THERE is no one prouder than Les Hayes when he hears the sounds of children splashing about in the Sapphire Aquatic Centre.
After all, Olympic 400m gold medallist Cathy Freeman went to the Anakie State School as a child, and who's to say this 12m pool won't be the impetus for another sporting superstar to emerge from the Gemfields.
Mr Hayes, a long-time resident who has lobbied for a pool on the 'Fields since being part of Gemswim, founded in 1993, is thrilled it has finally become a reality nearly two decades later.
"We have this wonderful complex which is already getting tremendous use," Mr Hayes said.
"There are great reports about it and everyone is very happy with it.
"Some people want a bigger pool, but you've got to crawl before you can walk."
While the main pool and grounds were funded by the Central Highlands Regional Council, it was Gemswim who stepped in and handed over $39,153.40 to erect the shade shelter, concrete slabs, picnic tables and electric barbecues that add to patrons' amenity.
But the community organisation is in danger of folding if new members don't join up.
"The barbecues are being used and it's great to know," Mr Hayes said.
"The issue we have is Gemswim has $9548.51 in the bank and we are getting a quote and engineering drawings from a pool solar heating company and if it comes up trumps and meets council standards, Gemswim will pay for the solar heating.
"I've been president for the past five years now and called an AGM and no one turned up.
"In the future I'm going to be calling another AGM and hopefully some of the parents of the children who are using the pool will take on the running of Gemswim and push the barrow of lobbying for a larger pool.
"It's going to take someone with a bit of enthusiasm to drive it, as it's been driven before by previous committees.
"Some of the kids swimming in the pool are the grandkids of the people who started the ball rolling.
"You've just got to be pig-headed, stubborn and get on with it."
Mr Hayes paid tribute to former CHRC community governance head Phil Brumley and the council for delivering the pool to Sapphire.
He said patronage would determine the need for a larger facility, just as community support would determine Gemswim's future.
"I really want to push the point people have got to step up to the mark," Mr Hayes said.
"If no one turns up when I call this AGM, I'm going to shut Gemswim down."
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