Memorandum submitted by Southern Counties
Amateur Swimming Association
1.1 The generic term of "swimming"
also covers the sports of swimming for the disabled, diving, water
polo, synchronised swimming, and open water swimming.
1.2 The Amateur Swimming Association (ASA)
is the Governing Body for the sport of swimming in England, and
together with Scotland and Wales form the Amateur Swimming Federation
of Great Britain. English swimming has a total membership of c200,000
and for effective government and administration, it is divided
into five Districts.
2. SOUTHERN COUNTIES
2.1 The Southern Counties Amateur Swimming
Association covers eight County Associations as follows: Berkshire
and South Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, Kent, Surrey,
Sussex, Hampshire (including the Isle of Wight and the Channel
Islands) and the old administrative county of Middlesex. The Southern
Counties is the largest ASA District with a total of 540 clubs
and other "Affiliated Association" representing 62,224
individual members. A breakdown of the comparative ASA membership
District by District is as follows:
2.2 The 540 clubs represent every aspect
of swimming and within that membership there are a number of clubs
dedicated to swimming for the disabled, a club specifically for
the Jewish Community, a club specifically for the Lesbian and
Gay Community and a number of schools from both private and public
sector and other youth organisations such as the Scouts and Guides.
There are no clubs specifically for ethnic minorities but it is
known that all clubs adhere to the ASA Equity Policy and welcome
and encourage members from that sector of the community.
3. SWIMMING TEACHING
3.1 The structure of the clubs is a natural
pyramid, the majority concentrating on swimming teaching with
the more promising athletes being "fed" into the clubs
with development programmes through to the elite. In most major
conurbations there are large clubs with sophisticated structures
which develop children from learning to swim through to international
selection. Many such clubs also have special training for swimmers
with disabilities which compliments the clubs which exist specifically
for that purpose.
3.2 Many of the clubs in the District have
produced, and continue to produce, athletes who are performing
with distinction on the world stage but this is entirely due to
an army of willing volunteers who manage, staff and run the clubs.
Most of the club coaches receive only nominal recompense for their
work and many of the athletes have to travel long distances to
find coaching and water time to train, often at unsocial hours;
at the inevitable expense to the parents and disruption to ordinary
3.3 This structure allows for the development
of athletes in other disciplines such as water polo, synchronised
swimming, open water and diving.
4.1 The majority of clubs use pools owned
by the local authority, many of which were built in the 60s and
70s and have a limited life. Most of these are pools the lengths
of the water being 33 yards or metres with some of 25 metres.
There is no evidence to suggest that those facilities do not adequately
meet the needs of the "learn to swim", development programmes
and the local community; but there is a woeful lack of facilities
for the athlete who aspires to join the elite.
4.2 In all sports the ultimate aspiration
for any athlete is to be selected for their country at the Olympic
Games, the World the Commonwealth Games or European Championships.
In swimming the recognised competition distance is 50 metres and
as a consequence all National and District Championships, and
some County Championships, are organised over the 50 metre length
of water. It is perhaps interesting to note that the District
Swimming Championships are run over four week-ends (two of which
are Bank Holiday week-ends) with entries normally in excess of
4.3 The current minimum international standard
competition swimming facility is a 50 metre pool with 10 lanes
with providing adequate accommodation for spectators and competitors
and car parking.
4.4 The Southern Counties currently has
three 50 metre swimming pools:
4.4.1 Gurnell Pool, Ealing
A six lane 50 metre pool configured in a "L"
shape. Because of the six lanes and shape of the pool it is useless
except as a training venue and for low level competitions.
4.4.2 National Sports Centre, Crystal Palace
An eight lane 50 metre pool owned by the London
Borough of Bromley and leased to Sport England. It is now almost
40 years old and universally accepted as in need of major refurbishment.
Regardless of age, the design is now out of date having only eight
lanes. There is no moveable boom and no moveable floor thereby
denying the flexibility which allows maximum usage by the community
and the elite swimmer. Discussions have been taking place between
Bromley Council and Sport England for several years but there
appears to be no end to resolving the various issues that exist
between the parties.
4.4.3 British Army Garrison Pool, Aldershot
An eight lane 50 metre pool owned and run by
the Army Garrison. It has little seating capacity and the Army
take first option on usage and because of the limited seating
cannot be regarded as a competition venue even for a District
4.5 There are no other 50 metre competition
pools in the Southern Counties, the next nearest being Coventry
which is a minimum sized eight lane 50 metre pool and only slightly
better in condition than Crystal Palace.
4.6 That situation has to be compared with
swimming facilities in the North. Sheffield, the most up to date
facility in the country with the full range of facilities and
meeting international standards. Leeds, 35 miles away also with
an outdated 50 metre pool and diving facilities shortly to be
replaced with a modern facility. Manchester, 40 miles away from
both Sheffield and Leeds with a new facility built for the Commonwealth
Games 2002, Stockport and the now elderly pool in Wigan, all three
within the old Manchester Metropolitan area. In addition, Liverpool
is also to have a 50 metre pool creating six pools within a small
geographical area. In Scotland there is the Commonwealth Pool
in Edinburgh and 46 miles away the new facility in Glasgow and
a recently refurbished 50 metre pool at East Kilbride, 10 miles
4.7 In summary, the capital city has no
venue which comes even near being called a National Venue and
none which are even in the planning stage. As a result, swimmers
who have reached national standard and above have to travel excessive
distances to compete. Because of the lack of 50 metre training
facilities those swimmers in the largest ASA District start at
a disadvantage to their peers who train regularly in 50 metre
4.8 Because of the constraints on the site,
the fact that the Sports Hall (which includes the swimming pool)
has been "listed", and lack of funding either from Bromley
Council or Sport England; even if Crystal Palace was refurbished
it could only be regarded as a regional training and competition
venue. To bring the venue up to international standard would require
the current facility to be demolished and completely rebuilt.
5. OTHER AQUATIC
5.1 The need to cater for the other disciplines
in the ASA is no less than that of 50 metre swimming pools. Diving,
water polo and synchronised swimming all need deep water in which
to train. In diving the only 10 metre platforms are located at
Crystal Palace and Southampton and neither is of international
standard and could not therefore host a senior international event.
In synchronised swimming and water polo there is no facility in
the entire District which meet international specifications. In
spite of that, all three disciplines have produced and continue
to produce athletes of international standard.
6. MAJOR VENUES
6.1 Successive Ministers of Sport, endorsed
by the Prime Minister of the current administration, have publicly
stated that it is the policy of HM Government to promote major
international events in the UK with the ultimate objective being
to stage the Olympic Games. However, both the International Olympic
Committee and the Federation Internationale De Natation (the World
Governing body for swimming) have indicated that they will not
consider a bid for a World class event unless it is located in
the Capital City. In the latter case, swimming has lost the Swimming
World Cup, an event previously staged in Sheffield, and the World
Diving Grand Prix simply because they cannot be staged in London
through lack of facilities.
6.2 The lack of 50 metre international standard
pools in London needs to be compared against other European Major
6.3 In order to stage even a European Championships two
50 metre pools would be required. A training pool for warm up
and swim down, and a competition pool with spectator facilities
for up to 5,000 people. In addition, a deep water pool with full
international diving staging to accommodate diving and synchronised
swimming. Those requirements would increase for the purpose of
an Olympic bid to a minimum of four 50 metre pools in reasonable
6.4 It might be argued that the pressure for 50 metre
facilities is not immediate and no purpose would be served by
providing them now. That argument would be fallacious for the
6.4.1 The need for 50 metre pools and deep water facilities
is now and the Southern Counties in general and London in particular
is seriously disadvantaged both for training and competition in
comparison to the rest of the country.
6.4.2 The lead time for the provision of such facilities
is such that any improvements made to Crystal Palace would only
be an interim measure. In any event, Crystal Palace can only ever
be regarded as a regional centre for training and competition
and not a major national/international venue.
7.1 The Southern Counties ASA supports the ASA published
strategy that the minimum requirement for London is four 50 metre
eight lane pools. One of which would also provide a deep water
pool of sufficient size and depth to accommodate diving, water
polo and synchronised swimming with seating capacity for up to
5,000 thus able to accommodate National and International events
and act as the anchor pool for an Olympic bid.
7.2 The Southern Counties recognises that in London the
provision of leisure facilities, and in particular swimming pools,
calls for a large capital outlay and ongoing revenue implications
and these costs have to compete with all the problems of housing,
education, social services and other important local provisions.
Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester and Glasgow have the same problems
as London and have found that the creation of swimming pools,
with all the other leisure facilities which form part of such
a complex, adds to the fabric of that society and can do much
to alleviate the problems of the under privileged.
The Southern Counties Amateur Swimming Association is the
largest District in the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) with
540 clubs and 62,224 members representing 32 per cent of the total
ASA membership. It covers the Counties from Hertfordshire in the
North down to Hampshire in the South, including London.
The clubs cover all aspects of swimming including diving,
water polo, synchronised swimming, open water and swimming for
the disabled. The club base covers all aspects of society and
all age ranges from "cradle to the grave".
The teaching of swimming is adequately served by pools which
are mainly owned by local authorities and schools but many have
reached the time when they will need refurbishment or replaced.
The international standard length for swimming races is 50
metre. There are only three 50 metre pools in the District and
none are of international standard.
There are no pools in the District of international standard
for diving, water polo and synchronised swimming.
In the North of the country and within a 50 mile radius there
are four pools of international standard and a further one to
be built (Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester, Wigan and Liverpool).
There is no swimming spectator venue in the Capital City
and none planned to be built. This compares unfavourably with
other major cities in Europe.
HM Government stated policy is to attract major sporting
events to the UK.
The IOC and the World Governing Body for Swimming have both
said that they will only consider bids for major events if they
are located in London. The Facility Strategy for London is for
four 50 metre pools in London with one being a major spectator
Swimmers of National standard and above are at a disadvantage
without the ability to train in 50 metre pools and suffer a financial
penalty by having to travel excessive distances in order to compete.
20 November 2001