Pool closure a big concern for athletes

MARY-JO TOHILL
Last updated 05:00 25/07/2014
Dylan McNeice
Getty Images
UP THE CREEK: Upbeat about the indefinite closure of Wanaka Community Pool, two-time Wanaka Challenge winner, triathlete Dylan McNeice reckons: "If nothing is put in place prior to Challenge Wanaka next year you may see a very, very busy lake!"

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A swimmer without a pool is like a fish without water ...

And with major events coming up, some of Wanaka's world-class triathletes have been left floundering by the closure of their local pool last week, while it receives earthquake-strengthening work.

In a media release yesterday the Queenstown Lakes District Council said it would spend about $115,000 to strengthen the Wanaka Community Pool building as a "temporary measure", which should see it re-open within two months, mayor Vanessa van Uden said.

"This is a temporary solution while we work out the best long-term option for providing pool facilities in Wanaka," she said.

While this brought some comfort, two-time Challenge Wanaka triathlon winner Dylan McNeice said he felt for the people of Wanaka and its athletic community. Mostly based in Christchurch, he trains in Wanaka over the summer, along with many significant world-class local and international triathletes.

"I love coming down for a few weeks before Challenge Wanaka to do my final preparations and there isn't really any easy alternative. The ease of Wanaka is that everything is at your doorstep."

While the lake was warm enough for swimming in the summer, athletes did about 80 per cent of their training in the pool, he said. Having to travel to facilities in Cromwell or Frankton would take a big chunk out of a triathlete's day and would put "a spanner in the works for those with big events coming up".

This included athletes such as defending Xterra world champion Nicky Samuels, who is one of six triathletes travelling to the 2014 Xterra and Ironman world championships to be held in Hawaii, in October, along with local GP, Dr Andrew McLeod.

"Swimming is the first event in most triathlons and it's where you start sorting out your position in the field, so it is very important to have a good fitness and skills for the start to your event," McLeod, a well-known multisport and endurance athlete, said.

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- The Southland Times

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