84-year-old Aylesbury swimming club under threat because of timetable changes at Stoke Mandeville Stadium

The pool at Stoke Mandeville which is affected by the changes
The pool at Stoke Mandeville which is affected by the changes

Aylesbury and District Swimming Club have been left devastated by changes made by the new management of the swimming pool in Stoke Mandeville.

The changes mean that the club, which is 80 years old - may have to fold.

Kim Parfitt, a member of the club said: “ADSC is a community club completely run by volunteers from Head Coach downwards.

“It is incredibly well run and highly regarded within the swimming fraternity for its organisation, volunteers and ethos.

“In addition, the stadiums swimming lessons, ironically, feed through an academy into our club with the aim to keep children involved and competing in the sport.

“Despite a 50 year relationship with the stadium, they wish to reduce our training hours.

“We are wanting to gather support to fight this proposed change as it has the potential to reduce our hours so much we may need to close the club - a club that has been running for about 80 years in Aylesbury - longer than the other swimming club in the town.

“We have already asked parents to email the manager Kate McKnight directly but in this age where we are fighting childhood obesity, it seems a shame that there is a challenge to this!”

Serco have taken over management of the pool from Wheelpower, with the changes to the pool timetable set to be implemented on July 1.

The changes made are on Friday between 7pm and 9pm where there is the reduction of three lanes by half an hour and six lanes by half an hour.

This will affect the junior squad who currently swim between 6pm and 7pm and the County Age/Transition squads that train between 6.30pm and 8pm.

Anna Campbell, ADSC Communications Officer said: “By far the biggest impact is on our junior Squad.

“ADSC aims to give the juniors opportunities within their capabilities and are considerate of the timings.

“With so many coming from the stadium’s academy and Learn to Swim program the continuity of pool also provides added assurance.

“It also allows them to swim within their age band and not to be intimidated by swimming with older children/young people.

“All important factors for encouraging new swimmers to join the club.

“We are looking into other alternatives, but having been part of the stadium since it opened in the late 1960’s (nearly 50 years) we clearly would like to keep the current timetable as it is.

“This change is yet another in a long line of reductions the club has had to face in the last six years where we have lost more than 40 lane hours per week or 40% of our training time.”

Kate McKnight, Head of Aquatics at Serco Leisure said: “The More Leisure Community Trust has taken over the running of Stoke Mandeville Stadium; with Serco Leisure acting as the managing agent for the site.

“To encourage more families and the local community to use the pool, we have made some changes to the swimming session schedule at the stadium.

“We value our relationship with the Aylesbury and District Village Swimming Club and the importance of encouraging competitive swimming.

“We have been working with the club to arrange alternative times and have offered 12 hours of pool sessions on various days.

“Unfortunately, so far, none of our suggested times have been acceptable to the club.”

Simon Barber, chairman of the club said: “Kate values our custom so much she can’t even be bothered to get our name correct.

“I think this sums up the whole attitude to the problems we face.

“We have not currently been officially offered any additional pool session times, only a reduction in the hours we currently use the pool.

“As I informed Kate at our meeting, all our coaches are volunteers and have work commitments, this does not currently give us the option to train early mornings.

“The club does not believe that younger members benefit from early morning training and actually feel that it has the potential to have a detrimental affect on the children’s school work.

“The only additional evening pool time has been given to the other swimming club in Aylesbury.

“As yet there has been no justification to us for this situation.”