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Commonwealth Games 2002

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Thursday, 13 December, 2001, 19:50 GMT
Fears for Cardiff swimming pool
The Sophia Gardens swimming pool
The 30-year-old pool faces extensive renovation
Sports bosses are debating whether to pull the plug on the last training pool in Cardiff for championship swimmers.

The Sports Council for Wales is due to make a decision on the fate of the 25m pool it owns at the Welsh Institute of Sport in Sophia Gardens.

The pool's future has been in doubt since Cardiff lost the bid to land Wales's new national training pool - the 50m Olympic-standard facility is currently under construction in Swansea with the backing of an 8m Sportlot grant.

Cardiff's Empire Pool being demolished to make way for the Millennium Stadium.
The Empire Pool was demolished

It means Cardiff Swimming Club, which has produced 13 Olympic swimmers in its time, would have to find ways of training in busier leisure centre pools in the city.

It is likely the Sophia Gardens venue will be given over to other sports such as badminton, judo, netball and disabled sports.

Swimming facilities in Cardiff have not recovered since the Empire Pool was demolished in 1998 to make way for the city's Millennium Stadium.

Talk of a possible replacement has so far come to nothing with plans for 240m sports village in Cardiff Bay still caught up in red tape.

Swansea's success in landing Wales's new flagship swimming facility has put further pressure on the ageing Welsh Institute of Sport building.

The organisation has made an application to the Welsh Assembly to make changes to its the facilities at the institute.

A computer plan of the new national pool in Swansea
How the Swansea pool will look

Spokeswoman Jane Williams said the existing building was 30 years old and would soon require major repairs and refurbishment.

"In particular, its roof, swimming pool and power supply systems almost certainly need to be replaced.

"The swimming pool has a steel suspended tank and antiquated heating system.

"Many replacement parts are no longer available.

"Faced with significant costs, the Sports Council for Wales is taking the opportunity to undertake a major review of the institute and is giving careful consideration to the long-term future needs of governing bodies of sport in Wales."

But the prospect of having nowhere to train its talent if a new pool is not built before the old one goes has not impressed Cardiff Swimming Club.

Coach Dave Haller said: "If this facility does go, we'll have nowhere else in Cardiff to train.

"We're the best club in Wales by a long way - in the top eight in Britain - and it would a tragic blow for us."

BBC Wales' Bob Humphrys reports
See also:

02 Apr 01 | Wales
Start of new pool makes waves
27 Jul 01 | Wales
Welsh swimmers in doldrums
26 Jul 00 | Health
Material filters out pool bugs
30 Jun 98 | Education
Swimming lessons to stay
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