Mayor Leon Stephens “dived" into some full-blooded promotion for the South Australian Country Swimming Championships on Thursday.
Minutes before the launch of the titles at the swimming pool at 4pm that day, he spoke at a mayoral reception for Swimming SA and supporters.
Pointing to the great strides the city has made regarding sport, he said the sport and recreation committee of Port Pirie Regional Council had once been a “poisoned chalice”, but was now “sweet tasting”.
“We are about turning on the lights – come see the change,” he said.
He said the championships had last been held here in 2012 after a million-dollar upgrade of the pool.
With the titles returning to our city every seven years, he urged the organisers to consider “once every three-and-a-half years”.
He said such events boosted the local economy.
“Today we had 417 swimmers and about 1200 parents and friends here. Children develop friends for life as a result,” he said.
We had 417 swimmers and about 1200 parents and friends hereMayor Leon Stephens
Chairman of Swimming SA Peter Graham said that during his 49-year career as a policeman he noted that many officers who had been posted to Port Pirie kept returning to the city.
“Every bloke I ever worked with who came to Port Pirie is always up here,” he said.
“Everyone who had anything to do with Port Pirie has loved it.
“On behalf of Swimming SA, we are happy to be here.”
He said the Port Pirie Swimming Club, led by president Trina Grist, had worked well with his organisation.
“There will be four days of competition. We have been here before and it has been successful and I guarantee it will be again,” he said. “South Australia is the only state that takes its country titles to the regions.”
Next year, the championships will be in Murray Bridge followed by Renmark in 2021.
Earlier, Mr Graham said 32 clubs would be involved in the titles here with more than 2500 entries.
He said the pool had been upgraded again and was looking “magnificent”.
Board member of Swimming SA Anne-Marie Hammond said she found Port Pirie to be a friendly place, but there was “still rivalry between the kids”.
The competition program has been modified to cope with the heat.