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Hunter Region’s premier aquatic facility gets official reopening

Hunter Region’s premier aquatic facility gets official reopening
June 16, 2021

The University of Newcastle and Newcastle University Sport (NUsport) have marked the reopening of the redeveloped The Forum Sports & Aquatic Centre at Callaghan.

Yesterday’s poolside reopening event was attended by the University’s Chancellor, Paul Jeans; Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alex Zelinsky and NUsport Chief Deborah Wright along with Paralympians Maddison Elliott (swimming) and Lauren Parker (triathlon), Olympian David McKeon (swimming) and Tokyo 2021 Olympic hopeful Nathan Power (water polo).

Professor Zelinsky stated “the University and NUsport have had a meaningful partnership for more than two decades.

“The fast-tracked refurbishment of The Forum Sports & Aquatic Centre is a great example of our investment in the health and wellbeing of our staff, students and community members,” Professor Zelinsky said.

"We've always sought to have world class facilities at the University - be they for teaching and research or for the services and amenities we provide to our community - and it was time to give this facility an overhaul.”

Delighted to welcome members back to the pool and resume NUsport’s popular water-based programs, from Learn to Swim to our elite swimmers and all the community, Wright added “the Forum’s upgraded Aquatic Centre, with its premier facilities and talented staff and coaches, gives us the opportunity to provide a first-class facility and exceptional experience for everyone.”

The University is committed to providing an unparalleled student experience and that includes life outside of classes. The Aquatic Centre provides state-of-the-art facilities and equipment for many of the University’s clubs and societies and the Elite Athlete Program to help students create lasting connections and accomplish academic and sporting excellence.

To maintain industry standards and enable competition-level carnivals and meets, the 50-metre heated indoor Olympic standard pool has been enabled with touch pad timing, along with a digital scoreboard to ensure the accuracy of race times. A mobility access ramp was also added to the structure along with an inflatable wheelchair to facilitate greater participation from all our community.

Explaining that facilities like these are vital to develop and maintain a career as an elite athlete, Paralympian Maddison Elliott stated “the Forum's new aquatic centre is truly a world-class facility with amenities and accessibility to match. The impact and opportunity for athletes in their preparation for competition at the highest possible level is what excites me most as a Paralympian.”

Alongside accessibility, sustainability was a key focus of the project. Rainwater tanks to supply water for maintenance of the facility and surrounds, LED lighting, climate control energy efficiencies and pool blankets were all included to reduce operating costs and environmental impact.

Professor Zelinsky added “we demonstrate our commitment to our values through our investment in student and staff facilities, like The Forum, that encourage activity and participation that are sustainably developed or redeveloped.”

The refurbishment of the Aquatic Centre was prioritised with fast-track funding of $7.8 million from the University as part of the organisation’s response to COVID-19, with a scope of work that included the upgrade of ground floor amenities with dedicated accessible and family friendly facilities, installation of a large digital smart screen and creating a modern viewing platform with tiered seating for spectators.

Professor Zelinsky was delighted with the outcome of the project, particularly since it encouraged University staff and students, NUsport members and the local community to visit and experience the facility for themselves, concluding “our university is open for all, and that includes our community ... The Forum is a place for the Hunter people to also use and enjoy our facilities."

The pool closed on 23rd March 2020 and reopened to members on 7th June 2021.

More than 1500 regular swimmers are registered in NUsport swimming programs, including Learn to Swim, NUswim and Squads. A further 1,000 members, including staff and students of the University and our community, use the pool for regular exercise, water polo, SwimFit and AquaFit.

The Forum has the only 50 metre (Olympic) indoor heated swimming pool in the region. Mingara Aquatics at Tuggerah on the Central Coast is the next closest indoor facility.

Image: Paralympian Maddison Elliott taking the first dive into the newly refurbished pool.

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27th November 2020 - Newcastle adopts fresh approach to boost tourism post COVID-19

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13th October 2020 - City of Newcastle calls for tenders to upgrade its Ocean Baths pool

25th May 2020 - Newcastle’s No.1 Sportsground to receive major redevelopment

13th November 2019 - Lifeguarding Services Australia to introduce SALTI floating fitness program in NSW Upper Hunter and Central West regions

4th March 2019 - Newcastle’s The Forum launches first Technogym SKILLATHLETIC training facility in Australia

18th October 2017 - Teenager dies after incident at Newcastle’s Lambton Pool

11th July 2017 - NSW Government reveals plans to revitalise Newcastle sport and entertainment precinct

30th January 2017 - AIS joins University of Newcastle study into athlete recovery

19th July 2013 - Newcastle’s The Forum gets major gym upgrade

14th June 2011 - The Forum’s vision for an active community

17th February 2011 - The Forum gets 5 Stars for Water Safety

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