The official reopening of the Newlands Swimming Pool was held on Saturday 26 March.PHOTO: Nettalie Viljoen
After five years of being closed for repairs, the Newlands Swimming Pool finally opened to the public this weekend.
On Saturday 26 March, Mikhail Manuel, councillor for Ward 59, welcomed special guests and members from the press to the official re-opening at 10.30.
At 13:00, the gates were opened to the public and young and old streamed in to enjoy the facilities and the warm weather.
“The last time I was here was as a toddler swimming, so the pool is very close to my heart and I know that the residents have been eagerly waiting for it to open. I am really looking forward to them being able to enjoy the facility,” said Manuel.
He added that there was of course an apology for taking this long but that he was grateful for what the officials had done.
“I think we need to give special mention to the project manager, Mr Oliver Wentley, who really put his all into it and fielded all of my calls trying to give information to the residents.”
Patricia van der Ross, Mayco member for community services and health, who was in attendance, said that she also spent time at Newlands Swimming Pool when she was a child.
“I too spent my years growing up at Newlands. Every Easter, every year-end, every Boxing Day, we used to travel from Lotus River to come and stand in the queue here at 07.30 to ensure we are in by 10:00. My mother used to pack breakfast for us to have outside the pool (while waiting in the queue),” said Van der Ross.
She said she was proud to be part of the team that reopened the pool.
“Yes, it took five years. Yes, it took a long time. Many people are going to throw many things at us, at the City of Cape Town, but you know what? We made sure that we got it done. We needed to make sure that the place is ready for kids. We needed to make sure the place is safe enough for kids and for adults,” she said.
When People’s Post spoke to Van der Ross a month ago, she said the condition of the swimming pool had been far worse than they had thought at first, causing a delay in progress. The pool is older than 60 years and this was the first major revamp and upgrade to the facility and swimming pool the City embarked on (“Final countdown to pool reopening”, People’s Post, 22 February).
On Saturday, Van der Ross said there were also other unexpected circumstances the team had to contend with.
“We had a time when we didn’t have water in the City of Cape Town because people tend to forget that phase, the Day Zero phase. You forget that you had to walk to Pick n Pay or so many other shops to buy yourself some 20 F water. We tend to forget so easily that we had Covid. We had two years where people were not allowed to go out and work.”
Before the pool’s closure in 2017, the pool with its view of Table Mountain was a popular choice for aquatic events.
According to Fagri Omar, vice-chair Cape Town Aquatics, it will be so again.
“As the aquatics federation that I represent and many of our clubs, we have been lacking the 50 m pool to partake in events and to host Olympic standard events in the City of Cape Town.
“We will definitely be pounding on the door of the City of Cape Town to make the facility available so that we can host events like Grand Prixs and with that bring tourism back to Cape Town.”
Omar also thanked the City for making the facility available for learn-to-swim programmes.
“Firstly, let’s start with the young ones to bring them into the facility and learn-to-swim programmes and get them water save. It is a tragedy that today we still have so many drownings along our beautiful coastline,” he said.
According to News24, the revamp and upgrade cost the City R22 million – more than double what was initially budgeted (“Cape Town to reopen Newlands swimming pool after costly revamp”, 28 February).
The pool will be open for an extended season until the end of May.
The entrance fee is R17 for children and R31 for adults.