Angry parents force swim squad rethink

FREMANTLE council will rejig a restructure of swim squads at its leisure centre after a tense meeting with about 60 mostly unhappy parents this week.

About 60 people attended the meeting where the centre’s new swim coach Ray Utting outlined plans to split the squads so potential elite athletes could receive more attention.

But that has limited kids who go along for the exercise to sessions that start strictly at 4pm, and many parents said it would be impossible to get them there on time if they had to come from schools outside Fremantle.

Fremantle Port Swimming Club president Dave Lanfear has found himself in that boat, and says if a compromise can’t be found, he might have to take his daughter to another club.

But Mr Lanfear says he supports Mr Utting’s proposed changes.

“In the past you had squad swimmers that are not competing and aren’t part of the club and that was impacting on the team spirit, which is what Ray is trying to achieve – more of a sporting mentality,” Mr Lanfear said.

Mr Lanfear said poaching Mr Utting was something of a coup for Fremantle, as he’d been coaching the powerful South Lake Dolphins at Cockburn Arc.

As part of the changes, elite athletes are broken down further into those aiming for state or national levels, but Mr Lanfear is hoping they might be combined to open up more times for the exercisers.

A spokesperson for the council said the squad program would now be more structured and fit with the state and national event calendars.

“The program offers competitive swimmers more sessions to reach their desired outcomes, such as state and national levels,” the council’s statement read.

“The changes include levels for younger children to enter into squad swimming and prepare them for either stream.”

by STEVE GRANT

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