Swiss Cottage swimming school thrown out of gym after 15-years by Virgin Active

A swimming school which has taught a generation of tots to brave the water will be turfed out of its home in Swiss Cottage next month by Virgin Active.

Swimming teacher Rob Harper, who has been working at the gym in the O2 Centre in Finchley Road for 15 years, has had to put his wedding on hold and could be forced to sell his home after being given his marching orders by Virgin Active health club.

Some parents of the 500 children signed up to Aquanauts’ autumn programme have pledged to jump ship and follow the swimming coach.

Karen Simon, of Heath Hurst Road in Hampstead, has put all three of her daughters through Aquanauts classes over the last four years.

The 40-year-old said: “I only joined the gym so my children could learn how to swim. It just seems so unfair to treat a small business this way in this climate.


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“It feels like the rug has been pulled out from under our feet.

“I’ve got no reason to stay now and I will follow Rob. I hope he can find somewhere new.”

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Virgin Active has told Mr Harper, 40, he must leave by the end of August after the health club chain bought out Esporta clubs across the country.

Mr Harper, who lives in Brighton, has appealed to Virgin Active to give him a term’s notice after more than 300 families signed up for his autumn classes, which offer a high teacher to pupil ratio.

“I’ve been here for the last 15 years, seeing kids through and now it’s the end for me,” said father-of-two Mr Harper, who started the business by himself.

“My wedding is now on hold and we might have to sell the house. All I need is until December to get my ducks in a row and find somewhere else which will be hard as there aren’t too many swimming pools in the area.”

A spokesman from Virgin Active said: “The decision to take the swim programme in-house is not isolated to Swiss Cottage and we would like to thank Rob and the Aquanauts Swim School for the positive work they have done at the club over the years.

“Since acquiring the Esporta estate, Virgin Active has brought in-house a number of swim programmes and delivers lessons to over 25,000 children and adults all over the UK.

“We are committed to providing courses on the days and times that have already been confirmed for the autumn 2012 term so members should not be inconvenienced.

“Furthermore, all popular swim class offerings will remain, along with some brand new options.”

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