With almost all of Wollongong's pools more than 40 years old - and one of them was built nearly 100 years ago - the city council budget could take a huge hit trying to upgrade them.
The oldest is the Continental Pool, which was built back in 1928 but many of the city's other pools are getting on in years as well.
Thirroul Pool was opened in 1940, Dapto and Helensburgh pools in the 1960s and Corrimal and Western Suburbs in the 1970s.
The newest pool is at Port Kembla, which is already 23 years old.
At Monday night's council meeting Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery flagged the issue by moving a motion to update the council's Future of Our Pools strategy and call on the state government to help fund the necessary upgrades.
"Well over a billion dollars in assets are caught up in our aquatic services and pools," Cr Bradbery said.
"Between the 1950s and 1970s there was enormous growth in the number of swimming pools constructed across Australia. It culminated in many of these pools now being at the end of their useful life or in need of major upgrades and revamping.
"A report from the Royal Lifesaving Society found that approximately 500 - or 40 per cent - of Australia swimming pools require replacement in the next 10 years."
Cr Bradbery pointed out that these issues were already starting to surface, citing the example of Dapto pool.
In preparation for the summer swimming season it was discovered there was a problem with the pool's heating system, leading to the possibility the pool could become unheated at short notice.
As the council started preparing the coming year's budget, Cr Bradbery felt the issues around ageing pools needed to be put on the agenda.
"It's challenging to manage ageing swimming pools particularly given increasing annual maintenance costs and community expectations," Cr Bradbery said.
"Upgrading aquatic facilities and recreational assets will be a major cost - and a continuing major cost - for this council."
It's a fact not lost on regular swimmer Carolynne Macdonald.
"We are so fortunate to have these pools accessible to the community - they are vital infrastructure," the 72-year-old said in between laps at the Western Suburbs Pool at Unanderra.
Mrs Macdonald, who spreads her time between the Continental and Corrimal as well depending on the water temperature, believes there's more to a pool's presence than just swimming.
"Of course it helps me maintain my fitness levels but it's also a benefit to my mental health," she said. "Plus I solve all life's problems when I'm swimming.
"But I also value the interaction I have socially, too."
Fiona Fernandez, at the Unanderra facility with her grandson Harvey, also touched on the community value.
"There are just so many people who value this pool - from schools, to family and community groups - it brings people together.
"And I guess we presume it will always be here. But they are getting old and that means they need work," Mrs Fernandez said.
She recalled fundraising efforts "back in the day" and hoped plans for new facilities would not be shelved forever.
Council's plans to turn the toddlers' pool into an accessible water play park were delayed indefinitely when the tender process hit a snag. Back in January the council said it was "currently reviewing the anticipated completion date for this project".
At the council meeting Cr Mithra Cox raised her concerns about the Future of Our Pools strategy, saying it asked the community what they wanted specifically at their neighbourhood pool, rather than across the city's pools in general.
"I think asking local communities what to do with every one of their pools wasn't really helpful approach because everybody wanted all of the things in their local pool when actually a lot of people would have been satisfied with just one of those things," Cr Cox said.
She also highlighted what she felt was missing from the city's aquatic facilities.
"One of the things that lacking in Wollongong is a central city lap swimming pool that is open in the evening," she said.
"It's something other cities have, that you can get home from work and you can go and do some exercise. All of our pools shut early and so the only option to go swimming at night is at the beach."
The recent closure of the pool at West Wollongong Public School was raised by Cr Cath Blakey, who moved an amendment calling on the council to push the state government to maintain the pool.
"In this matter we could advocate to the state government not only for our own pools but also for this community asset at West Wollongong public," Cr Blakey said.
Cr David Brown agreed, saying he was happy to "ask the state government to have another look to see if they can find the cash somewhere else just keep this open".
Cr Ann Martin wasn't a fan, believing there were better ways to use the estimated $750,000 it would cost to upgrade the school pool.
"It's the first I knew that West Wollongong had a public swimming pool," Cr Martin said.
"I think books are more important than having a swimming pool at a public school. I'm just amazed that anyone, when we've got such a crisis in public school education, would even consider asking the state government to fund it."
Cr Blakely's amendment was voted down, with Cr Bradbery suggesting it would be better to move it as a motion for an upcoming meeting, while the Lord Mayor's motion was passed unanimously.
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