A senior Staffordshire swimming coach has written an open letter to councillors warning it would be a “major travesty” if a Lichfield swimming pool was to close.
The facility at the Friary Grange Leisure Centre is under threat after Lichfield District Council put forward plans to close the site.
It follows notice being served by Staffordshire County Council to hand profit-making elements of the centre over to The Friary School in order to support its bid to become an academy.
But the move would mean elements which are subsidised by these parts of the centre would no longer be viable, Lichfield District Council has claimed.
Dear Councillor Pullen,
It has been brought to my attention that the Friary Grange pool in Lichfield has been signposted to close. This is of great significance to me as there are a number of swimmers registered to Lichfield Swimming Club that are currently showing potential to thrive in the swimming world.
To take a pool, of which 90% of their training is undertaken away from these athletes at such an important stage of their swimming development defies all logic.
The closest pool that they could possibly relocate to is at Burntwood, which is already the home to another swimming club.
Pool availability and lane hire is like gold dust in the current climate. It is hard to imagine a swimming club being able to sustain themselves without having a concrete and accommodating ‘home’.
In my position, as head coach of Staffordshire ASA, I am continuously on the lookout for the next generational talents within Staffordshire and enabling them, along with their home clubs, to have success in their desired sport.
As a county we already have some fantastic swimmers to be proud of, most recently having a swimmer compete in Kazan for the European Junior Championships.
This achievement would not be possible if these swimmers weren’t able to have access to a pool to hone their skills.The open letter from John Davey, Staffordshire ASA head coach, to Cllr Doug Pullen
To deprive the next generation to undertake their hobby in their local area is a major travesty.
Mr Davey’s comments follow those of Lichfield Swimming Club’s chair, who described the closure proposals as “depressing”.
Rachel Bentley told a public meeting over the plans: “Currently we have two national qualifiers for the first time ever and they train at The Friary. Without the centre they will have to travel to train and lose friends who they train with.
“It also affects learning to swim which saves lives and is something we’ve heard tragically about last week.
“It’s all very depressing really.”