Swimming towards a cleaner, greener future

Seadragonz Swim School, is a local swim school who are committed to providing a safe and fun learn-to-swim facility whilst actively seeking ways to reduce the environmental footprint of their business. Water is one of the biggest natural resources required by a swim school, so this business is extremely careful about preserving this precious resource and well on their way to becoming sustainable in the pool! Congratulations to Seadragonz Swim School for being recognised as a Switched On Business and for the passion they show towards both sustainability and teaching swimming!

Can aquatic centres switch their behaviour and innovate toward sustainability?

Swimming is one of Australia’s most popular physical activity. Many of us exercise and relax at aquatic centres, but keeping these places comfortable, safe and environmentally friendly takes time, money and energy.

In recent years, notoriously energy- and water-guzzling aquatic centres in Australia have begun to step up and lead the way in the green transition by improving their energy and water efficiency. And as every Australian knows, water is a precious commodity – so every drop counts!

Introducing a local Armadale swim school who is riding the sustainability wave!

Seadragonz Swim School is a local, family-owned business located within the City of Armadale in Western Australia and it has been recognised by the learn-to swim industry and government entities as a benchmark for many swim schools in Australia in terms of community participation, lesson standards and for their incredible efforts in environmental sustainability.

Seadragonz owner, Lari McDonald, has been involved in the swimming industry for more than 30 years and has always lived by her sweet motto “Swimming is Grinning” and also looked out for ways to mitigate climate change and work with the community to create a sustainable future. Her passion to make a difference in the community, led her to build the first purpose-built learn-to-swim facility in Western Australia to teach swimming as a life skill, but also create an enjoyable and eco-friendly water space loved by locals.

Lari and her team have excelled in taking innovative steps along their sustainability journey using a holistic sustainability approach, which include the following:

Recovering and recycling 100% of the water used at the facility – The water from the showers, toilet, and pool deck runs into a Biocycle system for treatment. The water is then recycled, by going through a sprinkler system onto the adjoining horse paddocks, providing them with green feed year-round! Their next mission is to catch rainwater from their extensive roof to treat and recycle for other uses at the facility. 

Biocycle water treatment system

Using ultraviolet lighting as the primary water disinfectant – after filtering the waterUV light is used to remove most forms of microbiological contamination from water then it is checked if water requires further disinfection. It is a great way to reduce chemical usage as well as keep the pool clean without harsh chemicals, Seadragonz has a “no cap – no swim” policy to keep hair out of the water. Organic, plant-based soap and shampoo products from EnviroCare (local supplier in Western Australia), are also provided at the facility to encourage the chemical-free ethos. They also use recycled glass filter as a direct alternative to sand. Glass filters keep debris and bacteria out of the pool and reduce chemical consumption. As water is pumped to the filter, it passes through the glass media which captures particles and filter down to 9 microns.

Ultraviolet lighting as the primary water disinfectant

Installing a 20 kW solar power system – has reduced their electricity bills by 66% and their carbon footprint by 29.58 tonnes CO2-e per year – this is equivalent to 11,431 litres of petrol consumed! This has worked so well for them that they are planning to install further solar PV in the near future.

20 kW solar power system installed

Energy efficiency – all the pool pumps have Optidrives fitted to them, which have reduced pump energy consumption by 50%. The business uses an insulating pool cover to keep the warmth in the pool and reduce gas usage (which is used to heat the pool water). They also use a natural air flow system designed to reduce energy use and cost as well as provide a healthy, fresh and comfortable indoor climate rather than using mechanical ventilation.

Optidrives installed to all pool pumps

Having a mindset about minimising waste and looking for options to reuse, recycle and repurpose all paper, redundant furniture, swim equipment and other items, with landfill as a last resort. For instance, their customers take the ‘freebies’ and fix things like pumps for home use and the students enjoy taking the equipment (pumps, teaching toys, noodles and other) for their pools. 

Education – Swimming teaching is the perfect platform to educate customers about the sustainability practices in place at Seadragonz, through enrolment, regular updates and board notices. The passionate staff there use these interactions as an opportunity to embed environmental stewardship in the community. For instance, they attend community events and write for the local newspaper to talk about various swim-related things including ways to save water. The community has demonstrated great interest to learn more about water conservation and energy efficient handy tips implemented by the swim school and put those into practice at home.

This business is proactively looking for ways to contribute to the local community and positively influence industry groups as well as local businesses such as: supporting local Aboriginal artists to have their beautiful artwork and designs printed on the staff uniform T-shirts. Also, supporting families who lost their jobs during COVID-19 and have their kids enrolled at the swim school, helping to cover some of the cost. For instance, a number of kids were offered scholarships to continue their swimming lessons, including recent refugee children from the Ukraine.

Next time you visit your favourite local swimming pool, you may want to find out what changes they have made or plan to make to reduce their facility’s carbon and water footprint and how you can contribute whilst splashing in the pool! You could even share the story of Seadragonz Swim School for inspiration!

Switch your Thinking love to celebrate inspiring local green business champions who are leading the way to a more sustainable future. Congratulations once again to Seadragonz Swim School for this remarkable achievement!

Switch your Thinking developed the Switched On Business Award to celebrate and recognise sustainability action in local businesses across Switch your Thinking partner councils in the Perth metropolitan area. For more information about the next round and to nominate a local business, contact mail@switchyourthinking.com or visit switchyourthinking.com.

Visit https://seadragonz.com.au/ for more information

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