ALMOST 2,000 swimming pools in England could be lost by the end of the decade without urgent government and local authority action, a new report has warned.
Swim England says pools built in the 1960s and ’70s are coming towards the end of their lifespan and are not being refurbished or replaced at a suitable rate, putting into question whether sufficient quality facilities will be available to both competitive and recreational swimmers in the decades to come.
Team GB enjoyed great success in the pool in Tokyo in the summer, securing a best-ever tally of eight medals — four golds, three silvers and one bronze.
But Swim England says that without a £1 billion investment to refurbish existing pools and build new ones, there will be a “huge decline” in availability.
It published its report, A Decade In Decline: The Future of Swimming Pools In England, on Wednesday, and its chief executive Jane Nickerson said: “Swimming pools are naturally essential to the future of all our aquatic sports if we are to nurture the next Adam Peaty, Tom Daley, Anna Hopkin or Maisie Summers-Newton.
“However, they are so much more than that. Pools are hubs of the local community, helping people of all ages to lead healthier, happier lives and saving the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds each year.
“They are also the places where millions learn a skill that could one day save their life — or someone else’s.
“Without adequate investment into the new pools this country needs, we are forecasting a huge decline in the available water space by the end of the decade, threatening the future of our sports, leaving millions shut out of the activities they love and widening health inequities.
“The time to act is now.”
The report predicts that by 2030, on current trends, the number of pools will have dropped from 4,336 to around 2,468 — a fall of 40 per cent.
It also estimates that almost a quarter (23 per cent) of local authorities in England have a deficit of at least one average-sized pool.