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SA Aquatic & Leisure Centre’s hosting of 2021 Australian Swimming Trials caps a remarkable year

SA Aquatic & Leisure Centre’s hosting of 2021 Australian Swimming Trials caps a remarkable year
June 18, 2021

The completion of the 2021 Australian Swimming Trials at the SA Aquatic & Leisure Centre yesterday has capped a significant 15 months for the facility.

While records tumbled in the pool as the aquatic athletes competed to represent Australia in next month’s Olympics and Paralympics as well achieve their personal bests, management at the SA Aquatic & Leisure Centre welcomed near capacity crowds across the five days of the trials.

While needing to ensure the event was delivered with COVIDSafe protocols, the facility continued to operate for its existing swim school members.

As SA Aquatic & Leisure Centre General Manager, Adam Luscombe explains “we had a two-pronged COVID-19 management plan during the trials which saw the Centre used as both an event venue and a membership/swim school area.

“To do this, for the event we had three different QR Codes for access - one each for contractors, athletes and spectators - with all in the grandstand wearing masks, ensuring social distancing was maintained, having extra hand sanitisation stations in place and an enhanced cleansing regime.”

Needing to ensure the event was delivered with COVIDSafe protocols the Centre also introduced one-way traffic flows for access and egress, contact tracing of all patrons and QR Codes linked to South Australian Government COVIDSafe plans.

This included 37 reiterations of COVID-19 management plans to deal with updated Government Emergency Directions which included 27 versions of the Event Covid-19 Management plan to host the 2021 Australian Swimming Championships.

While the gym was only accessible to athletes during the trials its fans were turned off with the space covered in an insulation wrap to keep it and exercisers from overheating without fans.

This was backed by the Centre’s use of its Nabooki software to book the venue for group fitness and lap swimming to ensure no overcrowding.

Quayclean, the Centre’s contract cleaners, also undertook extra cleaning and support including deep cleans when needed.

Overall, the trials marked the biggest swimming event overlay outside of an Olympics Commonwealth Games or World Swimming Championship.

To achieve this, Luscombe acknowledges the collaboration of major stakeholders including the South Australian Government, Swimming Australia, Swimming SA, the City of Marion, event broadcaster Amazon Prime and NEP as well as the remarkable staff culture that dealt with the event and its bump in and bump out.

10 Years of Achievement
Over the near 10 years of operations of the facility since its opening in July 2011, event such as Australian Swimming Trials have combined to deliver $90 million of economic benefit to the South Australian economy via major events and hospitality.

At an elite level, the past week’s Australian Swimming Trials represent the third consecutive Olympic/Paralympic qualification event staged in Adelaide along with three World Championship events, two Pacific School Games and numerous national and state championships across four sports (swimming, diving, water polo and lifesaving).

Catering for a diverse range of user groups, including state sporting organisations, national sporting bodies and the local community while also supporting key stakeholders, including the South Australian Government, the City of Marion and over 280 staff, the Centre has had more than 13 million visitations since its opening.

COVID shutdown
Operated by the YMCA on behalf of the South Australian Government, the SA Aquatic & Leisure Centre (SAALC) has also successfully weathered the Coronavirus pandemic, becoming the first aquatic facility in Australia and the world to reopen after the lockdowns of March 2020.

Operational since 19th April last year, Luscombe explains how the YMCA viewed the COVID-19 induced shutdown as a 'Black Swan' event, being outside the range of normal expectations.

Luscombe advises “rather than look at the European model of the Black Swan event, the YMCA, in operating SAALC, chose to use the Indigenous Australian Black Swan Dreamtime story of Guunyu. “Shaped by his past and terrible event, Guunyu has used his steadfastness, spirit to survive and fight on to become a wiser and beautiful, humble, and more robust bird. The Indigenous viewpoint of this COVID-19 event is our opportunity to transform and learn.”

The YMCA has a proud history of success, health and sports training, and aspirations not just locally but among sporting bodies at state and national levels.

Images: 2021 Australian Swimming Trials action at the SA Aquatic & Leisure Centre (top), the Para-swimmers selected to represent Australia at the Olympics (middle, credit: Swimming Australia) and the SA Aquatic & Leisure Centre from the air (below).

About the author

Nigel Benton

Co-owner / Publisher, Australasian Leisure Management

Nigel Benton is the co-owner and publisher of Australasian Leisure Management, Australia and New Zealand’s only magazine for professionals in all areas of the leisure industry. Having established the magazine in 1997, shortly after his relocation to Australia, he has managed its readership rising to over 11,500 and its acceptance as the industry journal for professionals in aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues.

As of 2020, he has launched the new Asian Leisure Business website.

Among a range of published works and features, his comments on a Blog (blogspot) from 2007 to 2011, when this website went live in its current form, may be interesting to reflect back on.

Click here to connect with him via LinkedIn.

Read more from this author

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