Passionate petitions to save swimming pools from closure are barely out of the news. So it might be surprising to learn that official statistics from the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) confirm there are 346 more public swimming pools in the UK than there were eight years ago.
Although there are less diving pools and leisure pools, the number of learner pools, lidos and main pools have all contributed to a steady seven per cent growth in commercial pool provision.
According to the ASA there were 101 new public pools built last year with 97 pools major refurbishments, taking the total number of public pools over the 5,000 mark. These break down as: • Main Pools – 2854 • Diving Pools – 57 • Learner Pools – 1211 • Leisure Pools – 271 • Lidos – 693.
Crucially, for top-level competition swimming, there are now thirty two, 50m pools in the UK, with at least three more under construction.
The public are responding to that increased pool time. Latest statistics show that nearly three million Brits are swimming every week. With almost two-thirds of those being women, swimming remains the most popular sport for women over 16.
But Zoe Cooper, head of accounts at the STA thinks demand is still outstripping supply: “In terms of actual swimming pool provision, there has been an increase in the number of 50m pools opening; however, while we have seen six new ones open in recent years, sadly we have also seen nine pools close.
This combined with the growth in the private swim school market means there is a real fight for water space across the UK, says Zoe but that could be good news for the swimming pool construction industry as she adds: “To counteract the issue of reduced pool space, several of our larger private swim school customers are now looking to build their own community pools.”