Save our recreation centers: Calum Jarvis says Wadebridge swimming pool paved the way for Olympic gold and must be saved


Recent Olympic champion Calum Jarvis called the potential closure of recreation centers in Cornwall a “shame” and “an absolute joke” and said they had to be saved.

The 29-year-old competitive swimmer and gold medalist moved to Cornwall when he was just a boy from Wales. His early years were spent splashing around at the Wadebridge Leisure Center swimming pool with four other brothers who are also swimmers.

The family moved to near Rock and Calum took swimming lessons in the center of Wadebridge from the age of about five for three years. He then joined the local swim club. Now that same recreation center that he said was his way to victory is about to close.

Read more: Call to protect Cornwall swimming pools and sports centers threatened with closure and protesters gather at County Hall calling on councilors to save their leisure centers

Calum says he cannot stress the importance of those early years in giving him the confidence to swim in bodies of water and fears more lives will be lost at sea, and future Olympic talent may not be identified if local centers are removed.

It was here at Wadebridge that he learned the skills that would enable him to lead a successful swimming career, which saw him represent Great Britain in 2012, only to be part of successive relay victories. 4x200m men’s freestyle at the 2015 and 2017 World Championships.

He made his official Olympic debut this year at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics where he became Olympic champion after winning gold in the 4x200m freestyle team alongside Matthew Richards, Tom Dean, James Guy and Duncan Scott in July .

He has now laid bare his feelings about the circumstances in Cornwall by calling the potential reality that the Wadebridge Leisure Center, and others in Cornwall, could shut down an “absolute shame” and says it will have a ripple effect on them. future stars of sport, the health and well-being of children and the ability of Cornwall residents to stay safe at sea.



Briton Matthew Richards, Briton James Guy and Briton Calum Jarvis react after winning a round for the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo Aquatic Center in Tokyo.

“[Wadebridge Pool] really allowed me to learn the essential skills as a swimmer and then finalize them to impress coaches further, ”he said. “It was all of the coaches at Wadebridge and Bodmin who got me where I needed to be in terms of swimming and competing.”

He continued, “But at the time, I didn’t think I would be an Olympic champion. It was more about having confidence in the sea. I loved swimming, but it was about being safe in the sea because I loved surfing and surfing to save lives.

“The sea is something everyone has right on their doorstep in Cornwall, but without it, without the ability to learn to swim and stay safe in the sea in the first place – we’re going to have a lot more ‘accidents.



Calum pictured as a boy with the Polzeath Surf Life Saving Club
Calum pictured as a boy with the Polzeath Surf Life Saving Club

The 29-year-old says the pool was his “starting place” and no doubt paved the way for him to become an Olympic champion, but that’s just one of the few concerns hanging over his mind.

“If the kids don’t have that, they’re going to have all kinds of problems. It will not only be about learning to swim and staying safe, but it is also a way for them to stay fit and stay in shape. This could lead to obesity issues and other health issues. “

As it stands, if the Wadebridge Recreation Center were to close, Bodmin would be the closest available facility.

Calum remembers that a trip for him as a child from his elementary school in St Minver, near Wadebridge, could take up to 40 minutes to get to the center of Bodmin.

“Children should learning to swim, and for a school to take an hour and 30 minute commute to a swimming pool, that’s almost half the school day.

“You talk about taking hours out of a school day when the kids should be able to go to the pool and should only take 10 or 20 minutes to do so,” he continued.

How you can get involved in the campaign to prevent the closure of leisure centers in Cornwall.

Be sure to complete the Cornwall City Council survey and let the authority know what you think of recreation services and proposals for the City Council’s recreation strategy. You can find more information and a link to the survey here

Do you participate or directly share your thoughts or story with us? Email [email protected] or send a message our Facebook page here

Tweet our stories from CornwallLive Save Our Leisure Centers using #saveourleisurecentres and tagging @CornwallCouncil

Contact your city councilor and let him know how you feel. Find them here

Contact the Cornwall Council Cabinet Member responsible for Recreation Services Councilor Richard Pears:

Call: 01872 322319 or 07793 113150

Email: [email protected] or Click here

Extension: 86 Beach Road, Carlyon Bay, St Austell, PL25 3PL

Take our poll question to see if Cornwall Council should expand its consultation on the future of recreation centers:

Cornwall Leisure Center Live Survey

If you can’t see the poll, click here

“Having to drive through Cornwall to get to the nearest leisure center would be a joke. It’s an absolute joke and a shame too, really.

He said: “When do schools turn around and say ‘is it really essential that they learn to swim?’ because there is no more time to teach them because of the trip ”.

The Welshman, who is now based in Bath, where he trains 20 hours a week, said it was irrefutable that if the Wadebridge pool hadn’t been there as a child he couldn’t have been achieve all he has.



Britain's Calum Jarvis competes in one round for the men's 4x200m freestyle relay swimming event during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
Britain’s Calum Jarvis competes in one round for the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay swimming event during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

When asked if he would swim again today, he replied, “This was the starting block for me. There is just no way that I could have continued and competed at the county level and then nationally and internationally.

“There’s no way without this local recreation center to learn and trust that this would have happened.

“It’s really important that we keep these leisure centers open because talent comes from all over the UK, not just from the big places, and I think I am proof of that. There are also other Cornwall athletes who are all proof of that. “

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Learn more about CornwallLive’s Save Our Leisure Centers campaign below:

Former Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies says boards should invest in recreation centers and swimming pools

The mayor of Wadebridge said closing the center and swimming pool would be “unacceptable”

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