Baths closure pulls the plug on Andrew’s Elland pool marathon

Andrew Lomas, who is doing a charity swim.
Andrew Lomas, who is doing a charity swim.

An Elland optician has been left high and dry in his quest to raise money for charity because of the sudden closure of the town’s pool.

Andrew Lomas, 51, was hoping to swim 23 miles for a charity that helps to find cures for eyesight degeneration.

But last Thursday the council shut the pool with immediate effect.

Andrew had already completed over 20 miles of his challenge, but will now need to fit the remaining three miles in before Christmas to complete the task.

“It’s come as a bit of a blow,” said Andrew, who runs Andrew Lomas Optometrist in Southgate.

“I wanted to support the bid to keep the pool open by doing all my miles in it, but now I’ll have to go to Brighouse or Sowerby Bridge.”

He added: “The beauty of Elland pool was that it was near the practice and I could nip out on a Tuesday lunchtime because it was adult swimming.

“But with school swimming at Sowerby Bridge and Brighouse, it’s harder to find a time when the pool is available.”

Andrew has been swimming twice a week since October 4, racking up over a mile every visit – sometimes doing more than 100 lengths in his lunch hour.

The challenge is to swim one of seven US lakes and Andrew’s 23- mile target is about the width of Lake Iliamna in south-west Alaska – the third biggest lake of the seven included in the challenge.

Andrew said: “I’ve always liked swimming and I used to swim once a week and play five-a-side, but that fell by the wayside so I started swimming more and it just went on from there. It tends to take around 40 minutes to do a mile.

“A mile in Elland pool was 72 lengths and that would take me about 36 minutes – 30 seconds per length.”

Andrew bought his practice from Giles and Hunter six years ago and has recently taken on Martyn Bury as a dispensing optician, meaning staff now have 75 years of combined experience.

“We’ve grown a lot recently and things are going well,” he said.

Andrew has started collecting sponsorship for the swim and the practice will match any money raised up to £250.

Visit www.justgiving.com/Andrew-Lomas or contact the practice on 372755 to sponsor him.