Congratulations to Andra Laird and James Laird - New East District Life Members

on Friday, 28 August 2020.

East District AGM 27th August 2020

Congratulations to the two new East District Life Members, Andra Laird who has step down as Swimming Convenor but stepped up as Fife Convenor and James Laird, who continues as East District Treasurer.

Well deserved recognitions of their contributions to SASA East District

New report warning of pool closures and job losses ‘concerning but not surprising’

on Wednesday, 26 August 2020.

Swim England

New report warning of pool closures and job losses ‘concerning but not surprising’

Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson says a new report warning that one in five swimming pools will permanently close due to the coronavirus pandemic is ‘massively concerning but not surprising’.

The findings released by Community Leisure UK today has led to the recognised national governing body for aquatics reiterating its plea for urgent funding to be invested in leisure facilities so more can reopen following lockdown.

In the Community Leisure UK Covid-19 Impact Report, it states the public leisure and culture landscape is in a ‘fragile position’ and there is a ‘high risk’ of venues and facilities shutting down for good.

It fears 18 per cent of swimming pools owned by its members will be lost.

The report also highlights that up to 7,000 leisure sector jobs are at risk and a further 6,000 roles confirmed for redundancy.

Swim England has partnered with CLUK on the #SaveLeisure campaign which is fighting for ring-fenced funding from the Government to help those facilities which are struggling financially.

Fragile position

Research carried out by Swim England last week revealed that almost a quarter of public pools still remained closed, many without a confirmed reopening date.

The stark new report from CLUK said: “The public leisure and culture landscape will be in a fragile position for a significant period of time, with a lengthy recovery period.

“There is a high risk of venues and facilities closing permanently as a result of rationalisation and financial pressures. There are currently 342 facilities at risk of permanent closure, including 35 libraries, 85 leisure centres and 24 swimming pools.

“This would result in a loss of 18 per cent of swimming pools run by our members, which would impact on communities, clubs and athletes.”

Jane said a number of pools had started to reopen but millions of people were still facing the prospect of not being able to enjoy the many physical and mental health benefits exercising in the water can bring – and many club swimmers, divers and water polo players were still on dry land.

She added: “This report is incredibly concerning but sadly not surprising.

“We’re also seeing a similar story from pools with different operating structures. Alongside CLUK, we have been very vocal about the need for Government funding to help #SaveLeisure and get more pools open and prevent the mothballing of vital local facilities that are enjoyed by so many and produce so many benefits for their local communities.

Won’t stop the fight

“As well as pools being the home to thousands of swimming, artistic swimming, diving and water polo clubs, we know that being active in the water helps people’s physical and mental health, improves community cohesion and reduces pressure on the NHS.

“For each day that pools remain shut, almost one million pounds of benefit to the NHS and social care system is lost. The #SaveLeisure investment would more than pay for itself incredibly quickly.”

Jane added that the clubs across all aquatic disciplines are at risk of being permanently lost.

“Every pool that remains shut or that is forced to close makes it harder and harder for our network of clubs across all our disciplines to survive,” Jane said.

“If facilities remain closed, there will also be many swim schools, swimming teachers, lifeguards and facility staff worrying about when, or even if, they will have a job to go back to.

“We’re working day and night to support our workforce and the clubs that have been made temporarily homeless by pool closures and we won’t stop the fight for the #SaveLeisure funding our sector needs to protect as many pools as we can.”

4 out of 10 for the UK's premier swimming arenas

on Saturday, 22 August 2020. - Diccon Loy

Whilst it is well known that Sydney, Australia has more Olympic-sized pools than the whole of the UK, at least we have 10 FINA standard, 10-lane 50m pools. However, almost a month after being given permission to reopen, just 4 of these major swimming arenas are open.

The UK's best pools have hosted Olympics, Commonwealth Games and European Championships. These venues are the Old Trafford's, Anfield's and Wembley's of our sport. In how many other sports can you say that you've actually competed in the same arena as legends of the sport?

The 10-lane, 50m standard was adopted by FINA in 2009. Put simply, 10-lane pools are faster than 8-lane pools due to the reduction of wash, giving elite swimmers a smoother ride. Some of the UK's 10-lane 50m pools pre-date this specification. Ponds Forge, Sheffield opened in 1991 and was the centre-piece for the World Student Games (Summer Universiade 1991). Ponds Forge has been a prominent pool in British Swimming ever since hosting hundreds of national and international competitions .  News broke late last week that Ponds Forge will remain closed 'indefinitely'. The reason cited was due to lost revenue from events, conferences and banquets, rendering the venue uneconomic to re-open. This shows how fragile the business of swimming is, that some sports venues are reliant on weddings and banquets to be viable.

In addition to Ponds Forge the following major swimming arenas remain closed:

Glasgow Tollcross (home of Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games) due to open 28 September 2020

Sunderland Aquatics Centre - closed until Nov 2020

Hengrove Leisure Centre, Bristol - closed

Life Centre, Plymouth (The pool that Tom Daley trained at as a child) - closed until April 2021

Aberdeen Sport Village - Closed

The protracted closure of the UK's best swimming venues also impacts diving. Many of the larger pools also have diving pools, meaning that currently just 8 out of 25 diving clubs in the UK have access to water. We can legitimately expect this situation to affect Team GB's long term medal hopes.

Many have posed the question of when the UK Government will specifically support the sport of swimming. If eat out to help out can help the hospitality sector, then what about 'workout to help out'? However, the UK's pools, including our world class swimming arenas, may need more than just a few discount vouchers to survive. Our pools will need local and national Government support, but they will also need the support of the UK public. When your local pool reopens, please be sure to support it. Support can be by renewing your membership, taking out a new one or simply supporting the pool and the sport of swimming on social media.

#SaveLeisure #OpenOurPools #Swimming