Swim club’s appeal for new child pool

Pure Gym

About 100 families in Tunbridge Wells will have nowhere for their young children to swim if a suitable replacement pool is not found, the boss of Puddle Ducks has warned.

Clive Relf ran the classes for pregnant women, babies and preschool-age children with his wife Lindsay in the LA Fitness pool, in Market Square.

But the gym has since been taken over by Pure, which is to fill in the pool in.

Mr Relf said: “The potential win for the community of Tunbridge Wells from our finding a suitable town centre pool is huge.

“Lots of the children will miss out otherwise, without a doubt. We have got some relatively local venues so have saved as many people as we can but there’s a number of customers who with great regret won’t be able to swim.”

Father of four Mr Relf, who was introduced to swimming with babies when Lindsay took their daughter Gracie-May, holds the franchise for Puddle Ducks across west Kent and East Sussex.

The 42-year-old said: “The reason we do this is to provide very young children with an introduction to water in a very progressive and structured way.

“Without it, their water safety awareness isn’t as great and they could be at more risk, then there’s the health benefits.

“The bonus of having it in the town centre was that people could walk, and many customers did.”

Pure Gym

Mr and Mrs Relf are searching for a new pool, which must be between 1m and 1.3m deep, clean and with changing rooms and ‘quality parking’.

Mr Relf said: “There might be a private pool, in walking distance of the town centre, whose owners might not have realised it could be used.

“We swim at 14 venues from Maidstone to Brighton and I’ve got at least ten references from providers, testifying to the quality of the benefits having us brings.

“We support charities, such as Bowles Outdoor Centre, and help them provide their services, we’re a responsible, high-quality provider and pretty much without exception, every venue we use values the fact we’re there far more than for commercial reasons.

“Another pool would be the difference between these children being able to swim regularly or not, it allows amazing bonding with parents.

“The loss of the pool is a real blow to the local community.”

Anyone who could offer a pool should email tunbridgewells@puddleducks.com

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council said Pure did not require planning permission to fill in the pool.

A Pure spokesman said: “Pure Gym has started converting LA Fitness sites into Pure Gym gyms and in doing so will invest over £20m, including £1m in Tunbridge Wells. We focus on creating a high quality fitness and activity environment that meets the needs of most people. We do not find it economical to maintain wet facilities in our gyms. We understand this will be disappointing to some but we believe the greater good is served by offering facilities at lower cost, higher quality and with greater flexibility. The fact new sites have experienced a 70 per cent membership rise gives us confidence this is working.”

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