Sarah Barrow updates on 'exciting phase' for West Midlands Diving Project

The West Midlands Diving Project is in an exciting phase as it moves towards the opening of the diving programme in the brand new Sandwell Aquatics Centre.

With work continuing to move in the right direction, Swim England West Midlands Diving Development Officer, Sarah Barrow, has highlighted some of the key achievements in the objectives and aims of the West Midlands Diving Strategy.

A lot of operational work is being finalised to ensure there is a full pathway, from grassroots through to access for elite and Olympic level athletes.

The programme welcomes anyone, no matter the level – but so much importance is focused on the grassroots stages, with the aim of bringing local divers through the pathway.

The appointment of a head diving coach for the Sandwell Diving Programme has led to an exciting opportunity for Nigel Mills.

Nigel, originally from Sheffield, has gained experience from diving programmes such as Sheffield Diving Club, Dubai Diving and Edinburgh Diving Club.

This year he has been a coach for Scotland and working in partnership with Team Y on the Swim England Diving Talent Programme.

Nigel is already in post, making key decisions, leading on the start-up of the Sandwell Diving Club and is ready to hit the ground running when the club opens from July 2023.

Diving pathway

The diving programme in Tudor Grange Leisure Centre, Solihull, has extended the diving session timetable to make room for more participation. Both Wyndley Leisure Centre and Walsall Gala Baths are continuing to deliver to more than 80 children.

Serco are also extending their diving offer towards their swimming pool programmes through the Stage 8-10 Diving Skills Aquatic Framework in Erdington and Beeches Leisure Centres. This is a great way for children to try a new sport whilst already in the environment. It also gives children who swim in these centres a taste of a new sport to perhaps join the feeder site at Wyndley Leisure Centre.

A talent search, funded by The Swimming Trust, is scheduled to go in to schools specifically around the Black Country and wider West Midlands in September.

The target is to reach 5,000 children – looking for those with a specific set of skills but also to give children the opportunity to come and try diving in the Sandwell Aquatics Centre.

Widening participation

Due to the success of The Swimming Trust funded Inspired to Try free diving taster sessions last year, more are scheduled for 2023.

Fifty children already took part during the Easter holidays at Tudor Grange Leisure Centre, with extra sessions in July and August scheduled at Wyndley Leisure Centre.

These sessions are for anyone under the age of 16 and you can sign up through the booking form on this page.

This initiative is being extended during the opening of the Sandwell Aquatics Centre in July and plans are in place for a ‘come and try’ offer.

Click here to register your interest in the diving programme.


In addition to the head coach role, Sandwell are also looking for a talent development coach. This should be someone who is just as passionate as Nigel in developing divers through the West Midlands Region.

The position is out for advert and more information can be found here.

The Sandwell Diving Club will be formed around the opening of the diving programme. As a result, the club are also looking for anyone who might be interested in taking up a committee role. Information on each of the roles can be found here.

There are also immediate roles needed for the club. These are chairperson, welfare officer, secretary, fundraising officer and treasurer. If you are interested in any of the available roles, please register your interest via the online form here or contact

Partnership delivery

Over the last four years, important relationships between Swim England, Swim England West Midlands, operators of the feeder sites, along with Sandwell Council and Sandwell Leisure Trust – who operate the Sandwell Aquatics Centre – have aided diving to grow in the region.

Diving will be a sport accessible to all from the start of July and sessions in the Sandwell Aquatics Centre will offer diving to children, teens and adults. The hope is to also be able to host diving events ranging from regional level, all the way to British qualifications.

Mentioned throughout, is the importance of grassroots. To bring as many people to Sandwell to enjoy diving, the project is looking for funding to secure additional 1m springboards needed for legacy mode. The more grassroots diving boards, the more groups within the programme, which means more people accessing the diving programme. The success of diving in Sandwell is heavily reliant on these 1m springboards.

Find out more about the West Midlands Diving Strategy 2021-25 here.