Last Friday night, Manuka Pool, Canberra’s first public swimming pool, celebrated its 80th birthday.
Friends of the heritage-listed pool were entertained by a ukulele band, acrobats and swing dancing as they picnicked in the garden. Others spent the night in the pool, enjoying a dip at dusk.
Modelled by the pool’s young lifeguards, some of the more retro cossies transported us back to 1931 when The Swimming Pool, as it was then known, was first opened. The young lifesavers also treated us to an Annette Kellermann-style water ballet display with the synchronised swimmers decked out in frilly red caps.
A former diving coach when the pool had two and three metres boards, Don calls Manuka Pool, a hidden treasure. Taught to swim in America by Gertrude Ederle, the first woman to swim the English Channel, he says if he had nothing else to do he would swim all day.
The Taverner family were also well represented with current manager John ‘Tav’ Taverner running the show with his wife Pearle and daughters’ Sophie and Grace. It was wonderful to see his mother Lesley there too, who turns 86 soon. She and her late husband Owen managed the pool for 50 summers from 1947 to 1997.