Swimming ‘deserts’ across area revealed after Team GB Olympics star Duncan Scott slams pool closures

RESEARCH has highlighted a stark divide between swimming facilities in Portsmouth and its surrounding areas.

By Emily Jessica Turner
Thursday, 26th August 2021, 3:50 pm
Updated Thursday, 26th August 2021, 3:51 pm

JPIMedia’s analysis into swimming ‘deserts’ across the country has shown that while Portsmouth is above the national average for pool space, Fareham, Havant, and Gosport are below average.

There are six public swimming pool sites and nine individual public pools across Portsmouth, covering a total of 3,132 square metres.

This means that the area has 1,459 square metres of pool per 100,000 people - above the national average.

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Silver medalist Duncan Scott of Team Great Britain celebrates during the medal ceremony for the Men's 200m Individual Medley Final. Picture: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images.

In comparison, Fareham, Gosport, and Havant have 723, 688, and 518 square metres of pool per 10,000 people respectively.

The data comes from exclusive analysis into public swimming space, which has highlighted pool ‘deserts’ in England.

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This analysis looked at all pools which are open to the public for free or on a pay-and-swim basis, excluding commercially-owned sites or those only available to members.

It comes after Tokyo Olympics star Duncan Scott warned of the ‘quite sad’ closure of pools across the country.

The 24-year-old, who this summer became the first British athlete to win four medals at a single Games, said learning to swim was ‘so important for kids to, firstly, feel safe and confident within the water, but it is also quite an important social skill.’

He added: ‘I think it is quite sad, so hopefully over the coming months something is done about it.’

Great Britain Diving Federation president Jim McNally said the government’s policy of providing sport for all was ‘in tatters’.

He said: ‘This is a situation which is getting worse and worse and the grassroots sport is being allowed to wither on the vine’.

Swim England said it predicted the nation would lose 40 per cent of its existing pools by the end of the decade, ‘potentially shutting millions out of the activities they love’.

A spokesperson from Swim England said: ‘For everyone to be able to enjoy the physical and mental health benefits of swimming, it is absolutely vital that there are appropriate facilities in the right locations.’

The government said its £100m National Leisure Centre Recovery Fund had ‘secured the survival and reopening of more than 1,100 swimming pools all over the country.’

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