Ironman Matt Poole looks set to leave the Coast.
Ironman Matt Poole looks set to leave the Coast. Warren Lynam

Mooloolaba Surf Club athletes locked out of swim training

CHAMPION Ironman Matt Poole is considering walking away from the Mooloolaba Surf Club he has been devoted to for seven years.

He also believes many other elite athletes are considering the drastic action as new rumours of financial strife at the high-profile club surface.

The last straw for Poole was arriving at a 5am swim training session at the University of the Sunshine Coast on Monday morning to find he was locked out.


He said about 15 to 20 athletes arrived only to be told "there will be no coach and no swimming".

Rumours of a leadership overhaul and decreased focus on the surf sports program at the club, which has boasted a string of Ironman athletes, were revealed in Sunday's Sunshine Coast Daily.

A frustrated Poole said the professional athletes had been "snobbed by the club and coaching staff".

"They packed up and left, all the athletes were left to fend for themselves," he said. 

"It is safe to say Mooloolaba is headed for a not good place."


Coach Michael King denied rumours he resigned from the club, but declined to comment further.

Another elite athlete, Kirsty Higgison, said she had seen Mr King in the USC pool parking lot in the morning advising swimmers to go home.

Training at Mooloolaba Beach. Photo: Warren Lynam / Sunshine Coast Daily
Training at Mooloolaba Beach. Photo: Warren Lynam / Sunshine Coast Daily Warren Lynam

Yesterday afternoon's late ski training session continued at Mooloolaba Beach, even though Mr King was not present.

Newly elected club president David Jewry declined to comment.

He said the new committee had only been in place for 24 hours and its first executive meeting was last night.

"Rest assured, our primary focus is on fulfilling our obligations to the community, beach, our members and adhering to the rules and regulations established by Lifesaving Australia," he said.

Should a surf club priorotise its elite athletes or volunteer patrols?

This poll ended on 30 June 2015.

Current Results

Patrols are always more important to keep the public safe


Elite athletes, they start as patrol members anyway and they are great ambassadors for the Coast


There needs to be the right balance between the two


This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

USC Sports and Exercise Science Professor Brendan Burkett said while the University was keen to work with the club, there was an "agreement on how it would work".

"We came up with a resolution with Michael they can train while they were waiting for an agreement to come through," he said.

"We had to wait for the Annual General Meeting, but it didn't eventuate and naturally we had to stop it.

"We just hope the surf club can resolve the matter so we can continue on as planned."

Ironman great, Grant Kenny, who is a member of the Mooloolaba Club, but trains for Alex said he had heard rumours about financial woes.

"I heard there is a funding issue and a lot of programs have been cut completely. One of the coaching staff is no longer employed and I have heard this is the case with others.

"I am assuming it is a necessary, albeit a hard decision, because of the circumstances they have found themselves in. Certainly, it is a shame.

"They may be a victim of trying to keep up with the Jones's in trying to match other clubs."

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