by Steve Redmond
The pool in Baltimore provides a unique service to the community of West Cork throughout the year. All of life is here – from locals learning to swim; children preparing for the community games trials; triathlon club members trying to improve their speeds; and my own special interest – keeping up the strokes when Lough Hyne is just too cold!
Since the news that the pool has been successfully purchased ‘by the community for the community,’ there is a feeling that anything is possible!
It is great to see so many turning up for the lessons from absolute beginners to the more advanced. The pool feels like a pool – at last – not like a pool that is waiting to close, or struggling to stay open.
For me, there is now a real sense of purpose every time I use the facility. The friendly staff are great and, at the end of a long day, you know that you have improved and are getting better with every visit.
Jewel in the Crown
I have used the pool solidly for the last few years and have seen the effort that has gone into keeping it open. Nothing great is easy, and the future is always uncertain, but the pool and the leisure centre are the jewel in the crown for Baltimore and the wider West Cork community.
It is there to use and with the sea change in people’s attitude to health and fitness and general well being, it is becoming a major meeting and focal point for people of all abilities to come and train whatever their standard.
It makes no difference if they are able to do one length or a thousand, being a member of the Baltimore Community Leisure Centre means they are on a path and are doing something that is both habitual and enjoyable.
We have, without doubt, some of the best open water in the world right on our doorstep for long distance swimming and wild swimming. To be able to train so close to these great seascapes and the challenges they represent gives us a sense of how lucky we are.
We are blessed to have Lough Hyne, even if – at this time of year – people need a fair bit of convincing to get in. Never mind, all roads lead to the Baltimore Community Leisure Centre.
Of course, nothing is perfect. There is a long road ahead, but it is good to know that there is training available in the pool. I find that the help and advice I get from the staff sees me through during the times when I think I cannot go on. Of course, it helps when I have swimming buddies like Steve Black and John Kearney nearby telling me that I am slower than a wet week!
Their resolve, and the resolve of the local people who have made this dream a reality, is what makes it such a vibrant and perpetual project.
I trust people will continue to support this valuable amenity.
Too many times in the last few years we have watched as services, shops and towns slowly closed and died, but this, here, is a good news story. The pool will not only remain open, I believe it will continue to improve its range of services.
I hope I will get to see you there!