BOLTON’S high performance swimming squad has been saved amid fears over a lack of sufficient pool time to train some of the country’s top talent.
Bolton Metro Swimming Squad, one of the leading training and competition groups in the country, have been running for 20 years, but were in crisis after the loss of facilities at Ladybridge High School, which they have used for a number of years.
Squad bosses campaigned for months and, eventually, negotiations with the Bolton Community Leisure Trust and other organisations led to a resolution.
Now, the squad bosses have heralded a new dawn and a chance to develop and improve.
Elliot Bostock, chairman of BMSS, believes the club were in a dangerous predicament which could have threatened their existence.
He said: “Most of the parents argued that we would not close. We could take some of the offers that were on the table, which were more costly than we were paying and face bankruptcy by April or May, or downsize considerably by rationalising the training schedules in order to make the squad more viable, neither of which were considered as options.
“The Bolton Community Leisure Trust met with us and after long discussions we have a few short-term solutions.
“The big positive is that we will now have opportunity to train in Bolton One for two hours a week.
"We are the swimming squad that represents the town nationally and we felt that our athletes should train at its premier facility, just like Manchester and Preston.
“We are starting a new link group with David Lloyd in Bolton and our head coach Emma Swanwick will be working with their coaches and teachers to deliver a pathway programme for their club swimmers. In return we will have the opportunity to train at their facility.
“We are very grateful for the support of Danielle Ingham at Smithills Sports Centre who moved their public swim sessions to a different night to accomodate us.
“They were able to accommodate us for an additional three and a half hours per week which has been a great help.
"“We have still had to compromise in areas by compacting some groups together just to make it work. It’s not ideal but it means the children can still train.
“We have had to pay for all these changes and forecast a shortfall in funding so we are going to have to find in the region of £10,000.
“We are now in overdrive to try to raise that money.
“This is the crucial time for our swimmers because they are approaching regional, national and British Championships and they can get on with their training.”
The squad are working with the ASA and all parties are discussing options on how to further develop BMSS in the long term.