22 March 2024

Move It Canberra – help click the collective clock up to 10,000 minutes of exercise

| James Coleman
Join the conversation
Swimmers in a pool

Members of the public take time out from their swimming with Paralympians Jasmine Greenwood (back left) and Alex Saffy (back right) and water polo player Riley Moore (back centre). Photo: Belgravia Leisure.

Ocean Cooper Thompkins has “jumped out a few too many helicopters” in his lifetime.

The Afghanistan War veteran’s left leg was amputated below the knee in December last year due to his injuries, but he hasn’t let that stop him. He was among a number of Canberrans who got up bright and early on Tuesday, 23 March, to “race” against two of the nation’s Paralympians.

“I actively like swimming and trying to get out and do more things, and be motivated,” he said.

“And probably inspire more … amputees as well.”

READ ALSO It’s taken 13 years, but a new ‘vert ramp’ is coming to Canberra’s biggest skate park. Is it enough?

The occasion marked the launch of the Move It Canberra campaign, a joint venture between the ACT Government and Belgravia Leisure.

The Victorian-based company won the tender to operate five of the ACT’s public pools in September 2023, including the Canberra Olympic Pool, Gungahlin Leisure Centre, Stromlo Leisure Centre, Lakeside Leisure Centre and Dickson Aquatic Centre.

The new campaign asks Canberrans to achieve 10,000 collective minutes of exercise on Saturday, 23 March, across the Lakeside, Stromlo and Gungahlin centres in an effort to “kick off the healthy habit of exercising five times a week for 30 minutes”.

Ocean Cooper Thompkins

Ocean Cooper Thompkins lost his leg to injuries sustained during the war in Afghanistan. Photo: Belgravia Leisure.

According to the Canberra Next Move 2023-2028 strategy, released by ACT Government in 2022, 71.5 per cent of ACT adults (15 years plus) are active three or more times a week, with walking and cycling the most popular forms.

But Belgravia says there are still many Canberrans not moving enough to meet the national guidelines.

Provided the goal is met, the company promises to donate $10,000 to a local community initiative via the Belgravia Foundation to support the “underrepresented communities of ACT” with free swimming and water safety lessons.

The foundation typically supports children and teens with autism, adults with mental illness, people with early-onset dementia, and their carers “who put others before themselves”.

Nick Cox at a swimming pool

Belgravia Leisure CEO Nick Cox at the Gungahlin Leisure Centre. Photo: James Coleman.

By 8 am at the Gungahlin Leisure Centre, Belgravia CEO Nick Cox said about 50 people had joined in a group exercise class on the front lawns, followed by a swim in the main pool.

“This is one of the campaigns that we’ve rolled out to really start to activate the venues and generate greater members and greater enrolments, but more importantly, greater movement,” he said.

“Winter is often the period where people don’t participate in swimming, but it’s about changing that mentality because being physically active is something that should be year round.”

READ ALSO No cash to support Braddon’s buskers? You can scan here

Also present was Jasmine Greenwood, a silver medallist in the 100 metre butterfly at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics; Alex Saffy, who clinched a bronze medal at the 2022 World Para Swimming Championships and a silver at the 2022 Commonwealth Games; and Riley Moore who will vie for a spot on his first national team this July at the Australian Olympic Trials in Brisbane.

Jasmine said it was “really cute” to have all ages and abilities willing to swim alongside them.

The 20-year-old from Jervis Bay described herself as always active throughout her childhood. But swimming wasn’t really on the list until after 2011, when she ended up in hospital after suffering a stroke caused by a septic appendicitis.

“It was all very random and very quick. It happened within about 12 hours, and my life was just turned around,” Jasmine said.

Marty Roberts, Alex Saffy, Jasmine Greenwood and Riley Moore.

Head coach Marty Roberts, Alex Saffy, Jasmine Greenwood and Riley Moore. Photo: Belgravia Leisure.

She’s been left with weakness down her left side and “bad fatigue”. But she continues to push herself towards the Paris Paralympics in August with six training sessions and three gym sessions at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) each week (on top of university and work).

“Obviously, it hasn’t been easy, but it’s been really exciting and I wouldn’t really change anything that’s happened to me.”

Riley, from the Central Coast, is also preparing for Paris, hoping to join the Australian water polo delegation. He’s played the game since he was eight years old, and has been working his way up the competitive ranks ever since.

Gungahlin Leisure Centre

Belgravia took over operation of the Gungahlin Leisure Centre in September 2023. Photo: James Coleman.

Today, was more about “having fun” though.

“We had a few little races back and forth with people,” Riley said. “They were able to swim next to us – we beat them a couple of times and they pushed us a couple of times. It’s been good.”

To encourage uptake in the Move It Canberra campaign on Saturday, there will be free entry to the Stromlo Leisure Centre from 7 am to 10:30 am, Gungahlin Leisure Centre from 10 am to 2 pm, and Lakeside Leisure Centre from 9 am to 1 pm.

Participants are encouraged to pre-register online and participate in at least 30 minutes of exercise to contribute to the grand total.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments
Trish O'Connor6:00 pm 22 Mar 24

Pity they did not take over the Phillip Pool as well. It is now managed by Geocon, the developer and we know where that is going. The government is all about “move It Canberra” but not moving it in the Woden area – rather they prefer to see concrete and high rise everywhere and the precious little green area of the Phillip Pool is destined for the same future.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.