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Kingston swimming society struggling to stay afloat

By Elijah Cruz Dec 1, 2021
Person sitting by a swimming poolCredit: Elijah Cruz

The newly-formed KU swimming society is struggling to access pool time and believes the student union should do more to help.

Vanessa Burini, President of the swimming society, has been working to create a successful swimming society, but has only managed to secure one training session per week.

Burini said she felt exhausted after having tried her best to get the society up and running. “We have almost 80 students wanting to swim and train. We need the student union to commission our planned training sessions in the pool. If they do not grant us access, we can’t officially train together as a team,” she added.

“I have been at this university for three years now and we still do not have a proper swimming club”

Vanessa Burini

The role of the student union is to make sure that all societies are set up correctly and to offer any assistance to the society when required.

In response, a spokesperson for the student union, Jessica Tansley, said: “The closure of the local Kingfisher swimming pool and lack of nearby appropriate pools that meet our guidelines and requirements to ensure the safety of all athletes have made a swim team difficult to facilitate.”

Kingfisher Leisure Centre was the closest swimming pool to the university, however, in early 2020, the pool was closed due to the possibility of the roof collapsing.

Many of the swimmers who had signed up to the society last year or at the start of this academic year have so far only had one training session together.

KU swimmers taking a selfie after swimming session
KU swimmers after a training session at the pool. Photo: Chetan Chuttoo

Tansley added: “Our sports department are continually working hard to find suitable, safe facilities and continue to provide appropriate support to all students who wish to partake in our sports programmes.”

However, Burini has been in contact with various pools and clubs around Kingston to find an alternative pool to Kingfisher to make sure that the 80 students signed up to the society are able to train.

Burini said that she understands the closure of Kingfisher have made things difficult, but argues that “there are so many pools around Kingston”. Burini and her team have been in contact with Kingston Royals (Kingston’s local swim club) so that they can train with the team on Monday evenings.

To become a member of the club, students have to pay a £55 membership fee, £50 towards the student union and £5 towards the society.

Georgiana Carrington, a first-year art student who is part of the society, said: “I do not have a problem with only having one session a week but maybe that is because I am not coming from a competitive background.”

She added: “Even if we end up only having one session a week, that is still cheap and it works out for me because I do not think I have time for more.”

In contrast, another KU swimmer, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “It’s both frustrating and annoying only having one session a week. We want to swim more and have a good sense of direction but the student union just isn’t helping.”

New Malden swimming pool. Photo: Elijah Cruz

Although the swimming society is having difficulties in fully establishing itself there still seems to be hope for the future.

Many KU swimmers who are passionate about the sport and the society are working hard to ensure that this club turns into a success.

Burini said that despite the negatives, there has still been progress. “I have been at this university for three years now and we still do not have a proper swimming club, but to be fair when I joined university there was no swimming club at all… I care deeply about this club and I do not want it to die.”

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