by Sekeeta Crowley

I can hardly believe it now, but after so many years of bringing the family to West Cork to my husband’s relatives, I had to be persuaded to come and live here, and would only agree to give it a two-year trial!

Back in the UK, I always had some kind of project on the go and couldn’t envisage what that could possibly be in Baltimore. I really liked the community feel of the place. I liked the idea of swimming in Loch Hyne, in theory, but I was always too much of a wuss to get into all that cold water. So I was pretty pleased to discover Baltimore’s lovely indoor pool.

Okay, maybe not the 25m, seven-lane kind of pool I was used to in North London, but this was so much nicer to be in!

The staff greet you by name, and you can see the weather through the windows as you swim and sit in the steam room, jacuzzi or sauna afterwards. And you don’t have music blaring out at you!

In February 2011, shortly after Charlie and I moved to live here full time, we went to a meeting about the Leisure Centre. I innocently joined the committee. I thought it would make a change from the parents association type stuff I had done before.

Baptism of Fire

Well, it proved to be different all right. It was, in fact, a real baptism of fire because I struggled with a grant application to the West Cork Development Partnership.

I nearly gave up several times, but was dragged back to my feet by other committee members. I would love to say it was a roaring success, but we didn’t get it. So what do you do? You pick yourself up and try the next one.

Well, practice makes perfect as they say! Our motto was “One day we are going to succeed.” And that is pretty much the case today.

Sure, the rather elderly pool plant and heating system need serious refurbishment to cut down running costs and repair bills. The gym could do with some new equipment, but it is nothing that a reasonable investment wouldn’t solve. And I’m pretty sure that the people living in our community will continue to be their amazing selves and help us to find the money from somewhere.

The pool is so much part of Baltimore now, and will continue to be. The staff are brilliant at enthusing the children in their lessons. Fundraising events are well supported by everyone and people are coming up with ideas all the time.

During the three-week closure for urgent, remedial works last September, volunteers put in their time to decorate and clean the place. It’s things like that that make it a real community pool and such an asset to us all.

Work and Play

Who wouldn’t want their children to learn to swim and be safe, when water surrounds us all and is so much a part of our work and play? What parent, whether a visitor or resident, isn’t grateful to have somewhere to bring the family for a bit of fun and maybe even exercise on a wet and windy day?

You see so many people in the pool for different reasons and with different abilities. It is great if you have joint problems: being in a pool means you are able to move more freely with the buoyancy of the water. The pool is an even depth all the way through, so you don’t even have to be able to swim to enjoy it.

Personally, being able to swim indoors pretty much whenever I like has helped me feel at home here. But not only that, I have met some great people just from going to the pool, not to mention the die-hards on the committee.

After three years here – three years that have shot past – it looks like we are now here for good and so is the pool, and that’s fantastic, right?


This article was originally published in the Southern Star on March 8th, 2014. Author: Sekeeta Crowley.