Pool Reviews

Canterbury Aquatic Centre – NSW 2193

Canterbury Aquatic Centre
Canterbury Aquatic Centre

People swam in the Cooks River until this centre was built

My experience in the pool

It was a bit overcast for much of my swim and the air temperature was in the low teens. I guess I understand that most people chose to swim in the indoor pool next door, but I don’t really get it, coming from northern England, as I do.  I just feel that Australia has such fantastic swimming resources and they are perhaps taken for granted by many people here.

Even with school holidays (yes, the kids were swimming in the warm or ice-skating at the rink on the other side of this complex), there were only three of us swimming in the whole of this Olympic pool on the morning I was here.

With so few customers, they take the energy-saving measure of keeping the covers on most of the lanes so there were just three lanes open for the three of us. Good policy, really, and the lifeguard assured me that if it got busier, they’d be opening the other lanes too.

So I had a whole lane to myself for the whole swim, which means I can swap strokes as often as I like, since there’s nobody around who needs to get past my clumsy slow backstroke or who gets in the way of my medium-paced freestyle.

The pool is a little less deep than many, at 1m shallow end and only 1.6m deep end. It actually doesn’t affect how I swim, but it is noticeable when you put your feet down at the deep end and find you can stand with head above the water.

There’s lots going on immediately around this pool. At one end you have the railway line so you can train spot while you do your laps, there’s a constant to-and-fro from the indoor pool, and next door there’s the ice rink (which, I was told, was the reason the pool car park was so full). There’s also the Cooks River, though you can’t actually see it from the pool, and just beyond the river is Canterbury racecourse (again, invisible from the pool).

The big grandstand along one side suggests that there’s a big turn out for the annual schools carnivals. And Cyril the lifeguard was telling me how it is an interesting feature architecturally since it is hollow underneath, so saving on massive amounts of concrete used at many such stands, and providing lots of space for the pool to store stuff.

Getting there, getting in, getting changed

Officially it’s Canterbury Leisure Centre, but Campsie is probably the nearest large shopping area. Campsie station is about 15 minutes’ walk away. Lots of car parking, on the street if the car park is full, as it was when I turned up.

Gentle steps at the shallow end, with vertical steps nearer the deep end too. Also a disabled lift by the pool side.

There are lots of warm showers in the changing rooms.

Other practical points

Entry fee $6 (with other concessionary rates) in 2015.

There’s a paddling pool, but that was empty for the winter. And there was the indoor pool, which looked cramped and busy from my perspective on the outside. Much shorter, too, though I didn’t check its length.

Open all year round.

History and stories of the pool

I was 7 weeks old when this pool was opened in 1959. I wonder how much it has changed since then.

One of the lifeguards, Sean, told me it was needed at the time because people had been swimming in the Cooks River until then, and with industrial waste that was becoming a more unpleasant experience, so there was local demand for a proper swimming pool.

People I met here included:

The other swimmers were busy doing their laps, but I had a long chat with a great team of lifeguards here: Sean, Cyril and Therese. It just shows what a difference a friendly bunch of lifeguards can make to the community feel of a pool.

What’s your story? Any memories of swimming here? Any stories to tell? Or did you just have swimming lessons in the cold of winter in the 1970s?

Whatever you have to say, however brief, I’d love to hear from you and will add any stories to this section of the site as and when I receive them.  Add your comment or story under ‘Leave a Reply’ below.

Links to other articles on this pool

I’m intrigued by the comments to this blog post, by swim blogger Sally, which refer to the imperial measurements at Canterbury Pool. I didn’t notice them, but that’s maybe because half the pool was under wraps…

The Pool Lady came here in 2007.

Coffee, tea or milkshake after the swim?

I walked into Campsie (about 15 minutes on foot) for coffee:

Cherry Beans Caffe – Officially in the Campsie Centre mall, but in fact just outside on Amy St

Open Daily from 9am

Cherry Beans Caffe in Campsie
Cherry Beans Caffe in Campsie

I don’t usually recommend going to chains, but this group, with their 40 or so outlets across Australia, have kept their boutique feel. They roast the coffee in-house and it’s really very good. They also supply some interesting loose leaf teas from SereniTea in Victoria, and a nice selection of home-baked goods.

The Corner Espresso-On the corner of Anglo Road and Beamish St

It’s more of a caff than I’d normally choose, but they gave me my first opportunity to taste the rather good coffees from Frankie Shi under the brand name Tulip.Shi. For quality, as good as, if not better than Cherry Beans.


13 thoughts on “Canterbury Aquatic Centre – NSW 2193”

  1. I go to Canterbury pool about once a week on average. Currently it pips Botany as my favourite pool by being open all year round. Can’t understand why it is not more popular, though being a bit like you alternating freestyle and backstroke, having a lane to myself helps.

    I also mix the above in with relaxing on the grass behind the deep end of the pool. There was once a diving tower and pool here.Therese showed me a couple of steps and tiles, suggesting that the pool may still be there under the grass and palms. I could not find out when or why the tower was removed, though it was suggested a fatality may have influenced the latter.

    It was I, by the way, who made the comments about the pool measurements on Sally’s blog.

    1. Thanks for the comment Graeme. I think those tiles must have been covered the day I was there because normally I’d spot such things.

      Interesting to know about the diving tower and the potential older pool under the grass. I must take a closer look next time I’m there.

      Where do you go in Botany? I haven’t started swimming there yet…

      1. Botany Aquatic Centre. Old style centre without a gym and only the toddlers pool shaded, but has twin 90m water slides and even handball walls. Huge grass area with lots of trees. Open till 24 April.

        Re closest station to Canterbury pool. Canterbury is five minutes closer than Campsie if you use the footbridge across the river.

    2. hi I come across this page because I was looking up history on the diving pool that use to be there but now covered up by dirt. I use to go to Canterbury pools in the late 70’s / 80’s and we use to have our school carnivals there being that I use to go to Canterbury High.

      Back then we asked why the pool was covered and they told us, that they had to shut the diving pool down because, I think from memory a young man dove off the diving board and as he sunk to the bottom his foot got stuck in the drain at the bottom (I think that it wasn’t closed properly) rescue people managed to saw his foot off but it was too late he had passed away.

      I was actually looking up to see If I could come across the news story.

    3. I learnt to breath out on the bottom of the deep dive pool and just lay there on the bottom looking up. I then had to swim to the surface. I could hold my breath for a long time it seemed and it was very relaxing.
      I was 9 when it opened and left the area when I was 13. We would bus over from Kingsgrove with older mates.
      Once when we left the pool we walked across the grass to catch the bus home. Some young kids on the other side of the river threw rocks over at us. My older mate returned the rocks close to them, he was a pitcher at baseball, he walked them back with bigger throws, but i digress.
      I would like to know what happened with the pool, it did look dangerous even then.
      Many wanted to swim in the deep water and the kids kept jumping off the top, all at the same time. The long stay at the bottom could lead to black outs coming up I now know.
      I could also swim the length of the 50m pool underwater on one breath and with flippers I could swim part way back, but only once as it took time to get ready and then to recover.

        1. thank you Simon.
          i have good memories of our days there
          i am surprised how much freedom we had then as young kids, we went without adult supervision all day.
          we taught ourselves how to swim !!!
          i was one of 6 children in our family.

  2. I remember Canterbury Pool opening. I was a member of Frank Guthrie’s Swimming squad. Lorraine Crapp, John Monckton, David Dickson and many other Olympians were in the squad. At that time there was only the main pool, learn to swim pool and diving pool. The Ice Skating rink came much later.Wonderful memories.

  3. I was born and bred in Campsie I remember when there was no pool and when the scrappers came and cleared the vast area of vegetation and the building of the pool and walking around the unfinished pool area and the opening it was a great achievement for us a place to meet friends and then the night time swimming

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *