Lismore Swim Academy closes

LOCAL swim schools are doing it tough, with the Lismore Swim Academy the second to close in just three years.

Annie Petty, manager of Summit Sports and Fitness Centre, which runs Swimswell, said Lismore City Council decisions such as opening a new aquatic centre in Goonellabah and allowing Trinity Catholic College to change their DA to operate lessons and squads from their pool were factors.

“We were under the impression Trinity weren’t allowed to run learn-to-swim lessons, and that it was just a pool for the school,” she said.

“But about two years ago something went through council allowing them to start operating squads from there and then it all started happening.

“Initially there was quite an impact, especially in regards to our learn-to-swim classes and swimming squad.”

Ms Petty said the biggest hit was to Swimswell’s squad.

“We lost our entire swimming squad when the coach got the job at Trinity, and we had to find a new coach andrebuild the squad to something financially viable.

“There’s not a huge number of swimming instructors in the area, and they really do build up a rapport with clients. Kids get their favourite coach and parents want to do anything to keep their kids happy, so they follow the ins-tructor to other centres.”

While things are starting to even out for Swimswell, just before Easter it became time for the Lismore Swim Academy to shut up shop. Many swimmers were notified only when they turned up to classes to find the centre closed.

“Small private businesses have to cover everything, whereas big centres can buy through their departments,” Ms Petty said.

“It’s been really hard for the Lismore Swim Academy to survive.”

Following the sudden closure of the Lismore Swim Academy, Ms Petty said Swimswell was ‘willing to honour any outstanding lessons’, so long as swimmers have areceipt indicating what had been paid for, and what remained to be claimed.

“We just want the community to support family-owned businesses, and we know how expensive it is for families to put their kids through learn-to-swim lessons,” she said.

Wendy Adriaans, Lismore City Council manager for arts, tourism and leisure, said council did not consult with other swim school operators when a new swim school was set to operate.

“Council does not approve learn-to-swim, aqua aerobics or swim squads. Anyone can set up their own school andactivities,” she said.

“Council has the same exp-enses that other swim schools are subject to ... all learn-to-swim schools are subject to market forces’.

“Learn-to-swim and aqua aerobics are run at GSAC and the Memorial Baths by council, and the Memorial Baths has a swimming squad which is managed by the Lismore Workers Swim Team,” she said.

“Trinity now has amended development consent which allows them to operate learn-to-swim classes within their aquatic facility.”

The Lismore Swim Academy could not be contacted by The Northern Star yesterday.

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