To overcome financial pressures created by energy costs, the Wild Atlantic Pool and Fitness Centre in Baltimore will undertake a number of fundraising events over the next few weeks: A fundraising dinner will take place at the Sailing Club with special guest Steve Redmond on July 15 (€50 pp, book at the Pool) and a coffee morning at the Sailing Club will take place on July 19.
The Wild Atlantic Pool and Fitness Centre began life in 1998 as the Baltimore Harbour Leisure Centre. It was put into one of the old industrial school buildings and became part of the complex belonging to the Baltimore Harbour Hotel. The hotel went into liquidation in late 2008 but the community was determined they would retain the valued leisure centre and today as a CLG, it continues to run on a not-for-profit basis.
The pool and fitness centre is a central part of the local community, both the mainland and the islands, but it is struggling to keep afloat with the increasing costs of operation. Having to close for Covid meant a loss in revenue but the huge popularity of the public and school lessons on reopening meant that the sauna could be renovated and the steamroom reopened. The restricted opening hours of the Dunmanway pool and closure of the Schull one meant that the Centre was even more important in providing leisure and instructional swimming.
The Centre caters to a wide range of users, from passing tourists delighted with the crystal clear water, to athletes and post-injury sufferers needing remedial exercise. Sam Burch, a local osteopath says: “We are so lucky to have such a wonderful local facility here in the village. On a professional level, the pool depth and size is perfect for exercise rehabilitation and can play a really important role for my patients convalescing”. There are older swimmers who use it on a daily basis and children queuing up for lessons from the popular staff. Ten local schools use the facilities, coming all the way from Cape Clear and Castletownshend.
However, electricity charges have been one of the big challenges of 2022. Although the Centre has a large array of solar panels, triple glazed windows and energy efficient heat pumps, the energy demand for heating the water, sauna and steam room is still considerable. The Centre has also been hit by a shortage of staff, just as every area of leisure and hospitality has been affected. The pool employs two-full time staff supported by a couple of part-time staff. Although student staff help the situation during college holidays, the Centre is still looking for an extra experienced full-time lifeguard.
As well as fundraising events over the next few weeks, the Centre is also having a membership drive offering 10 per cent off all annual memberships. There are a number of flexible good value membership options, as well as walk-in prices for non-members.
For the summer months, there are special summer sessions of swim lessons for children running from July 4 for six weeks. These will be groups of 20 or so children split in to sections with dedicated teachers to each group. There will also be the very popular Splash Camps running throughout July and August for children to play games and enjoy the water in a safe environment.
Contact the Wild Atlantic Pool and Fitness Centre by email (email@example.com) or phone (028 20622) or see social media for more information.