The swimming pool at The Link Leisure Centre in West Swindon will not re-open until 11 February next year, following the discovery of structural problems during re-tiling work.
The pool, which was built in the mid-1980s, was expected to be closed for six weeks, with a re-opening date of 10 September.
However, after removing the old tiles, contractors found cracks in the concrete ducts around the pool, severely corroded pipework and problems with the render surfaces of the walls, among other problems. Much of the work required to repair the pool will need to be done by specialist contractors.
Swimming clubs with events booked at the pool have been advised of the new re-opening date and given help where possible to find alternative venues.
Cllr Keith Williams, Swindon Borough Council cabinet member for leisure and strategic transport, pictured above enjoying the pool in 2011, said: “The length of the delay before re-opening is very disappointing, and we’re sorry it’s going to be so long.
“When the work started we had no reason to believe it wasn’t simply a straightforward re-tiling job, but what has since been discovered is serious, and it’s going to take time to put right.
"It appears that nearly 30 years of exposure to chlorinated water has deteriorated the concrete surround to the pool, underneath and out of sight. Normally this area is underwater but investigations have revealed serious corrosion to pipework and chemical damage to the concrete, (pictured right and below).
"I’m afraid major maintenance to the pool in the late 1990s was not up to standard and we’re discovering the problems now.
“Clearly, next February is a long way off, but it’s a realistic date and will allow all the work to be done properly. We didn’t want to hope for the best and give an earlier date which then might have slipped, leaving users such as clubs and schools no time to re-organise events they had planned.”
The cost of the work to re-tile the pool was originally £75,000. The extra work to be done by specialist contractors will at least double this amount.
Head coach at Swindon Dolphins swimming club Louise Clayton said it was very frustrating that the club’s post Olympic Games aspirations had been derailed but acknowledged that the repairs to the pool have to be done properly. "We accept that there can be unforeseen problems from maintenance work and it’s better to have the work completed to a high standard so that there isn’t further disruption in the future.
"But it will mean our club has lost 8 hours training time each week since late July. We’re not been able to hold our club championships and or take part in competitions locally. The Link pool is the only one in the town licensed to hold recognised competitions by the ASA
"However Link Centre and council staff have been very helpful and have tried to provide alternative training facilities. We’ve kept all our members and parents informed of developments and we’re carrying on with our programme.
"If anybody has been inspired by the Olympics to start swimming, we want to hear from you. Please contact us via our web site." www.swindondolphin.co.uk
Alternative public pools are available at Highworth and Dorcan recreation centres and the Health Hydro in Milton Road, along with other independently-run pools inside and outside the Borough.
Residents and groups who need further information or advice about alternatives can contact The Link centre on (01793) 465461.