Report recommends swimming shake-up

THE provision of swimming lessons in Camden is under review, the Ham&High has learned, after seeing a report which recommended that the Camden Swiss Cottage Swimming Club (CSCSC) should lead the Learn to Swim programme.

Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) operates Kentish Town Sports Centre, the Oasis Sports Centre and the Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre on behalf on the council.

It is responsible for swimming lessons at these leisure centres, although it subcontracts lessons at the Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre to the Camden Swiss Cottage Swimming Club – a respected club with 2,000 members.

Camden Council, GLL and Camden Swiss Cottage Swimming Club commissioned London Swimming to write reports on the quality and cost effectiveness of swimming provision in the borough

One of these reports – written in February 2010 – was recently leaked to the Ham&High. It recommended that there should be one provider of the Learn to Swim Programme in the borough – which should be the Camden Swiss Cottage Club (CSSC), not GLL.

Supporters of the club have now called for it to be done and cannot understand why the council is dragging its feet.

Hampstead Town councillor, Chris Knight, said: “It seems to make sense to let the Camden Swiss Cottage Swimming Club run the Learn to Swim Programme.

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“They train children from the first dip of their toes in the swimming pool up to Olympic competition standard and they even take young people to train abroad.

“I believe that the quality of the swimming lessons they would provide would be far better than GLL or anyone else – simply because of their dedication to the sport and the future of the club.

“There is a huge love for the club and the atmosphere at any of their events is electric.”

The report outlined a number of safety issues about lessons that GLL provided at the time: including that it was not compulsory for children to wear swimming hats during lessons, that some girls and boys did not tie their hair back and were found to be wearing jewellery in the pool.

The report also recommended that GLL should invest in swimming teachers.

A Camden Council spokesman refused to say when the review of swimming provision in the borough would be complete.

He said: “The council, Greenwich Leisure Limited and Camden Swiss Cottage Swimming Club are committed to providing high-standard swimming lessons. We are working together to deliver lessons that are most cost effective, high-quality and give Camden residents best value for money.”

A spokeswoman for GLL said that all recommendations from London Swimming’s report in February into swimming lessons have been “actioned” and or met.

She added: “GLL in partnership with the London Borough of Camden is continually looking at ways in which to maintain and improve the standard of swimming provision. Development of an Aquatic Strategy for the borough is still ongoing.”

Luca Salice, chairman of governors at Torriano Junior School, which takes part in borough’s the Learn to Swim Programme, said: “There were concerns about GLL’s ability to deliver a good quality service and I just hope that this has been sorted out.

“There is a problem with obesity so it’s very important that schools do avail themselves of swimming lessons.”