‘Don’t let Flintshire Council spending cuts sink swimming team’

Reporter:

Claire Gallagher

A TALENTED swimming team has made an impassioned plea to help stay afloat.

As part of spending cuts Flintshire Council is proposing to scrap the Swim Flintshire elite performance training scheme which costs £60,000 a year to run.

The scheme, which is for 11-18-year-olds, has previously trained Great British squad member Tom Allen and Lucy Worral, who now swims at international level.

Head coach Stewart Clamp says the 25 youngsters, who train 22 hours a week, will be “gutted” if the scheme came to an end.

Three of the members – Charlie Bryan, 15, Aled Davies, 17 and Lewis Smith, 16 – have been shortlisted for the Youth Commonwealth Games next year.

Mr Clamp said: “They are the future of North Wales’ sport in swimming. We are here for the opportunity to create elite swimmers not to make money.”

Mr Clamp said each member pays £50 a month for training but to break even the charge would have to be £170 a month, which he feels is far too high for any parent to pay.

The group trains mornings and evenings, six days a week, at Mold, Flint, Connah’s Quay, Buckley and Holywell swimming baths.

Mr Clamp says he and the other members will do all they can to continue the training and have asked for any donations to help.

The coach came to the area three-and-a-half years ago to begin the scheme.

He said: “I came here because North Wales has got a massive pool of untapped talent. We have made a real difference and have won many medals and Welsh championships.

“A lot of the swimmers would be gutted if it stopped – they wouldn’t know what to do or where to go.”

Mr Clamp is responsible for finding talented youngsters to join the elite squad from swimming clubs across Flintshire.

Parents and committee members held a meeting on Wednesday to discuss their fundraising options.

Members had already organised a bag-packing event at Sainsbury’s in Flint and are planning another one before Christmas.

Committee chairman Paul Smith said: “We are looking to raise as much money as we can to make up some of the shortfall and we will present our proposals to Flintshire Council.

“If we lose Swim Flintshire our swimmers will have to either stop swimming or join another performance squad in England or South Wales. There are no others in North Wales.”

The committee is now appealing to businesses and companies for sponsorship.
Anyone who can help should call Paul on 07753 915 835.

Council bosses will make a decision on the future of Swim Flintshire in December.

Cllr Dennis Hutchinson, executive member for leisure services said: “The consultation has been undertaken and will be reported back to elected members in December.

“I would like to thank all members of the public, sporting groups and staff who have responded. There are many constructive suggestions, including those from Swim Flintshire, which we are now considering in greater detail.”

See full story in the Leader

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