swimming Pool

Recently in June 2018 an article in The St George and Sutherland Leader. reported that the RSL provided 25% of the funds to build the original pool. (The Leader June 25 2018)

Olympian’s fight to save Kogarah War Memorial Olympic Swimming Pool

“The pool was built about 70 years ago after the RSL raised 25 per cent towards the cost of construction.”

Kogarah and Georges River funding

Of course the Kogarah Municipal Council, and now the Georges River Council have provided funds since 1964 to build and maintain the pool, but originally the community and the Returned Services League contributed substantially to the idea, discussion, funding and construction of the facilities that have served the local and visiting swimming fraternity so well.

Keep the pool operating until a new better modern facility can be built nearby!

You can write to the council, by 1st March* 7th April 2019, to ensure this great sporting facility continues to live on!  Have Your Say now.


*Submission date changed. To Sunday 7th April 2019

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