WEST Somerset lacks suitable facilities for local schoolchildren to learn how to swim, it was claimed this week.

Liz Stewart, who runs Otters Swim School out of Knights Templar First School, Watchet, said the area urgently needed a 25-metre pool with the required depth so youngsters could learn how to swim safely.

Provision for young swimmers has worsened in recent weeks following the shock announcement that Quantock Lodge swimming pool at Over Stowey was also set to close.

Mrs Stewart said she already had nearly 250 children in her ‘learn to swim’ programme but the latest casualty meant the number of children on her books looked set to rise further.

She said parents had already called her expressing an interest in her swimming group and was making arrangements to accommodate them.

Just last week the County Gazette printed pictures of the on-going demolition of Minehead’s Aquasplash swimming pool.

The Seaward Way facility closed in October 2007 after it sprang a leak and failed to reopen because the cash-strapped council could not afford running costs.

Mrs Stewart said pools at St Audries Bay Holiday Club and Knights Templar School where she teaches were ‘fabulous’ but lacked the size and depth needed to provide children with the highest level of tuition.

She added: “In West Somerset we are surrounded by water with numerous children and adults who don’t know how to swim safely.

“Knights Templar’s pool is fabulous but it needs a lot of work and funding, and then there’s St Audries pool which is only 12 ½m x 7m.

“We should spend all our energy and time trying to secure a 25-metre swimming pool here in West Somerset.”