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Here’s how Dundee compares to other areas for public lane swimming hours since Olympia closure

Illustration of swimmers in lanes swimming lengths

Dundee has lost 73 hours of public lane swimming per week following the closure of Olympia pool, based on an analysis of a typical week by The Courier’s data team.

The leisure complex is closed for a multimillion pound revamp until at least October 2023.

We have investigated the impact, finding that Olympia had held a large chunk of available lane hours.

Photo of The Olympia, Dundee.
The Olympia.

This means that the fourth biggest city now has fewer lane hours available than Orkney, an area with less than a sixth of Dundee’s 148,000 population size.

The avoidable repair project, currently set to cost £6 million, greatly reduces the city’s access to pool facilities.

The Courier has previously reported the impact of this on the training schedules of top athletes and dramatically increasing swimming lesson waiting lists.

How does Dundee lane swimming availability compare to other areas?

We have broken down the number of hours provided by council owned pools across the country.

Three council areas were not included due to difficulty accessing online timetables. These were Glasgow City, Scottish Borders, and South Ayrshire.

Before Olympia closed, Dundee ranked 11th: it has now fallen nine places to 20th.

Fife Council performs best in our analysis, with 346 hours.

This is partly due to being a large council area with nine swimming pools. It also does well for leaving sections of pools open to lane swimming for the majority of the day.

Kirkcaldy and Michael Woods pools, for example, each provide fifteen and a half hours of lane swimming a day on weekdays.

Photo of Kirkcaldy Leisure Centre which houses the swimming pool.
Kirkcaldy Leisure Centre which houses the swimming pool.

Other high performing areas similarly host long open swimming sessions where at least one lane is available.

By contrast, Dundee’s Grove and Harris pools have lane swimming open for at most three and a half hours a day. Grove is only open for lane swimming three days a week.

In Tayside and Fife, Angus Council had the lowest number of lane swimming hours available to the public, at 39 per week. Forfar Community Campus was closed in the week assessed.

Meanwhile, Perth and Kinross had 117 hours, the highest in Tayside.

All of their five pools have lane swimming every day. Perth Leisure Pool and Strathearn Community Campus provide numerous slots throughout weekdays.

When are lane swim sessions held?

If you are looking to swim lengths, your best bet is during the week.

Our analysis of online timetables shows that there are more sessions on Monday to Wednesday, decreasing toward the end of the week.

Weekends have consistently lower hours across all council areas.

This is partly because weekends are when more ‘family fun’ style sessions are held.

Highland Council had the highest number of hours in a single day, on a Tuesday, at 70.25 hours.

This is followed by Fife Council on a Wednesday with 65.25 lane swimming hours.

What do Leisure and Culture Dundee have to say?

A spokesperson from Leisure & Culture Dundee, who run the pools on behalf of Dundee City Council, said: “To accommodate club and general public access following Olympia’s maintenance closure, Leisure & Culture Dundee has increased public access to other pools across the city by more than 100%.

“The programming of pools across the city to accommodate various stakeholders and activities is continually reviewed based on capacity and demand.

“With exception of 08:00-08:30, Leisure & Culture Dundee provide access to pools across the city to clubs, general public and learn to swim programmes between the hours of 06:00 – 21:00 Monday to Friday and 09:00 – 17:00 at weekends.

“This provision is seven hours less than when Olympia was available and at times of very low demand.”

‘Utterly failing’

However, while some programmes have increased hours, lane swimming availability has suffered.

Swimming is one of the most accessible ways for people to keep fit says MSP Michael Marra, who has condemned the findings.

Mr Marra, MSP for the North East said: “This is yet more evidence of the SNP run administration and its partner bodies utterly failing to provide the swimming provision that the city needs.

“Swimming is amongst the best and most accessible ways for people to maintain and improve their health and fitness. ‘Lane swimming’ is the main way that people can do that in a coherent fashion.

Photo of MSP Michael Marra.
MSP Michael Marra.

“The people of Dundee will rightly be asking how other local authorities can deliver this service whilst our own flounder hopelessly.

“They must look at all options to radically increase provision whilst they sort out the issues at the Olympia, including expanding opening hours at weekends or reworking the current schedules.”


To compare lane swimming availability we took a snapshot of timetables over the same one week period, from August 1 – 7.

Schedules were taken from publicly available online timetables provided by local authorities or leisure trusts that run facilities on behalf of councils.

Totals include dedicated lane swimming times, as well as times where it was specified that at least one lane was available.

Some councils require membership to access timetables. Scottish Borders and South Ayrshire councils did not respond to requests for timetable information. Glasgow City Council would not provide details or links to timetables that didn’t require membership when asked.

Other councils affected by temporary pool closures were Angus and Edinburgh. The Vale Pool in West Dunbartonshire paused lane swimming over the summer.

Information for Clackmannanshire Council only gave details for one pool, at the Dollar Academy.