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The Tokyo 2020 breaststroke gold medallist worries the closures may hurt future elite athletes and cause harm to local communities. His views echo The Daily Express campaign Save Our Olympic Dreams which wants young athletes to have access to adequate training facilities.
Adam, 26, said: “Behind a great Olympic team and a great future Olympic team is investment, so keeping swimming pools open is extremely important.
“Pool closures would definitely have a long-term impact and that wouldn’t just be for elite athletes and future GB swimmers but the whole community in terms of our collective physical and mental health.”
The Derby pool where a teenage Adam spent years training is among dozens of sites under threat. The city council plans to shut down the Queen’s Leisure Centre when a £42million complex is opened on the outskirts of Derby next month.
Martin Repton, the leisure and culture spokesman for the city council’s Labour group, fears that Derby may miss out on future swimming superstars.
Councillor Repton said: “Without a centrally sited, easily accessible pool then where will we find another Adam Peaty? Or where will kids and their parents from all backgrounds be able to simply enjoy having to swim? It’s an additional unnecessary barrier to individual fitness, socialising and indeed finding those Olympic stars.”
Adam, whose son George is one tomorrow, said lives would be at risk if pools close. He added: “There is a very real danger that with less pools open and therefore less people able to use them, that less people will learn how to swim.” A public consultation on plans to close the Queen’s Centre ends on October 14.
Councillor Ross McCristal, Derby council’s cabinet member for leisure, culture and tourism, said the venue “is beyond its useful life”.
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Comment by Adam Peaty
Behind a great Olympic team, and a great future Olympic team, is investment – so keeping swimming pools open is extremely important.
I have no doubt that pool closures would definitely have a long-term impact.
That wouldn’t just be for elite athletes and future GB swimmers but the whole community in terms of our collective physical and mental health.
Without pools, will people be willing to travel longer distances to swim? How will you get people to try swimming?
People aren’t going to travel 30 or 40-plus minutes to get to a pool, whether it’s swimming for fitness, fun or children’s lessons. The more pools we have open, the more facilities people have access to, the more people are going to use them.
Hopefully, participation won’t go down – but if pools are not readily available people may choose other sports and that would undoubtedly have a negative impact.
A pool is a staple of a community. It’s so much more than just a place to train or compete.
Just like a gym or a community hall, it’s a place for people to come together, to meet, to have fun, get fit, enjoy.
It’s so important for mental health. When I get out of the water I always feel so much better – even if for just half an hour. It releases the endorphins.
There is a very real danger that with less pools open and therefore less people able to use them, that less people will learn how to swim and therefore more will be at risk.
Learning to swim is a life skill and safety near water is so important.
Especially when we live on an island!
Adam Peaty is an Olympic gold medallist
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