For nearly 16 years, Retreat Aquatics Club veteran Norman Braaf had been hoping and praying for improvements at Retreat pools.
Now his dream of a first class pool for the club and residents of Retreat has finally come true.
Mr Braaf, the Retreat Aquatics Club vice chairperson, first looked into sponsorship to upgrade and enclose the Retreat facility more than a decade ago.
The upgrade was to ensure that the community and swimming clubs from the surrounding areas could use this pool for formal swimming training and recreational swimming all year round.
Since the pool has been closed the Retreat Aquatics Club has had to make use of other swimming facilities, paying exorbitant fees.
The club has also lost many members because of the delay in the construction of the facility as members had to travel to Wynberg or Newlands pools to practice.
At last week’s launch event Mr Braaf said he is sure the opening of the facility will rejuvenate the club and attract even more members.
“It has been very tough for the club and we have been trying to keep our members on board but it has been difficult because there has been so much uncertainty,” said Mr Braaf.
After much deliberation and discussion, the City of Cape Town got on board to upgrade and enclose the facility but the project didn’t run quite according to schedule.
Building was supposed to be completed in 2014 but because of issues with a contractor, this was not possible.
Another contractor was then appointed but there were still some delays – despite this, the City opened the pool last summer and residents were able to use the pool for the summer months. This year the new contractor went on to complete the building of the roof.
On Wednesday December 14, Mayor Patricia de Lille officially opened the facility – much to the delight of many children from the community.
“I want to thank the community, and especially our little children, for being so patient while waiting for the pool’s revamp to be completed.
“This has been a long time coming and I am sure that the community is as relieved as I am to finally see the roof structure being completed,” said Ms De Lille.
She said the City wanted to transform Retreat pools into a world-class facility.
“We wanted a safe place for the children to swim, a place where they can enjoy themselves and where they can build their swimming skills so that they can possibly represent our country on the world stage one day,” she said.
She added that paralympic athlete Achmat Hassiem as well as South African Olympiad Darren Murray both trained at the facility.
“Who knows, the next Olympiad could come from this very facility,” added Ms De Lille.
“We are providing these facilities so that children can have access to opportunities and a place where they can learn skills and not fall into the cycle of drug abuse or gangsterism,” she said.
Ward 72 councillor William Akim said he is “absolutely delighted” that the pool has officially been opened in time for the summer holidays.
“The final result it a world class indoor facility and despite the many challenges the community can now enjoy the benefits of an indoor facility that will be available all year round,”said Mr Southgate.
He appealed to residents to take ownership and care of the newly upgraded facility.
Mr Braaf was delighted when he learnt the pool was finally going to be completed.
“The club has been waiting a very long time for this day and we are very excited to start training at the facility again. Now we can go on and train the next champions and Olympians right here on our doorstep,” said Mr Braaf.