Cupar swimming teachers defy pool ban

Cupar Sports Centre
Cupar Sports Centre

SWIMMING teachers in Cupar are defying ‘crazy’ rules stopping them being in the water with children during lessons.

The new guidelines — implemented last week by Fife Sports and Leisure Trust — mean children as young as three learning to swim can only be supervised from the poolside in classes comprising more than four youngsters.

But while some instructors are adhering to the ruling, a number have risked disciplinary action by flouting the guidelines and conducting lessons in the pool as normal, with the consent of parents worried about the decision.

On Tuesday a five-year-old boy let go of his float during a class at Cupar Sports Centre and — in the absence of a teacher in the water — had to be rescued by a lifeguard, causing the pool to be evacuated.

But Fife Sports and Leisure Trust this week defended its position and refused to back down, insisting it was following national safety guidelines set by governing body Scottish Swimming.

Cupar mum Wendy MacDonald looked on in alarm on Tuesday as her son Alasdair (5) got into difficulties and had to be pulled from the water.

She said: “The situation was completely avoidable — if a teacher had been in the pool it would not have happened.

“There were always plenty of lifeguards on duty supervising the classes when teachers were in the pool.

“But I’ve got three kids who go there for swimming lessons and that was the first time I’ve ever seen a lifeguard in the pool.

“I can’t see my children progressing as well with the way things are now.

“I think it’s a very silly decision — I don’t know anyone who thinks it’s a good idea.”

Last week’s Fife Herald story has been pinned up on the noticeboard at Cupar Sports Centre, along with an envelope in which 65 written complaints from anxious parents have been posted.

The issue has also been making waves on the Fife Herald’s Facebook page, with several mums describing the ruling as ‘crazy’, ‘mad’ and ‘ridiculous’.

Many felt their children had benefited from the confidence offered by having an instructor in the water with them when they were learning to swim.

But a spokesperson for Fife Sports and Leisure Trust said: “Fife Sports and Leisure Trust is implementing swimming teaching policy in line with the Scottish Swimming pool management and programme guide and, as such, will continue to follow its and Fife Council’s swimming development officer’s guidance.”

Scottish Swimming guidelines recommend instructors remain at poolside to supervise groups of more than four youngsters.

They say this offers the best position to oversee the lesson in terms of ensuring safety and offering feedback.

Classes at Cupar comprise up to 12 children per teacher.

The spokesperson added: “All Fife Sports and Leisure Trust swimming teachers have been given appropriate training in accordance with the guidance, with instructions that the new guidelines should be implemented in accordance with any other Fife Sports and Leisure Trust management instruction.  

“Fife Sports and Leisure Trust is committed to ensuring a safe environment for all visitors to its leisure centres.

“The Scottish Swimming teaching policy helps us to deliver this commitment.”