Posted by & filed under City News, Inner West Independent.

There is a stalemate between swimming coaches and operators of Cook and Phillip Aquatic Centre, according to long time coaches based at the pool.

Swimming coach and committee member of the Cook and Phillip Park Swim Club, Ewen McDonald said coaches like him are being phased out and replaced by coaches appointed by YMCA Australia, which operates the Council-owned pool.

Mr McDonald has coached at Cook and Phillip Park Acquatic Centre for the last seven years. Mr McDonald said: “They don’t want us there. Basically they just sort of said, ‘come September you need to
move out of the pool because we’ll be taking it over’.

“It’s a bit like a catch-22. They want the club name there, but the clubs would be run by the YMCA coaches.”

YMCA Australia is a federation of 30 member associations, each governed
by a local board of directors elected by its members. YMCA Australia has managed the Cook and Phillip Aquatic Centre, near St Mary’s Cathedral, since February 2008. It also manages the Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre in Ultimo.

YMCA’s stated mission is to “work together from a base of Christian values to provide opportunities for all people to grow in body, mind and spirit.”

General Manager of YMCA in Sydney, Richard Price said: “The Y is a leading provider of Learn-to-Swim in NSW and last year taught 14,000 people vital water-safety skills across our facilities.

“The decision to manage Cook and Phillip Park’s squad program in-house by the YMCA has not been made lightly or overnight.

“It is an operational policy of the Y … to operate all programs
in-house wherever possible, and the Centre’s squad program will be administered by Y in the future.”

He said the change will impact approximately 12 children.

Mr McDonald said situations where operators try to turn council pools into private businesses are occurring across Australia. He said:
“Once you’ve got a community asset like a pool, which is built by taxpayers and then it gets slightly privatised, there is always that profit margin that needs to go on top. That’s understandable …But it’s just there was no consultation with the groups already using
the pool.”

Swimming coach and operator of adult swim school, Vlad Swim, Vladimir Mravec said he was told he could no longer run some of his classes due to a “conflict of interest” he said:

“We don’t know what’s going on for next month or for next year. I just want one thing: communication. Then there won’t be any conflict.”

Mr Mravec will be moving to another pool over the summer and is unsure whether he will be able to return. Mr Price said the YMCA is not aware of any swim instructors who feel they are being phased out and “this is
simply not the case”. He said: “The Y has been very open in regards to this decision with the affected lane hirer and families, with correspondence and the opportunity to respond given.”