'Help us find a place to swim!' say youngsters after school pulls plug on pool deal

A Swimbabes class at Mylnhurst Prep School
A Swimbabes class at Mylnhurst Prep School
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Help us find a place to swim! That was the plea from hundreds of little swimmers after bosses at a Sheffield school evicted them from its pool.

For 14 years swim school Swimbabes has used Mylnhurst Prep School in Ecclesall for its baby and toddler lessons.

But Swimbabes bosses were handed their notice by the school on Button Hill and will no longer be able to use the pool after January.

Swimbabes founder Laura Molloy said she had been 'shattered' by the news.

"It affects so many people," she said. "It’s not just us as a company but all the little swimmers who love learning with us at Mylnhurst every week."

Three years ago swimming business Swimstars and Dolphins was served notice – and soon afterwards Mylnhurst set up its own children’s swim school.

Swimbabes have since learned Mylnhurst now plans to expand that provision to include lessons for babies.

"We feel very shabbily treated," said Laura.

"Initially Mylnhurst wouldn’t tell us why we were being booted out. Now of course it feels obvious they were always planning to run baby classes – to do what we are doing but on their own."

Laura said she and her staff have approached up to 50 alternative pools across South Yorkshire and beyond but none has proved practical. Some run their own lessons, some are too far for Mylnhurst swimmers to travel and others are not warm enough.

Swimbabes are now hoping anyone with a pool, particularly around the Ecclesall area, might come forward – even a private individual with a pool at their home, interested in the annual revenue renting to Swimbabes would generate for them.

“We would be delighted to hear from anyone who might be interested in working with us,” said Laura. “We would consider anything to see if we could make it work.”

Mum Grainne Williams, 35, from Fulwood, whose daughter Aoife has learned to swim with Swimbabes since she was one, said everyone in their class was ‘so disappointed’.

"We have loved every moment," she said. "Having to stop now is just going to hinder the children’s progress."

Initially Swimbabes were asked to leave Mylnhurst before Christmas, but were allowed a few weeks' extension to mid-January.

Christopher Emmott, headteacher at Mylnhurst Preparatory School & Nursery, said it had given the business three months notice, as required, and had extended its stay beyond that to ensure swimmers were not inconvenienced.

He said: “I think we’ve been outstanding landlords in terms of enabling them to run a successful business.

"Swimbabes were always aware we were looking to expand our business so this won’t have come as a surprise."