The long-standing coach of Corrimal Swim Club has been dumped as the licence holder for swimming lessons at Corrimal Pool, leaving the more than 50-year-old club's future in doubt.
Last month, club members were questioning whether they would be able to continue if long-standing coach Tracey Waters did not have her Wollongong City Council contract renewed.
On October 12, the council announced the commercial licence for of swim school and squad lessons has been awarded to rival swim school, EC Sportz Swim and Surf School.
Corrimal Swim Club president Dave Swan said he had called an emergency meeting at the pool to discuss the decision with parents and members, but said he believed it would mean "the end of the club as we know it".
Last month, club members said they would follow Ms Waters if her contract was not renewed.
While her business and the club are separate entities, they have coexisted at the pool for nearly 30 years and developed together.
"Tracey Waters is Corrimal Swim Club's coach," Mr Swan said last month.
The new operator will start to offer swimming and squad lessons in Corrimal from January 2024, for a four year term, at the conclusion of the licence of the current operator.
The council's director of community services Kerry Hunt said the council was keen for the long-term relationship with the club continue.
"We appreciate change can generate feelings of uncertainty and we will be working with the new licensee as well as the existing operator to ensure the transition is as seamless as possible," she said.
"We look forward to working with EC Sportz Swim and Surf School as they start their four-year term at Corrimal Pool offering both swimming and squad lessons."
The swim club, which is a community-based, not-for-profit organsation that helps young people to compete in swim meets, uses the pool's club house and shed for its meetings.
During the drawn out tender process, during which there were rumours that the council was planning to go with a new operator at Corrimal Pool, club members said they believed they should have been consulted and taken into account during the tender process.
Wollongong council said it was a legislative requirement to carry out a competitive process for a commercial business to operate out of a council owned facility, "which was established for our community".
This is not the first time a long-standing licence holder has lost out during the process: in 2016, the original operators of the popular Wollongong mall markets were dropped in favour of new, more competitive contracters.
"Council regularly goes to market and undertakes competitive processes for capital and maintenance works projects across the city, the provision of certain services like road marking and kiosks, and for the use of our facilities for commercial programs like swimming lessons," the council said, in a statement.
For Corrimal pool, the council said the it took into account "rent, experience and performance, working relationships with community groups, relevant clubs and associations, strengthening of local economic capacity and the management of WHS risk associated with the delivery of service".
Respondents also had to provide letters of reference and demonstrate they meet specific criteria including teaching and coaching qualifications.
Ms Hunt said EC Sportz ranked as the provider who "most meets the requirements and needs of council at this point in time".
"We appreciate some families value the current provider of swimming and squad lessons at Corrimal Pool," Ms Hunt "said.
"We have also received correspondence from some current members of Corrimal Swim Club, which has a longstanding relationship with Council and uses the facility.
"The quotation and the Club's operations are two separate matters, and the awarding of the the licence for commercial services at Corrimal Pool to a new provider does not detract from the efforts of previous providers."
The council also awarded the licences for Dapto and Western Suburbs pools, and said it welcomed businesses to "talk to us if they would like consideration for one of our other unallocated pools".
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