Thursday, 8 January 2009

Be cool, go pool.

No matter how hopelessly the old year ended, no matter how dreary the weather or how badly the excesses of Christmas have affected you, there is always a note of expectation and optimism at the beginning of a new year. You know the days can only grow brighter, longer and warmer. You eagerly begin writing in your crisp new diaries and organisers. You relish those shiny Christmas gifts and begin to wear, eat and use them.

It is no wonder so many people make ‘resolutions’ at this time; promising themselves new jobs, homes, lovers and bodies in the months ahead. So, they forge ahead on a regime of CV-writing, dieting and exercising. Being a fan of the swimming pool, I do not find the exercise bit difficult. Swimming is the joy of the modernist, especially since women were released from those ridiculous nineteenth-century bathing costumes. It is no coincidence that the nineteen-thirties saw a flurry of pool and lido-building.

What could be more modernistic than stripping down to the ultimate utilitarian garment and plunging into an environment where you can float, glide, trash, splash and cavort to your heart’s content? Not only is swimming enjoyable, it is actually good for you! I have no figures to quote here but while in action, you can actually feel the water toning your limbs, and hear blood pumping around your anatomy in response to the accelerated beating of your heart.

Swimming soothes aches and pains, calms mental anxieties and when done, enables you to focus your mental energy in a way that, earlier, seemed impossible. Which makes it an even greater shame that many fine pools have closed down in recent years. Indeed, a sizeable portion of the population is frustrated in its attempt to swim because of lack of access to suitable pools. In this health-and-fitness conscious era, this is nothing short of a national scandal. Let’s campaign for more public pools, now.

1 comment:

Broomhillblogger said...

The continued closure of public swimming pools is a scandal on a really huge scale, but it's very difficult to counteract, because the main funding body, Sport England, has actually organised this situation.

Sport England is pursuing a "fewer but better" policy, working in partnership with consultants like Strategic Leisure.

Local authorities appoint these consultants to "review" their leisure facilities and then the recommendations are nearly always along the same lines. The Council is informed that there is an "over provision" of water space in their area, resulting in the dilution of the customer base; or that the pools are in the wrong locations or that they are too old. The end result is an erosion of the network of pools that really served their local communities.

For example, Wirral Council paid Strategic Leisure over £100,000 to review their cultural and leisure assets; as a result, at least 50% of the libraries will go and at least three, if not four of the nine leisure centres. Six of these leisure centres had pools: two pool complexes will go and quite possibly a third as well.

If local residents appeal to the DCMS they are told that local authorities are best placed to make these difficult decisions; but the truth is that these changes are coming down from central government.