Divers back with a splash at Ponds Forge in Sheffield

'Deja vu' for divers returning to Ponds Forge following tough lockdown v.1

Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 9:49 am

The head of City of Sheffield Diving Club said it was like “deja vu” returning to a busy Ponds Forge today as Covid-19 restrictions lifted. 

It follows a very challenging lockdown winter that saw its elite squad split up, athletes travelling as far as Edinburgh to train and the loss of members and staff. 

Tom Owens, head coach at the club, said they – alongside swimmers, gym-goers and various other Ponds Forge users – were there first thing this morning. 

He said: “It’s definitely got a different feel to it this time, there is still a twang of relief to be back to it but maybe a bit flatter. I feel like everyone is almost a bit war-trodden, everyone has put in such an effort for such a long time, it’s nice to get back in but it doesn’t quite have that same energy that it did last time.

“We just need to get on with it. A lot of other countries in the world of sport seem to have been getting on with it a bit more, they seem to have found ways to get on with training and competing.

“For all of these guys who are a part of Sheffield Diving Club and get what they do from that, both physical and psychological benefits, we need to be allowed to stay in and carry on training regardless of what happens now.

“They need to keep going now because I think we are just about at the borderline of what can be tolerated by people before they need to get on with their life in some other meaningful way. So it’s a relief to put it all behind us and it needs to carry on and we need to make sure if anything doesn’t go the right way anymore, these need to be the last places to suffer any further setbacks.”

He added that despite centres in places including London, Manchester, Aberdeen and Edinburgh staying open for elite athletes, Sheffield’s Olympic-sized pool was closed for many months. 

Last autumn, Ponds Forge remained closed while other leisure facilites around the city were reopening after the first lockdown. 

Aquatics clubs based there campaigned Sheffield Council, the main funder of Sheffield City Trust which runs the venue, to reopen it, saying the clubs would not survive without it.

This pushed the council to provide extra funding but when it finally reopened it was not long before the government imposed closure again.

Mr Owens said they had only been in the pool for a total of 42 days by the time a whole year ticked around. 

During the latest lockdown, the elite squad was forced to relocate to Edinburgh following a pool fault at their temporary base in Leeds. 

Some were unable to move to Scotland and so the team was temporarily split up.

Mr Owens said: “I’m very proud of the way they have all managed and kept persevering in spite of a lot of logistical issues.”