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


Memorandum submitted by Amateur Swimming Association Midland District


  Requirement for competition pools has changed over the years due to metrication, the need for modern services, equipment and facilities. Because of this many competition pools have been relegated to training facilities and local inter-club friendly galas. These older facilities tend to have high operating costs due to the low levels of energy efficiency and high maintenance costs and are subject to frequent breakdowns with their ageing operating plant.

  Whilst listed buildings have their historic beauty their suitability for function and purpose decays over time. This is unfortunate but sadly the case. A typical example is Coventry pool, which has the only ten metre diving platform in the Midland's area and this is now neither suitable nor available for training or competitions.


  Swimming must be one of the most essential activities required by our Children. Many are taught to swim to the level defined by the national curriculum, sadly these are the swimmers who tend to get into difficulty. It is essential we have the facilities in place to extend our swimmers skills and endurance capability. To this end swimmers need to swim more often under supervision in a quality controlled environment. This can be achieved in a Swim 21 accredited swimming club or local authority teaching the ASA's National teaching Plan to level ten.

  There are now almost 1,400 public swimming and leisure pools in England. In addition there are approximately 1,600 indoor heated school pools. This provides a reasonable level of swimming provision across the country. But the demand for swimming is expressed in a range of facility requirements which cannot always be satisfied in a single pool.

  In terms of development many clubs struggle to obtain adequate access to pools for training and competition which frustrates the progress of promising club swimmers towards regional and national standards throughout the range of swimming sports (Synchronised swimming, Water Polo, Sprint & Distance Swimming and Diving). Whilst there is a reasonable spread of 25 metre pools or their equivalent many do not have the necessary equipment in place to allow the staging of competitions.

  The financial pressures on providers, particularly in relation to revenue costs, are such that there is often an emphasis towards providing those swimming activities which generate the most income usually at the expense of diving, synchronised swimming, water polo and the development of swimming excellence, which are a relatively low priority for the provider. Club development is often stifled because of the needs of accommodating all sections of the community in one pool. This often results in clubs being given the "8-10pm" slot which is not acceptable for young children, especially on school nights.

  When you look at Lottery funding support for new sporting facilities swimming tends to be bottom of the pile. This is a concern as we are losing pools or their facilities faster than they are being replaced. Often due to:

    —  Pool closures due to high operating costs.

    —  Swimming Pools removing diving facilities or banning diving.

    —  Swimming Pools decaying beyond economic repair.

    —  High costs are excluding the less affluent element of our society.

    —  Deep pools being filled in to two metres to reduce operating costs.

  Diving has been very much neglected in recent years with many of the pools with diving facilities under threat. The teaching of basic diving skills requires a raised pool end and for further progression the provision of one and three metre springboards is required. Few existing pools have springboards and many new pools are being built "deck level" which limits the opportunities for the teaching of diving. In addition, many providers are reducing and or removing diving activities from their programmes. Often this is done for financial or health and safety reasons. To enable more flexible programming in dedicated diving facilities moveable floors are being installed to provide for shallow water teaching and other purposes resulting in the loss of some or all of the use of diving boards. Provision of trampolines and dryboards to allow clubs to provide proper coaching is often lacking.

  Water polo and synchronized swimming both suffer from the lack of a reasonable network of deep-water pools. They also, due to high cost and demand find it difficult to obtain sufficient time within pools to train and stage competitions.

  Swimming is an activity which can greatly contribute to the quality of life and this is especially so for those disabled users in the community. The majority of pools are less than adequate in meeting their needs and refurbished pools, because of the basic design often leave something to be desired.


  Policies need prioritising at National Government level to provide a Competitive Swimming Infrastructure to drive swimmer and swimming development throughout the Midlands region which urgently needs:

    —  A modern 50 metre regional competition pool in Birmingham or Coventry.

    —  A regional synchronised swimming facility in Leicester.

    —  A regional 10 metre high performance diving facility in Norwich or Ipswich.

    —  Diving dry board and trampolines for high performance diving in Luton.

  In addition to this ten of our countries and metropolitan boroughs require:

    —  Eight lane 25 metre competition facilities for county and regional championships.

  Synchronised diving is now an established discipline within diving at world level on both springboard and platform. At present no pool has been built to provide for synchronised diving training as part of a diving programme.

  There are insufficient 50 metre training pools for developing excellence into our "International Performance" swimmers.

  All these facilities need to be built to the standards defined by the Amateur Swimming Association to ensure their suitability for purpose.

  Reduction in pool charges for ASA Swim 21 Accredited Swimming Clubs is a necessity.


  ASA M&D region has 325 affiliated swimming clubs with approximately 61,000 members across 24 County and Unitary authorities. In 1995 we had in excess of 73,000 members.

  We are involved in the development of youngsters throughout the whole range of swimming activities Learn-to-swim, swimming skills development (ie. survival, aquafit, water polo, synchronised swimming, diving etc) for able and disabled swimmers by volunteers through our affiliated swimming clubs. These affiliated clubs provide seriously needed individual development opportunities for our youngsters as well as providing each and every swimmer with the opportunity to develop as sportsmen and sportswomen in their chosen swimming activity to the extent of their individual ability. This is recognised through competitions and galas to provide for skills at local, County, District, National, International and Olympic standards.

  How often do we read in the local and national medias that today's children are unfit, overweight and lack discipline.

  Over recent years the ASA M&D has made significant improvements in Swimming by:

    —  Introducing improved Teacher and Coach qualifications.

    —  The National Teaching Plan for swimming.

    —  The ASA Awards scheme.

    —  A nationally recognised Swim 21 standard for all levels of Swimming Club.

    —  Implementing the Competitive Development Continuum.

    —  Enabling the Active Sport regional "Player Pathways" for our young swimmers.

    —  The highly recommended child protection policy.

  These requirements for swimming pool facilities in the Midlands region along with the current ASA M&D swimming development activities will enable the thousands of swimming club volunteers within the Midlands region to "Kick Start" swimming as a sport and provide a means by which we can develop our young citizens with a quality of life via our quality swimming club environments.

  Should your committee require further information or additional support data please contact us direct.

28 November 2001

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