LOTTERY cash could help to put the North-East in the swim with its first Olympic-size competition facilities.

Sunderland City Council has submitted a bid for more than £6m of National Lottery funding to help develop a 50-metre swimming pool.

Should holders of the Lottery purse-strings support the development, a further £6m of city council money would be available for the Olympic-standard pool, earmarked for the Stadium Park site alongside Sunderland AFC's Stadium of Light.

Council leader Colin Anderson said the submission may take up to three to four months to come under scrutiny.

But Coun Anderson said: "I'm optimistic and I think our track record on Lottery bids does help."

He pledged that a 50-metre pool would be built, whether or not the Lottery windfall was forthcoming.

Without the Lottery match-funding, however, the development would lack some extra features required to make it a top-class competition venue. A rival bid has been lodged for Lottery support by Northumbria University for an Olympic-style pool in Newcastle.

British swimmers who returned without any medals from last year's Olympic Games, including Newcastle's Sue Rolph, pinpointed poor facilities as part of the reason for the lack of success in Sydney.

There are no 50-metre pools between Edinburgh and Leeds, forcing many North-East-based swimmers to consider quitting the region to live nearer better facilities.