Pool manager prepares to farewell students, centre
LOWOOD Swimming Pool manager and swim coach Darren Booth is preparing to finish in his role at the pool after 18 years, however his passion for inspiring young swimmers and promoting healthy lifestyles will be ongoing.
Mr Booth, who leaves his job at the end of the April school holidays, said this would be his 30th year as a swim coach and in that time he'd worked with state and national champions in Lowood and Ipswich.
"We've had some great athletes and we've had one athlete go all the way to the World Cup," he said.
Mr Booth said that with technology and social media now competing for the time and attention of young people, it was crucial "we keep our fitness, health and well-being together" for a healthy mind and body.
He said it was also important children had fun while they learned to swim.
"If they're having fun, they're going to love it and they're going to do well at it. To be a good swimmer, it really has to be swimmer-driven," he said.
"Swimming is one of the best sports in the world for focus and concentration and for the social atmosphere and, of course, safety.
"Swimming is a gift for life."
Mr Booth said he had noticed the effect of the population growth in Lowood in the past 18 years as the region expanded.
"Eighteen years ago it was very quiet and we pretty much knew everyone. It was very hard for any of the kids wanting to be a bit mischievous, especially when you could say, 'Hey, I know your mum and dad and I know where you live.'
"Now it's bustling but it's still friendly."
Mr Booth said two decades ago one person could run everything at the pool, but it now operated - seasonally depending - with a staff of six to seven including lifeguards and swim teachers.
"There's continual professional development, which is great for the public. The pools have never been safer or kept to a higher standard."
In recent years he said he had enjoyed teaching the children of his former swim students.
"Some of the children I taught in the first few years I was here have now grown up and I'm teaching their children.
"Seeing people grow and continuing that relationship with their extended family has probably been one of the best things about being at the pool."
Once retired, Mr Booth wants to spend more time with his family "and maybe a bit more time fishing".
"I couldn't recommend this region or this town highly enough for families. I bought my first house here and I'll be staying in the region and hoping to stay in the sport somehow."
Mr Booth said he wanted to thank Somerset Regional Council for its support as well as Lowood and District Swimming Club and "all the parents and kids involved".
"I struggle to think of anything that I haven't loved."