A scene from the documentary TV series The Pool.
A scene from the documentary TV series The Pool. Supplied

Doco takes a dive into an important part of our culture

THE swimming pool is a staple for many Queensland families.

One in five homes have one in the back yard and Australians build more domestic swimming pools per capita than any country in the world. But a documentary about swimming pools? Sounds boring.

But what starts as a humble premise is actually a prism through which the producers of the ABC's two-part doco The Pool explore issues of democracy, human rights, gender and religious equality, health, education and, of course, some of Australia's greatest sporting triumphs.

North Sydney's iconic Olympic pool in a scene from The Pool.
North Sydney's iconic Olympic pool in a scene from The Pool. Supplied

Richard Roxburgh narrates the fascinating series, which celebrates pools of all shapes and sizes: public pools, ocean pools, backyard pools, motel pools, Olympic pools, outback pools and the original pool - the billabong.

There are stunning drone shots of NSW's many ocean pools. Sure, everyone knows Icebergs at Bondi, but did you know the east coast is dotted with more than 100 of them, including the last remaining women-only pool?

"Australians have a peculiar and intense relationship with the pool," director Sally Aitken says.

"What an exciting proposition to reflect upon such a huge and influential part of Australian culture."

Activists at Parramatta Park in a scene from the two-part documentary The Pool.
Activists at Parramatta Park in a scene from the two-part documentary The Pool. Supplied

When you think Olympic swimming, names like Ian Thorpe, Dawn Fraser and Shane Gould come to mind. They all get a mention, but the doco also delves into lesser known stories like Australia's first female gold medal-winning swimmers Fanny Durack and Mina Wylie, who raised funds to pay their own way to the Stockholm Games in 1912.

Diver Matthew Mitcham also candidly opens up about diving his way into the world's history books as the first openly gay athlete to win an Olympic gold medal.

Commenting more broadly on the cultural significance of the pool, and often providing some comic relief, are Myf Warhust, journalist Benjamin Law, comedian Tim Ross, actor Madeleine Madden and sports journalist Peter FitzSimons.

The Pool airs tomorrow at 7.40pm on ABC-TV.