Mail received in relation to general member swimming provision.
‘In response to customer comments, I am pleased to inform you that we have reacted immediately and increased the level of general swimming provision by some 5 hours per week (which do not conflict with a typical working day of 09.00-17.00). The amendments to the timetable will take affect week commencing 29/09/14 and consist of the following changes:
- Tuesday 07.30-19.00 (previously 07.30-17.00)
- Wednesday 07.30-15.30 & 17.00-20.30 (previously 08.30-15.30 and 17.00-20.30)
- Friday 07.30-20.30 (previously 07.30-18.30)
In relation to your first comment – we do spend a lot of time trying to achieve a balance in our offer. As you may be aware, the programme of sports at the University serves the recreational and competitive interests of some 75 student sports clubs, and also caters for student, staff, associate and external members health and fitness needs via the fitness centres and swimming pool. The department also hosts several UoN staff, post graduate and University school clubs, again both competitive and recreational in nature and provides opportunities for children from the local community to learn to swim. In addition to this, the sports facilities play host to several UoN sports society events and competitions throughout the year, together with student national governing body tournaments and events. This places an enormous demand on the limited facilities, especially during the academic terms, when most students wish to become involved in sport.
In order to ensure that we are able to offer the most balanced and equitable programme, that both reflects our requirement to support our student clubs and provides opportunities for members to participate in recreational swims, classes and instruction, the pool programme is planned and booked in advance for the first two terms; during this process, the above factors are taken into account and the department communicates regularly with student clubs and appropriate members of the University Athletic and Students Union throughout. I do of course realise that the general member swimming sessions may not be at the time(s) you prefer, nor as available as you would like them to be, however, we are serving a very large audience within our provision, many of whom their academic/employment arrangements are as such that they are able to utilise the sports facilities at varying times throughout the day.
Naturally, the demand for pool time is greater in the early morning and in the evening (post 5pm) when student lectures typically don’t take place. UoN club training sessions must therefore be programmed accordingly. UoN club performance is of great significance to both the Department and the wider University, with a University target of maintaining a top 10 position overall in British University and Colleges Sports (BUCS). Our UoN sports clubs compete against other Universities within the UK in the BUCS competitions. In order that the training platform is in place to enable these clubs to compete at such a level, it is essential that we provide them with an appropriate degree of facility use in a coach-lead environment. To give you an example of how UoN club training requirements impact upon the swimming pool timetable; in the 2013/14 BUCS season UoN Water Polo were our most successful water sport club. As the clubs training requirement increases according to their level of competition, and as the club expands and develops, we must aim to support their requirements with an adequate level of pool time. What this does mean though is that general swimming pool time may need to be reduced as a consequence of this student activity. This is of course very carefully considered so that a good level general swimming provision remains available.
A further significant demand on pool time is as a consequence of the large number of participants within a UoN clubs. As a Department we have an equal level of focus on sports participation (recreational use) which is achieved by our various sports clubs. For example, UoN swimming Club had over 220 club members last year, most of whom wish to swim within a club environment at least once or twice a week. It is apparent therefore, that in order to allow the club to maintain this level of participation we must provide them with adequate pool time. Furthermore, the performance athletes within UoN Swimming Club should maintain a training platform of between 15 and 20 hours. It is with this in mind that UoN Swimming Club has seen a small increase in the number of training hours in the pool. It is prudent to note though that a large proportion of UoN Swimming Club’s increase in training time has been achieved through negotiation and partnership collaboration with Nova, Nottingham’s elite Swimming Squad. This has enabled us to increase their training time with less impact on general member swimming.
We do of course monitor club usage and where numbers are low, or clubs fail to show, time is brought back into use for general member swimming as quickly as possible. Furthermore, in term 3 a decrease in the academic pressures on our students and a decrease in club training requirement does mean that club usage reduces. As such, we are then able to reintroduce more general provision swimming times.
During our vacation period, when student demand is significantly reduced and UoN club training doesn’t take place, we always considerably increase our general member swimming provision – ordinarily, by some 20 hours/week. During this academic year we will be offering 21 weeks (40 percent) of our timetable with extended opening hours during vacation periods. I must be clear though, during term time student usage is our priority.
The release date of our new/amended facility programmes, with respect to membership sale periods, is one that presents a challenge. Our membership selling period isn’t something that we have previously fixed (memberships have been purchased all year round), and as such, it is difficult to release the timetable at a time that is appropriate for all membership purchase dates, allowing customers the opportunity to purchase based on the following year’s timetable. We always aim to be open and honest with our timetable when selling membership, notifying customers that our timetable is subject to change. I take on board your comment and will work with colleagues to endeavour to bring forward our timetable release date to earlier in the summer period and more clearly communicate our timetable release date, however, it is not uncommon for us to continue finalising arrangements well into the summer vacation period. For example, I have been negotiating hire arrangements right up until September this year. Conscious that it is more misleading to release a timetable that hasn’t yet been finalised, knowing that further amendments may be required, the timetable wasn’t released until these had been agreed.
I do feel that our staff membership continues to offer excellent value for money, with a very high standard of facilities available and fantastic sporting provision on offer. Our new staff membership equates to just £12.91/month (based on £155.00/annum); a price that is unrivalled by other similar local provision.
It is also worth noting that as a member of staff you are eligible to join any of the UoN sports clubs, you could therefore become a member of UoN Swimming Club which would afford you more opportunity to swim recreationally – as per the aforementioned the club does accommodate recreational swimming. I do however understand that the club environment may not be of interest to you.
Thank you once again for taking the time to feedback. It is important for us to understand our customer’s expectations and frustrations and where possible we will look to take action to address these. If you wish to discuss matters further or make alternative suggestions please do not hesitate to contact me.’
Thank you to the member who raised this issue and made cogent and successful representation to the University