BELFAST-based Olympian, Dame Mary Peters, visited Baltimore’s Wild Atlantic Pool and described it as a great asset for the area.
Dame Peters, who was on holiday in the area, was encouraged by Jim O’Donnell and Bridget Sheeran to visit the community facility.
For those who are too young to recall the event, Dame Peters won not just a gold medal at the 1972 Munich Olympics in the Women’s Pentathlon, but the only gold medal for Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Between 1966 to 1974, she also won two gold medals in the Commonwealth Games for the pentathlon and a gold and silver for shot put.
In those days, there was little or no sponsorship money for training and her talent and hard work became an inspiration for many athletes, both male and female.
She continues to inspire today, having established a Sports Trust to support talented young sportsmen and women, both able-bodied and disabled, from across Northern Ireland.
Dame Peters was very enthusiastic about Baltimore’s Wild Atlantic Pool and the other facilities that the centre has to offer.
She said: ‘What a great asset for the area: every child should learn to swim and be given the opportunity to progress to safe wild water swimming.’
Dame Peters said she understood the challenges faced in terms of raising capital for improvement and development of the facilities and she spent some time with the local committee discussing fundraising strategies.
She also suggested that the centre should ‘go for gold’ and set a target for long-term improvements.
In view of the importance of water safety, teaching every child to swim, and the increasing interest in training for long distance outdoor swimming, Dame Peters said the possibility of extending the pool from its present 16m to 25m should be investigated. She even promised to come and open it.