Camps Bay Swimming Club in the deep end

After 76 years, Camps Bay Swimming Club will cease to exist.

On Thursday December 2, the club will close and the decision to terminate its contract at Camps Bay Primary School has upset club members.

Camps Bay Primary was the base for the swimming club.

When George Hedges, the father of Wendy Way, founded the club in 1946, it operated from the Camps Bay municipal pool. After a storm damaged the facility, the club relocated to Long Street swimming baths. And when the Camps Bay Primary School pool opened in 1974 the club was invited to use its swimming pool.

According to Camps Bay Primary School Governing Body (SGB) chair Chris Loker the club’s lease ended in December 2021 and while there had been an option to renew, terms could not be agreed before the June 2020 deadline.

“The school elected and informed the club that they would go through a procurement cycle to satisfy the SGB that they were getting the most from the facilities, which incur significant costs at a time when most schools are struggling financially, and to try regain eminence once more as a strong swimming school,” he said.

“This process was delayed due to Covid restrictions but the club was allowed to keep operating during that time. The club were invited to tender (which they did), but were not successful and feedback supplied on the 29th October to them in writing.”

Mr Loker said there had been five applicants and an adjudication process based on a set of criteria set by the school. A non-negotiable for all the proposals, he said, was the continued participation of Ms Way after whom the aquatic centre had been named.

“It was all stakeholders’ belief that recognition of her experience, loyalty, value and longevity was preeminent for as long as she chose to remain involved,” said Mr Loker.

He also confirmed that Vineyard Swimming club would take over at the school.

Simon Thirsk, chairman of the CBSC, said he and other members were deeply saddened by the closing of the club. “During our negotiations with the SGB, they requested R15 000 rental from the club.

“We accepted this, provided the heating was removed from our responsibility, as the school was using the pool around 50% of the time and not contributing to the R175k per annum cost to heat the pool.

“The school rejected our counteroffer and said we must pay the heating. We countered with R6 000 plus heating and the discussions became protracted and placed in the hands of the then incoming new principal,” Mr Thirsk said.

He said they had reached out to the school to ask for the swimming club lease to be extended up to April 2022 when the season ends.

“Why must an institution created by Wendy which is renowned not just to Camps Bay Primary school kids, but most residents of the Atlantic Seaboard and the City Bowl be shut down in this way?

“Why must her legacy end? Why could the school not be transparent, especially considering the amount of respect they are quick to share and publish that they have for Wendy? They have offered her a place at the pool under the new club, which Wendy has declined, as she has pride and self-respect and understands that her services are no longer required,” he said.

“It has been a pleasure and privilege to serve the Camps Bay and swimming community over the past years. I enjoyed meeting and working with so many wonderful children and their swimming families. A very big thank you to all who have supported helped the club over the many, many years,” said Ms Way in a CBSC letter circulated via social media.

A farewell event for the CBSC is planned for November 26. For more information visit the club’s website: www.campsbayswimming.co.za