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Ponds Forge decision a bitter blow to so many ... but we’ll keep fighting for funding

Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson has expressed her extreme disappointment at the news that Ponds Forge International Sports Centre will be mothballed for the foreseeable future.

The announcement that the Ponds Forge International Sports Centre is to remain shut indefinitely is a bitter blow to so many.

We are aware there were significant issues with the venue and the pandemic has exacerbated these.

It’s devastating for the swimming, diving and water polo clubs based there, for the staff who work there, for the generation of youngsters who would have learned how to swim there – and for the thousands who have enjoyed taking part in our national events and other major international competitions over the years.

For our diving community, the situation looks frustratingly dire.

Ponds Forge is one of a very small number of bespoke diving facilities in England and was home to our National Junior Diving Championships and we are now looking to re-home the Sheffield vibrant diving community as well as our water polo and swimming clubs.

Vigorous in our lobbying

It’s not the only diving venue to remain closed though. Only eight of our 35 affiliated diving clubs currently have access to the water.

Statistics such as this make for depressing reading and will leave many fearful about the future of our sports – but we’re continuing to campaign for emergency funding for this vital sector.

We fought hard publicly on our campaign to #OpenOurPools and #SaveLeisure.

Since then we have been continuing to work hard behind the scenes and remain vigorous in our lobbying of the Government to help out our struggling facilities where the need for financial support is needed more urgently than ever.

Some pools have reopened their doors since they were given the green light to do so by the Government on Saturday 25 July.

However, a large majority of local authority owned facilities will still remain closed at the beginning of September and beyond.

This sector provides a much needed social benefit service to many communities as well as providing the opportunity for many to realise their aquatic sporting dreams.

Jane M Nickerson