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Austerity measures and budget cuts will see regular swimmers gradually excluded from Leicester City’s swimming pools.

Aylestone Swimming Baths 1949

Ayleston Swimming Baths

Andrew Beddow; head of Sports Services at Leicester City Council, has implemented a raft of measures that will have a lasting impact on the sport in Leicester.

Members of the public are invited to share their thoughts in a consultation process but in essence the future course for city swimmers has already been plotted.

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Leicester Bede House Bathing Station

From today the general public are excluded from Aylestone swimming baths between 4 and 6 pm; essentially to save money on lifeguards. This has until now been a popular time for swimming at the pool, but from today family’s will only be able to swim between 6 – 7 pm. If this fails to attract sufficient numbers then even this brief concession could be axed in the future. The 4 – 6 pm slot will be devoted to the learn to swim program said Mr Beddow (in a forty minute discussion), so that the Council can make more money from the pool, but as swimming lessons are currently under subscribed, the claim that excluding the general public will enrich the Council doesn’t hold water. A failure to ensure that all swimmers paid their dues (many family’s took a free swim whilst one of their children had lessons) has meant that on paper at least, the pool did not appear as popular as it in fact was.

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Pool to Close – Exciting Changes?

Several other pools in the city will be affected, with New Parks swimming pool being most likely the next victim of the cuts. As the lions share of new funding is being spent on gym equipment, the public may well be excluded from this pool altogether with school swimming lessons, Council run swimming lessons after school and swimming club sessions (with lifeguard cover provided available at an additional fee) early in the new year.

Although these developments are described as “exciting changes to our membership” (see above), what will be the effect on swimmers? Members could well be excluded from the pool!

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Leicester Leys Leisure Centre

Swimmers are being encouraged to swim at Braunstone pool (which is very busy already) or at Leicester Leys Leisure Center (fun pool) which is very popular and turns swimmers away at certain times because the pool is full. Until now the fun pool has not been classified as a swimming pool, but from today, those purchasing a swim pass will find that the fun pool has been reinvented as a swimming pool in an effort to soften the blow that the City swimming restrictions will inflict on the sport.

Those learning to swim at City pools prior to September 1, 2017 have been encouraged to use any of the City’s pools for free as often as they desired in an effort to boost their swimming proficiency. From today even such students will be excluded from Ayelstone pool, just as soon as their lesson is over, with other pools seeing restrictions in the New Year.  They can of course go home and come back later, or travel across the city to another pool for a swim after their lesson, but realistically I can’t see that happening.

On one hand the Council are working to retain all the swimming pools in the city, but on the other, by excluding swimmers from the pools they save, Leicester City Council are steering away from sport for all, and are refocusing on sport for profit.

The aim when building these swimming pools was to provide a public amenity, but it seems that such notions are becoming ancient history. Even so, all the blame cannot be left at the Councils door; our changing culture has transformed the way we use swimming pools. At one time children would take themselves swimming, and indeed the free swims at New Parks Pool see children queuing to get in. Children have always made up the greater part of the swimming public, but ever since the Mores Murders shocked the nation, children have had their freedom to roam gradually curtailed. The Council recognise the need  to get more children swimming if they are going to keep their pools open, yet preventing new swimmers from swimming at convenient times and locations will prove counterproductive. Under the new  arrangements those who swim for exercise and pleasure will find themselves gradually squeezed out of the program and ultimately; hung out to dry.

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NO SWIMMING LEICESTER

Will early closing times and swimming restrictions force swimmers back to the river (as has happened in Kettering) from which they were plucked back in the 1970’s? Or will Leicester become a city where you can neither swim outdoors or in? Many may scoff at that question thinking that it could never happen, yet Leicester once stood head and shoulders above other city’s as its swimming champions won gold medals at the Olympic games. Times change, and our river swimming venues are all lost to history. If history repeats itself we could well see swimmers very much restricted over the next few months, even indoors.

Discover the 2,000 year history of swimming in Leicester.

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Thousands Swim at Rutland Water August Bank Holiday 2017

 

 

 

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As a way of saying thank you, you will be able to get a copy of: Hung Out to Dry Swimming and British Culture for just £9.14 with free P&P (RRP £14.50) throughout the bank holiday! (Expires August 28)

Thanks again for subscribing!

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250h0078a462a314a2d3b62bb4557169ba0fThe Westmeath Independent reports: A 57-year-old American who twice survived cancer is bidding to become the first person ever to swim the length of the River Shannon. Dean Hall set off on this remarkable challenge at the northern tip of Lough Allen on June 5.

“It is taxing, but I’ve found that with marathon swimming, as with cancer recovery and life, we are much more limitless than we would ever consider. “We put limits on ourselves mostly because of fear we have, or because of what other people tell us is our limit. Once we take those limits off ourselves, and let our bodies and our minds do what they were created to do, we can do nearly anything.

Along the way Dean is raising money for an Irish charity, the Childhood Cancer Foundation, which helps to fund services for children and families affected by childhood cancer. More…

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Wild Swimming in France last summer.

wild swimming France

How I wish England had a more tolerant attitude towards outdoor swimming.

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After enjoying the wonderful facilities open to outdoor swimmers around the world, swimmers here in the UK can’t help but feel disgruntled that their liberty to swim in rivers and lakes has for many years been denied, and especially so with the scorching weather we have just been enjoying this week.

We want to go dipping but the sign says NO SWIMMING!

The good news is that things are changing. The impossible is being achieved, albeit very slowly.

The problem lies in the fact that  authorities, keen to restrict swimming in open water (for reasons  long forgotten) have truly convinced themselves that wild swimming is just too risky. Its rather like Hans Christian Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes, in that it takes a child to point out the obvious: “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!” The fact is plain to see, if swimming is OK throughout  Europe, how can it be more dangerous here?

This is not to say that its an easy thing for authorities to release their strangle hold on the swimmers freedom. If something goes wrong public opinion will want to point the finger of blame.

The good news comes from the Outdoor Swimming Society in the form of the: Inland Access Guide.

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Download a copy and its message of hope will prove better reading than the Sunday papers!

 

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The BBC reports: Students applying to one of China’s most prestigious universities have been told they must learn to swim before they graduate.

Tsinghua University, known as the Harvard of the East, has ruled that the nation’s top minds must also prove themselves in the pool.

The news made waves on Chinese social media, with some questioning the move in a country struggling with drought.

But the university said swimming was a key survival skill.

President of Tsinghua University, Qiu Yong, said the exercise was made compulsory for all students because it also improved physical fitness.

One of China’s most highly regarded institutions, Tsinghua University first made swimming a requirement in 1919, but it was later dropped due to the university’s popularity and a lack of swimming pools in Beijing.

However, under the rules announced on Monday, new students beginning in September will have to take the plunge and demonstrate that they can swim at least 50m (164ft) using any stroke.

‘Arbitrary rules’

The announcement has been hotly debated on social media, with some questioning whether it is reasonable to expect those who grew up in inland cities to learn how to swim as adults.

“What happens to students from arid places that have no seaside or rivers?” wrote Yixunsangyao.

Another commenter, Xishuoge, wrote: “Even though it is a ‘famous university’, it shouldn’t make up arbitrary rules, as such rules could snuff out talents.”

Others, such as Shin-ssi, praised the university for promoting a “necessary skill which can save lives”, adding: “It’s a good thing for the university to emphasise this.”

Those who appeared pleased with their own abilities to swim, made light of the announcement, asking if they could enrol as students at Tsinghua University.

 

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The Guardian reports: “Get in the water, get your shoulders under.”

A day of cold blue therapy. Where volunteer marshals lined up more than 700 competitors for 114 races at intervals timed to the second. “Get in the water, get your shoulders under,” they said briskly and everyone did, briskly. More…

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