Under-threat Applemore and Waterside Swimming Club confirms it has been given the green light to continue with lessons after Freedom Leisure makes U-turn on closure
AN under-threat swimming club has been given a reprieve after the operators of the New Forest’s leisure centres went back on plans to stop it hiring one of its pools.
As reported in the A&T, Applemore and Waterside Swimming Club, Lymington Swimming Club and Romsey and Totton Swimming Club were given three months’ notice in September to leave their respective centres after Freedom Leisure said the lessons they ran were competition for its swim academies.
As a result, Lymington Swimming Club – which has run for more than 130 years – confirmed it will fold at the end of the year in a move branded “devastating” by town mayor Cllr Jack Davies.
However, Applemore and Waterside Swimming Club has confirmed it will face no changes after further discussions were held with Freedom Leisure.
Graham Clements, chair of Applemore and Waterside Swimming Club, which has been teaching youngsters at Applemore Leisure Centre for 40 years, said the news was “all positive”.
He added: “Freedom Leisure have been really good, I think they realised the impact of the decision would be massive, so it is a win-win for everyone.
“It is a huge relief for us a club and everybody on the Waterside who uses the lessons; the parents were obviously relieved also.”
Lessons which take place on Saturdays for children from low-income families will continue as normal, he confirmed.
The swimming club also includes many youngsters with medical and physical needs in its lessons, as well as those with autism, ADHD, confidence issues and other disabilities.
A petition to raise awareness of the club’s plight collected 1,932 signatures.
An update at Change.org added: “Thank you all for your support in keeping this community volunteer-led swimming club alive.”
Freedom Leisure’s area manager, Peter Cheeseman, told the A&T: “We are pleased to conclude the review of the swimming club arrangements across the New Forest.
“As a result, we are all working more collaboratively on the shared objective to increase swimming participation for the whole community.
“We look forward to regular support meetings and sharing ideas and opportunities with the clubs so everyone in the New Forest can access a learn to swim programme that suits their needs.”
Cllr Davies told the A&T it was “good news” that Freedom Leisure had reversed its initial decision but added: “It’s pointless if it doesn’t apply to Lymington Swimming Club.
“The [district] council now need to change the contract they signed with Freedom Leisure to remove the clause that allowed them to evict the clubs in the first place.
“If they do that, then Lymington Swimming Club can continue to use the leisure centre in Pennington and won’t need to close.”