Keep up with Armagh i

‘Frustration’ over frequency of swimming galas at South Lake Leisure Centre

There have been calls for a better balance when it comes to accommodating both regular swimmers using the 50-metre pool at South Lake Leisure Centre in Craigavon, and swimming galas.

Speaking at Monday’s (June 10) Community & Wellbeing Committee meeting of the local authority, the Sinn Féin councillor, Clare McConville-Walker, said: “There have been quite a lot of swimming galas hosted in the leisure centre. It’s great to have the facility well used because it brings a great boost to the borough, [however] it’s a concern that facilitating these is having an impact on public swim availability.

“I just want to propose that any requests to host these types of events come before members, and that we’re given more information and oversight on these events if possible.”

Head of Health & Recreation, Darryn Causby, acknowledged this was an issue: “What we intend to do is bring back further detail on the number of these events.

“I think potentially what happens is, at the end of the year everybody wants to finish off their programme, and so you nearly have a bottleneck with them, but maybe it’s not necessarily that much of an issue between September and March, so we would just need to bottom that out in terms of galas.

“There are a number of other factors that we do need to take into account as well. Sometimes in our facilities we also do our own galas for schools, and then the swimming clubs are asking for galas, and then there’s other times allocated to clubs and groups, and it does in some way narrow down the public swimming.

“So I appreciate we’re trying to keep a balance on that, that’s the point you are making. So we will bring a further report on that. We will be in a better position to update on that probably by September, when we know the programme for the year.”

Alderman Mark Baxter (DUP, Lagan River DEA) explained that sharing swimming pool facilities with swimming clubs had been a long-standing issue: “I do get where the member is coming from. I sat on the project board on and off for years, and that was a common theme. We always wanted public swimming because it’s a real frustration for members of the public.

“I get it for Banbridge as well. The swimming clubs are fantastic, my daughter is a member of one, and I know all the hard work that they do, and it’s good to recognise that through galas, but I think we’re victims of our own success, with the facilities that we have.

“Everybody wants to have their gala in a 50-metre pool, and there’s only two or three 50-metre pools in the country. We just need to keep on top of it because it is a frustration.

“Members of the public are going swimming sometimes, and the swimming clubs seem to take up the majority of the water. That’s always going to be an issue. But again, it’s a measure of the success of our facilities, it’s very popular, it’s a fabulous place.”

Sign Up To Our Newsletter

Most read today

More in Craigavon