Free swimming for children to continue this summer

Winchester City Council, together with DC Leisure and Toynbee School Sports Partnership, will be extending the ‘Free Swimming’ programme for young people at River Park Leisure Centre throughout this August.

The Government announced recently that funding for the scheme would cease eight months earlier than planned on 31 July 2010. The Council has since worked together with partner organisations to fund the 16 and under free swimming programme for the month of August.

Free Swimming has been available to the 16 and under and 60 plus age groups who attend River Park Leisure Centre since April 2009. To date 6,865 people have registered with the scheme. Swimming pool usage has increased by 13% over the last 12 months due to the success of ‘Free Swimming’ with the centre introducing a band system to limit swim times and numbers during busy periods.

Free swimming for those aged 60 and over will cease on 31 July, however residents in this age group still qualify for discounted swimming if they join the centre’s ‘Passport to Leisure’ scheme.

Lucille Thompson, Portfolio Holder for Active Communities, said: "It is unfortunate that the Government has cut short this funding with 8 months to go. It is important for us to be able to offer free swimming to young people when they are likely to use it most. Swimming offers a fun and healthy activity which is very popular with children during the summer months. We are extremely grateful to both DC Leisure and Toynbee School Sports Partnership for helping us to fund this offer at such short notice."

For more information on ‘Free Swimming’ and the Passport to Leisure Scheme, please contact River Park Leisure Centre on 01962 848 700.