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SA Aquatic and Leisure Centre impacts community and elite swimmers in remarkable year

January 4, 2017

The acknowledgement of its hosting of South Australia’s most Significant Event of the Year at the 2016 Sport SA/KPMG South Australian Sport Awards, has been just one of many achievements by the South Australian facility during its fifth year of operations.

The SA Aquatic and Leisure Centre received the award for hosting the Hancock Prospecting Swimming Australia Olympic Trials in March, which were also notable for launching South Australian swimmer Kyle Chalmers as an elite athlete and as a major star.

Chalmers, who went on to win the Olympic 100 metre freestyle gold in Rio, had been trained at the SA Aquatic and Leisure Centre since 2013 by coach Peter Bishop.

Bishop, employed by facility manager the YMCA of South Australia through its YMCA Aquatic and Event Services Ltd (YAESL) division, heads the Marion Swimming Club’s coaching program at the Centre. Here he has trained not only Chalmers but also Paralympian Matt Cowdrey (after whom the facility’s main competition pool is named) and Hayden Stoeckel.

Under Bishop’s watch, the trio have won 14 gold, eight silver and seven bronze medals at Olympic and Paralympic level.

Overall, 2015/16 saw the successful delivery of a number of key events, all of which have led to heightened awareness of the Centre as being a world class venue for the delivery of both national and international events.

In addition to the Hancock Prospecting Olympic Swimming Trials, key events held at the Centre during the year included the 2015 Pacific School Games, the Australian Men’s Water polo camp, the 2016 Australian Water polo championships and the 2016 Georgina Hope Australian Age Swimming Championships along with over 60 days of State Sporting Association meets and State Championships and over 120 club and school carnivals.

Many of these events also delivered extensive media coverage of the venue.

With these elite performance inspiring future sporting stars and the community, the SA Aquatic and Leisure Centre has also set about building a healthier and happier South Australia via its memberships and swimming lessons.

Memberships of the Centre’s aquatic education and its fitness/wellness programs grew during the year, as part of a substantial overall rise in participation based on a desire to bring people together and promote the facility as a social place where they can have fun, belong, get/ keep fit and learn.

With 5.1 million visits in five years, the Centre had 3,800 plus health and wellness members during 2015/16 while teaching approximately 800 swimming lessons each week.

SA Aquatic & Leisure Centre General Manager Adam Luscombe explains “the SA Aquatic & Leisure Centre is now a vital link for the community - participation has increased substantially, programs have been developed and delivered that reflect local needs and our ‘open doors initiative’ ensures that access can be provided to disadvantaged members of our local community.”

Reaching its fifth year of operations, in June, the YMCA was awarded an extension of its management contract for a further five years.

While operating an elite aquatic sport facility, the YMCA’s management team also commits to the organisation’s community development objectives helping many South Australians in need with programs that develop, nurture and support those encountering a range of social engagement issues, enable access to affordable programs and those that lead to the creation of healthy habits that will affect lives.

Throughout the year, the YMCA has also embarked on a number of new long term initiatives to enhance business operations through increased efficiency, diversification and environmental awareness.

Among these initiatives the YMCA has committed to responsible environmental management and endeavours through sound water management and waste recycling principles.

Committing to zero waste heading to landfill, the Centre’s waste was converted to Bioethanol fuel or toilet paper.

The YMCA have also enhanced South Australia’s only mobile water theme park, with its WIBIT Sports inflatable play structure on which children and adults alike crawl, jump, walk, slide over giant inflatable slides, obstacle courses and dinosaurs.

Images: Swimming lessons at the SA Aquatic and Leisure Centre (top), Kyle Chalmers during the Hancock Prospecting Olympic Swimming Trials in April (middle) and the Centre's WIBIT playground (below).

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