THE manager of the trust that runs Basingstoke Aquadrome has hit back at criticism over its swimming classes. 

A customer whose children attend swimming lessons at the Aquadrome at Basingstoke Leisure Park complained to Serco Leisure, which runs the pool in partnership with Basingstoke and Deane Community Leisure Trust, and asked to cancel their membership.

Dozens of others commented on her post also criticising the running of the lessons, labelling them as “unorganised” and “dangerous”.

Read more: 'I was stricken with fear' - Mum relives moment Basingstoke music teacher partner strangled her

Holly Lucas, who emailed Serco Leisure asking to cancel her children’s lessons, claimed that there were 13 children in a class with one teacher, saying: “She couldn’t cope and was just joking with the lifeguard about the amount of kids in the class. They didn’t even start the class until 15 minutes in and so only had a 15-minute splash about.

“Another parent spoke to a lifeguard about it and he said ‘oh I think the ratio is up to 10 so she’s only three or four over’. This is not acceptable. This is dangerous.”

Serco Leisure responded to Holly’s complaint, but failed to address any of her concerns raised, instead warning her that if she cancelled her direct debit she may incur a ‘late payment fee’.

See also: Water company 'monitoring situation' in Basingstoke after imposing hosepipe bans

Holly said: “They literally do not care. The response did not address any issue that I have raised and [they] just want my money. Is there anything more I can do? I don’t feel I should pay as it’s dangerous, I’m not just cancelling because I’m bored or the kids are fed up or anything, this is serious.”

The mum-of-two, from Winklebury, whose children are four and five, said she has since heard from a manager at the Aquadrome offering to change her children's teacher or provide them with one-to-one lessons, but she declined. 

She said: "I did not want to put my children at risk with any of the teachers in the Aquadrome. I have emails chasing payment, but I'm refusing to pay for the service I received or lack of."

Other parents also shared their experience of swimming lessons at the Aquadrome.

Stephanie Dempster said: “I asked for my money back as [it] was a waste of time and unsafe for my son. They refused but they were that bad we just didn’t go back.”

Alisha Plant said she was unhappy with the classes, adding: “Lessons were always late / not much instructions or actually swimming going on as the instructor was young and couldn’t handle the children. [I] tried to complain four times with no success. I moved them to a different teacher and it’s so much better.”

Rachel Andrews said: “I left there too. I found it disgusting and too busy. One day I walked into one of the family changing rooms and there was a poo in the baby changer. I cancelled my direct debit and they soon got in touch.”

However, mum Gail Pea said she was "very happy" with the lessons her daughter received at the Aquadrome, adding: "Before swim lessons she was frightened to go underwater but now she's fine."

Responding to the criticisms, Guy Baber, contract manager for Basingstoke and Deane Community Leisure Trust, said: “Our teacher-to-learner ratios for swimming lessons strictly adhere to guidelines provided by the Swimming Teachers Association (STA), and each of our teachers is fully trained either through STA or Swim England-accredited qualifications.

“Due to the nature of swimming lessons, there will be periods when some learners are observing rather than swimming. We try to keep these periods to a minimum to ensure the lessons are both fun and educational.”

STA guidelines state that there should be a maximum swimming teacher to learner ratio of one to six. 

The Gazette asked Serco Leisure whether there were 13 children with one teacher in the pool during the lesson on June 17. It has not yet responded. 

Serco Leisure, which also runs Tadley swimming pool, came under fire in March this year when around 10 swimming teachers resigned after facing a ’50 per-cent’ cut in their wages.

Read more: Tadley Health and Fitness Centre: Swimming teachers resign

A petition has since been launched calling for the Tadley pool to be handed back to the community.

It has been signed by more than 1,200 people.