By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter
The swimming club that helped train Rebecca Adlington and Ollie Hynd to Olympic and Paralympic glory will be maintained in Mansfield “for the foreseeable future” under new terms agreed with the council.
But Mansfield Nova Centurion SC, which has operated in the town for 30 years, will see teaching time reduced in the district’s two swimming pools as it takes over sole control of lessons in Mansfield.
The club has been working alongside Mansfield District Council for three decades offering lessons in the town.
Currently, it is at capacity and had 64 athletes training in its lessons in May this year – split across three squads.
It remains the only council-operated swimming club in Nottinghamshire after swimming squad funding was withdrawn countywide in 2012.
However, during this period, Mansfield District Council has been subsidising costs to run the lessons and has employed two members of staff to put on lessons for youngsters.
This includes a permanent swimming development coach and a temporary, part-time coach for eight hours each week.
But now the council has confirmed the permanent coach is due to retire at the start of 2023, meaning new arrangements needed to be found to secure the future of the club.
Papers published by the council confirm negotiations have been ongoing for the past few months between the authority, its leisure operator Serco and the swimming club.
In these discussions, the authority says there has been “close collaboration between all parties” resulting in an “incredibly positive” outcome.
Under new changes, due for approval on Tuesday (August 16), the Nottinghamshire ASA County Swim Squad/Nova Centurion SC will take on full responsibility for the Mansfield swimming squads from January next year.
However, under the new arrangements, provision will be reduced and the current ‘A Squad’ will be disbanded – returning 8.5 hours of pool space per week back to local residents.
In total, swimming time taken up across Water Meadows and the Rebecca Adlington complex will reduce from 20 to 11.5 hours per week, with just the ‘B Squad’ and the development squad remaining.
Fees will also increase for remaining members in January, while swimmers currently part of the ‘A Squad’ will be supported to find alternative provision elsewhere in Nottinghamshire.
The council said: “The council and Nova Centurions will work together to ensure displaced swimmers are kept to a minimum in advance of January 2023 by not refilling spaces in the squad.
“Nova Centurions will also provide training and trials for those swimmers to be invited to attend sessions in Nottingham.
“Other swimmers will also have the opportunity to train with local Mansfield-based swimming feeder clubs.
“The outcome of this collaborative approach has been incredibly positive and resulted in the development of a sustainable model … that maintains the presence of the swim squad within the district for the foreseeable future.”
The council’s leisure provider Serco also plans to offer protected pool times, some free pool hire and price reductions to ensure the financial viability of the club.
And in council papers, the authority adds that the changes will lead to budget savings of its own.
It has previously subsidised the club’s operating costs – projecting a £44,881 for 2022/23 – despite income from fees generating £41,000. The two jobs provided to run lessons will also be disbanded, providing further savings.
The council adds: “Handing over the operation of the squad provides the council with budget savings but also ensures a viable future operating model.
“It will maintain the presence of a high standing swim squad within the district, enabling the continuation of a clear pathway through to development swimming.
“This will help to build a sustainable legacy, following previous successes.”
Councillor Andy Burgin (Lab), the council’s leisure portfolio holder, is recommended to approve the new terms during a delegated decision on Tuesday.
The club has been approached for a comment.