The scene at Manuka Pool on Saturday morning was almost like a snapshot of a different time.
There are very few among us who can remember Australia Day on 1931, when the pool first opened.
But what unfolded that day was probably not all that different from what took place in the hours after the heritage-listed pool opened this weekend for its 89th swimming season on the back of a $2.42 million facelift.
Carefree children beamed and laughed as they swam with their parents, while lap swimmers cruised up and down the lanes and chatted at the ends of the pool.
There wasn't a mobile phone in sight (if you ignore the one a journalist used to record interviews with these people).
Those present simply soaked up the experience and lived in the moment.
This is a rare thing in 2019, when life moves at breakneck speed and the desire to know what's going on elsewhere often gets in the way of what's happening right in front of you.
It's also a lesson about the value of preserving heritage.
We must do this not only because Canberra is a young city and we consequently don't have all that much heritage, or even just because the heritage we do have showcases the character of buildings from a bygone era.
One of the most vital reasons to look after our heritage places is that they give us a window into who we once were, and what we can still be if we have places to remember.
Manuka Pool is a shining example of this. From the moment you enter the pool, so carefully preserved and renovated, you can't help but be reminded of simpler times.
Maybe it's the architecture of a different era. Maybe it's the friendly atmosphere the place cultivates. Maybe it's the tranquil feeling that comes with the feeling of space and freedom that goes hand in hand with a pool set on two hectares of grassland.
Maybe it's a combination of all that and more put together.
But we don't need to pinpoint one magic ingredient to realise the take-home message is this.
As Canberra's population continues to grow, change is necessary and inevitable.
But the rush to develop the capital to accommodate this influx of people has already come at a considerable cost, most notably with residential construction so poor in many cases that it was necessary for the ACT government to appoint a minister for building quality improvement.
Heritage must not become another casualty of the push for progress.
Manuka Pool may not give hundreds of people a place to live, but it brings people together in a way an apartment tower could never hope to.