Swimming chief estimate that 75% of councils face a swimming pool shortage by 2030 – with almost one in three children already leaving primary school unable to swim a length
Olympic champion Becky Adlington has blasted “devastating” swimming pool closures as cash-strapped town halls struggle at the deep end.
Almost two public pools shut down every month last year with councils battling 14 years of Tory cuts. Record-breaker Becky, 34, said: “The rate of pool closures over the past few years has been devastating.
“Swimming is a vital life skill and our pools a hub for the entire community. They are used by everyone – from babies and toddlers all the way up to adults in their 90s. Swimming is fundamental to people’s physical and mental health.”
Swimming chief estimate that 75% of councils face a swimming pool shortage by 2030 – with almost one in three children already leaving primary school unable to swim a length. Figures show 278 local authority pools have closed since 2015. While 245 have opened in that time, council are increasing outsourcing their operation to private firms, often making them more expensive to access.
Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies, 61, said: “Many councils closed pools during Covid and did not maintain them – then they said they were too expensive to open. Sadly, this is often happening in areas of deprivation where pools are most needed as an affordable physical activity.”
In Buntingford, Herts, council bosses shut down its local pool in December after admitting vital repairs were unaffordable. It means locals face a 20-mile round trip to the nearest pool.
Chris Saynor, 48, whose four children, 12 to 18, were regulars at Ward Freman Pool, said: “All of the 2,000 kids in the town have had their school swimming lessons cancelled. The nearest alternative pool is 10 miles away, and there are only a few buses each day.”
Swim England estimates more than 1,000 pools – including commercial offerings – have closed since 2010. More than 1,500 are over 40 years of age. Spokesman Fraser Nicholson said: “It’s vital that everyone who wants to feel the undoubted benefits of swimming should have access to a pool. But that can only happen if there is leadership and investment from the government, councils, health and leisure partners.”
Tory sports minister Stuart Andrew said a £60 million support package was in place. He said: “The Government is clear on the importance of ensuring public access to swimming pools, as swimming is a great way for people of all ages to stay fit and healthy.”