History of Harold Holt Swim Centre

In 1924 the Malvern Council voted to build the first municipal baths. The proposed location in Glen Iris, on the corner of High and Edgar Streets, was strongly supported by the Education Department which envisaged a children’s 'learn to swim' campaign.

By the early 1960s, the facilities were declared 'inadequate and outmoded' and in 1966 the Malvern Council commissioned architects Kevin Borland and Daryl Jackson to design a new swimming complex. The centre consisted of five pools, with the focal point being a large glass-walled building enclosing a 25m pool and learner’s pool, which enabled year-long swimming. Outside, the main 50m Olympic pool was the first pool in Australia designed to metric standards.

The new centre was to be named the 'City of Malvern Olympic Swimming Centre’, however, following the tragic death of Malvern's local member and Prime Minister of Australia at sea in December 1967, the new pool was named the 'Harold Holt Memorial Swimming Centre’. The new complex was opened by the Prime Minister, John Gorton in March 1969.

In 1988 substantial additions to the building included the construction of a hydrotherapy pool, spa, sauna and multi-purpose room for aerobics and yoga classes. The 50m outdoor pool became the first in Victoria to be heated for year-round swimming. Further works were undertaken in 1998 to improve pool operations, including an indoor pool 'wet deck' and an upgrade of the filtration systems.

In November 2010 the Harold Holt Swim Centre reopened after a $13 million redevelopment. The centre now features a new health club and three fitness studios hosting more than 55 fitness classes per week. Aquatic areas were expanded to include a leisure pool with water features and learn-to-swim pool.

The building, now listed on the Victorian Heritage Register, is considered to be among the most notable examples of Brutalist architecture, a style adopted in the 1960s. The Harold Holt Swim Centre is one of Melbourne's most popular aquatic facilities with 400,000 visitors per year.