By Tom Degun
July 9 - Swimming has suffered another blow after learning that £25 million ($38 million) worth of funding to rejuvenate Britain's pools has been axed by the new coalition Government as part of its cutbacks.
The announcement follows on last month's decision by the Sports and Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson to drop free swimming for under-16s and over-60s because they claim it does not offer value for money even though it was supposed to be one of the main legacy programmes linked to London 2012.
The funding for the upgrading of the pools was due to be distributed by Sport England on behalf of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Department for Education (DfE).
It was going to be made available to modernise council and education pools before the plans were shelved.
In total, 44 projects have been affected and because of the decision made by the Government, will now be informed that their applications will not go forward.
David Sparkes, the chief executive of the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA), said: "Given that the participation part of the Free Swimming programme has already been axed, and the amount of cuts being made across Government departments, this was not surprising news.
"However, this will prevent pools from being refurbished or replaced and further hinder our work to increase participation, especially as our research shows that an ‘unpleasant environment’ is a major barrier to swimming, especially for women."
In the research, issues around cleanliness and maintenance were cited as reasons people did not want to go swimming, especially at old pools with cracked tiles, broken lockers and crumbling fabric.
Sparkes said: "The way forward now is to see how the modernisation of pools can be continued with no commitment to Government funding.
"This will be a challenge but we will continue to work with pool operators and Local Authorities on the best way to do this."
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June 2010: ASA chief executive claims swimming can still deliver London 2012 legacy
June 2010: Government scraps main legacy plan for London 2012 to save money
July 2009: Government hails success of free swimming scheme
July 2009: Swimming reveal plans to get more people involved
April 2009: London 2012 swimming scheme officially begins