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Sink or swim time for pool in Baltimore

March 7th, 2018 7:10 AM

By Jackie Keogh

The Wild Atlantic Pool.

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A GROUP in Baltimore is seeking a meeting with the West Cork Division Manager to discuss ‘a long-term survival plan’ of The Wild Atlantic Pool.

Sekeeta Crowley confirmed that whilst five of Cork County Council’s public swimming pools are operating at a loss, the Wild Atlantic Pool in Baltimore is still ‘afloat.’

But, with an annual fundraising target of €20,000, she said the running of the pool, and the attached gym, could benefit from Council support.

In a letter that was addressed to every public representative in the West Cork area, the community group points out that their facility is a 40-minute drive from the nearest hotel pools in Rosscarbery, Bantry and Clonakilty, as well as the Cork County Council-owned pool in Dunmanway.

The letter points out that Baltimore is ‘not just a village at the end of a one-way street. It is a gateway to the islands, a major sail training venue in an Irish context, and also one of the significant tourist attractions in West Cork.

‘Having a vibrant indoor heated pool is a critical part of that mix and the pool runs a number of open water swims, which have grown over the last few years into large events.’

The pool also gives wild swimmers a place to train for high-profile marathon events, as well as develop their skills through specialised teaching sessions right throughout the year. 

According to Sekeeta Crowley, the group struggles with ‘the continuous fundraising effort in a small community to raise approximately €20,000 per year to enable us to function and for continued essential repairs and improvements. 

‘Without a huge voluntary input,’ she added, ‘our annual shortfall would be much larger.’

It was also pointed out that because of the opening of the new pool at Dunmanway, it has cost the Wild Atlantic Pool business from neighbouring schools.

The group will impress upon the Council that the financial supported need by Baltimore would be ‘considerably less’ than the amounts required by pools in Dunmanway, Fermoy, Mallow, Cobh and Youghal. 

Although the organisation in Baltimore is in a ‘break-even’ situation, it is obliged, like any business, to pay rates and fair wages. 

Some grants have been provided to upgrade the aging plant and heating systems, as well as new windows, but all of these grants have to be co-funded, which takes time because matching finance has to be found. 

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