Birmingham has one of the lowest proportions of swimming provision to size of population anywhere in the West Midlands.
There are 32 pools in the city, but only 17 have full public access. The remainder are in colleges and universities or privately owned.
Levels of participation in swimming in Birmingham are sharply lower than the national average and it is the poorest parts of the city, with high social deprivation, that are most likely to lack easily accessible pools.
By 2021, taking population growth into account, Birmingham will need an additional 10 pools simply in order to climb to the national average.
Addressing the low level of “water space” dominates a city council strategy setting out plans for an initial £84.5million investment in new pools. Most of the money – £60.5million – will pay for a 50m Olympic size pool on a site near the National Indoor Arena in the city centre.
The development would actually consist of three separate pools – the Olympic pool, a diving centre and a leisure pool.
Replacement of Harborne swimming pool and refurbishment of Stechford Cascades will cost a total of £24million.
But that alone would not lift Birmingham to the national average for pool provision, according to a consultants report to the council cabinet. A second development phase, providing three 25m six-lane pools on yet to be identified sites, would cost £36million – bringing the total swimming investment up to £115million.