Swim England CEO Nickerson In Plea For Government Funds For Public Pools

(Ryan Casey/CHSAANow.com)
Photo Courtesy: Ryan Casey/CHSAANow.com

Swim England CEO Jane Nickerson has pleaded with the Government to provide financial support to ensure swimming doesn’t become leisure’s ‘forgotten activity’ with 30% of public pools to remain closed until 2021.

Indoor pools across England are allowed to reopen from Saturday 25 July for the first time since 20 March, shortly before lockdown.

However, less than 20% of local authority-owned facilities will reopen tomorrow and many at reduced capacity.

Research also shows that 30% of public pools will stay closed into next year because of the costs of reopening to local councils, compounded by the loss of income during lockdown.

Swim England

Photo Courtesy: Swim England

One such pool that will be affected is Plymouth Life Centre, in the south-west of England, which hosted the 2020 British Diving Championships in January in a city that has honed the likes of former Olympic 100m breaststroke champion Ruta Meilutyte, 2017 world 50 fly champion Ben Proud and double Olympic medallist Tom Daley.

The Life Centre will not reopen until April 2021 following repair work.

Nickerson has reiterated her plea that swimming not be forgotten and underlined its benefits, both physical and mental.

She said:

“We’re obviously delighted that pools have finally been given the green light to reopen for the first time in more than four months.

“However, we face the real risk of swimming becoming a forgotten activity for so many people if public leisure centres open their gyms first and leave pools closed until next year.

“Before the lockdown, 4.7 million people a month were swimming regularly. It is such a unique activity in that it offers huge physical and mental health benefits – and helps save the NHS and social care system more than £357 million a year.

“It would be short-sighted not to provide the necessary financial support to help facilities blighted by the pandemic. The savings made to the NHS alone would quickly more than recover the initial outlay.

“We share the frustrations of our members and affiliated clubs who still find themselves unable to enjoy the activities they love so dearly and we will keep fighting on their behalf to get them back into their pools as soon as possible.”

Jane Nickerson

Photo Courtesy: Jane Nickerson Twitter

So too did Nickerson point to the income generated and saved by the pools, adding:

“A local pool has the power to generate £7.2million social value in community savings.

“We appreciate that finances across the country are stretched but it’s a no brainer not to invest in public leisure facilities.

“The #SaveLeisure campaign continues to have our backing and we urge the Government to provide the ring-fenced funding needed to help prevent significant market failure – which we know will hit less affluent areas hardest.

“Funding is also vital to help prevent facilities increasing the cost of going swimming.

“Water-based activity is loved by millions – and we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that remains the case and people have the necessary, affordable facilities to enjoy the water.”

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