Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Cumbernauld Swimming Club


  I refer to the notice inviting written evidence from interested parties and wish to express my observations with specific reference to Facilities and training support for competitive swimmers.

  I have 40 years of experience of coaching in local community clubs, with my last thirty years at Cumbernauld Swimming Club. During that time we have achieved a reasonable level of success with local swimmers representing Scotland at the Commonwealth Games and Great Britain at the Olympic Games. During this period I have also worked as a Coach and Team Manager with Scotland and Great Britain Swimming Teams. All of these achievements have been gained with very little support from any external agencies.

  Whilst appreciating that many of our sports have existed in a similar way, there is now a well deserved programme of support for the Elite athletes through the Lottery Funding Scheme, which has been long overdue and should be welcomed by all persons interested in the future development of sport in our country. All of our Junior and Senior Elite athletes have a well defined and structured programme to enable them to reach their maximum potential and compete on level terms with other enlightened sports countries.

  However the window of opportunity for learning specific skill starts at a very younger age level and it is at this time we must get it right, if the youngsters are to achieve maximum performance in the future.

  Therefore if we are serious about competing at the highest World and Olympic level then the support needs to start at a much lower level. The clubs who nurture these young swimmers must be given more support in;

    —  Access to training facilities, that is not financially crippling.

    —  Financial support to subsidise employment of qualified coaches.

    —  Recognition of their important role in sports development, and in the community as a whole.

  There are good examples of partnerships between sports clubs, Local Authorities and Governing Bodies, but too few to make an impact. Harnessing the expertise, good will and financial support of these agencies could make a major impact and give all the youngsters interested in sport a fair chance to succeed, not solely dependent on whether you happen to live in a privileged area. National and Local Government have a major role in ensuring that this happens more widely.

  While arguing the case for local swimming clubs I am sure that educational leaders will state a similar argument for the enhancement of sports involvement at Primary School level which would also have a major impact on raising standards in sport.

  I believe that local community clubs will always have a major role in sport and I hope that your deliberations can not only recognise this but also take some action to improve their status and provide them with more support.

28 November 2001

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