Like most Australians over many years, the residents of Stawell and district have long enjoyed themselves in the sun and having a swim.
The first record of a swimming pool in Stawell was on November 22, 1879 when the Stawell Corporation Baths were opened in Scotland Place.
The Infant Welfare Centre was later built on this site but has more recently has been removed.
In the 1878 - 79 Council budget, the Council set aside 600 pounds to build the baths, but the project ended up costing 1300 pounds by the time it was finished.
Ladies were only permitted to bathe on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons.
Many problems arose from the day the baths were opened because they leaked very badly and the Borough Engineer had to have a gang of men constantly paddling the brick lining to try and stop the leaks.
The baths remained open intermittently until around 1923, but in the end were closed and became a "White Elephant" as they were not up to the standard required by the Health Authorities.
For some years prior to the closing of the baths around 1923, children only were allowed to swim in Victoria Lake in Victoria Park.
Adults wishing to swim were required to use the Moonlight Dams off Byrne Street, not far from Moonlight Street. The dams were locally known as the 'Moonies'.
In October 1930, Victoria Lake and Victoria Park were re-named Cato Lake and Cato Park after Mr. Fred Cato who was born in Stawell in 1858.
He attended 502 Primary School and in later years with a Mr. Moran, he established a large grocery business in Melbourne called Moran and Cato.
Mr. Cato donated 500 pounds to the Borough Council to be used only for beautification or betterment of Stawell.
For both boys and girls swimming in Victoria Lake, it was compulsory for them to wear neck to knee costumes.
By 1930 adults were allowed to swim in Cato Lake and in December 1932 it was reported in the Stawell Times, "That men were being warned that they must not slip the shoulder straps of their bathing costumes, and must remain covered from neck to knee. The park is open to all people and everyone must be protected".
In 1955 the Stawell Olympic Pool Committee was formed with the intention of establishing a new 50 metre Olympic Swimming Pool in Cato Park.
It was met with some opposition by members of the community and a petition was organised. The petition stated that there were alternative sites around town much more suited and that Cato Park should only be used as parkland.
There was a lot of debate over the site but finally on Wednesday February 13, 1957, tenders were accepted for Stawell's new Olympic Swimming Pool (extending into Cato Lake).
Included in the estimated cost of 20,000 pounds was a small toddlers pool, changing rooms and a kiosk.
The Olympic Pool was opened on November 15, 1958. It began leaking water into the lake in January 1985 and was closed for public use in February 1985 and was demolished in 1988.
On April 13, 1986, new swimming facilities were added to the North Park Stadium Complex.
This addition comprised an outdoor pool, toddlers pool, heated indoor pool and a heated indoor spa.
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