New pool and diving facility enhances Southend’s 2012 training camp credentials

Work is set to start on a new swimming and diving pool at Garon Park in Southend, following the council’s decision to earmark £10m of its capital works budget to build the pool on the Southend Leisure and Tennis Centre site.

The proposed new facilities include a 25m-long, eight lane competition pool, a diving pool with a 10m-high platform – the only one in the east of England – and a dry land training area with harnesses and trampolines.

The new facility will enhance Southend’s strong reputation for developing diving talent. In the last 20 years it has produced three Olympic divers and 20 divers from both its junior and senior squads have taken part in international events.

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s Executive Councillor for Culture, Derek Jarvis says: “This new swimming pool will be a terrific bonus for the town, especially as Southend Leisure & Tennis Centre has already been selected as a potential pre-games training camp for London 2012.

The council claims the pool "will probably be one of the most modern pools in the whole of the South of England.” And that will also be cheaper to run and more energy efficient than the town’s existing 1960s built municipal swimming facility.

However the decision not to build a 50-metre "Olympic" pool has disappointed local swimmers. At 33.3 metres, the existing Warriors Swim Centre pool is actually longer than its 25-metre replacement in Garon Park.

Will Brogan, chief coach for the Borough of Southend Swim Squad believes that as a result “some international and Olympic diving teams will be attracted to the diving facilities at Garon Park, but we won't get any international swimming teams wanting to use such a small pool."

New facilities at neighbouring Basildon will include a 50m pool.

Under the scheme, the existing but dilapidated Warriors Swim Centre, which in the heart of Southend’s main regeneration area, will be demolished and the site redeveloped once the new pool is open. This may include a smaller swimming facility, although no funding for this has been secured.