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


Memorandum submitted by Mr Nicholas Titley

  It was bought to my attention via a meeting of the Beds. ASA that you were asking for evidence for discussion. I understand that the Beds. ASA are submitting a response for you but I would like to put some of my views forward as evidence.

  Excuse my following ramblings but I do believe they do contain important points.

  The following views are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of the two swimming organisations I am directly involved in, namely Biggleswade Swimming Club as a committee member and Mid Beds. Swim Squad as secretary.

  Firstly the set up of Mid Beds. Swimming has been done along ideals set up as a pyramid system which was a vision followed through and supported by the Mid Beds. District Council who did have a good foresight in what was required.

  The basis of operation of our system is:

    Swims schools operate from two pools with 33 miles between them, the pools swim schools teaching and feeding level 10-12 ASA children up to the two Clubs at the two sites, then the talented swimmers through to the Squad, Squad set up to train the elite swimmers using water time at both pools.



  The local area is a rural area with small market towns and outlying villages where it draws in club members from a large area.

  Most club members are transported by parents due to other transport not being available and not at suitable times.

  The area is well served by road systems with both locations Flitwick & Biggleswade being close to the A1 or M1 which also encourages people to travel to get to our facilities. The area however is not ideally served well by train or bus for training times but is served well for events and competitions.


  A definite lack of pools is apparent within the area and around the UK outside major cities, with the water time being precious at all pools suitable for competitive training, mainly due to all users wanting the use of the pool at the same peak times.

  The peak times being before and after school, and early evening.

  The amount of water space is consequently restricted due to the lack of peak time water available and the amount of people wishing to use the facilities at these times namely:

    —  Swim schools operated by the pool contractors.

    —  Flitwick/Biggleswade Swimming Clubs for swimmers entering competitive swimming.

    —  Mid Beds. Squad set up to serve the elite swimmers from the pyramid system.

    —  Private swimming lessons.

  Public swimming including family swimming, lane swimming, keep fit, swim in retirement, adults only, ladies only, disabled swimming.

  All these activities have to be fitted into the pool timetables and it can been seen very easily that it's like fitting a gallon in a pint pot! with the limited facilities.

  The lack of pools in this local area is reflected in most areas with many of the same issues.

  If we look in general at pools, the pools are mainly 25 metres or less, very few 50 metre pools exist or are encouraged, Paris France has more 50 metre pools than all of the UK and this is more the norm in most other countries of the world.

  50 metre pools with booms to make the pools into two 25 metre sections should always be built as a standard, not a 25 metre, this singular change in attitude to pool construction would help swimming tremendously in many areas.

Advantages with the boom splitting pool into 25 metre pools

  Both public and swim teaching can co-exist but away from each other.

  Activities can be split into controlled areas.

  Areas when split are easier to control safely, with each having its own regime dependent on its usage.

  Competitive swimming can take advantage of segregated water.

Key text below this rule.

  Advantages with the pool used as one 50 metre pool:

  The opportunity on a regular basis for competitive swimmers to train in conditions that others around the world except as standard.

    —  The ability to hold more major events, bringing more business to the area.

    —  The ability for more UK swimmers to reach the standard required to take on the rest of the world at Commonwealth and Olympic level.

    —  The pools that do exist do need regular injections of money to ensure facilities are maintained and improved, a well facilitated and maintained pool will hold or improve its financial position.

  The better pools are often maintained by trusts or private operators.

  Council pools operated by contractors are often used in such a way that the most financial benefit is taken on a limited contract period with no re-investment, leaving the pool in poor condition requiring a higher injection of money to bring the pools back to top standard and becoming a burden on the tax payer.

  Often plans for new facilities especially 50 metre pools are not supported even if they are privately funded, obstacles are placed in their way by the very people within the governing bodies that should be encouraging as many facilities as possible.


  The sport has its own governing body the ASA, this does co-exist with others such as Sport England, East Sport, ISTC, etc.

  All the bodies do strive to improve the status of swimming at all levels and the facilities. All are effecting good changes to swimming. But all fail sometimes to stand back and take an overview, talk to each other and therefore miss certain points.

  Decisions are made on historic figures of population and not population expectation for years ahead, thus under facilitating in many cases.

  Over concentrating on specific core group requirements without facilitating for a true pyramid to feed through to the specific core groups (without good foundations the top cannot be built).

  The realisation that all swimmers do like the sport at different levels, those competitive swimmers don't all aspire to reach the highest level, but still need to be encouraged to maintain a sport.

  It's a fact that many swimmers who regularly swim at club level suddenly blossom and will move up to a higher level when they suddenly realise their own potential.

  Communication breakdowns occur, with papers being produced without gaining the input from a wider forum (our Beds. ASA does seem to be a cut above most in this area).

  Area initiatives are not followed through and amended with ongoing improvement added and corrections to actual findings when using the scheme, rather they are scrapped and new ones written with little improvement over previous versions.

  Slogans like "Sport for all" are not followed and actually when the literature is studied it's "sport for the core few".

  Please let's all remember 99 per cent of clubs, squads in the country remember that they exist for the swimmers and giving the swimmers the means to reach their own individual potential which ever that potential is. They also do strive to give those talented few the extra facilities they need to get to the top.

  Never forget that the talented few can only get larger if the systems and facilities are available and in place for more to try, experience and realise what they can achieve!

  Secondly most of the swimming clubs in the UK are run by dedicated volunteers, and funded by the swimmers to get water time.

  Compared with the rest of the world were they are subsidised at many levels, along with many more funded sports colleges that run programmes.

  The population of the UK always comment that we do not achieve the same as the rest of the world, but again should be the question be asked where's the roots?

28 November 2001

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