Free swimming offer set to continue to make a splash in Swansea
FREE swimming opportunities for children and older people in Swansea-based swimming pools is set to continue into the years ahead.
Swansea Council, together with its partners Freedom Leisure and the Wales National Pool (WNPS), have moved to reassure users after Sport Wales decided to reduce funding for the service at venues across Wales.
Despite this, under new proposals just unveiled, young people will still have the chance for free splash sessions at their local pools located at Penlan, Morriston, Penyrheol and WNPS every weekend and additional sessions during school summer holidays.
In addition, all over 60s will be able to enjoy two sessions per week of free swimming with specific slots each day between Sunday to Monday, across the facilities.
Robert Francis-Davies, Cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: “Uptake of the free swim initiative has been low over the last few years. As a result of this, Sport Wales has reviewed and subsequently revised the scheme and taken a decision to reduce funding to all pools across all local authority areas.
“This decision has given Swansea Council, Freedom Leisure and WNPS the opportunity to look again at what we can do to transform and promote participation in swimming across our communities.
“Swansea Council has always championed swimming as a great way to stay fit and socialise with like-minded enthusiasts. It was one of the reasons we went into partnership last year with Freedom Leisure to ensure the future of our leisure centres for the next 20 years.
“We also know that those who do take advantage of it really enjoy themselves and it acts as a fantastic social opportunity for users
“That’s why the council and its partners in Swansea have put together a package of proposals to ensure access is still available to those who want it while also working hard to encourage more people to enjoy swimming.”
Swansea’s proposals involve ensuring Freedom Leisure pools and the WNPS offer free swimming for children and older people at least once a week. Children will have more opportunities to enjoy free splash sessions during school summer holidays, while all young people under the age of 16 and from disadvantaged backgrounds will be eligible for free swims more often than that.
Under the proposals each pool will offer over 60s two dedicated free ‘silver swim’ sessions a week compared to a more general access to public sessions currently.
Sport Wales is also offering Swansea Council, Freedom Leisure and WNPS a one off sum of over £75k to invest in upgrading facilities and equipment at pools in the coming months.
In addition to this Freedom Leisure and WNPS are launching a discounted membership that offers unlimited swimming at their pools during public and exclusive member only sessions for £17 a month, the equivalent of 54p a day.
Cllr Francis-Davies said: “Our bid for funding under the free swim initiative to Sport Wales has always aimed to ensure Swansea residents have the best possible opportunities to join in.
“Although the amount of money we receive will go down, we will still be using what’s available to maximise the opportunities for local people to take advantage of the offer.”
“We are waiting on Sports Wales’ response to our submission and if accepted, the changes will be introduced across Swansea’s swimming pools from next month. We’d encourage customers to speak to their local leisure centre about how they can take up the benefits of the revised scheme.”