IT’S 9.30am and the 50 metre pool at the Eureka Swimming Complex is gleaming in the bright sunlight.
Having a cool start to this summer, the crowds are just beginning to trickle in. At the height of the season, the popular venue attracts about 400 people a day.
By the end of March, 100,000 patrons would have swam, splashed and waddled their way through the complex.
But, at this time of the day, the action is focused on the plant room – a squat structure far from the heated 50 metre, 25 metre learn-to-swim and toddler pools.
YMCA Aquatics director Al Glenwright says without the plant room, the complex couldn’t exist.
“As long as the grass is green and the water is clean, no one cares what goes on in here,” Mr Glenwright says. “But this is the heart of the pool complex.”
It is here that an elaborate mechanism sucks the water through the filter and runs it through the heat exchange before returning it to the pool.
Before the swimmers arrive, it is the job of duty manager and life saver John Oates to ensure everything is in top working order.
“I make a pool test,” Mr Oates says. “This involves checking the water is at the correct chemical levels and the PH levels are below 7.8.
“Also, I make sure the (water) heaters are running at 26 degrees.”
It takes 51 lifeguards working across different shifts to ensure families stay safe at the pool.
One of them is Australian Catholic University nursing student James Lukich.
“It’s a fun job,” says the 19-year-old, who is also a Ballarat Swans centre half back. Mr Lukich has never had to rescue anyone, but has to maintain constant focus.
“You are always scanning,” he says. “You can’t really ever relax.”
Mr Glenwright, who has managed the complex for the past two years, says the complex attracts people of all age groups, from serious lap swimmers to primary school would-be learners.
Johanna Van Gaans learnt to perfect her swimming techniques at the Eureka Pool at the age of 55. She’s now 72.
Mrs Van Gaans moved to Ballarat from the Netherlands almost 60 years ago as a young unmarried girl and met her husband, fellow compatriot Marinus Van Gaans. The couple come every day to the pool.
“You meet people you know. Socially, it is really good,” Mrs Van Gaans says. “We meet a lot of our friends and neighbours here.”
Read more about a Day in the life of the Eureka Pool at www.thecourier.com.au