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The Joan Harrison Swimming Pool – popular family destination

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If you have lived in East London long enough you will know what we are referring to when we refer to ‘The Joan’.  The Joan is actually the Joan Harrison Public Swimming Pool, named after a local East London Springbok Swimmer who won a gold at the 1952 Olympics.  Joan also went on to win two more golds at the 1954 British Empire Games and Commonwealth Games and was inducted into the Swimming Hall of Fame in 1981.  Joan was celebrated as a ‘home town hero’ and the local public swimming pool in our city was named in her honour.

Today The Joan Harrison Swimming Pool is one of the top family outings in our city.  During the long hot and sticky days of summer, families head to the pool to get some relief and enjoy a lovely days outing.  With towels, picnic baskets and sunblock in hand, there is ample space on the beautiful lawns to setup your ‘picnic spot’ in the dense shade under the many trees that are scattered throughout this lovely park.

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At The Joan however, it is all about the pools… and pools they do have.  For the littlies, there is a charming ankle deep paddling pool where the tots can splash and play to their hearts content.  The pool is surrounded by lawns and trees and is a great place for families with young children, to spend a hot summers day.

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For those looking for something a bit more grown up, the 50m long main lap pool has 10 lanes and is used for recreational swimming by those slightly older and by those looking to get some exercise.  It is also centre stage at the many school and club gala’s that are held at the venue annually and has also attracted big events such as the 2017 Masters Swimming Championships. The venue, it is said, is one of the favourite venues for some of South Africa’s top swimming competitors, due to the facilities and it’s lovely surroundings.

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For the more adventurous, there is the deep diving pool (5m in the deep end and 2m in the shallow end) with 2 diving boards, the first 1m high and the second 3m’s high.  This pool is designed for the more advance swimmers and attracts the more boisterous energetic youngsters.

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At the far end of the grounds there are two polo pools (each 2m’s deep) which are very actively used by the water polo playing fraternity and under water hockey fraternity being schools, clubs and leagues.  This year these pools hosted the 2017 Masters Water Polo Tournament which was a resounding success, with competitors giving huge accolades to the condition of the pools and the facilities.

While swimming is undoubtedly the attraction at The Joan, this facility has even more to offer.  The large open green lawns are perfect for a game of frisbee, beach bats or cricket.  Let the kids go and play while you keep an eye on them from your lazy position in the shade under the tree.  If your kids are capable enough of swimming unsupervised, catchup on a book, read the newspaper or take a snooze in the shade.  Really, it is almost like the beach… but just without the sand.

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There are currently no tuck shop or snack bar facilities so if you are heading to the The Joan with your family, be sure to take your eats and refreshments with you… and as always, remember to ensure that all litter is disposed of in the rubbish bins when leaving.  There are however life guards on duty and ample locker and shower facilities, making it the perfect place to pop in on your lunch hour for some exercise or a cool-off.

Open Monday to Friday from 6am to 6.30pm and from 8am to 5pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, The Joan is a fantastic venue for the whole family.  Sadly this pool closes on 01 June during the winter months and re-opens 01 Sept, much to the disappointment of the loyal visitors, schools and water polo players.

Access to the pool is reasonable with adults paying R14 and children R12 per entry.  Season tickets are also available for R458 per adult and R229 for pensioners and children.

If you are one of the many people who have not revisited The Joan since your childhood, reconsider.  This is a lovely, affordable days outing for everyone.  So pack a picnic basket, gather your family and friends… and head to The Joan!  You may just be surprised at what you have been missing.

Article:  Sandy Loppnow
Photographs:  Sandy Loppnow




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