Just four years after a devastating fire completely gutted the historic Marlow Rowing Club, a new Water Sports Hub was formally opened on 19 September by rowing legend Sir Steve Redgrave. However, the new centre is not just for rowers. It was specially designed as a community watersports facility – including for open water swimmers – with a million pound grant from Sport England.
Henley Open Water Swimming Club (HOWSC) was one of four watersports clubs represented in the bid and its club members now have access to the £3m building, including its spacious well-equipped gym, bar, storage facilities and changing rooms. It is also beautifully situated next to Marlow Bridge.
Tom Kean, one of HOWSC’s co-founders, says, “with our new base now finished, we can really build for the future. We are now able to put in place an infrastructure that will let us cater for all-comers – children, disabled and novices alike can now be welcomed with the new facilities. Safety is the most important element here, so we can create an environment that lets us grow in as safe a way as is possible. We still aim to do our “wild swims” as we’ve always enjoyed, but now we can create a social element to the club in stunning surroundings that we hope will appeal to lots of sports people who perhaps have never considered swimming like this.”
Kean went on to say, “I’m also hugely excited about our younger swimmers. With the amazing new swimming pool opening in spring 2016 just up the road in High Wycombe, I am predicting that talent will be drawn in from far and wide, both from the open water and pool worlds, which will hopefully include some elites from Wycombe District Swimming Club. And it’s then not too far a leap of faith to imagine one or two will go on to great things. And now we have the facilities to help them succeed, including our very own qualified open water swimming coach in club captain, Mark Plested.”
HOWSC members swim all year in and around Henley and Marlow and further afield. They have club sessions every Saturday morning and ad hoc sessions organised through social media. From April 2016 they will re-start their popular ‘monthly timed swims’ from the new watersports hub in Marlow. Swimming membership is just £40 a year, which includes use of the watersports hub, or £150 for the year including gym membership.
Find out more: www.openwaterclubs.org.uk