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
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
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
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,
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
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
Key text below this rule.
Advantages with the pool used as one 50 metre
The opportunity on a regular basis for competitive
swimmers to train in conditions that others around the world except
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
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
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
The sport has its own governing body the ASA,
this does co-exist with others such as Sport England, East Sport,
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
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
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