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Mass bridges swim will help heat pool

The Raglan community is being urged to take the plunge en masse in a “bridge to bridge” swim event in autumn — so the newly constituted Raglan Swimming Club can in turn splash out on a heater for the Area school pool.

The novel fundraiser is scheduled for Saturday April 14 and there’ll be swims over distances varying from 300 metres up to two kilometres as the club, which became “official” only last month when it registered as an incorporated society, sets out to raise the $25,000 it estimates will be needed to heat the 22-metre pool.

Participants in Raglan’s own “bridge to bridge” event, which comes the weekend after the Maui Dolphin Day also at Kopua Domain, will pay an entry fee of between $5 and $15 depending on their age and the length of the swim.

Current plans are for five events over 300m, 500m, 1, 1.5 and 2 km distances in the Kopua estuary, between the new Kopua footbridge and the Raglan West traffic bridge.
The event is being promoted as a “fun water day” and fundraising committee member Lisa Thomson says Sports Waikato is also coming on board with various activities.

Lisa — who’s well known about town as co-organiser of multisport or endurance events such as the Karioi Classic — says the club has a really strong committee now “and this is their big fundraiser” as they pursue their immediate goal of getting the pool heated so it can be used all year round.

She herself is well aware of the pool’s limitations as during the winter months she takes her 11-year-old daughter three times a week over the divvy to the heated St Paul’s Collegiate facilities.
Lisa emphasises that Raglan Area School and principal Malcolm Cox are very supportive of getting the pool heated and used more as a public amenity.

While the project is being spearheaded by club president Megan Wood — who among other things is looking into various funding sources — there’s also strong backing from the likes of area school staff Gabrielle Williams and Hinemoa Rossi, surf lifesaving stalwart Anne Snowden and Steve Threadgold of Swim Support, who’s again been running a holiday programme at the pool teaching local youngsters how to swim.

Lisa adds the next focus, after installing a pool heater, will be to have a shed built over the pool to keep out the wild west coast winds.
The ultimate aim is to have the pool used as a public swimming pool, though this brings public liability issues that will have to be worked through with the school. With a school pool there are also limitations on what external funding can be accessed, and it may be that the pool comes under the umbrella of the swimming club.

Lisa says the Waikato District Council meantime is doing a feasibility study on the school pool becoming a public one and describes ward councillor Clint Baddeley as also “very supportive” of the moves.

To encourage the community to participate in the bridge to bridge event there will be swimming lessons at the school pool on three successive Fridays, starting tomorrow Jan 11. Contact, or call 021 069 8247.

Edith Symes

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