Credit: Serena Repice Lentini

Scottish Swimming launches #SaveOurPools campaign

By Claire Thomson

Scottish Swimming’s vision is ‘everyone can swim’. But with rising energy costs, leisure facilities with high operating costs, such as swimming pools, are at risk of closure.

According to a recent poll conducted on behalf of Scottish Swimming, 94% of Scots agree that swimming pools are necessary for safety by teaching people to swim with 88%also  believing that swimming pools are vital for communities. Yet the recent UK government decision to exclude community leisure from the Energy Bills Discount Scheme investment announced on Monday 9 January places swimming pools under threat.

Swimming pools often lie at the heart of communities, supporting upwards of 1200 aquatics clubs across the UK and have become places where role models and champions are created in one of Britain’s top-performing sports. Swimming and diving are both aquatics sports where a full pathway exists in Scotland from grassroots through to performance on the international stage. However, the high energy dependency of swimming pools and leisure centres makes them extremely vulnerable to closure during the current energy crisis and increased cost of living.

Energy prices for swimming pools and leisure centres have increased from £500 million in 2019 to £1.2 billion in 2022, and the pressure of costs has already proved a challenge for the sector. During the course of the pandemic, governing bodies, councils and leisure providers worked together to stabilise the service through a variety of measures with leisure providers often making full use of any financial reserves.

Aside from the importance of swimming pools for Scotland’s success in swimming as a sport and the sport in its competitive form, 86% of Scots agree that swimming pools are important for health. Described as the “Nation’s Natural Health Service”, more than 14 million people of all ages and abilities take part in swimming every year, safeguarding mental and physical wellbeing and saving the NHS approximately £357 million every year.

Without pools, there is not only the risk of a generation unable to swim but the closure of clubs, which bring people together, and the loss of lifelines due to swimming’s unique nature of being a non-weight-bearing sport meaning that it is accessible for those with injuries or conditions such as dementia, diabetes and depression as well as those recovering from trauma, for example. Pools are refuges for those dependent on them for social interaction, recovering from illness or trauma and families or teams who come together for fun and fitness.

As a result of the increasing severity of the situation and with swimming pools already facing closure in Scotland, Scottish Swimming has announced its full support to the UK-wide campaign #SaveOurPools, which highlights the positive value of swimming pools and the need for financial relief for the sector during the immediate energy crisis. 


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