Growing calls for Halifax's new swimming pool to be made deeper

Sychronised swimmers Florence Winder, left, mum Fiona Winder, Amelia Watson, and her dad Tim Watson.Sychronised swimmers Florence Winder, left, mum Fiona Winder, Amelia Watson, and her dad Tim Watson.
Sychronised swimmers Florence Winder, left, mum Fiona Winder, Amelia Watson, and her dad Tim Watson.
Two synchronised swimmers from Mytholmroyd have added their anger to outcry over plans for Halifax’s new swimming pool.

Calder High students Florence Winder, 14, and Amelia Watson, 15, and their parents say “Calderdale deserves better” than the proposals put forward, which they say would mean a pool which is too shallow for their beloved sport.

The pair have been members of award-winning Halifax Synchronised Swimming Club since they were at primary school and, before the pandemic, were training three or four times a week.

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Amelia was inspired by synchro to study for a GCSE in PE and both girls want to go to a university where they can continue with the sport.

“The council should grasp this opportunity and build a pool that capitalises on existing successes and builds for the future,” said Florence’s mum, Fiona.

“A long-term ambition for the swimming stars of the future is all we’re asking for.”

Fiona said current plans for the new pool “lack ambition and fail to accommodate existing users, existing athletes, existing national champions”.

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Halifax Synchronised Swimming Club is currently training at Todmorden Swimming Pool and at the private pool at Rishworth School.

But they do not have access to the same amount of pool time as they did at Halifax, and can not have as many teams in the water at the same time.

Todmorden is much further to travel to than Halifax for the club’s coaches and many of its swimmers, and the pool is not big enough to accommodate competitions, as Halifax’s was.

Both girls are determined to pursue their sport, saying it has helped with their self-esteem, team work, leadership skills, fitness, resilience and mental health, as well as providing friendships and a social life.

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“In 2019, Rubies Team won gold at the Olympic Stadium - the National champions,” said Fiona. “The club entered five teams, competing against major cities - Birmingham, Leeds, Bristol - and the county team Somerset. Halifax, a town in West Yorkshire, entered five teams and brought home a wealth of medals ,including a gold for Rubies.

“This story is not only that of Florence’s and Amelia’s but for the rest of the girls in the club.

“They have high aspirations, they want to compete at the highest level. Calderdale needs to take this seriously and support this club.

“The drop out rate for competitive sports in girls is almost double that for boys. Come on Calderdale, continue the legacy, be the best you can be. Have a vision of sporting excellence.”

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Calderdale Council announced its plans for a new pool and leisure centre at the current site of North Bridge Leisure Centre in Halifax earlier this year.

News that the project had won a £12.2m Levelling Up Fund grant from the Government last month sparked questions about whether the council would consider changing the proposals to accommodate a deeper pool.

The council has not ruled this but has said it is waiting to find out more about the details and conditions of the grant.

When it has this information, the council will look at what might be deliverable in the timescale.