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


Supplementary memorandum submitted by Amateur Swimming Association

  1.  Much was made of the need for a strategic approach in evidence. The Committee would appreciate sight of the ASA's national strategy for the development of the sport as agreed with Sport England.

  2.  Is the current structure of the ASA capable of supporting a nationwide swimming strategy?

  3.  Sport England state in their memorandum that there is "limited need for additional swimming pools in England, based on participation levels" does the ASA agree with this? What is the ASA doing to raise participation levels, and to publicise the benefits of swimming as a sport and as healthy exercise? Is it the case as discussed by Duncan Goodhew, that there is a chicken and egg situation, that greater participation would follow an improvement of the current facilities?

  4.  The DCMS state in their memorandum that "it is for local authorities to ensure that spatial development plans and local sports development policies reflect the importance of swimming and set aside sufficient investment to improve or, if necessary, to replace existing facilities". Do the ASA think that local authorities will be able to cope with the estimated £10 billion bill necessary to update England's facilities, without dedicated central government funding or more Lottery provision?

  5.  How successfully does the Learn to Swim programme function outside swimming clubs?

  6.  How does the ASA mediate between local clubs who have to fight over water space at one pool?

  Many thanks for all the hard work which you and your colleagues put into the organisation and the help which you provided to me and my colleagues at our first attendance at a Select Committee meeting.

  The ASA welcomed the opportunity to meet with the Select Committee, we were impressed by the interest and support which the Committee members showed in the sport of swimming and we hope our comments were helpful.

  To assist the Committee I enclose the following information:

  1.  A copy of the British Swimming and ASA Business Plans [not printed] which you will see are four year rolling business plans, reviewed annually and re-cast annually where you will see that there is a strategic approach to our work with appropriate objectives and performance indicators. I will send under separate cover a draft copy of our facility strategy which is currently being printed by Sport England.

  2.  The ASA structure is capable of delivering the current business plan. However our ability to deliver a strong swimming strategy would be enhanced with more development officers on the ground. We currently employ nine Regional Development Officers—one for each government region. This compares with 75 development officers in rugby and around 50 in tennis. Given the size of swimming and its popularity we would wish to have development officers in every county in the country working through a network of professional coaches.

  We have established that with 35 development officers and around 60 professional coaches we really could make a significant difference.

  3.  We believe that there is still a case to provide additional swimming pools in England. Experience has shown that when a new facility is provided that the customers utilising the facility has exceeded expectations. We would share the concerns which others expressed at the Select Committee meeting on the accuracy of the facility plan model currently used by Sport England to predict demand. We would provide as an example the new pool in Manchester for the Commonwealth Games where attendance in the first year has been 750,000 whilst six miles away an established 50 metre pool at Stockport continues to have an attendance of 500,000, clearly demonstrating that there is patent demand for swimming within the community which has articulated by a number of witnesses to the Select Committee.

  The ASA recognises its role in raising participation levels and we are beginning to work on a new project—SwimFit—in conjunction with the ISRM to encourage fitness swimming for the adult population. Our equity programme is also targeted at encouraging those socially excluded and not traditional swimmers into swimming. As a sport we are also working through local authorities to develop swimming strategies which market swimming to the community as healthy exercise.

  4.  The ASA continues to believe that local authorities and local education authorities need to develop strategic plans for sport within which there is a strategic swimming plan. We believe that by adopting this approach facility requirements for the future will be identified. The ASA's view is that to bring English swimming facilities up-to-date will require an investment of £2 billion. Broadly we believe that this investment can be delivered by local authorities. There is however a role for facilities particularly to service schools in order to deliver schools swimming, where clusters of schools exist such facilities could also compliment community provision. There is an increasing opportunity also for universities to make provision and again compliment the community provision.

  A further point which we would make is that there is a desperate need for a strategic approach within London where the very nature of local government is holding back the provision of sports facilities and in particular 50 metre pools and community swimming pools.

  5.  The Learn to Swim programme is essentially driven through the schools swimming programme however, as the Ofsted Report has already remarked, whilst that is delivering some good opportunities it does not serve those in the community who can be described as socially excluded. This is an issue which we are working on with the DfES. In addition many local authorities are delivering a learn to swim programme for their communities, and many follow our National Plan for Teaching Swimming, a copy of which will be sent to you under separate cover. To ensure that the quality of teaching is appropriate, the ASA trains 12,000 swimming teachers every year.

  6.  The ASA has adopted a club development programme entitled Swim 21 which is essentially a planning process which helps local clubs to identify their role within the swimming community. This process encourages clubs to engage in working together in partnership and has been widely accepted within the sport and helps clubs to work with local authorities, schools and pool operators in maintaining their activities and largely overcomes the problems we experienced previously of local turf wars over pool time. I will send details of the Swim 21 programme under separate cover.

6 December 2001

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