Pool Reviews

Granville Swimming Centre – NSW 2150

Granville Pool
Granville Swimming Centre

Once known as the ‘Wimbledon of diving in Sydney’ – even Crocodile Dundee dived here as a teenager

My experience in the pool

The swim is only a small part of the pleasure of Granville Pool. But since this blog is about my swimming experiences, I’d better begin with that…

It was a bright, sunny spring morning. The Olympic pool was quiet so they had kept four lanes covered and just five were being used. I chose the narrowest lane which bordered the edge of the tarpaulin cover – a test for my wayward backstroke to see how many times my swinging arm landed on the rough edge of the cover (actually only twice so that stroke is improving).

I saw this as my coming-of-age day in Australian swimming. The 20 laps routine is now becoming comfortable, with no niggling shoulder. And the 50m Olympic Pool is starting to feel normal. In fact, when I paced the smaller pool next door to check on its length, I was surprised to find it is 25m.

Back in the UK most pools are 25m and I would normally do just 20 laps. So, I’ve doubled my usual workout distance, and the 25m pool looks so tiny now.

Getting there, getting in, getting changed

Easy to get to Granville Swimming Centre on public transport: the train station on the Parramatta line is just five minutes’ walk away.

There are nice wide steps making for easy entrance to the shallow end at 1.3m. Slightly odd feel at the 1.9m deep end, since there is nothing to grab onto if you want a quick breather there, and the water level is some way from the top of the pool edge.

Nothing special about the changing rooms. But warm water in the showers and no tokens needed.

Other practical points

Entry fee $5.70 in 2015.

25m pool at the shallow end of the Olympic pool. A paddling pool is also on the complex.

Open all year round.

History and stories of the pool

The great thing about Granville Pool is the way it heralds its history.

Built in 1936, it was only the fourth Olympic pool to open in the state (after North Sydney, Enfield and Bankstown). There were two Olympic pools at first, and if you pause by the window on your left as you come out of the changing area, you’ll see below ground level the old tiling of the original pool, with its Roman numerals for lane numbers.

And in the lobby of the swim centre there is more on the history of the pool.

It was built on a duck pond by the local woollen mills in that period when governments were trying to get unemployed men back to work.

The 1950s were its heyday. There are fantastic quote from former swimmers here: Susan Costin, an Aussie backstroke champion remembers during Saturday morning races, ‘parents would go for a beer or a morning tea in the plant room’.

John Devitt, after whom the pool is now named, was a household name at a time when 17 national champions trained here. He speaks of 2000 swimmers being in the pools on hot days, when it would be so full you could ‘walk across the pool without touching the water’

And I loved Julian Carroll’s memory of Jock, the Glaswegian lifeguard who had tattoos on muscular arms.

In 1973 the pool was heated. In 1988 it was named after John Devitt.

And now, it is a quiet place on an early spring morning, though I enjoyed overhearing the receptionist taking a call from an eager parent:  “I don’t have a jellyfish place, but I do have a seahorse class available.” – Ah, I wonder what Jock would have made of today’s swimming novices?

Oh, and tucked away on the list of young lads who used to like diving here is one Paul Hogan, but no mention of his most famous screen character…

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

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

Swimming blogger Therese had an interesting time at Granville Pool during her visit in 2013.

Pool Lady posted her thoughts on Tumblr a few years ago too

Coffee, tea or milkshake after the swim?

Just five minute walk to my tip for a post-swim coffee in Granville’s main shopping street, but I’m not 100% sure it is still open – if anybody knows either way, please let me know…

Espresso on South – South Street, Granville

Open Daily from 6am – 11pm

Espresso on South reviewed by Fancy a Cuppa website

Espresso on South for coffee in Granville
Espresso on South for coffee in Granville

A lovely smooth flat white from Campos Coffee. They make it well. And some delicious Italian pastries to go with your coffee. I like this place. It’s big, though. They are open evenings for dinner too so maybe it gets busier then. Nice for a quiet cuppa post swim though.

15 thoughts on “Granville Swimming Centre – NSW 2150”

  1. Loving the blog as I have 11 of the sea pools of the 60 on the new coast to go. No blog just a scrap book. Have you read the classic swim book by the guy who swims all over the uk – waterlog? Bet you have
    Off to to wadi tomorrow as have a meeting in Woolongong. And will try the coffee shop
    bermegui you will find is one of the best – but have to be out of the wind
    Eden is beautiful but neglected

    1. Thanks Sheridan and well done on getting so far with your swimathon! Any practical tips for the ones I haven’t done yet? Like: avoid at high tide, or beware the bluebottles during a nor’wester? or anything of that ilk?

      Yes, I read that Eden has seen better days. Thing is both Eden and Yamba are a long way from us so they will be special holiday trips and might be last on my list to get to, I think. Keep in touch

  2. My brother Terry and I swam there in the from 1958 thru to 1964
    Terry I think was state champion and I nearly wone one as well
    I swam the diving pool in a lot of races did it in 28.2 seconds at age 8
    Terry nearly had the Aust championships also one year at Lidcomb pool
    We both used to swim there all year round freezing in winter but we did not care
    Done a lot of scout swimming championships also Both of us
    Terry now plays trumpet and has played all around the world for the Aust army band
    The Aust Navey band and now for the Aust Fire band
    Me I have won Aust titles and state titles in surfing short board and long board
    We have lots of great memories of the pool and a wall full of penetts and scout card plaques
    I used dive for Penny’s in the dive pool and dived from one side strait down the side wall and then across the bottom and back up the other side wall that’s a long way for an 7-8-9 year old lol lol back then
    Any way thanks for hearing our part of the history of this great pool yew
    Crouch ) my nick name lol

    1. Fantastic memories, thanks! Sounds like you are still really active too – just shows what swimming early in life does for you later on! I’m looking forward to swimming in Lidcomb when the renovations are finished later this year. I wonder how much of the old pool will be left then?

  3. I lived in Granville and walked to the Granville pool with my friends on Saturdays in the summer when I was a kid. Mum would give me enough to get in and probably another threepence to buy an ice block. She also would make me take an old towel instead of a “good” one so no one would nick it!! You had to walk through showers to get to the pool from the change rooms. I think this was an attempt to “get us clean” before we went in the pool. There was a small cement edge either side that we would “shinny” across to avoid getting wet!!
    I remember the pool being so full of kids you always seems to land on someone when you jumped in. It was the 1960’s. My sister and her boyfriend (now her husband of over 50 years) swam there too with Paul Hogan before he became famous!

    1. Great story Margaret, and thanks for sharing. Loved the ‘old towel’ idea; and yes I also remember the ice blocks, though I haven’t seen any for years now

  4. Today we went to Granville pools thinking we were going to have a great time but apparently it was over the capacity limit , we saw about fifteen people walking out and still they didn’t let my family in even though only only three of us were going to swim we were going to ask the front desk but there was no one there so overall we had a really bad experience there because of the customer service there were lifeguards there telling us we couldn’t read which was just so rude so I’ll never go there again

  5. I was a member of Granville swimming in the 1950’s and still have my original costume with the Granville club badge sewn into it . I was also a member of Midge Betts diving troupe. I have many stories about those days too many to publish here. If you would like to hear more please contact me. I grew up in Granville

      1. I was in my mid teens when I was a member of the diving troupe. We were a team and had to work together because there was only a couple of seconds between divers leaving the tower .When we entered the water we had to go to the bottom of the pool as other team members entered after you and you could see and hear them entering the water. We used to give exhibitions at swim meets of that era and champion swimmers also competed. When learning we had to wear a jumper and long trousers in case anything happened when learning so it didn’t hurt as much. You can contact me by private email if you want to know more.

  6. Does any body remember the Brylcreem Machines outside the Mens Changing Rooms. I could get free Brylcreem out of thr Machine by suckin on the Nozzle and spitting the Brylcreem into my hand thence on to my hair.

  7. Learnt to swim there when I was 13 there in the late 40s and early 50s with high school I went to on our sports day by special bus from ParrMatta Home Science across the gas works bridge. It was fun, water very cold.

  8. I used to go to Granville pool on sports day when I went to Granville Pats, late fifties.. I have been trying to find a photo of the diving tower; it was removed after I stopped going there, I guess for safety reasons as there was no separate diving pool, just the deep end of the olympic pool, and swimmers would often get jumped on from someone from the 2nd or 3rd tower. I think the diving boards were 1 metre, no problem with that. Then progressed to the next level (3 metres?), OK. One day I plucked up the courage to go to the top., Shit ! No way, so climbed back down the steel ladder very slowly – almost as frightening as jumping from the top tower. Thanks for the interesting blog.

  9. In the 70’s my brothers, their friends and I, would be dropped off at the pool where we would spend a couple of afternoon hours in the hot summer afternoon when after our jobs were done.
    Such an afternoon of fun and sun burnt shoulders.
    Also our school carnivals were held there where I always competed.
    Well remembered times at Granville pool.

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