Helen McKay believes learning how to swim is one of the most important skills a child should learn.
The Albion Park Rail resident would know, she has been teaching kids for 50 years.
Mrs McKay and her husband Ted, who passed away in 2008, were recognised for their 40 years of volunteer swimming coaching.
Shellharbour City Council has officially named the 50 metre Oak Flats pool, the ‘Ted and Helen McKay Pool’.
Mrs McKay said it was a “real honour” to have the pool named after her and her husband.
“Teaching children to swim saves lives,” the 80-year-old said. “The skill does not come overnight.
“I have never knocked back a child who has wanted to learn.
“The best feeling is seeing a child in the water and when they learn to roll their arm over and out of the water, I know they are learning to swim.
“I am now teaching the third generation of swimmers in some families. All the children I have taught have become part of our big family.”
Members of Oak Flats Swimming Club made a request to the council to name the pool after the couple in recognition of their significant service to the community.
The McKays began teaching learn to swim classes and swimming coaching sessions for the Oak Flats Swimming Club in 1968, three years after the pool opened.
While teaching their own children to swim, they saw the need to help others and started a learn to swim program which later turned into the Oak Flats Swimming Club.
The coaching couple encouraged young competitive swimmers to do their best and the results were evident, with success at state and national levels. Some of their elite swimmers went on to the Olympic Games and Australian Iron Man series.
Mrs McKay still coaches from the sidelines and is heavily involved in the club.
Club president Kelley Ryan said Mrs McKay was at the pool every morning, afternoon and on weekends. She also attends all club and school swimming carnivals.
“Mrs McKay is exceptional and she is adored by all,” Ms Ryan said. “She is an amazing role model for the children. She has helped raise exceptional people through her teaching.”
Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba said the couple’s dedication to the children and families of the city had been extraordinary.
“Helen and Ted have shaped the lives of many young sports men and women in Shellharbour City. Naming the pool after them is a fitting tribute their enormous contribution,” Cr Saliba said.
“Their commitment was evident from the outset. While Ted was working as a wharfie at Port Kembla he managed to be at the pool both mornings and afternoons, five days a week.
“In fact, any child who could not get transport to the pool would be picked by up Ted in his EH Holden station wagon.
“They are quite rightly held in very high esteem by the community and Council and I congratulate them and their family on this special occasion.”
Mrs McKay was pleased her family attended the unveiling ceremony on Friday and thanked her assistant club coaches for their support.