Australia: between swimming and facility tours

When the stands were still empty and the medals safely stored in their boxes, the Myrtha pool within the Melbourne Sports Aquatic Center (MSAC) took a leading role in a behind-the-scenes unveiling to a group of guests made up of local distributors, associations and aquatic partners. Hidden beneath the deck where the world’s champions would soon be walking, some of the secret to a world-class facility were shared.

Not long after, the crowd would be thrilled by a Day 1 swimming performance featuring a pair of world records – from the Australian women and the Italian men in the 4 x 100-meter freestyle relay.

For the swimming community this event and this pool confirm that all the hard work required to achieve at an elite level is well worth it.

“As a swimming mom, I have spent hours and hours in these grandstands watching the races of the little ones,” said Fiona Preston, General Manager of the MSAC. “And today it makes me feel, ‘Yes, it was OK – it was worth it to wake up and 4:30 every morning.’ ”

Swimming is well known for requiring steady commitment and many hours of training, yet people such as Preston still get excited, despite getting up early in the morning, when discussing the national passion that swimming has become in Australia: “There are so many athletes in Australia who are a source of inspiration for the little ones who want to be the new Kyle Chalmers, the new Ariarne Titmus, the new Marilyn Wilson. Although we didn’t expect to host an event of this calibre less than a year after the reopening following a period of lockdown, it was really exciting to work side by side with the Australian Swimming Federation and FINA (World Aquatics). The last 6-8 weeks have been very intense. Congratulations to the MSAC team and to the all the professionals and companies that made this event possible.”

Melbourne Sports & Aquatic centre was built in 2006 for Commonwealth Games, but was also designed to give the Melbourne community a place to swim and practice other sports as well. It has become a kind of nerve centre for the city, as Preston explains: “This centre is an icon of Melbourne and of all of Australia. We are a country of swimmers, we grew up on an island and everyone in Australia learns to swim. Swimming ‘governs’ the life of the entire community.”