Council invests £125k in accessible and affordable swimming for families

A £125,000 investment by the City of Edinburgh Council is set to make swimming more accessible and more affordable for hundreds of young children and families across the Capital.

Starting from this weekend (Saturday 12 October), a host of measures are due to be introduced over the next two years that will increase swimming provision and access to pools and schools for those who need it most.

The programme involves a raft of measures including:

· free swimming during school holidays,

· top up swimming classes for P2-3 pupils,

· free family splash time sessions

· swimming classes for women and children from BME communities

Councillor Richard Lewis, the city’s Culture and Sport Convener, said: “Swimming is a fantastic activity that is not only fun but keeps you fit and healthy too. The purpose behind providing a free programme of swimming is to open up our pool facilities to those that may never have tried swimming before or to encourage parents to take their children along for a fun family swim.

“We’ve worked closely with our partners in Edinburgh Leisure and sportscotland to produce a programme that specifically targets children and adults who need support the most and also benefits the most number of people for the money available. It builds on what was proposed by Splashback and, I believe, goes even further to ensure that children from all over the city have the opportunity both to learn to swim and enjoy it at the same time.”

Between Saturday 12 October and Monday 21 October, free swimming for primary school children will be available between 12-4pm in four city pools every day during the school holidays (with some exceptions – see Edinburgh Leisure website and Wester Hailes Education Centre website for details). The pools are Leith Victoria Swim Centre, Gracemount Leisure Centre, Dalry Swim Centre and Wester Hailes Education Centre.

These free swim session for juniors will be repeated during school holidays until April 2015 and will also include the pool at Ainslie Park Leisure Centre.

Further to this, from January, the Council will also provide additional swimming lessons for P2/3 pupils in eighteen schools designated as ‘positive action’ schools (where over 40% of pupils are entitled to free school meals). These will be run with Edinburgh Leisure who will provide additional teaching support to help these children develop early aquatic skills, knowledge of pool safety, and in many cases, introduce them to swimming for the first time.

Also early next year the Council will launch a ‘Family Splash Time’ programme which will provide parents and their children with eight weeks of fun, two-hour, swim sessions funded as part of this investment.

The final measure the Council proposes to introduce next year as part of this programme will be extending the successful ‘Female Only Swim’ sessions held at Leith Victoria to other parts of the Capital. These sessions are targeted specifically at the BME community where cultural and religious barriers may prevent women from participating in swimming.

The £125,000 funding for accessible and affordable swimming was agreed by the Capital Coalition earlier this year in recognition of Splashback’s commitment to increasing swimming opportunities for young people.

Graeme Gardiner, Director of Operations at Edinburgh Leisure said:  ‘We are delighted to be supporting this swimming initiative.  We passionately believe in the positive impact that sport and physical activity can have on individuals and communities and we want to inspire everyone in the city to be more active and healthy.  This swimming initiative provides a great way of encouraging people to get active and try out swimming.” 

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