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Watersports given Olympic boost

PUBLISHED: 11:52 01 September 2008 | UPDATED: 21:10 05 July 2010

Britain's Olympic medallists who have thrust watersports into the spotlight seem to have inspired people from Norfolk and Suffolk to follow their lead.

Britain's Olympic medallists who have thrust watersports into the spotlight seem to have inspired people from Norfolk and Suffolk to follow their lead.

The success of double gold-medallist Rebecca Adlington and her teammates has sent scores of parents to their nearest swimming club to sign up their children.

The learn to swim programme at the UEA City of Norwich Swimming Club is preparing to take in 200 new youngsters from September.

Chairman Paul Mattin said: “We had a massive take-up we think because the Olympics were on. I think the good feeling from the Olympics was seen by a lot of parents and swimming is a sport they want their children to get into.”

One of the club's stars, Anne Bochmann, 14, missed out narrowly on Olympic selection but was taken to Beijing with the GB team for experience.

Lowestoft and Oulton Broad Swimming Club, who train at Waterlane Leisure Centre, have added 18 names, mostly young children, to their waiting list since the Olympics started.

Secretary Jill Walker said: “We tend to get a peak in January and at the start of the summer holidays but it is quite unusual to get as many inquiries in such a short space of time.”

But she said she feared the success of the Everyday Swim scheme, which allowed under 16s to use the pool free of charge during public sessions through the summer, could impact on the club.

“We may well end up losing pool time if the pool has to timetable more Everyday Swim. If you lose pool time you lose members.”

Waterlane's service manager Simon Bellamy denied planning cuts, saying he was adjusting times to give the public more flexibility.

On the open water, Bungay-based Waveney Valley Canoe Club has noted increased interest. Chairman Dave Cassell said: “Over the last couple of weeks instead of getting about one inquiry per week we have been getting four to five, to the point where we are full to capacity and we are saying, apply next year.”

Norwich Rowing Club had a full house in its junior beginner session at the weekend, for the first time this year, and expects to see a rise in membership, while Beccles Rowing Club, which only has about 35 members, has been contacted by people wanting to join after watching Olympic coverage.

Secretary Phil Marler said: “The fact that these people have seen it on the television and decided to have a stab at it is quite encouraging.”

Although the watersports centre at Whitlingham had a slow July and August, it is set for its busiest ever September, although it is unknown whether it is a direct result of Britain's Olympic sailing success.

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