Memorandum from Ms Anita Lonsbrough MBE
Swimming is not just a sport on its own, but
it plays a major role in many others including triathlon, modern
pentathlon, rowing and sailing to name just a few. It is also
a great way to keep fit for the young and old. But perhaps its
most important role is that it saves lives.
Water space is always at a premium but do local
authorities and others who run swimming pools look after them?
Far too often we hear of pools being closed down because it will
cost too much money to repair yet had the repairs been kept up
to date there would have been no need for closure.
Old pools can be renovated especially 50 metre
ones. Booms give new life to pools. They become a facility capable
of being divided up and used for a variety of activities. The
Ealing pool has recently had the addition of a boom. The pool
can now cater for training, teaching lessons and the community
all at the same time.
The closure of a 33 metre or 331/3
yard pool and the building of a six lane 25 metre venue mean that
vital water space has been lost. I live in Wolverhampton where
they are proposing to pull down two of the cities four pools.
The two due for closure25 and 331/3
yards pools, are in different parts of the city and the proposal
is to replace them with a leisure pool and possibly a 25 metre
tank. The loss of water space will be greater.
Unfortunately, the weather in Britain is not
conducive to open-air swimming all the year round. The open-air
pools stand empty in the winter so why not put bubbles over? Also
when open-air pools are to be closed why not look into the placing
of permanent bubbles or a basic building for extra swimming facilities.
Travelling the world as I do covering swimming
events I have seen many pools converted from out-door pools into
indoor facilities at a fraction of the cost of building new pools.
The closure of pools is not just in the public
sector but also in education and the private sector. A private
sector 331/3 yard pool in London where the
Otters Swimming club, one of the oldest in the country, trains
is to be covered over.
The sport of swimming is divided into four disciplinesswimming,
dividing, water polo and synchronised swimming all making their
own individual requirements on water space. Water space for clubs
to teach and coach is both very expensive and scarce.
Beckenham, a club which hire lanes at Crystal
Palace have now been told that they are, to pay VAT on the hire
fees. They are afraid that this may put too high a burden on the
club. Clubs have to raise the money to hire facilities and Beckenham
are afraid that they may not be able to find this extra money.
For training swimmers are normally divided in
lanes as followssix per lane in a 25 metre pool, nine in
a 331/3 metre or yard pool and 12 in a 50
metre pool. If a six lane 331/3 pool which
caters for 54 swimmers, is closed and replaced by a six lane 25
metre pool giving water space for 36 swimmers immediately 18 swimmers
loose training space.
Swimmers find themselves having to train early
in the morning and often later at night which is far from ideal.
In between training the average swimmer also has to go to school
and do home work.
The country without doubt lacks sufficient 50
metre pools for the elite competitor to train in and many swimmers
find they are having to leave their own environment to find ideal
28 November 2001