Halifax swimming club hope Government cash can will fund extra depth of pool at new centre

A champion synchronised swimming team left high and dry by Calderdale Council's decision to build a pool to shallow for them hope new government cash can help fund extra depth.

By Ian Hirst
Friday, 29th October 2021, 5:00 pm
Updated Monday, 1st November 2021, 3:00 pm
Head Coach Charlotte Hughes teaches Halifax Synchronised Swimming Club at a temporary pool in Rishworth, (Picture SWNS)
Head Coach Charlotte Hughes teaches Halifax Synchronised Swimming Club at a temporary pool in Rishworth, (Picture SWNS)

Halifax Synchronised swimming club previously trained at the town's 50-year-old council-run pool which has been forced to close due to structural damage.

Calderdale Council plan to build a new 2m deep pool in its leisure centre in the town, but has so far refused to make it deeper than this due to budget restrictions.

The club says it needs the pool to be at least 3m deep in order to train to their competitive standard and avoid head and neck injuries.

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However, after chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in the budget this week the pool upgrade will receive a share of a £187 million pot from the Levelling Up Fund.

And now the swimming club hopes it will help the council dig a little deeper and find the extra cash needed to accommodate them at the new site.

Team manager Kirsty McGregor said: "The council should now be in a position where it can fund an elite sports facility that the area can be proud of for generations and be accessible to children from all backgrounds, not just those who can afford to travel further afield to pursue this activity.

"We've been calling on the council for so long to explore other revenue streams and this extra cash from the government is like manor from heaven.

"Hopefully we can get the pool depth we need to now allow our local swimmers to participate in great sporting opportunities and to continue as a club."

The award-winning club has won national championships and boasts Great Britain synchronised swimming squad member Isobel Davies on its books.

But council chiefs claim the proposed new pool would accommodate over 98% of current users.

And they have refused to increase the depth of the pool as they say it would cost an estimated additional £2mil.

However the club argues its members used to train over 22,500 hours per year in the pool.

Kirsty added: "The council wants to be the fittest borough in the north by 2024 and this cash gives them a unique opportunity to implement a deeper pool which will help them achieve that.

"They could build a centre of excellence in the pool for aquatic activities like water polo, synchronised swimming, diving and sub-aqua to continue."

Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker (Conservative) has also backed the club's campaign for a deeper pool.

He said: "When the plans to build a swimming pool were first announced, they represented an exciting opportunity for residents across Calderdale, including in the Calder Valley.

"At the time, many ideas were floated around in relation to the pool and its dynamics. Many have been devastated that the plan to include a deep water facility had been rejected by the Council.

"The nearest 'centre of excellence' for these types of activities is in Leeds or Manchester - too far for Calderdale families to travel to on a regular basis.

"Perhaps now that the Labour-run Council have received an additional £12 million from the Chancellor - money that they had not accounted for to deliver this project - they may now wish to listen to the strength of feeling on this issue.

"I urge the Labour-run Council to take the plunge and dig a little deeper so our fantastic sub-aqua sports and young synchronised swimmers can continue to train and compete at both a local and national level."

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