Wave of protest at swim decision

LAUNCESTON City Council has accused Swimming Tasmania of being "Hobart-centric" over a controversial decision to award the capital a monopoly on the state's major championships.

General manager Robert Dobrzynski echoed sentiments of parents and coaches that Northern swimmers will be financially disadvantaged by the state short course titles, which were successfully staged at the Launceston Aquatic Centre last August, moving to Hobart.

"It's extremely disappointing," he said.

"My understanding is that the majority of swimmers are now going to be disadvantaged by having to travel further and we're gobsmacked that such a decision should be taken in such unilateral fashion without giving us the opportunity to compete on equal footing.

"From a statewide body, that's appalling. It does seem to be an extremely Hobart-centric decision."

In the same week that Hobart Aquatic is set to host one of two major summer championships, Swimming Tasmania informed members of the switch in an email headlined: "Exciting news for swimming across Tasmania."

It said it was brought about by a 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".

However, Dobrzynski believes Launceston was unfairly treated.

"By their own words, Swimming Tas stated the short course competition was `a fantastic event and one we are proud to have held in the Launceston facility' and there was no discussion that they were contemplating moving it to Hobart.

"We would have thought it would have been a professional courtesy to at least have a conversation with us."

Dobrzynski was particularly irked by Swimming Tasmania stating that the switch was as a result of recent changes to the Launceston Aquatic Centre which "have compromised [the] ability to provide the best short course competition experience possible".

"We're still trying to find out what that relates to and would question this as a valid reason," he said.

"We're extremely disappointed that they should come up with excuses and not give us the professional courtesy, given that we are the current venue for the competition, to discuss how we might be able to upgrade and ensure we have the competition in the longer term - an opportunity they have clearly given to Hobart City Council."

Swimming Tasmania's community sport administrator Tim Bingham said the changes relate to the gym but added: "To be honest that is not a significant issue. The main issue is the hire agreement with Hobart Aquatic Centre that was too good to pass up."


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