A SWIMMING club closes its doors after 50 years of teaching children to swim.
Sandra Yeoman and Doreen Clark formed the Wroughton club on May 16, 1973 after working with the Dolphins club.
They have seen hundreds of youngsters take the plunge for fun or to compete with the support of dedicated volunteers who have supported the management for decades.
But after having had between 80 and 95 members for many years, fewer returned after each lockdown as restrictions forced competitions to be canceled and the remaining members had to remain in bubbles of six with less flexibility as to when they could go swimming.
This made the club’s pursuit unsustainable.
Sandra told the Adver: “Wroughton has always been a small club but always about its members who have been like family.
“I find the commitment of volunteers to the club humiliating and find it difficult to accept that things are coming to an end, or at least a new and different beginning.
“I’ve been coaching for 60 years and some of the older swimmers, in their 40s, have been with me since they were eight or nine years old. It’s rare for parents to continue volunteering with the club after their children have stopped swimming there, but some have done so with us.
“On average swimming clubs have lost between a third and half of their members during the pandemic, which is less of a problem if you have hundreds of members, but we are a small club, like a family unit with a lot of volunteers, so we weren’t there not enough left to continue.
There is a silver lining, however. The Tigersharks club will now host 32 of Wroughton’s 41 club members, so it continues in spirit, if not in name.
Club volunteers help pay for the new kit and equipment their swimmers need after testing with Tigersharks coaches.
Sandra added: “They were so brilliant, I can’t congratulate them enough. We have worked with Tigersharks for years, so transferring our members to them was the best option.
“It’s a sad time, but it’s not the end – I would have found it really difficult to just say ‘we’re stopping, that’s all’ and get our young members to quit swimming altogether.
“I’ve had so much support from our volunteers over the years, it’s become a hobby and a lifestyle, I’m so thankful and thankful and feel very lucky.”