Eager Canberra swimmers sent phones into meltdown at the Erindale Active Leisure Centre this week as the government prepares to reopen public pools for the first time since the coronavirus shutdown.
Centre staff were inundated with inquires and bookings for the limited 45-minute sessions, with almost all of Thursday's opening-day slots filled early by Wednesday afternoon.
Ongoing refurbishments at the Canberra Olympic Pool, Gunghalin and Tuggeranong will mean Erindale is the only public facility open for at least the next two weeks.
Swimmers will be greeted by new measures to protect them and staff, with a time-limit per person, separate entry and exit points, two people per pool lane and keeping showers and change rooms locked.
"It was an emotional shutdown," centre manager Greg Ward said. "We've been working hard to reopen and we're looking forward to it. It will be open from 6am for 45 minute sessions and then a 15-minute transition for the next group.
"We've sanitised all of our equipment - our seats, tables and touch points. We're encouraging everyone to come in and have fun, but if they're unwell to stay at home.
"People are very attached to what we do here. We have lap swimmers, we don't have Olympic swimmers. We have people here for gentle exercise and rehabilitation and aqua aerobics. To be quite honest, we're just looking forward to getting started so we can grow from there."
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The centre will also allow 20 people into the on-site gym, but classes and indoor sports are yet to be given the all clear to restart.
It is hoped restrictions will be eased in the coming weeks as the ACT government progresses through its coronavirus plan
Some Canberra outdoor sports have started training in groups of 20, while indoor cricket resumed at Weston Creek this week and junior rugby league teams are free to start training.
Swimmers have been forced to wait a little longer after the ACT government took opportunities to refurbish some pool facilities, with major work being done at the Civic Pool, Gungahlin and Tuggeranong.
Erindale had its upgrade last year, putting it in a perfect position to be the first resume activity. The sessions will last for a total of an hour, with a 15-minute period between groups to sanitise equipment and seating areas.
Sport Minister Yvette Berry advised swimmers to expect further changes, urging people to "come showered, swim, and leave."
"Swimmers are incredibly happy and when they go back to their pools they'll see so many things that have happened while they've been away," Ms Berry said.
"Everyone still needs to be careful. Everyone has been training for a careful return to the new normal, for the next little while at least until we figure out a way to live with COVID-19. Things will be a little bit different ... but people have been keen to even get in day early to get their spot.
"We just have to ask people to be patient with us. We're still working on this."
The Civic Pool will reopen on June 15 and adhere to similar guidelines, as well as resuming swim squad training. The Tuggeranong centre will open at the end of July after undertaking its five-yearly maintenance, but Gungahlin is yet to set a date to restart operation.