Yorkshire swimming club named the best in the country - but it could soon be without a home
Halifax Synchronised Swimming Club, whose members say they are in danger of losing their club if the pool goes ahead as currently planned, has won the title from Swim England Artistic Swimming Virtual Combo Cup 2021 in two categories.
The Sapphire team, performing to music from around the world, won gold in Division 1 for 15 to 18 year olds, and the Diamonds team won gold in Division 2 for 13 to 18 year olds with their robot-themed routine.
The cup also means Halifax's club ranked third in the country - the highest team in the North and a rise in the rankings from sixth the last time the cup took place, in 2019.
Halifax Synchronised Swimming Club has been lobbying Calderdale Council to change its proposals for the new pool and leisure centre at the current site of North Bridge Leisure Centre because its members say the pool will not be deep enough for their sport.
The council has said deepening the swimming pool would add costs to the build which could not be repaid from the income that the centre will generate.
Although the council has received a £12.2 million Levelling Up Fund award to help pay for the centre, Deputy Leader of the council Jane Scullion has said restraints in how and when it has to be spent mean it is unlikely the pool dimensions will change.
The council has given the club training time at Todmorden Swimming Pool and the club has also been hiring Rishworth School's pool.
But it says the added cost of the private pool time plus extra travelling time has caused its membership to plummet from 115 to around 40.
The club says it has also faced a reduction in available training time from around 12 hours a week to five hours.
Head coach Charlotte Hughes, who formed the club 20 years ago, expressed her delight and pride for the club’s swimmers and all the coaches who "have continued to strive for excellence despite the uncertainty and lack of facilities".
Kirsty McGregor, team manager and parent of a club member, said: “I cannot understand why Calderdale Council would not wish to continue to support this sport in our town when our club has achieved so much and gained these fantastic results after years and years of dedication.
"I worry about the future of the club and that my daughter, who is one of the younger members, will not have the same opportunities that our older swimmers have enjoyed as Calderdale Council have now decided that our sport isn’t important enough for them.”