I was delighted to read your thorough and suitably reverential coverage of the closure of the Ken Marriott Leisure Centre. The centre has played a pivotal role in the life of the majority of townsfolk. I still remember proudly diving into the pool with my purple 10 metre ‘width’ patch crudely sewn on to my Speedo trunks by my mother. She was no seamstress, but even her crude stitchwork failed to take the sheen off my stroke. I swam at the centre regularly for four decades, and witnessed a host of changes. The introduction of designated ‘lanes’ for slow, medium and fast swimmers was a real shock to the system. I consider myself an average swimmer at best, but on one occasion I recall a very aggressive man competently performing the front crawl in the ‘fast’ lane. He became very annoyed at a gentleman who, despite plumping for the fast lane, was better suited to the slow, or medium lane at a push. The aggressive man suddenly stopped his stylish crawl to angrily remonstrate with the swimmer whose ambition failed to match his speed of stroke. I felt annoyed by his lack of manners and good grace. All the more annoyed when I enjoyed my traditional post-swim cup of tea in the centre’s cafe. Why, I asked myself with the benefit of hindsight, had I not leapt to the defence of the put-upon paddler and demanded of the aggressive crawler: “Who do you think you are? Ken Marriott?” Farewell the Ken Marriott Leisure Centre, and all who swam in her.
Beswick Gardens, Bilton