Children's swim club 'could be sunk'

September 29 2020

A CHILDREN'S swimming club based at Kingswood Leisure Centre for more than 35 years may be forced to close as the pool operator tries to recoup income lost during lockdown.

Aquarians Swimming School chair Neil Smart (centre) with members and parents outside Kingswood Leisure Centre

Aquarians Swimming School runs a weekly 45-minute lesson followed by a 40-minute family swim for parents, relatives and siblings on Sunday afternoons.

But chairman Neil Smart said the club's future is in jeopardy as centre operator Circadian Trust wants to run its own lessons.

Neil said: “The trust has informed Aquarians that they will be using the Sunday afternoon slot used by Aquarians to run their own swimming lessons in order to generate income as their revenue has dropped as a result of the pool closures due to the Covid-19 situation.”  

About 60 youngsters aged four to 16 are on the Aquarians' books with a waiting list of children wanting to join. Members pay £14 a month for both the lessons and family swim, making it cost-effective for families. Circadian charges £25 a month for a weekly  lesson and free swimming at other times.

The trust, an independent charity, runs five leisure centres across South Gloucestershire, but was forced to close them between  March and July.

Neil said: “It is disappointing that Circadian Trust has decided without any consultation not to allow Aquarians to carry on hiring the pools at Kingswood Leisure Centre. As a result of this decision it will no doubt prove very difficult for the children to find anywhere else to go which provides the same level of opportunity to learn how to swim safely to the best of their ability at a very reasonable cost.”

Parents and guardians are writing to their MPs and members of South Gloucestershire Council to express their concern and disappointment that the Aquarians may be forced close if unable to find another venue.   

Ben Beasley, director of commercial development at Circadian, said: “We have had to make some very difficult decisions to help us secure our facilities for the community in the long term.

“We have unfortunately lost customers as we are unable to accommodate them in our own swim lesson programme, which has to take priority over external organisations hiring space.

“We are very sorry that we have had to make this decision and hope that the Aquarians find alternative facilities.”