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End of an Era: Philipzen family bids farewell to Bega Swimming Pool after nearly 50 years

October 20, 2023 7:00 am in by

The family that has run the Bega Swimming Pool for just shy of five decades has made the tough decision to hang up the goggles.

At the end of the 2023/24 swimming season, Mark, Zoe and Henry Philipzen from Philipzen Aquatics will finish up a family legacy at the Bega War Memorial Swimming Pool that has lasted more than 45 years.

With thousands of children and adults learning how to swim at the Bega pool, Zoe Philipzen, husband Mark, and Zoe’s parents have left an impression on the Sapphire Coast.

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“My father, Phil (pictured below), ran the pool for 39 years, then myself and Mark took over,” Philipzen said.

“Most people in the Bega Valley know that this is my life, I was basically born at the pool and know nothing different,” she laughed.

“We’ve taught kids of kids and I know my father taught kids of kids of kids.”

Anyone who grew up on the Sapphire Coast will likely hold memories at the Bega War Memorial Swimming Pool – with school lessons, swim safety, swimming club and Wharf to Waves practice just a few of the many of the activities held there.

“There are so many memories, school carnivals, term 4 learn to swim, lessons, coaching of the swimming club, travelling across NSW to help kids achieve country, state and we’ve had a few national swimmers here also,” Philipzen said.

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“We’ve had so many good times away competing at carnivals also moving outside the pool attending the Wharf to Waves which our kids also excelled at every year the Bega Swim Club competed.”

“Adults swimming has been well attended over the years which has been amazing and a lap over with the training kids when we started fundraising for can assist in our 12 and 24hr swims at the end of each season – we have donated over $20,000 to help people with cancer in the Bega Valley.”

Zoe said the pool has had so many contributors over the years, probably too many to mention.

“Thank to the instructors over the years that have been there with us the whole way – you are such an importance to our business and without you guys so many kids would not have been taught in such a professional manner,” she said.

“A special mention to Deb (Aqua) and Shaz (all rounder) you girls have been with us for ever and we can’t Thankyou enough.

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“We lost on of our best instructors to cancer – Barra (pictured above), who was a part of the pool all of his life.

“There are so many people that have been a part of our lives over the years, including friendships that have lasted a lifetime and so many stories to tell but cannot put it all into words.”

Bega Valley Shire Council issues a statement about the work the Philipzen family has put in.

“We would like to thank Mark and Zoe for their contribution to the Bega War Memorial Pool and wish them all the best for the future,” a council spokesperson said.

“With this recent news, staff will be reviewing the available management options for the coming seasons and reporting those to Council for consideration.”

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“Currently those options are direct Council operation (similar to Eden, Candelo and Bemboka outdoor pools), or a contractor model similar to the existing arrangement. If Council does opt for a contractor model the notification and procurement of that will be through an open Request For Tender process.”

“The site will continue to operate until a re-development project can commence.”

As for what Zoe, Mark and Henry will do next, they’re not entirely sure.

“We don’t really have any plans, we did say we might want to see what we do when we grow up, but just looking forward to having a summer with my family and spending as much time with Henry (pictured below) as possible,” Zoe said.

“Pool life is awesome,” according to young Henry, “but we are ready for the next chapter,” Zoe exclaimed.

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Zoe and her family’s message to the people of the Bega Valley was a simple one: “Thank you for your support.”

“The pool has been such a local meet up point, with barbeques and birthday parties and we are going to miss you all,” she said.

“The amount of people that drop in for a coffee and a chat about life in general, you’ll always be close to our hearts,” Zoe said.

“One thing we know is that swimming will always be in our blood and we will miss our second home.

“But we’re not going anywhere, we’ll still be in the area – so we’ll just see you at the beach.”

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Zoe and Mark are inviting the public to drop into the Bega War Memorial Swimming Pool between now and their last day on 28 March 2024 to share stories and memories.

Images: Philipzen Aquatics, James Fennessy

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