Doncaster's first new swimming pool in a generation is up and running

As a youngster, Sara Pegden loved to swim.

Thursday, 17th May 2018, 12:04 pm
Go SwimStars Managing Directors Sara Pegden and Sue Fynney, pictured with Emma Bartlett, Swim Stars Senior Manager by the new Swimming pool at Marrtree Business Park, in Wheatley. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP Go SwimStars MC 2

After learning the skill at Rossington Leisure Centre, she started to take it pretty seriously, and went on to represent Yorkshire as a teenager.

Her proud mum Sue Fynney was keen to support her talented daughter, and was a regular at the side of the pool as she trained or took part in competitions.

Go SwimStars Managing Directors Sara Pegden and Sue Fynney, pictured with Emma Bartlett, Swim Stars Senior Manager by the new Swimming pool at Marrtree Business Park, in Wheatley. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP Go SwimStars MC 2

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Sue was so keen, that she got involved in the clubs, and realising she was good at helping, she went on to train as a swimming teacher.

Then, 18 years ago, she set up her own swimming school, Swimstars and Dolphins.

Now, mum and daughter are going into business with a new venture, which will see them teaching hundreds of children a week at a new, purpose built pool on a Doncaster industrial estate.

This month, they opened the first of what they hope will be a chain of self-contained swimming pools, providing lessons for youngsters.

The pool opened on an industrial estate on Silk Road, Wheatley, on Monday, April 23, a couple of weeks later than planned.

The opening followed an initial battle for planning permission. After council officers originally recommended it was refused, it was given permission after councillors agreed that an industrial estate would be a suitable place for the project.

Sara, director of the business behind the pools, Go Swimstars, believes they have a unique plan.

They are providing swimming lessons in their own 14m swimming pool. With the Wheatley pool already up and running, they are now looking at opening two more in the next year, subject to agreements on land, and subject to obtaining planning permission.

A site is already earmarked in Bawtry. One of the partners in the business, Jason Cooper, owns a site in Bawtry known as the Old Bottling Plant. They hope to re-develop that as one of their pools if they can get planning permission.

Another site is planned for Sheffield, and Go Swimstars are currently looking for a suitable site.

They are hopeful of having the Bawtry site running within 12 months. With the Sheffield site, they hope to have it running in the next six months.

Sara said: "We wanted to grow the business. We have the demand, and we think we have a model that we can replicate, and hopefully get more children swimming.

The original plan for the Wheatley site was to have it up and running by Easter. But it was delayed after some of the plant equipment that they need to use was late. But the filter equipment that they were waiting for is now in place.

The heating is switched on, and Sara and her four year old daughter - another keen swimmer in the family - tried the pool out.

The pools are accessed by group bookings. At weekends and evenings, they are used for private swimming lessons. During the week in school term time, school groups use to pool for lessons. Fitted in among these will be private parties.

So far, 35 schools have signed up for lessons at the site.

The first school to use it after opening was Kingfisher Primary School in Wheatley.

In all, around 700 youngsters a week will use the facility, which is described as operating to capacity without overloading the pool. The plan for Bawtry would see around 1,000 using it a week.

The schools were given a sneak preview of the facilitates the week before it opened at an open day.

Their pupils will receive a package which will see the swimming pool staff drive them by bus from their school to the door of the swimming baths..

"We think this is a first," said Sara. "We have been established for quite a while delivering swimming lessons, but have had to hire facilities to do that in the past, and you can't always do that during the day. School pools, for instance, are often being used by the schools.

"We have our own teachers, and we will be looking for new staff for the project, but we don't know how many yet."

Bev Lockwood, headteacher at Kirkby Avenue Primary School, in Bentley, has signed her school up for lessons at the new pool.

She attended the open day ahead of the official opening.

She said the benefits for her school were that the school would not have to provide as many staff as they had for previous lessons, because the swimming school would have its staff there.

"We will save on staff costs," she said.

Another of the schools set to use the new facility is Woodfield Primary School, in Balby.

Headteacher Helen Harrison also attended the open day ahead of the launch.

"We're signed up and out first lesson is on Thursday," she said. "We have worked with Swimstars in the past, when they have been giving lessons at Hall Cross.

"One of the advantages from a school's point of view, is that the arrangement works well from a safeguarding point of view, because the pool is being used by your school, and your school only."