Yesterday morning when I went for a walk around the lovely Petersham Park I looked in on the pool. What I discovered was a very peaceful scene of about seven swimmers slowly lapping up and down the 33-metre pool.
With my regular swimming spot – Leichhardt Pool – crowded with holiday-makers at this time of year, I decided to switch to Petersham Pool. I will swim there until everyone goes back to work and order and rhythm is restored to the morning lapping environment at the 50-metre Leichhardt Pool.
Officially known as the Fanny Durack Aquatic Centre, the 48-year-old inner-west complex was renamed after the champion Australian swimmer in 1999. Fanny was the first woman swimmer to win an Olympic gold medal at the 1912 Stockholm Games. In her latter years she lived in Douglas Street, Stanmore up the hill from the Petersham Park Pool as it was originally called.
As well as swimming laps in the early mornings Bettina takes her children to the inner-west centre. She describes the pool as “a luxury because it’s not too crowded”. “It’s not 50-metres but 33-metres is a good compromise,” she adds.
Another swimmer I met recently at the new Annette Kellermann Aquatic Centre at Enmore is also a fan of the slightly grungy Petersham pool. Its appeal to Sue is that it reminds her of the 33-metre pools she swam in as a child growing up in country NSW.
With historic Petersham Park just outside the complex, the centre is surrounded by majestic established trees. On Saturdays during the cricket season the sound of willow on ball by Randwick-Petersham club players adds to the gentile atmosphere.
If you want to experience Petersham Pool in its original state, and 33-metres in length then you will need to drop by before it closes on March 31. In mid-year it is expected that Marrickville Council will begin work on upgrading the site and redeveloping the main pool into a 25-metre, 8-lane pool. Among a number of additions and changes there will also be a new toddlers’ pool and kiosk/cafe. Fanny Durack Aquatic Centre is at 1 Station Street, Petersham, a five minute walk from the station.