Anger at news all major swim meets in Hobart

PARENTS and coaches of Northern Tasmanian swimmers have been left seething by the news that all three major annual championships will now be held in Hobart.

The state short course titles were traditionally held at the old Mowbray pool and successfully returned to the Launceston Aquatic Centre last August, but Swimming Tasmania announced this week that they would be moved to Hobart Aquatic along with the open and age championships.

Parents were informed in an email headlined: "Exciting news for swimming across Tasmania", but many see it as anything but.

"It's a joke," said Riverside Aquatic coach and father-of-two Trent Hadley.

"We don't mind going for a couple of meets, but not all three. Their excuses are extremely poor as to why all three major meets are to be held in Hobart. They never have to dig into their pockets.

"We petitioned to get the winter champs held up here, they were and were a major success. But now Swimming Tas are saying they've got to go back to Hobart. I cannot understand it.

"Everything revolves around Hobart and the people in the North either have to pay for it or miss out."

Many parents vented their frustration on social media, Julie Sladden commenting: "I look forward to one day opening an email from SwimTas touted as `exciting' which actually turns out to be. I have another word: disappointing.

"The Northern clubs worked very hard last year to get the winter champs in Launceston, an event which was hailed a success. And yet again SwimTas have gone off and made alternate plans, with (as far as I can tell) no consultation with the swimming community."

Steve Davis added: "How can any sport or organisation ever prosper, grow in numbers and strength when they have just made it way more expensive and tougher for half of the state's young and upcoming swimmers to compete.

"All it has done for parents in the North and North-West is cost us a lot more of our hard-earned money every time out kids need to compete."

Other parents questioned whether their costs of accommodation, fuel, food and time away from work would be subsidised by their Swimming Tasmania registration.

The letter from Swimming Tasmania president Susan Cure and executive officer Jamie McIntyre said the switch was brought about by "an exciting and positive" new agreement with Hobart City Council and Hobart Aquatic Centre which will "greatly reduce pool hire expenditure" and "free up funds for statewide development opportunities".

Describing the development as "a major boost for swimming across Tasmania", it said the major championships would be held in Hobart for the next three years with immediate effect.

It stated that last year's short course championship "was a fantastic event and one we are proud to have held in the Launceston facility" but that the agreement includes a commitment from Hobart Aquatic Centre to upgrade competition facilities boosting the potential to host national events in Tasmania.

The letter concluded: "Although we understand that the swimming community in the North and North-West of Tasmania will have increased travel, we are confident that the benefits we have secured for all of Tasmania will make this worthwhile."

Swimming Tasmania's community sport administrator Tim Bingham told The Examiner the new hire agreement was "too good to pass up".

"It provides heaps of savings but a condition is that the three major events are held in Hobart," he said.

"The board felt the amount of money made available will see so much more development across the state that the fact some people have to travel an extra weekend, although unfortunate for them, it is still worthwhile to take up."

The Examiner's swimming columnist, Swimming Tasmania's former chairman of finance Sharron Yaxley said while it was sensible to hold the open championships in the capital city, the short-course title was a logical one to have in the North.

"This is only good news for Hobart families who historically are nervous about crossing that bridge at Bridgewater whereas people from the North and North- West are just used to travelling," she said.

"I'm extraordinarily disappointed because previous boards were fully supportive of holding the winter short-course champs in the North each year to try and provide some balance for the North and North-West and acknowledge they have to travel all the time."

Swimming Tasmania said the state sprint and relay championships would remain in Launceston along with the 2015 regional finals.

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