Closure of college’s pool shocks parents, reports James Cracknell
A petition to save a swimming pool from closure has gathered more than 2,000 signatures.
The Community Pool, located in the basement of Waltham Forest College but operated as an independent organisation, announced it would cease trading at the end of January because of the cost of making the pool “environmentally efficient and economically viable”.
In a statement the operators of the 30-metre pool said that discussions were taking place with the college’s management team “in the hope that it can re-open for community use and education some time soon”.
The news came as a blow for local swimmers and the different clubs that use the pool, which include Tritons Swim School and Waltham Forest Gators. In her petition launched online, Pippa Czarnowska implored the college to keep the pool open. She said: “The pool has supported generations of Walthamstow residents; my dad learnt to swim there; I swam there as a club swimmer; my daughter swims there now as a synchronised swimmer with Aquavision Synchro.
“Three of her team have places in the Great Britain junior synchro squad – two of these are local girls attending Walthamstow schools. The team have National Championships 2020 in the first weekend of March. The loss of the pool training facilities is having a huge impact on team training preparations.”
Waltham Forest Gators has helped produce top competitors including Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Daniel Fogg and Olympians Jaime King and Martin Harris.
Regular users of the pool have been helped to find alternative swimming classes, but some fear being left out of pocket. Irena Souroup, whose son and daughter attended Triton Swim School, told the Echo: “We really liked the club and they were friendly and helpful – you could start in the middle of term and it wasn’t overcrowded. The staff were really nice. We have got four or five lessons already paid for that we won’t be able to go to.”
Another pool user, Daniel Gordon, said: “It will be a sad loss to the community and will mean that the pool at the Feel Good Centre – reduced in size when it was redeveloped and already overcrowded – will have to somehow provide for everyone who’s used the college until now.”
In a statement, Waltham Forest College stressed it had not changed the lease for The Community Pool and that the decision to close had been made by the pool’s directors. Dr Joy Kettyle, college principal, said: “Waltham Forest College has had the tremendous opportunity to take up free swim sessions and lessons at The Community Pool… The closure will inevitably have an impact on the teaching and leisure experience for staff and students here at the college.”
Karen Hayes, a director at The Community Pool, said: “It is a decision the directors have had to make given the current circumstances. We sincerely apologise for the impact this has had on local schools and clubs as well as our talented team of staff.”
To sign the petition: