Memorandum submitted by Sue Hudson
I would be most grateful if you could pass my
comments to the members of the Committee examining the Sport of
Swimming on Tuesday 4 December 2001.
Swimming is, to my mind, the Cinderella sport.
It has never had the same type of media status that team sports
such as football or rugby achieve, yet more people swim on a regular
basis than take part in such team sports.
As a result, local pools are constantly under
threat and every year their number diminishes.
Occasionally stories of these closures are carried
in local papers, very rarely in national papers, yet the situation
in Britain at the moment is clearly a national disgrace and one
that needs to be attended to immediately if things are not to
get to the stage where they can no longer be repaired.
Swimming is something that almost anyone can
do and benefit byall that is required is a pool and a swim
suit. However, as Sky sports or the BBC are not fighting to get
broadcast rightsas pages of newspapers are not devoted
to itit seems OK to let this vital part of our national
heritage and our national future just rot.
What do swimmers have to do to get the attention
of the government and the media? Would anyone notice if we decided
to go on strike? No, of course notbut my point is that
the importance of swimming to national life is to my mind as great
as that of any other high profile sportbut it is not regarded
in that way and it does not get the investment that it deserves
We have all been brainwashed into thinking that
everything has to be financially viable but there are some things
whose value you cannot measure in simple financial termsthat
is too short term and limited. Swimming pools do not make money,
no matter how popular they are but this is not a good enough reason
to let them be bulldozed to the ground or to weaken in commitment
We also as a nation seem to have grown to accept
dry measurements of sports facilities requirementthere
is talk about how many square metres of water are available per
thousand population. This is done and accepted by governments
with no reference to other factors such as proximity to the population,
size of the pool or opening hours. For real evaluation of facilities
all factors need to be looked at.
I hope that the look at swimming by the government
committee will mark a new beginning for this hugely popular activity.
Swimmers need the support of the government to ensure that facilities
remain available to the general public. What a sad world it would
be for all of us if we could no longer have our children go off
on their bikes with their friends to use the local poolor
worse still find that they are no longer taught how to swim because
of lack of public facilities.
At a time when everyone seems to be worrying
about the overall health of the nation, the government could do
much by ensuring that swimming facilities remain local and public.
I strongly ask you to make this commitment.
3 December 2001