Fears over the future of swimming lessons

Members of Doncaster Swimming Club.
Members of Doncaster Swimming Club.

THE future of swimming clubs that have taught generations of Doncaster children to swim are uncertain after plans were unveiled for a council take-over.

A new strategy outlines proposals for Doncaster Culture and Leisure Trust to take over responsibility for running lessons in council-owned pools.

Clubs that would be affected include Armthorpe, Adwick, Rossington and Edlington, where thousands of kids have learned to swim and which have been run by volunteers for more than 40 years.

Plans are currently in the consultation process.

Clive Greenhalgh, vice chairman of DMASA - that provides a framework and support for swimming clubs - said: “We think its vitally important all children learn the basics of swimming, but with this we have a real fear parents will be left with only one option- an option which the supplier will have complete control over pricing and availability.

“If that happens, I’m sure many of them will be put off and may even choose not to send their children swimming.

“From a purely financial point of view we believe that this will be a death knell for most of the ASA clubs in the Doncaster area, with only perhaps the three largest surviving- and that only for a while.”

Jon Whiteley. Head of Leisure at DCLT, said the strategy would see DCLT managing the early stages of teaching and the clubs teaching more advanced stages.

He added: “We are currently in consultation with the swimming clubs which operate out of DCLT venues in a bid to provide a more cohesive structured platform for people learning to swim in the Doncaster area.In the 20 months since DCLT was formed we have significantly increased the number of young people learning to swim from across the borough.

“A number of swimming clubs have been supportive of these suggested changes which would mean that they will have access to a large base of swimmers to introduce to their club. We are aware that there are some clubs who are unhappy and we are in the process of meeting with each club to see how we can best meet their needs. As the plans, that could be imposed by April, are currently still in the consultation period no prices or fees have yet been set.”