Clubs “Absolutely Thrilled” With News Ponds Forge Will Reopen In Second Week Of October

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Ponds Forge: Photo Courtesy: British Swimming

Ponds Forge – where Olympians train alongside learn-to-swim programmes – will reopen in the second week of October.

It is a sizeable turnaround since it was announced less than six weeks ago the venue would remain closed indefinitely leading to a vocal response led by double Olympic champion Becky Adlington.

Now Sheffield City Council’s cabinet has agreed to provide funding of up to £1.6million to Sheffield City Trust which runs the venue in the northern city.

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Sheffield’s Ponds Forge – Photo Courtesy: Josh Dobson

A report presented to the council anticipates that although a final date cannot yet be confirmed because further detailed work needs to be done, the venue will open to the public for the first time since March in the coming weeks.

The news has been welcomed by City of Sheffield Swimming Club with whom the likes of double European IM medallist Max Litchfield and four-time Commonwealth medallist Ellie Faulkner once trained.

So too the diving club which has placed at least one representative on the Great Britain Olympic team since 1984 including Leon Taylor who won silver alongside Pete Waterfield in the 10m synchro at Athens 2004.

The City of Sheffield club said on social media: “We are absolutely thrilled that in today’s cabinet meeting @sheffieldcitycouncil voted unanimously to provide the full funding to open Ponds Forge Sports Centre for both the public and clubs Splashing sweat symbol

THANK YOU To everyone that has supported us 

Folded hands

#savepondsforge”

 

Diving manager Nikki Smith described the venue as a ‘second home’ to the athletes and coaches of all the clubs – diving, swimming and water polo – based there.

She said:

 “It’s going to be amazing, I think I’ll probably cry.

“It means everything, we’re absolutely thrilled. Hopefully, this is going to mean that all our members can start training properly again whether it’s just for fun or whether they’re on a programme.

“I’m not even sure words can explain it to be honest, they’ve (the athletes) missed it so much.

“They’re used to training up to eight times a week, before school, after school. It feels like a huge part of their life has been missing.”

The venue was built to host the World Student Games in 1991 and since then has staged the 1993 European Championships where 15-year-old Franziska van Almsick won seven medals – six of them gold – and Kristina Egerszegi mesmerised en-route to four titles, all in individual events.

It was home to the continental short-course showpiece five years later and since then has played host to countless Olympic and world trials while the clubs have produced 21 Olympians.

Jo Jackson set the 400 free world record in 2009, a year after Liam Tancock became the quickest man over 50m back.

Liam Tancock: Photo Courtesy: O Sports

However, it is not solely about the elite and competition.

Hundreds of jobs were at risk and it is unclear what impact the pandemic will have had in terms of livelihoods.

Youngsters enjoy the waves and slide in the leisure pool where they learn to love and feel confident in the water; learn-to-swim programmes for all ages provide a life skill and renewed confidence and community for older people who may never have been able to swim or who have overcome the memories of a bad experience in or near the water.

The sports hall can be configured to host a range of events from banqueting through exam hall to boxing where the likes of ‘Prince’ Naseem Hamed, Clinton Woods and Kell Brook practiced the sweet science. So too were the Sheffield Sharks basketball team once based there.


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