The Kogarah War Memorial Olympic Pool was first discussed at Kogarah Council at a special meeting of the Olympic Pool Committee, which was addressed by members of the Kogarah and District War Memorial Olympic Pool Building Fund Committee, a community committee with the aim of having the pool constructed (Kogarah Council minutes, 16 Nov 1964). 25% of the construction funds were raised by the local RSL.
The contract to construct the pool was awarded to Ferrum Engineering Co Pty Ltd, who were also involved in the construction of the Sans Souci Olympic Pool at the same time. A Kogarah Council meeting on 3 August 1965 set the completion date, with penalties to be imposed if this was missed. In the event, the pool was opened to the public on 30 October 1965, with admission charges of 1/6 (15c after decimalisation) for adults and 6d (5c) for children. Council were subsequently involved in litigation with Ferrum Engineering over elements of the contract.
A contract to construct dressing sheds and kiosk at the pool was awarded to Lewin & Lander at a Council meeting of 2 May 1966, to cost $44,379. A contribution of $1,000 had been received from the Kogarah and District Olympic Pool Building Fund Committee towards this on 22 February 1965 (Kogarah Council minutes, 22 Feb 1965).
The official opening of the pool was delayed while the dressing sheds were completed. Kogarah War Memorial Olympic Swimming Pool at Carss Park was officially opened on Saturday 1 October 1966 by Mayor of Kogarah Alderman E A Duggan.
The initial tender to lease the pool was awarded to J Guthrie (Kogarah Council minutes, 16 Aug 1966). Heating of the pool was completed in 1979, funded by the lessee.
Long-time lessee of Kogarah War Memorial Olympic Pool, Dick Caine, terminated his role as head coach at the pool in May 2018 (St George Leader, 9 May 2018, p. 8). Mr Caine trained 17 Olympic and world champion swimmers in a 51-year association with the pool, including Michelle Ford, Janelle Elford and Karen Phillips. The lease of the pool was handed to Georges River Council in 2017.
Georges River Council unanimously voted to keep the pool operating for the 2019-20 season, following the presentation of a 10,700 signature petition (St George Leader, 3 Apr 2019, p. 4).
Beverley Earnshaw, 2009 (Kogarah Historical Society Inc)
The following excerpt reproduced on the NSW War Memorials Register with author permission.
After 30 years of swimming in the tidal pool people were beginning to grow dissatisfied with the facility that had so delighted their parents in the 1920s. A number of possible sites were investigated on which to build a ‘swimming pool’. These were Sans Souci Reserve, The Head of Kogarah Bay, Prince Edward Park (present site of the St. George Leagues Club), Nundle Street Reserve, Blakes Quarry, Todd Park, Terry Street Quarry Reserve, Mimosa Street Reserve, Hurstville Road Quarry and Oatley Embankment.
The Council received several suggested plans and one from the Carss Park Amateur Swimming Club was seriously considered for a pool to be constructed wholly within the area of the tidal baths. This pool, however, was only to be 30 feet wide and the Council Engineer pointed out the dimensions would not adequately cope with a large school, let alone the numbers that visited the park on a warm summer’s day. And so the plan was shelved.
By the 1960s people did not want to swim in the mud hole, as the tidal pool was referred to at low tide. Mrs Doris Hatton and Mrs Elizabeth Corry, both active members of the Kogarah Bay Progress Association, convened the first meeting to discuss establishing a full sized Olympic Pool at Carss Park. Many organizations committed themselves to raising funds and on February 12, 1964 the Building Fund was able to forward to the Council its first cheque.
The pool was built on reclaimed land just slightly north of Carss Cottage and could have been opened for the start of the 1965 swimming season but the Dept of Health prevented the opening until the toilets within the enclosed area were completed. The pool was opened for public use on December 26, 1965 and on October 1, 1966 an official ceremony dedicated it as The Kogarah War Memorial Olympic Swimming Pool in honour of all men and women who had served Australia in war.
Dick Caine became the swimming coach in 1965. During construction, the Council could not find sufficient funds to provide the pool with heating. Realizing that serious athletes and swimmers needed year round facilities in which to train, Dick Caine sold his home unit to provide the boilers for an oil heating system for the pool and lived for three years in a caravan.
Construction of a babies’ pool in 1968 answered the need for a shallow pool where young children could learn to swim.
By 1986 Dick Caine could no longer sustain the bill for heating oil which amounted to $9000 every quarter and the pool was in danger of losing Caine to Queensland. A gas line was run across the park from Torrens Street, again at Caine’s expense, to reduce the operating costs of the oil-fired furnace.
The Carss Park Olympic Pool, heated and fitted with anti-wave ropes, is now the most used facility within the Kogarah Municipality. Ten thousand people every year pass through its doors. Ninety percent of schools in the Kogarah and St. George area use it. The elderly use Carss Park pool for rehabilitation and health and the age of pool users ranges from two years old to people in their nineties. There is a fully equipped gymnasium where people involved in other sports, football, boxing, cycling and athletics train.
The walls of the pool foyer display Dick Caine’s many coaching awards and photographs of his protegees among whom are Australian, State and Olympic champions. Michelle Ford, Janelle Elford, Stacey Gartrell and Karen Phillips were Olympic medal winners. Susie Maroney made a double crossing of the English Channel. She was the first person to swim from Cuba to the United States, from Mexico to Cuba and made the world’s longest swim from Jamaica to Cuba. The largest crowd ever assembled at Carss Park Olympic Pool gathered to watch a 24 hour endurance swim by Susie Maroney to raise money for the heart foundation.
The Olympic Pool is one of Carss Park’s greatest assets. Dick Caine is ever mindful of the fact that it is a War Memorial pool and it is the only Olympic Pool in Australia where those who have served Australia in war can enter free.
This Olympic swimming pool was officially opened by
His Worship the Mayor of Kogarah
ALDERMAN E. A. DUGGAN
on the 1st October 1966
Members of the Council
Alderman D. D. Cross M.L.A.
Alderman K. G. Dalgleish
Alderman R. T. Gardner
Alderman A. W. Hardiman Deputy Mayor
Alderman C. H. King
Alderman J. A. Langton
Alderman A. S. Oakey
Alderman W. H. R. Robinson
Alderman W. Saville
Alderman W. K. K. Spalding
Alderman C. I. Sullivan
B. J. Clay
J. W. Lindsay
W. E. Scholes
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