Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by British Swimming


  There are many and varied systems of operations at play in Great Britain in terms of competition swimming clubs conducting and offering swimming instruction, tuition and coaching to the general community.

  However, the most common practise for competition swimming clubs to operate is to do so through the Local Authority. It is apparent that competitive swimming clubs are operating with limited pool space and at inappropriate times to avoid conflict with other paying customers.

  These are some of the problems that exist under this type of operation.

    1.  Extremely limited space (both at time of day offered and length of time) to competitive swimming.

    2.  Where the Local Authority do not employ the coach the pool space is often extremely expensive. Examples Reading/Lincoln.

    3.  Where the coach is employed by the Local Authority the coach is evaluated on performance of numbers attending en-masse classes with very questionable quality control.

    4.  Clubs are sometimes having to accept times to practise at 7pm-8pm and later at night. This is quite unacceptable to have young children practising at these times but clubs fear to complain due to losing these times.

    5.  Lanes are often crowded and clubs/coaches forced to utilise several facilities (ie Ealing Swim Club, Ferndown).

    6.  Some clubs, coaches, parents and swimmers are required to travel extremely long distances to gain 50m competition and training at weekends or late hours weekly.

  Whilst it is difficult to evaluate it would be a conservative estimate that competitive swimming (parents etc) in Great Britain would contribute annually an amount in excess of £5 million to the operation and use of pools in Great Britain in return for crowded lanes, poor quality controlled instruction and inappropriate times of operation.

  Coaches and clubs must be evaluated on results rather than poor quality controlled en-masse numbers in facilities that are too small (25m), outdated and over regulated. We must have performance/result dependant coaches along with result recognised coaches and programmes.

  I believe competition swimming clubs in Great Britain are disadvantaged as they do not have the opportunity to conduct learn to swim both from a quality controlled feeder system and a financially beneficial approach and clubs are then being charged excessive pool hire by Local Authorities. This deprives these clubs of independence, avoids performance based evaluations and is destructive in clubs not being able to offer systematic and improved service to the swimming and general community.

  The competitive swimmer and parent is greatly disadvantaged by the Local Authority controlled programme with its quality controlled/limited space operation and the alternative independent club programme which pays massively high prices for the privilege of conducting a full range competitive programme.

  Local Authorities in Great Britain generally offer expensive opportunities in antiquated short course facilities in either of the two systems outlined above.

  Coaches, swimmers, parents, clubs, officials and British Swimming have done an outstanding job in operating and developing swimming in a situation where they have been greatly disadvantaged as compared to the rest of the world.

  Local Authorities/Universities building pools utilising lottery money see it as their right to then expect British Swimming to afford them excessive amounts in pool hire to conduct run and operate the facility.

  Swim pools in Great Britain should:

    1.  Be updated with more all weather better designed 50m facilities.

    2.  Programmes, coaches and clubs should be result dependant (not judged by numbers achieving national qualifying times) as well as offering wide/full range development.

    3.  Where new lottery-assisted facilities are built British Swimming recognised Performance/Potential programmes should be offered free pre-nominated appropriate accessible training/practise space.

    4.  Recognised swim clubs should be offered appropriate space at a maximum of £5 per hour per lane.

    5.  Local Authorities, facilities and coaches/clubs must accept a new level of licensing and coaching accreditation based on performance results and recognition by both British Swimming and British Swim Coaches and Teachers Association.

    6.  Accept from British Swimming a blue print for future clubs or clubs of the future which will offer mutual benefits to Local Authorities, communities in general, competitive swimmers/parents and British Swimming at all levels. Stockport, Barnett and Ipswich whilst not ideal have the core ingredients to develop competition swimming.

  British Swimming cannot and will not be successful at the very top level without these changes. Facilities that are affordable, accessible, appropriate and available is the major limiting factor for British Swimming to move on with opportunity.


    —  Less than 10 per cent of Australia's.

    —  GB 10 per cent cost more to hire than Australia's 100 per cent.

    —  Must have long course competitions and training.

    —  Only country in the world which cannot conduct a full team camp due to lack of accessible facilities (regardless if we could not afford).

28 November 2001

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