My DC went to both City and Wey Valley for some time, they started at city and loved it. It was while they were young and thrived on lots of discipline, targets and training hard with long hours. They learnt a huge amount, got amazing stroke teaching and for some time swam in lots of competitions. Really instills self-discipline.
They got older though, and as you say, priorities change so we switched to wey valley. Will base my WV thoughts on youngest DD as others are much older and so it was a good 15 years ago!! WV was good, DD3, a few years ago had a fab teacher on a saturday who was young (I think a swimmer herself who trained as a swim teacher as a sixth former..think she went to the same school as my DD actually!) and she absolutely loved swimming because of her! She unfortunately went off to uni but DD continued for a bit until GCSEs hit in and she wanted to focus on lacrosse. She moved to the squad for a bit which IMO was much less intimidating than city but in some ways less inspiring. Depends what you want though- DC were not aiming to be the very best, more doing it for exercise and as they enjoyed it.
WV offer low key swimming for fitness if you want it, you can even be in the squad but not do too many hours and still be in galas. They do fairly well in competitions considering this. I think there have been lots of changes since we left in coaching staff and club managers so this is a bit dated.
DS did some special swimming technique courses with the guy who runs Box Hill and they were amazing sessions, he is a really fab coach so probably worth looking at box hill.
DD used to belong to a club but stopped because of relocating, we've only just got round to finding her a new club. She is fairly good, swam for her school in the national finals and, more importantly, just loves swimming.
She is at secondary school now and so has lots of academic and other sports commitments- we therefore are looking for a flexible club which she can later just swim for recreation and fitness once or twice a week if that is all she has time for. At the moment we are looking for about 4-5 hrs but depending if she starts/stops other sports this could go up or down.
Have looked at City, Wey Valley, Woking, Box Hill and Godalming websites but no idea how to distinguish! Obviously have heard the city reputation of intense training and lots of hours but is that true?