IT WAS the Easter Miracle which came early with the announcement this morning that the State Government will fund the heating of the Macksville Pool - after a protracted public campaign for this to happen.
Local MP Melinda Pavey said $550,395 will provide for the heating of the 50-metre outside Olympic pool, with Nambucca Valley Council stumping up for the ongoing maintenance and running costs of the system.
The heating of the pool could see the operational season of the facility extended by as much as four months (currently the pool is open from October through to April).
Asked by the Guardian, Mrs Pavey conceded the decision to heat the pool was a "victory for the good people pester power".
The lobbying to heat the water - led by the host Macksville Marlins Swimming Club - has been running for years, both through the official channels of government, and more lately publicly through a dedicated Facebook page.
Lyndel Sutton from the Marlins said she had never given up hope of the pool being heated, and was feeling "ecstatic" to hear of the breakthrough.
"This is very, very exciting for the whole community - for the schools, the sporting groups, the elderly and people with disabilities who will benefit," she said.
Her son, Declan, a fast rising competitive swimmer, was also on-hand for the announcement - and said he would no longer have to travel to Coffs Harbour or Port Macquarie to train over winter.
Namucca Valley mayor Rhonda Hoban said while council was fully supportive of the push to heat the pool, concerns remained about the ongoing funding for the system.
Cr Hoban paid credit to the Marlins club who did "much of the homework and legwork for us on researching ways in which the pool could be heated".
"I think we'll find that the maintenance and ongoing costs will be much less than what was originally thought," she said.
The heating system is expected to be in place for the start of the season this year, and Lyndel said "ideally the pool would be closed for only two months a year".
Mrs Pavey said the decision would mean that competitive swimmers - "whose training regime is brutal" - wouldn't be left on the starting blocks compared to their rivals in the larger centres and cities.
"Kids shouldn't be denied opportunity just because of where they live," she said.
"And I like this also because the fitter we can be means less impact on our health system."
While politicians, swimmers and media gathered with social distancing for the announcement, the pool itself and the co-located gym and hydrotherapy facility remain closed on the back of COVID-19 restrictions.
"The upgrade will promote health and well-being benefits for users as well as provide additional opportunities for use for the local Macksville Marlins Swimming Club and provide social and economic benefits to the centre," Mrs Pavey said.
"Electrical upgrades will also be completed to support the installation as well the required purchase of pool blankets, heat pumps and solar panels to sustain the new heating system."
The funding will be sourced from the State Government's Stronger Country Communities Fund. Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW, John Barilaro, said $100 million was being distributed across regional NSW, with those communities set to benefit from more than 550 new projects.