Holidaying youngsters will be able to swim for just 10p at Barrow Park Leisure Centre during February half term – and get a packed lunch in the bargain!
It’s all been made possible thanks to a £6,600 community grant from Westmorland and Furness Council. The hour-long sessions will run every day Monday to Friday between 11am-12noon and 1pm-2pm.
The sessions are open to all children up to the age of 16 and everyone joining in will receive a packed lunch containing a sandwich, fruit, crisps and a drink.
Admission to the pool will be charged at normal prices at all other times and the 10p sessions need to be paid for at reception and availability will be on a first come first served basis.
Sam Walton, Barrow Park Leisure Centre’s Health and Communities Co-ordinator, says: “We have high hopes the 10p scheme will prove very popular.
“One of the centre’s priorities is to improve the health and wellbeing of our communities and the generosity of this scheme makes it possible for many children across the Furness area. We’re grateful to the council for helping us to make it happen.”
Swimming and water safety have been a statutory element of the national curriculum for PE for 30 years but a recent figure from Swim England, swimming’s governing body, highlighted some worrying statistics.
Statutory guidance states: “All schools must provide swimming instruction either in Key Stage 1 or Key Stage 2. In particular, pupils should be taught to: swim competently, confidently and proficiently over a distance of at least 25 metres; use a range of strokes effectively; perform safe self-rescue in different water-based situations.”
Now Sam and her colleagues at the Greengate Street centre hope the 10p sessions will encourage more children and teenagers to use some of their school holiday swimming to help redress Swim England’s data, which showed:
- Almost 25% of children cannot swim the statutory 25 metres when they leave primary school.
- The ability to swim 25 metres is affected by both family affluence and location (school years 1-11).
- Less than half (42%) of children and young people with a low family affluence score can swim 25 metres unaided, compared to 86 per cent of those with a high family affluence score.
- Only 45% of children and young people going to school in the most deprived areas of the country can swim 25 metres, compared to 76% in the least deprived areas.
Sam adds: “We have the only public pools in Barrow, which has some large pockets of deprivation. With those figures in mind, we want to improve the statistics by giving all children access to swimming within the school holidays to help them gain confidence in the water and build on their school lessons.”
Councillor Dyan Jones, Cabinet member for Customer and Waste Services, whose portfolio includes sport and leisure, says: “Swimming is one of the healthiest activities that children can take part in and it’s an important life skill, especially in an area like ours with so many lakes and rivers.
“We hope these 10p swims will encourage our young people to be active over February half term as well as supporting families with the cost of living crisis. Many residents are having to make difficult day-to-day decisions and leisure activities may be a luxury that some parents simply cannot afford. Hopefully this half-term holiday discount will enable lots of youngsters to enjoy a swim without putting too much strain on the family budget.”
The swimming session are the latest community support initiative to come from the centre, which is again opening its doors as a winter warm hub, offering hot drinks and snacks, hot showers, free wi-fi and board games to bring people together to combat loneliness.