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Not waving but drowning

On the face of it, this should be a golden era for Britain's public swimming pools. The government is constantly urging us to do more exercise. And ministers have pledged to improve sporting facilities in the run up to the London Olympics in 2012. But despite that, hundreds of local pools are increasingly shabby and some are threatened with closure. The Amateur Swimming Association says £2bn of extra investment is needed to keep public pools afloat.

According to the Local Government Association, which represents more than four hundred local authorities, the funding situation for pools could be about to get worse. It told the BBC that pools were being hit by the "triple whammy" of rising energy bills, increasing competition from private clubs and falling investment from the lottery.

Sports minister Richard Caborn defended the government's record on BBC Radio 4's PM programme. He said the government had invested £285m in swimming pools in the last five years. Mr Caborn added: "We can do a lot more. But I think to date we are tackling the massive backlog we inherited both in terms of activity levels for young people and for facilities." But campaigners remain convinced that teaching of swimming - and access to pools - needs to be improved.

From: UK pools 'need major investment', Luke Walton, BBC News, 2006/10/18

More at: Triple whammy

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