Swimmers surprised to be told they can use pools for nothing

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 July, 2008, 12:00am

Many swimmers got a pleasant surprise yesterday at the Victoria Park Swimming Pool - free admission.

The pool is in the Leisure and Cultural Services Department's free-admission scheme, announced on May 9, which allows the public to use government leisure facilities - such as swimming pools and squash, tennis and badminton courts - at no charge from yesterday to September 30.

The scheme aims to encourage the public to exercise more regularly and to promote next month's Beijing Olympic Games.

About 70 people lined up at the Victoria Park pool before the afternoon session opened at 1pm yesterday. The first in line were secondary-school students Jeff Poon and Dickson Pun, who had heard of the free admission. They arrived at about 12.30pm.

'I will visit the pool more often because of the free admission,' Dickson said. 'But I do not think it would make me more interested in the Olympic Games.'

Jeff said the two went to swim because no badminton courts were available - all Hong Kong Island courts were fully booked for the coming three weeks, he said.

But the two boys were in the minority who knew that the swimming pool was free yesterday.

Many swimmers were surprised when they were told there was no need to pay to use the pool - and some even asked the staff why.

Jack Holworthy, an expatriate living in Hong Kong, said he did not know about the scheme although he went to a public pool three times a week.

But he agreed that the initiative was a good way to encourage people to participate more in sports.

A Mrs Chan brought her seven-year-old daughter, Sandy Chan, to the swimming pool yesterday and said she would visit it more often now that she knew the service was free.

A special area for queuing had been arranged, since the staff expected more swimmers to turn up. But one of the pool workers said the number was no higher than on other public holidays.

A Leisure and Cultural Services Department spokesman said the effectiveness of the free-admission scheme would be evaluated today after officials totalled up the number of people who used pools yesterday.

The city's 26 swimming pools are available to the public on a first-come-first-served basis.

No pools reported reaching their maximum occupancy yesterday, the spokesman said.

How to benefit

How to book free leisure facilities between July 1 and September 30

Visit any leisure venue or District Leisure Services Office with the Leisure Link Booking Office booking form.

Through the Leisure Link website: http://w1.leisurelink.lcsd.gov.hk/index/index.jsp

Call the Telephone Services Centre: 2927 8080