THE ambitious plans to develop Weymouth Football Club received a major boost today.

Swimming chiefs in the county are throwing their weight behind the proposed scheme – which includes a 50m pool – and claim it would be a centre of excellence for the south of England.

Dorset County Amateur Swimming Association said today it believes the plans are achievable and it will be giving all the support it can.

The association’s secretary, Chris Esmond, said the whole swimming community in Dorset and in neighbouring counties were backing the scheme.

He said: “It is being recommended that all qualifying times for major competitions must be made at pools which are 50 metres in length.

“The nearest 50m pools are at Millfield School and Bath University and have many other demands on their time.

“Therefore, if the plan at Wessex Park gets the go-ahead it would be a Mecca for swimmers from across the region and provide a huge boost for this area.

“Weymouth and Portland has a long and proud tradition of producing top class swimmers and we have many who have represented their country.

“This scheme would ensure that the tradition will continue and, hopefully, things get even better.” Mr Esmond, of Wyke Regis, added: “The scheme has support of the County Amateur Swimming Association and also from those in Devon, Cornwall, Gloucester, Wiltshire and Hampshire.”

Weymouth FC unveiled the plans for the £20 million sports and leisure complex in March.

It includes a 6,000 capacity Football stadium, a hotel and conference suite, tennis courts, athletics track and a leisure complex with swimming pools and a ‘snow-dome’ ski centre.

The club estimated the pool and ski centre alone would attract in excess of 50,000 visitors a year and give the area a major economic boost.

Paul Sheen, the development officer at Weymouth FC said he was delighted by the support of the swimmers.

He said: “The plans could be two and a half years in development and the same again to complete but we are confident it will become a reality.”

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