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Moray swimmers devastated as new sports centre will NOT have a pool

Elgin Swimming Club assistant coach Andy Northover and head coach Andy Summers
Elgin Swimming Club assistant coach Andy Northover and head coach Andy Summers

Budding swimming stars say they have been left high and dry by plans for a multimillion-pound sports centre – which do not include a pool.

Their coaches now fear their potential could go down the drain because of a lack of top class facilities.

Plans for a new Moray Sports Centre – which were unveiled this week – have already been widely welcomed by local athletes.

But members of Elgin Amateur Swimming Club believe it is a mistake to exclude a pool from the proposals

They say they were left “devastated” when they realised they would be left out in the cold.

The new centre, which is being developed by local firm Springfield Properties’ chairman Sandy Adam, will take shape at the south of Elgin on a site near the Linkwood distillery.

The region already has six swimming pools at Elgin, Lossiemouth, Buckie, Forres, Aberlour and Keith.

But the club says its members need an eight-lane, 25-metre facility to train for and stage competitive events.

Mr Adam said yesterday said that such a major addition to his complex, will be run as a charity with the aim of simply breaking even, would not make financial sense.

He said: “It’s unlikely there will be a pool at the venue, because Moray is pretty well served with pools already, and it would be hard to stack up economically.

“We just don’t see the need for a pool as much as we do for a big games hall, indoor tennis courts or a 3G pitch.

“But this is only the first phase of our development, and if we can make the venue a success and grow it in the future then we will be open to ideas for a second phase.”

An Elgin Amateur Swimming Club spokesman said: “We know there are other pools in Moray, but the club has some real potential talent, and that could be wasted if they don’t have the proper facilities to train in.

“The pool at Moray Leisure Centre is basically a leisure pool and not one designed for competitive swimming.

“We know pools are expensive to build but, if this centre is trying to encourage kids into sport to help put Elgin on the map, then this would be necessary.

“The other pools here are not to the standard needed to train someone to be a top athlete, and don’t have suitable spectator areas.”

He added: “Swimming is the UK’s most popular sport, and it’s absolutely ludicrous that this centre does not plan to have one on site.”

Mr Adam’s decision not to include a pool was partly based on a leisure review undertaken last year by SportScotland, at the request of Moray Council.

A spokesman for the local authority said: “The SportScotland review showed that Moray is above the national average in provision of pools per head of population, with 95% of the Moray population within a 30-minute drive of a swimming pool.”

Mr Adam has said that the new sports centre will be at least under construction by 2017.

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