YOUNG divers from Trowbridge and the surrounding area are having to travel up to 127 miles to practice following the closure of the town’s swimming pool.

Members of the West Wiltshire Diving Club are being taken by their coaches and dedicated parents to facilities as far away as Aberdare, Plymouth and Southampton to train

It is the club hardest hit by the closure of the pool at Trowbridge Sports Centre just before Christmas.

Swimmers and sports clubs have had to find a new home until the summer, when it is hoped the swimming pool will re-open.

Melanie Sweetman, head coach and founder of the diving club, said: “A lot of our members are not diving at the moment because they can’t find the pool time.

“We have 22 members aged 8-18 and they are having to travel up to two and a half hours to practice.

“Only last weekend, we went down to Plymouth and left at 5.30pm. I finally walked through the door at 8pm. It was a long day.”

The club has no other diving facilities locally and has been forced to negotiate pool time elsewhere at Aberdare (71 miles away), Southampton (71 miles away) and Plymouth (127 miles away) in order to coach its members.

Miss Sweetman, 48, said: “We have had to put in place a six-month programme but it is proving pretty costly in terms of time and money.”

The club travelled to Southampton on January 4 and Plymouth last weekend. Coaches have booked sessions in Aberdare on February 2 and 16.

“Our parents are picking up the divers and we are sharing cars as much as possible to keep the costs down.”

They were forced to look elsewhere for diving facilities after the sports centre in Frome Road,Trowbridge, shut suddenly just before Christmas when structural examinations exposed the need for ‘urgent remedial works’.

It is understood there is confusion about whether children already having swimming lessons will automatically get these back when the pool re-opens as planned this summer.

Parents fear that places may not be available, and worry about having to re-enrol children in a programme which is usually difficult to get into, even at entry level,- because of demand.

Centre manager James Dennison, of Places Leisure, has written to parents who pay for their child’s swimming lessons by direct debit to tell them these will be suspended and no payments will be taken while the pool remains closed. The letter makes no reference to places being kept for children once the pool re-opens.

Swimmers are being encouraged to go to nearby pools in Bradford on Avon, Melksham, Warminster and Westbury and Chippenham.

In the letter Mr Dennison said: “During the closure, as a Swim or Premium member, you are still able to use our other local leisure centre facilities.

“Simply take your membership card with you when you visit. You can book classes as normal online.”

Swimming lesson members have been told they can swim for free or, if they wish, suspend their membership free of charge.

Trowbridge Amateur Swimming Club and the Hot Chill Triathlon Club, have also had to find new temporary facilities.

Trowbridge is the only pool for many miles with diving facilities.

Mark Harrison, 34, the lead coach for Trowbridge ASC, said: “There’s not a lot we can do about it really. We have just had to get on with it and make the most of a bad situation.”

The club has been sending its 200-plus members to hastily-arranged sessions at Bradford on Avon, Westbury and Dauntsey School in West Lavington. It is also in talks to use the Blue Pool at Melksham.

The club already sends its top swimmers over to the University of Bath swimming pool for coaching.

Mr Harrison said the closure has also hit the club's preparations and training for the Wiltshire County Championships, which take place until early February. The events take place at the Five Rivers Leisure Centre in Salisbury and The Link leisure centre in Swindon.

Trowbridge ASC will also have to re-arrange its league fixtures and swimming galas, including its club championships, if the pool doesn’t re-open before July.

Mr Harrison, who has been coaching youngsters aged 10-18 for the past 10 years, added: “It has not been easy. We have been grateful to other centres for providing us with as much time as we have had.

“The parents and children have been very supportive and quite understanding. They are working with us on all the new changes.

“There’s not much point playing the blame game. We have just tried to make the best of the pool time that we have got.”

Allison Bucknell, Wiltshire Council cabinet member for leisure, apologised for the disruption.

She said: “Places Leisure who manage the site on behalf of Wiltshire Council is working with clubs and individuals to provide alternative bookings at our other leisure centres.

“Unfortunately we cannot provide diving facilities at our other leisure centres due to the required pool depth.

“We recognise how frustrating this is for local people, but the safety of centre users is our first priority.

“Supporting healthy and active communities locally is central to our strategy and we are working to re-open the wet side in the summer.”