Swim England

A nation swimming

How Craven Leisure adapted to customers' needs to keep all swimmers happy

Operator Craven Leisure has revealed its innovative way to keep swimmers of all abilities happy when using its pool … and why the changes are here to stay. Alice Dott found out more.

When Craven Leisure reopened its Skipton pool in December after the second national lockdown, aquatics manager Stephen Davies soon discovered its double width-lane structure was proving to be unpopular.

At the time, over 18 swimmers had been told they could not train with their clubs as part of the coronavirus restrictions.

With 10 swimmers using the slow, medium and fast lanes at any one time, Stephen and his team quickly discovered that it was not working for their customers – especially the faster swimmers.

He said: “Nothing had really happened massively negatively but we’d been getting gripes or people not quite happy.”

So the decision was taken to introduce a fourth lane to the six-lane, 25m pool.

This would be single width, which could accommodate six swimmers at a time, with the other three lanes being reduced to 1¾-width and being used by eight swimmers – which is still compliant with the Swim England Returning to Pools Guidance.

The lane was initially named the ‘training lane’ for faster and club swimmers to use.

Stephen said: “So by making it a single lane you almost straight away saying to people only come in here if you’re going to be prepared to have good swimming etiquette.”

However, the term ‘training lane’ initially caused some confusion when booking lane swimming sessions online.

Craven Leisure's Skipton pool

Stephen found that swimmers were interpreting the word ‘training’ differently – for example some thought it was a lane to practise stroke techniques.

So they renamed it the ‘faster lane’ and updated the booking system to make it clearer for those wanting to use the pool.

Stephen said: “We rejigged how it looks on the booking system, so when they’re looking for it, it’s got the lane number and also the name of the lane.”

With indoor pools reopening on Monday 12 April following the latest lockdown, Craven Leisure has said the changes are now a permanent feature for its customers.

The switch to four lanes has gone down well with swimmers.

One customer, Lesley Woodhouse, wrote on Craven Leisure’s Facebook page: “I like the new lane system.

“Being someone too fast for the medium lane and not quite fast enough for the fast lane, I felt back in my comfort zone with the slow fast lane.

“The lanes also felt less congested.”

Stephen added: “Members are happy about booking online and booking a space because they know that it is not going to be overly busy.

“They know they are guaranteed a space in a lane that they want to use.”

Network updates

Swim England’s Business Engagement Team holds weekly meetings with operators.

The Operators’ Network Updates take place every Thursday at 1.30pm and provide an opportunity to network with other operators and engage with Swim England on current trends and challenges in the sector.

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