Double Olympic Champion James Man: The potential lack of almost 2,000 swimming pools in England is horrible


Double Olympic Champion James Guy described Swim England's prediction that nearly 2,000 pools in England could be lost forever by the end of the decade "terrible".

The governing body has made its dire forecast in its newly released report, A Decade of Decline: The Future of Swimming Pools in England, and supports calls for the government to commit to £ 1 billion ($ 1.36 billion) in public leisure facilities help to invest in the renovation of existing pools as well as in the construction of the new ones that will be needed in the future.

It is said that unless urgent action is taken to replace aging facilities, millions of people could be left without pool access by 2030.

According to Swim England, the shortage is due to pools built in the 1960s and 1970s reaching the end of their life while not enough new facilities are built to replace them.

The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the problem, but is not a direct reason for the dire prediction.

However, the report says: "If we continue the current trend, the number of available pools in England will decrease by 40 percent by the end of the decade – from currently 4,336 to around 2,468".

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Guy was an outstanding man on the team in Tokyo and returned with two relay gold and silver medals as part of the most successful swimming contingent from British shores.

The team secured four gold, three silver and one bronze medal under an eight-person medal, with Guy calling for investments to nurture the next generation and ensure people are safe in and around the water.

He said in a Swim England publication:

“We have been the most successful (swimming) team at the Olympics and to hear that our future stars may not have access to pools for the next ten years is appalling.

“If there are no pools, you cannot create the basis for club swimmers to come and take our position as Olympic swimmers.

“We have to inspire this future generation and I'm pretty sure a lot of us did that during the Games.

“We want to go ahead and pass it on to the next stars. Because of this, Adam Peaty is seen taking his swimming classes and me doing mine and other various things to promote water safety.

“But we can't do that when the pools close – it's absolutely horrific.

“We want to be in nice surroundings and on councils, and the government that doesn't support that is very, very unfair.

“You should prioritize where the results are, and swimming is definitely high on that list.

"It's a real shame and pretty sad."

Adam Peaty and Luke Greenbank have already issued calls for further investments.

Peaty was the first British swimmer to defend an Olympic title with a victory over 100 m breaststroke and to take gold and silver in the mixed and men's individual relay.

He said in Tokyo:

“Sport needs money, everyone knows that.

"So more investments than ever have to be made to secure the next generation, especially in swimming, where there are swimming clubs that have to raffle off and collect donations themselves."

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Luke Greenbank, Cockermouth SC: Courtesy Photo: Sean Balmer

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Luke Greenbank, Cockermouth SC: Courtesy Photo: Sean Balmer

Greenbank – who won bronze over the 200m back – talked about the financial problems clubs and institutions were facing and how he hoped the Olympic success would attract more people to swim.

His swimming journey began under the former coach Sean Balmer In the Cockermouth Club – more here.

He said:

“I spoke to my old trainer and he said after the first lockdown that there were a few swimmers who had difficulty coming back, maybe lost support.

“They had to raise funds to open, so it was obviously an extremely difficult time for many clubs across the country.

“It is so difficult for our sport that leisure centers are closed and have difficulties being financially viable.

“The team is full of positive role models, it's great for kids to look up to.

"I very much hope that this will have the opposite effect of the pandemic, that it will attract new people and involve them for swimming."

Nickerson warns of health inequalities

Swim England would like a portion of the £ 1 billion funding to be used to allow municipalities to apply for grants to complete design and feasibility studies, the cost of which may currently be an obstacle to pool construction.

It also urges local authorities suffering from water shortages to include the provision of new pools in any application they make to the government's Leveling Up Fund, which is committed to investing in local infrastructure and promoting regeneration.

The report highlights that nearly a quarter of local authorities (23 percent) in England have a deficit of at least one average-sized swimming pool.

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Photo courtesy: Jane Nickerson Twitter

Managing Director Jane Nickerson called:

“Swimming pools are of course essential for the future of all our water sports, if we want to promote the next Adam Peaty, Tom Daley, Anna Hopkin or Maisie Summers-Newton.

“But they are so much more.

“Pools are hubs of the local community that help people of all ages live healthier, happier lives and save the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds each year.

“They are also the places where millions learn a skill that could one day save their lives – or someone else's.

“It is particularly timely that we are debating this because today is National Fitness Day, which celebrates the important role recreational centers and gyms play and the positive impact they have on so many lives.

“It reminds us that it is more important than ever to make sure we have the facilities we need so that people can continue to have fun in the future.

“Without adequate investment in the new swimming pools this country needs, we predict by the end of the decade a huge decline in available water space that threatens the future of our sport, excludes millions from the activities they love and increases health inequalities . ".

"The time to act is now."

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