New pool managers on their way to Fitzroy Crossing

24 August 2021

As our Remote Aboriginal Swimming Pools prepare to open again next month for the new season, there’s change in the air at Fitzroy Crossing. After more than a decade of dedicated service previous managers Trevor and Adele Caporn finished up at the end of last season, in order to move to Mandurah where they can spend more with their family while also keeping their hand in water safety by joining our home pool barrier inspection team.

The Remote Aboriginal Swimming Pool program has been providing vital swimming and water safety skills in remote communities across the north of our state for over 20 years. The pools can only run thanks to the dedication of the staff who travel to these communities for nine months of each year to ensure they are well maintained and provide regular programming for local families.

With Trevor and Adele’s departure we went on the hunt for new pool managers to take over the reigns at Fitzroy Crossing, and with such big shoes to fill it was a daunting task! But we found just the right duo and we’re excited to welcome Chris Osborne and Katie Boland to our team.

Chris comes from Albany in our Great Southern region, while Katie is in WA for the very first time after growing up and working in regional New South Wales. At 21 and 19 years of age respectively they are our youngest remote pool managers but come with a surprisingly extensive experience in aquatics.

Katie says for her pools and swimming have been in her blood since she was born! “I’m originally from Nyngan, in the middle of New South Wales. It’s a very rural community so I think that part of my background will be good for me out there. My parents are both poolies, so I grew up around the water. Mum and dad both ran pools for half my life so that’s really where I picked it up from and I always had a hand in pool water chemistry and in the teaching aspect. My mum’s a really passionate teacher, not only teaching children how to swim but the aquatic side of things like Bronze Medallion and higher aspects of training.”

While for Chris swimming also runs in the family. “I really got into the industry through my mother who ran swim schools down in Albany for a few years and then I got into basic lifeguarding and that’s where I met Graham Pollett (current Balgo Remote Pool Manager) working for him about three years ago at Albany Leisure & Aquatic Centre. He really saw something in me, how hard I was working and he trained me up. I got really inspired and decided that’s how I wanted to work as well. From there I went to Narromine in New South Wales, managed two pools up there and then Graham told me that Fitzroy was looking for a new manager so we applied and got the job.”

The pair are really looking forward to making an impact in the Fitzroy Crossing community and seeing the children continue their swimming and water safety education, something Katie saw the real value of through her mum’s work. “She’s really passionate about how swimming and learning in the swimming pool transitions into community aspects of life and I think I got a lot of my passion and beliefs from her. It’s that family-based, community-based way of thinking. We’re very passionate about helping children become who they can be, growing them not only in their swimming but as a person. I feel like swimming is a very important part of everybody’s life and I like how Royal Life really does emphasise how swimming can help individuals and communities thrive.”

Taking on the task of running a swimming pool in such a remote community is a very bold and brave move. Chris says he and Katie are very aware of the challenges they’re likely to face, especially as young people. “I’m probably most nervous about community engagement being one of the younger managers, I know everywhere I’ve gone to manage a pool I fear that we just won’t get taken seriously and we really need to work hard to show that we can actually do the job.”

Katie agrees, but also says their age will be a benefit in some areas. “In our previous roles people have often been doubtful at the start until they can see we’re actually really good at our job. I think for the young people at Fitzroy Crossing it’s a really good forward step because our target audience for the pool is the school age kids and we were there a few years ago so we know what they like. It might not be exactly the same but we have an idea about the right kind of programs to run for that age group, what they would enjoy and what would benefit them most.”

We’re excited to see all that Chris and Katie will achieve in the coming months as they make themselves at home in Fitzroy Crossing and continue the important work engaging with the local community and teaching children and adults vital swimming and water safety skills. We wish them all the very best as they take on the challenge with such enthusiasm!

You can read more about the work of our Remote Aboriginal Swimming Pool Program at the link below.

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