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20/10/2021

Clara Swimming Pool - A fabulous facility in the heart of the town

Clara Swimming Pool - A fabulous facility in the heart of the town

Clara Swimming Pool - A fabulous facility in the heart of the town

CLARA swimming pool is a fantastic facility located in the centre of the town.

The community pool is something that the people of Clara are deeply proud of, after all it was their money that helped to build it.

The dynamic Pearse Reynolds took over as manager of the pool in the middle of August this year following the retirement of the much loved and respected Michael Keating who was at the helm for many years.

When she took over, the pool had been closed for 18 months due to Covid. So her first job was to get it back up and running. The pool has now been freshly repainted and the water is once again heated.

‘’The team here put a lot of work into getting it back up and running. It took about two and a half weeks to polish everything up and bring it back up to standard. We also had to make sure it was Covid regulated so we were in a position to invite people back,’’ says Pearse.

‘’There are still some Covid regulations in place but thankfully the last government announcement has given us back two things that we feel are at the heart of the pool which are our swimming lessons, (started back last Monday) and our aqua aerobics. We meet with some great characters when they are coming in for those classes,’’ she says.

Pearse is extremely familiar with the pool as she practically grew up in it. She attended school in Clara and cycled from Rahan every morning, popping into the pool for her morning swim before heading off to school.

‘’I would have my swim, have my breakfast and go to school and then often come back here again in the evening. I loved it. I did my Rookie LIfeguard here. I feel I have come full circle because I have come back to the pool.’’

Pearse is a Level 2 Swim Coach, she also has a Level 2 in Open Water Swim Coaching qualification. She is a member of the International Swim Coaching Association and Open Water Association. She also still races competitively.

Separately she owns Pulse Clinics which is a coaching based company.

Pearse is determined to keep the community ethos of the pool and is anxious for it not to become over commercialised to the detriment of the community it serves.

Friendliness is the hallmark of the facility, there is a unique atmosphere and everyone seems to know everyone else. Pearse says some people come because they love to have the chat, and why not?

For those wishing to learn how to swim, it is an ideal venue as learners are not likely to feel intimidated due to the homely and friendly atmosphere.

Classes at the pool include swimming lessons for younger and older people, schools programmes, swim club, and rookie lifeguard classes, ’’this is very useful for teenagers and young people to learn aspects of life saving and lifeguarding. A lot of them do go on to get their lifeguarding qualification, but it also teaches them a lot about safety around water, so that when they are that bit older and they go on holidays they have an awareness, they may not have had otherwise,’’ Pearse stresses.
The pool has also become known for providing swimming lessons for special needs children.

Two members of staff have undertaken special needs courses.

‘’We are also looking to introduce some more aspects. We are hoping to have two of our instructors qualify in baby courses soon.

Staff member Keith McCarthy says it teaches people that it’s safe for a baby. A lot of people are afraid to put their baby's face in the water. When they come to the class they see they can do more than just having the baby in the water for a few minutes before getting out again. I have never seen a baby afraid, they just think it’s a big bath,’’ added Keith.
Keith is from Killurin, in Tullamore. He has been working at the pool since 2015. He came with a lot of experience having worked elsewhere.

‘’It’s a great team here. We are all equal, everyone does their job and helps each other,’’ he says. 

Dave Feely, is originally from Laois but now living in Tullamore. He began working at the pool in 2012. When I started working here, it was a lot different, there was no viewing area, just four walls and a pool, but the people were still the same. I would call it a family pool. People know one another, people like to have a chat. Compared to what it was, it's a state of the art pool,’’ says Dave.

‘’The lessons are the same. It's just that we have gotten more advanced. The families that come here have been coming for years, generations in some cases. We have become known for our special needs and inclusiveness.’’

Speaking of former manager Michael Keating Dave said:‘’We will miss him. He was a character. Everyone loved Mick. He would do anything for you. He was here a long time. He is enjoying his retirement and sometimes he pops in for a chat.’’
Most of the staff have been working at the pool for many years and are happy at their work. Mark Delaney at reception was celebrating his 18th year working at the pool when we met him last Thursday, September 9.

It’s onwards and upwards for the pool with the unique atmosphere and great staff.

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