Westcroft Leisure Centre row casts shadow over opening of £11 million venue
A row has broken out over the Olympic legacy a new £11million leisure centre will offer after a swimming club claimed its elite athletes were being ignored.
Sutton and Cheam Swimming Club has said the borough's elite swimmers and Olympic hopefuls will be given limited access to the pool at the new £11million Westcroft Leisure Centre.
The new pool, which is due to open early next year, features diving blocks and electronic timing systems but the club argues the people they are intended for will not be able to use them when they need to.
Dave Andrews, Chairman of the Sutton and Cheam Swimming Club said: "Why build the thing if we can't use it?"
"They have gone to huge expense to make this a state of the art facility, and it will be one, but those who need it will not be able to use it because of the times we are being offered."
Currently on offer to the club is 13-and-a-half hours usage per category and a week, between 9pm and 10.30pm every day, but Mr Andrews claims the slots are at "very unsociable hours".
He said: "We have seen a huge surge in demand since the Olympics and young people want to swim. If you make our swimmers train between 9pm and 10pm, the adrenaline will be pumping and they wont sleep ahead of school the next day."
"The other time they have offered us is on Sunday afternoons and that is when we have competitions, as do the boroughs other three swimming clubs."
The club currently boasts five young swimmers who are in the top 10 in the country, including top ranked swimmer April Hedges, the top ranked 200m backstroke swimmer for her age in the country.
Currently the club uses Cheam Baths, but the pool is not 25 metres - teh standard competition length.
A spokesman for Sutton Council said: "The general public have had very little midweek evening swimming time at Cheam Baths for 50 years because swimming clubs use this taxpayer owned facility. Of course we want the clubs to use Westcroft too, but we have to find a balance, so we've offered them 13.5 hours a week of exclusive pool usage at a significantly discounted rate."
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