Village Swimming Pool Our community pool

“If you really love something, that never dies, and it never goes away. And that’s what it’s like with swimming”; Becky Adlington, (British Olympic gold medalist London 2012).


The first pool

Living so close to the river and the sea it’s essential that our children learn to swim, and for many years swimming lessons have been an important part of the school curriculum. There wasn’t a public pool in Kingsbridge until the 1990’s, but there has been a pool here at Aveton Gifford Primary School for over 50 years. The first pool was built in 1965 in part of the playground by the original school buildings for the princely sum of £600! £250 of this came from Government funding, but the remaining £350 came from local donations – the Parochial Church Council gave half the proceeds of their Summer Fete, the Cricket Club held a barn dance and gave half the proceeds from that, and the rest came in from voluntary subscriptions.

The official opening in 1965.

The official opening in 1965.

The first pool was a raised wooden tank-like structure with a liner and a ladder to get in and out, and although it was very small it was just big enough for lessons and for children to swim a length without their feet touching the bottom. It was even big enough for an annual swimming sports day with races, although parents coming to watch did get fairly wet as well!

The new pool

By 1991 the pool had served the school very well in the 26 years since it was built but it was requiring quite a lot of annual maintenance, also the original school building was about to undergo major work which would double its size and encroach on the site of the pool. It was obvious to Tony Bishop, the headmaster, that it needed to be replaced elsewhere with something more up-to-date. He enlisted the support of the school governors and the PTA, and over the next couple of years some land behind the school was acquired, funding was negotiated, and the new pool was built, mainly by a group of parents led by Paul Holmes who was PTA chairman at the time.

Headmaster Tony Bishop running the school swimming sports 1993

Headmaster Tony Bishop running the school swimming sports 1993

The intention right from the start was that this new pool would be for the use of the whole community; since it was opened on a lovely sunny afternoon in June 1993 by local TV celebrity Ron Bendall, many more of our children have learned to swim in it in the summer term, and it has been used in the evenings and during the summer holidays by local residents. For a small place we have been really lucky to have the pool, and one of the best sounds in the village during summer months is the sound of children’s voices really enjoying themselves!

Our community pool

In 2011 our primary school in the village became a member of a co-operative Federation. After several years the managers considered closing the pool down altogether, but at this point the parish council stepped in to negotiate a lease; it is now run by the community rather than the school for the use of residents in the parish, or families who don’t live in the parish but whose children go to either the primary school or the Hive pre-school, and the school will still be able to use it for lessons as it always has during term time.

Funding it.

After paying for the legal fees involved in setting up the 7 year lease, the parish council oversaw the initial repairs and improvements, principally to the filtration system and to the solar panels which provide heating to the water. This ensures that the pool is now much warmer than in previous years, regularly in the lower 20 degrees range, often much higher during heat waves, and is enough to keep it open for an extra month during part of the autumn term as well. However it’s an expensive business for a small parish council to cover annual running costs and maintenance, to replace outworn equipment, and fund our annual resuscitation courses – the pool must cover its own running costs, but we have found ourselves very dependant on other fund-raising to keep the pool up to date and in good and safe condition.

Everything painted, mended, serviced, cleaned, and ready to go - Spring 2016

Everything painted, mended, serviced, cleaned, and ready to go

Tony Porter generously gave a large proportion of the proceeds of the 2015 Classic Car Show to pay for an automatic dosing system which tests the water throughout the day, and administers the right amounts of pool chemicals to keep the pH levels correct and the water safe and clean.

There have been many other improvements as well, and necessary replacement of various bits of the original equipment that have reached the end of their days. The parish council has been very grateful for the very generous input from the Outdoor Swimming Society’s Bantham Swoosh fundraising swimmers who have enabled us to make these repairs, especially those requiring speedy attention during the season so that the pool doesn’t need to be out of use for any longer than strictly necessary.


The 2020 season

All the maintenance and servicing of equipment will be done ready for the 2020 season, but we will ask for volunteer help with some of the basics eg painting, cleaning etc before opening.
Once the weather has improved, and the water temperature is above 21′ (the standard minimum temperature) we will be good to go! The water quality is sampled by Harris Pools (Torquay) who service all our pool equipment, and the new automatic dosing system tests the level of the pool chemicals three times during the day, adding the purification liquids as and when required to ensure that the pool is always safe and clean for everyone to use. Peter Smith and Colin Pearson also monitor everything daily. Once the pool is open the solar panels make a large contribution to the water temperature keeping it regularly at 21′ and over, so the pool can remain open for the summer from the first week in May (provisional date – to be advised nearer the time) The opening date will be advertised beforehand on this website and on the community’s Aveton Gifford Facebook page.

The pool may be used out of school hours between the following times;

during term time;   weekdays –  5pm to 9pm ; weekends – 10am to 9pm.

during the school holidays; weekdays  – 9am to 9pm ; weekends – 10am to 9pm.

As with last year, we also hope to keep the pool open for at least another month after the beginning of the Autumn term….. temperatures permitting. Opening and closing dates, and further information will be published here on the website, and on the Aveton Gifford Facebook page.


Pool memberships, rules, and safety conditions explained.



Payment of £55 will buy Household Community Pool Membership; this will give you one pool key issued for the current year, + resuscitation training for two adults, + annual subscription to use the community pool out of school hours, and during the holidays (see 5. below for times) for the season.

Additional accompanying adults (eg grandparents, siblings over 18)  in the same household can become Community Pool Members on payment of £15 each for resuscitation training, which must be booked in advance.

Payment of £30 will buy Single Community Pool Membership; to cover one pool key, + resuscitation training, + annual subscription to use the pool (see 5.below for times.)

The resuscitation training is only valid for the current year, and so all keyholders/accompanying adults will need a refresher each year before keys will be issued. It must be stressed that this pool is not life-guarded.  For this reason, the safety of your family members in the water, or on the pool-side, relies on your ability to resuscitate, or your capability to deal with an accident should it happen.

The ONLY exceptions for memberships without an AG training course will be for those users who already have a current (to cover the season) Health and Safety at Work certificate WHICH COVERS WETSIDE RESUSCITATION TRAINING. This certificate must be agreed with either Ros Brousson or James Reina first before paying for your membership.

(We have a set number of memberships which we have learned by experience gives us a safe number of users, so we cannot safely issue more keys/memberships. This means that once the training courses are fully booked, and we have accepted H&S Wetside trained memberships we can’t take any more. Also, with apologies, we have to restrict memberships to full time residents only.
Unfortunately because the pool is small, and demand for membership is so high, we have to take bookings for the training courses on a first come first served basis –  you do need to make absolutely sure that you are going to be able to come on that/those date/s when you make the booking.)

Training Course dates for 2020

April 15

April 22

April 29

May 6

May 13

All held at the Fisherman’s Rest, 6.30 until 8.00 pm


Booking 2020

Please note – this year, booking training course dates, and paying for memberships will be done online only. The full membership fee must be paid in order to book your places on the training session, and it will be possible to book two different dates so that two accompanying adults can both get training without having to organise child care.  If you can’t attend, but haven’t cancelled your name/s on the booking page by 48 hours of that session, you will run the risk of forfeiting your membership, but in particular, you will have prevented someone else from taking your place. Refunds will only be available in the event of illness or bereavement.


(All training course and membership fees go towards pool running costs and to pay our qualified instructor. We try to keep costs to members down as much as possible, but we rely on these membership payments to cover these costs, so in turn, we do need to rely on your commitment to turn up – each keyholder place on a course left empty because of late cancelling, means £55 less to run the pool. )


Pool opening times

5.The pool may only be used out of school hours between the following times;

during term time;   weekdays –  5pm to 9pm ; weekends – 10am to 9pm.

during the school holidays; weekdays  – 9am to 9pm ; weekends – 10am to 9pm.


Membership is subject to the following conditions:-

All members will be asked to sign an agreement that they have read these rules and the mandatory safety conditions below, and will abide by them, and that they have attended one of the approved courses.

1. Community Pool Members (keyholders) can only be adults living in the parish, or the adult family members of children attending either the primary school or preschool.

2. Guests; visiting friends of keyholders may use the pool with that person, but not neighbours or people living in the parish who would be able to get their own membership.

3. The keyholder must be present at the pool whilst his/her family or guests are at the pool. This person must please sign the register in the First Aid room on each visit to the pool. (We need this info to count the numbers for pool use in order to set the automatic doser and filtration.)

4. The CP Member must have undergone the Aveton Gifford session of resuscitation training for that year, or hold a current Emergency First Aid at Work qualification which covers WETSIDE training. (Please check your qualification with a committee member first to avoid disappointment.) No other resuscitation courses and First Aid qualifications will be valid for this membership.

5.  For obvious safety reasons please do not lend your key to anyone else. Accidents, however unusual, do happen, and they will not have gone through the appropriate resuscitation training.  This could invalidate your membership.

6.  Please will all swimmers wear appropriate swimwear, in particular swim nappies for very young children.

7. Swimming aids such as arm rings are permitted, but not the use of air beds (lilos), fins, snorkels.

8. The pool arrangement with the school specifies that nobody may use the school playground, play equipment, or adventure area, or enter any part of the school premises. This also includes using their floats and other pool equipment which is used during teaching sessions – quite a lot of it has been damaged in past years by using it to play with after school hours.

9. For consideration of other users, and for the volunteers who daily maintain the pool for your use, please keep the pool, pool side and changing area clean and tidy, and please take all your belongings including litter with you when leaving. There is no paid cleaner to clean any of these areas, everything is done with volunteers – and they frequently have to clear up, usually litter and clothing, but, on infrequent occasions, even dirty nappies and sick. (A mop, and bucket are kept in the first aid room if needed). If we find we have to employ a regular cleaner, unfortunately, this would mean that the membership fee would have to go up to pay for it.

10. No food and drinks (apart from bottled water only) are permitted in any of the pool area. (Not even crisps or sweets please – we want no mice, and particularly no rats to be attracted by crumbs, wrappers or the remnants of a picnic.)

11. The pool cover must be replaced over the water when you leave the pool if no one else is present, regardless of time of day, because this keeps the water temperature constant.

12. The pool gate must be locked on leaving the pool –  for obvious safety reasons, but also as part of our agreement with the school.

13. No pets are allowed into any of the school grounds or in pool area.

14. PLEASE NOTE – Please use the pool with consideration for everyone else.  Continual excessively noisy play, or rowdy and antisocial behaviour spoils the enjoyment for other users, and it’s very unpleasant for neighbours, particularly if they hear it day after day – nobody minds the normal noise from the pool, but we don’t want to have to limit its use at all because the noise level or language has become unacceptable, so for the sake of other more considerate users, your membership will have to be terminated.

15.  Aveton Gifford Parish Council, Aveton Gifford Primary School, and the PTFA accept no responsibility for loss or damage to personal property.

16.  All persons use the pool at their own risk; please read and abide by the safety conditions below. Aveton Gifford Parish Council, Aveton Gifford Primary School, and the PTFA accept no responsibility for death or injury to any person.

Mandatory  conditions for the safety of all pool users;

1. The pool may only be used out of school hours between the following times;

during term time;   weekdays –  5pm to 9pm ; weekends – 10am to 9pm.

during the school holidays; weekdays  – 9am to 9pm ; weekends – 10am to 9pm.

2. The gate to the pool area must be locked by the last members to use the pool.

3. This pool is not life guarded.

4. A rescue pole is kept on the wall of the changing room.

5. The CP Member must have a mobile phone with them whilst at the pool.

6. All children under 18 must be accompanied by a CP Member. For children under 8 years of age there must be one adult over 18 at or in the pool for every two children.

7. No more than 15 people should be in the water at any one time.

8. No person should use the pool on their own in case of accidents.

9. Alcohol and smoking is not permitted at the pool and no inebriated person may use the pool – for obvious safety reasons.
10. Diving or jumping into the pool, and running alongside the pool are all prohibited, again for safety reasons.





Fund raising and the Bantham Swoosh


Aerial view of the start - 2016 (Anna Barclay)

Aerial view of the start – 2016 (Anna Barclay)


Off down to Bantham - 2015

Off down to Bantham – 2015

In 2015 the Outdoor Swimming Society organised the first Bantham Swoosh, for 400 people to swim down the river on the high tide from Aveton Gifford to Bantham. This first wild swim on the Avon was such a success that it was repeated in 2016; this time 600 people took to the water on the evening tide.  It has now become an annual event, and in 2017, the OSS supported our pool by offering sponsorship through the sale of tickets; there would be free tickets for six people if they raised sponsorship money for our community pool. They have kindly continued to do the same for each of the Swoosh swims since then, and in 2019, an extra fundraising ticket was offered to support our village Pre-School.

It’s always been an expensive business to run our own small pool, but the benefits it offers have been well worth it, and ever since it was first built the community has been very generous in all the various fundraising drives for repairs and equipment. Now various government cuts in education budgets have reduced school funding for swimming lessons to the barest minimum, and our school here would be unable to offer anything like as much to their pupils as we can with our community pool. However, with more expensive chemicals, essential maintenance on purification and heating systems, electricity and water charges, and the annual refurbishment at the beginning of each season, as well as the upgrading of equipment, it is more of a challenge to raise the necessary funds.  The contribution from OSS sponsored swimmers is hugely appreciated and it allows the community pool to operate with adequate funding. The school uses the pool frequently, and as part of its curriculum intends to have all pupils swimming by the time they leave the school at the end of year six. That is a fantastic resource for a primary school in a small village in South Devon!

Swoosh 2019

The Swoosh took place on Saturday 6th July. This year 800 participants swam on the morning tide, setting off from Timbers at 9.30 am.

Swoosh 2020, and Friday’s “Boomerang” swim

Friday 3 July . The proposal for the Friday is to hold a “Boomerang” swim, which will have a slightly different format: all participants will start from Bantham on Friday afternoon at around 4:30pm – 5pm. Swimmers will make their way upriver until high tide (6pm) when they will turn with the tide and come back to the where they started.

Saturday 4th July. The Swoosh. High tide is at 5.59am, so the swimmers would enter the water from 5.50am, and 800 participants  again this year.

For further details and ticket sales, please contact the OSS event managers directly.

Their website;

or through their Facebook page;

Swoosh fundraisers – thank you for all your generous donations

Swoosh fundraisers over the past several years have helped to pay for the new summer cover and the winder it is stored on, a new pool filter and many other smaller bits of equipment and emergency repairs during the season Costs in 2019 included a new winter cover, as ours has deteriorated so that it won’t take another winter – that has cost  £2000.
We had to replace the steps up from the pool, as they were no longer safe (they were the originals so had lasted longer than expected, but eventually had to go!) – they cost  £700.
We also need to put by a bit each year towards a new pool liner. It’s still looking intact at the beginning of this year, but it is the original one, and eventually sunshine and chlorine will take their toll. The liner would develop cracks and start to leak, and this could happen without any warning, so we need to factor that in to our funding. A new liner at today’s prices is about £7000, so you can see why we have kept a bit back each year to save up for when that does happen.
Again the fund-raising tickets were snapped up last year before Christmas, and we would like to thank all the swimmers so much for their support for our pool. In 2019 the OSS offered a seventh fundraising ticket to raise money for our pre-school at The Hive; and of course the children who go to the Hive are many of those who are able to use our community pool to learn to swim. Many thanks to the Outdoor Swimming Society, and also a very grateful thanks to the seven swimmers for their generous fundraising swims.



  • 1993 - the official opening......

    1993 - the official opening......

  • ....and now open for use

    ....and now open for use

  • Tony Bishop's first swimming sports day in our new pool - 1993

    Tony Bishop's first swimming sports day in our new pool - 1993

  • A birthday party

    A birthday party

  • Aquarobics!


  • Enjoying the pool during the summer holidays.

    Enjoying the pool during the summer holidays.

  • 400 people gathering in Timbers before the start of the 2016 Swoosh.

    400 people gathering in Timbers before the start of the 2016 Swoosh.

  • Swoosh 2016 - down to the river......

    Swoosh 2016 - down to the river......

  • ....... and waiting to set off (Anna Barclay).

    ....... and waiting to set off (Anna Barclay).

  • Making a splash!

    Making a splash!

Contact Details

For more information please contact:

Ros Brousson - general enquiries
Tel: 01548 550792
Email: [email protected]

Peter Smith - for reporting faults or damage
Tel: 01548 550272
Email: [email protected]