125-year-old swimming club in Milton Keynes urgently needs new members to survive

This swimming club has lost members during the pandemic and its survival depends on more people coming on board.

Friday, 5th March 2021, 2:51 pm

Newport Pagnell Swimming club is sending its thanks onto everyone who helped with the fundraiser to save the club from extinction.

The Milton Keynes Citizen raised awareness of the swimming club's travails in December, yet despite a great response this will not be enough to save the club without further funds.

The club received 193 donations raising £20,500 in total, meeting its targets.

Newport Pagnell Swimming Club is facing an ongoing fight for its survival due to financial losses suffered during the pandemic
Newport Pagnell Swimming Club is facing an ongoing fight for its survival due to financial losses suffered during the pandemic

Instead of trying to raise funds through another crowdfund the club are pleading for more members to come to their pool on Tickford Street.

The club is in need of new club members and also wants to hear from those looking to learn to swim or parents with children who need to learn.

Swimming pools are allowed to reopen on March 29 as part of the government's roadmap out of lockdown.

The club's history dates back to 1896, when local children were taught to swim in a stretch of the River Lovat and took part in annual competitions sponsored by businesses in the town.

In 1957 a former swimmer of the club Harry Middleton, gifted money to provide a pool for the town and this became the club's base for training and competition. Middleton pool is still the club's home today.

But, despite having 260 members and a thriving programme of competitions and events, the swimming club is sinking financially due to the effects of Covid lockdown and restrictions.

Speaking to the Milton Keynes Citizen in December, a spokesperson from the club said: "When we went into lockdown in March, pools closed. We decided as a club we would not charge full fees during this period as we could not offer swimming and to help parents whose own finances were also being affected by Covid-19."

"We were able to get back to the pool in August with Covid-19 restrictions causing increased pressures. Limiting numbers of swimmers in each lane and the strict procedures being applied have put a severe strain on the finances of the club.

"Our small pot of reserves which helped us through the first lockdown is almost empty and lockdown two in November has increased the problem. Our income is received from fees, memberships and fundraising and due to lower numbers and limited fundraising opportunities during this current pandemic our outgoings are exceeding our income.

"If this continues and we do not raise the funds our club will have to close."

The club is an important part of the local community of Newport Pagnell and surrounding areas. Its activities range from Learn to Swim classes for beginners to squads that train seven times a week.

"Just before the lockdown in March we competed in County Championships winning 14 golds, 22 silvers and nine bronze medals. This is a great achievement for a small local club," said the spokesman.

He added: "The club is one big family. We have children whose grandparents and parents swam for the club. We have a Uni squad which allows the older swimmers to swim when they are home from university and many of our volunteers have swum for the club themselves."