Paralympic gold medallist and Olympic coaches support campaign to reopen home of Deepings Swimming Club as South Kesteven District Council announce plans permanently close leisure centre
A swimming club's campaign to reopen its home pool has gained Olympic support.
A two-time Paralympic gold medallist and two Olympic coaches have given their support to Deepings Swimming Club as it fights for the future of its home pool at Deepings Leisure Centre.
South Kesteven District Council released a statement last week revealing plans to permanently shut the centre, citing the need for “significant repair and remedial work” which would cost £1.2m.
The leisure centre has been at the heart of the Deepings community since opening in 1974 and has been the home of Deepings Swimming Club for the past 45 years.
Former swimmers and coaches have expressed their concern at the council’s decision, which will be discussed at an emergency cabinet meeting on August 17.
Mark Perry, national distance and open water coach for Swimming Canada, started his coaching career at Deepings Swimming Club.
He said: “Leaving the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Village, I am completely in shock to discover that Deepings Leisure Centre is closing with no plan for a replacement.
“Deepings Swimming Club has not only been instrumental in my own coaching career, which has encompassed five Olympic Games, but has developed thousands of young people - not only teaching them an essential life skill, but also providing them with the tools to succeed in life.”
David Hemmings, National Centre Coach in Loughborough for British Swimming and coach of Olympians Molly Renshaw, Joe Litchfield, James Wilby and Abbie Wood, added: “Off the back of our best Olympics in swimming, now is the time to encourage development, not loseit. I really pray South Kesteven can save this pool.”
More messages of support came from former Deepings swimmer and double Paralympic Gold medallist Rob Welbourn.
“I am horrified to learn of the prospect of the permanent closure of Deepings Leisure Centre which has the potential for a devastating impact on Deepings Swimming Club.
"There was a time when my whole life revolved around the club, much as I expect it does for lots of youngsters as well as adults today,” he said.
“The training and competing regime instils discipline, improves confidence, encourages team spirit and healthy competition."
Rob added: “The building blocks which brought me so much success were cemented in place at Deepings Swimming Club. I know those who currently swim there have aims and ambitions just like I did, and they dream big dreams just like I did.
"Please don’t take those dreams from them.”
Deepings Swimming Club has more than 100 members, aged from eight to eighty, and has enjoyed substantial success over its 45-year history, producing a string of national and international swimmers.
Most recently, two swimmers, Alex Wray and Isabel Spiney, represented Great Britain at the European Junior Championships.
In addition to the swimming club, the leisure centre is also home to Leisure SK’s second largest swim school, which teaches around 600 youngsters.
The swimming club’s Facebook and Twitter posts have been inundated with support from the swimming community, including retweets from Olympic medallist and presenter Sharron Davies MBE, Northampton Swimming Club director of Swimming Andy Sharp and Lincolnshire ASA, plus messages from a host of local and regional swimming
Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson MBE, referring to the tweets, said the threat of pool closure, which is affecting many clubs nationwide, is an issue she will look into.
Deepings Swimming Club chairman Andy Cardell expressed disappointment with the council’s announcement but vowed that the swimming club would do all it could to overturn the decision and save not only the home of Deepings Swimming Club but also an essential focal point for the wider community.
“The swimming club has played a central role in the lives of hundreds of children and adults over its 45-year history and continues to be at the heart of the local community,” he said.
“At a time when British Swimming has just enjoyed its most successful ever Olympics, clubs like Deepings are providing the foundations for the next generation of swimmers.
“Swimming is an amazing sport that helps children to develop, gives them skills they can use throughout their adult lives and improves their mental health and wellbeing.
"This is particularly important as we emerge from three covid lockdowns.
“The club survived during Covid thanks to the support of its members, parents and the committee. It is essential that we now keep Deepings Leisure Centre open to protect the future of our beloved swimming club.”
With members due to return to training from August 16, the swimming club committee is in talks with other pool operators as a short-term solution with a view to seeking a new permanent home if South Kesteven District Council does not reverse its decision.