Concerns for swimming in Redbridge as parents report waiting lists and overcrowding at Fullwell Cross
Swimming was in the spotlight for weeks at the Olympics but concern is growing over the future of the sport in Redbridge as residents report overcrowding and waiting lists at the borough’s one public pool.
Chairman of Redbridge Swimmers John Sharrock said the pool at Fullwell Cross Leisure Centre, in Barkingside, is “a nightmare”.
He added: “It’s absolute murder, especially at this time of year. The quality of swimming facilities in Redbridge sticks out like a sore thumb.”
Mr Sharrock is campaigning for improved facilities in the borough.
He said: “People keep talking about Olympic legacy and funding but I want to know how we can get our hands on some of the action.
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“There’s going to be less and less people learning to swim and unless we have another pool it’s not going to get any better.”
Two thirds of Redbridge children leave primary school without being able to swim the length of a pool, according to figures released by the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA).
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In a survey of local authorities in England, Redbridge had the fourth-lowest percentage of children able to swim 25 metres by the end of Key Stage 2 in 2012/11.
The requirement is part of the national curriculum.
Paul Hewitt, of Gants Hill, resorted to teaching his six-year-old daughter how to swim himself when no lesson places were available.
He said: “The swimming facilities in Redbridge aren’t sufficient. There’s a waiting list at Fullwell Cross, it’s always full.
“The council should build another pool somewhere in the borough or nearby that we can use.
“Swimming is an important skill for children because it may save their lives one day.”
The Ilford Public Baths, in High Road, were closed in 2008.
A Redbridge Council spokesman said the council has “an aspiration to provide” new pool and leisure facilities.
He added: “Unfortunately, due to constraints with the current financial climate it is unaffordable at this time.
“If we were to progress a new facility we would do as much as we could to rigorously pursue all possible options of external funding.
“There is additional capacity for casual swimming and to join the gym and spa. During public sessions Fullwell Cross is coping with the current demand for swimming.”