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Anger over cash cuts at disabled swimmers' base

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: October 23, 2013

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Youngsters watch Olympic diver Nick Robinson-Baker in action at Wales National Pool Swansea and (above) Ellie Simmonds. SWJM20120913A-022_C

A DECISION to pull the plug on Swansea as a base for Paralympic swimming is a significant blow to disabled sport in Wales, it has been claimed.

British Swimming has told bosses at the Wales National Pool Swansea that they are to stop using the facility that has produced medal winning swimmers such as Ellie Simmonds and Dave Roberts.

Now the pool's board is calling on the Welsh and UK Governments, along with UK Sport, to try to get the decision reversed.

In a letter sent to politicians yesterday, pool chairwoman M Anne Ellis said: "The decision to stop using the excellent pool facilities in Swansea as a base for elite Paralympics swimming is a significant blow to disability sport provision in Wales."

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BELOW: Ellie Simmonds wins gold at the London Paralympics:

She said British Swimming would locate all the GB national training in Manchester.

She added this was "particularly disappointing not only because of the exceptional track record developed by Swansea, but also it now means that all elite Paralympic swimmers from Wales will have to travel to Manchester if they want to be in the GB National Squad.

"This also means the pool loses out on income from elite training and the coaching excellence developed in the field of Paralympics swimming is under threat."

Plaid Cymru AM for South West Wales Bethan Jenkins said: "The pool is an excellent facility and it is a crying shame that this decision has been made.

"What worries me most is the impact this might have on Paralympian athletes, particularly as it appears to fly in the face of the Olympics legacy that was promised as a condition of winning the London Games.

"You do not improve participation and improve our medal count by cutting back on funding and use of resources."

BELOW: Sam and Ollie Hynd secure silver and bronze in the S8 men's 400m freestyle at the London 2012 Paralympics

The pool is currently the base for Olympians Georgia Davies and Jemma Lowe as well as World and Commonwealth medallist Jazz Carlin.

British Swimming's budget was cut after what was seen to be a poor performance at London 2012.

British Swimming said it had carried out a detailed review of the pools in Swansea and Manchester before the decision was made not to renew the contract with Swansea.

Performance director Chris Furber said: "A review took place to ensure that we were providing athletes with the best support and services within their daily training environments.

"The decision was made, as we move forwards towards Rio, we would have one National Performance Centre where we will have the very best support and services that athletes require.

"We will continue to work with SwimWales regarding the support that athletes receive in Wales and how we can also support their talent programmes."

He said one of the advantages Manchester has over Swansea is it is also home to a number of elite sports including taekwondo and cycling so can provide a support network.

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