WITH construction of the Olympic swimming pool at Mount Kelly well underway, senior staff at the school are confident that completion will have a positive effect on the area’s economy.
After more than five years of planning, an agreement was reached in 2015 to build a new eight-lane, 50m pool to train Olympic swimmers and encourage young hopefuls.
The next steps of the build include concreting the surrounding deck at the shallow end of the pool, the installation of the pipe-work around the pool and plant room and completing the roof timber structure to the link building. It is hoped to see the pool finished on schedule, in August.
The £5-million project has been made possible by Sport England National Lottery funding of more than £700,000 and the pool will be one of only 30-35 50m pools in the UK.
Richard Smith, the school’s commercial director, said the pool is already gaining attention from people outside the town.
He said: ‘The 50 metre pool is already attracting attention from across the country and we will be attracting a significant additional number of people to Tavistock, many of them residential, during the school holidays. We are planning a great many different pool based activities such as “Learn to Swim”, swimming opportunities for primary schools and local residents, swim camps, swimming crash courses, water polo and life saving, many of which will result in more people coming to Tavistock for overnight stays, even longer, and many buying from accommodation providers, restaurants and shops in the town.
‘This isn’t just about swimming either ... we are also developing other sports with the local community in mind — cricket, hockey, rugby and sports/activity camps during the school holidays. The new pool represents one aspect of exciting growth plans for Mount Kelly which will, inevitably, have a very positive impact on the local economy.’
Mr Smith said the legacy pool was the largest single investment made by the school in 100 years and would not have been possible without the support of Sport England.
He added: ‘Clearly the decision to proceed with the project was not taken lightly and our board of governors and Sport England had to be certain that this was the right thing to do. Our swimming programme has, for more than 30 years, produced national and international medal winning elite swimmers but with only a four lane 25m pool there were always going to be limits to what we could achieve. Serious swimming requires serious facilities and that means 50m, or long course, training availability.
‘There is a national shortage of 50m swimming pools and indeed a great many 25m pools have closed around the country. Working closely with the Amateur Swimming Association we identified a requirement for an additional 50m facility in the South West. There are a great many successful and thriving swimming clubs in the region which find it very difficult to access 50m training and we can now play our part, regionally and nationally, in helping to develop future Olympians.
‘Thanks to this and other investments Mount Kelly are experiencing significant success in growing the number of pupils attending the school and clearly this is important for us. It is also important for Tavistock and the surrounding area as, in addition to being one of the largest employers in the area, the school sources a great many products and services locally pumping hundreds of thousands of pounds into the local economy.’
Mount Kelly has helped to develop, coach and educate some of the top swimmers in the country over the past 35 years.
During that time the school has produced 60 international swimmers, 19 of whom competing at the Olympic and Commonwealth Games, winning six Olympic and nine Commonwealth medals respectively. Its college’s swimmers have experienced similar success in the paralympic games, winning five medals in Beijing and further a five at the 2012 games in London.
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