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Friday, 25 July 2014

Youth swimming scheme may be axed due to cuts

A SCHEME which gives free coaching to youngsters who struggle to swim faces the axe after it became the victim of savage government cuts.

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UNDER THREAT: Furness Schools games organiser Helen Wright with Top Up Swimming programme swimming ‘buddy’ Andrew Kerr JON GRANGER REF: 50025656B001

The future of Top Up Swimming, which has been running in Furness for the past 10 years, was left hanging in the balance when the Department for Education withdrew public funding from school sport partnerships in England.

The project offers one-to-one mentoring to children who are unable to swim a length when they reach secondary school age. Young people are assigned a swimming ‘buddy’, an older pupil at their school, who provide training in sessions for a one-week period.

Both the Park Leisure Centre in Barrow and Dalton Leisure Centre took part in the scheme. Organisers found after just one week, most children could swim 25 metres on their own, while a handful were given a further week, if needed.

Alan Heaton, a swimming coach who delivers Top Up and Helen Wright, Furness Academy’s games organiser, are now appealing to local businesses and organisations to provide financial support to keep the programme going.

Ms Wright said: “The programme was designed to support those children who were unable to swim 25 metres by the time they left their primary or junior school.

“As a result of it, many more pupils are now confidently able to swim a 25-metre length and are happy and confident in the water. Those students are now swimming in their own time with friends and family. While the programme has seen fewer children being unable to swim 25 metres, there are still some children who need additional support.

“The buddy support is beneficial for both the non–swimmer, as it helps them to feel safe in the water, and the buddy who has the opportunity to develop their leadership skills.

“Children have told us they was nervous before and never wanted to get in the water, but now they feel a lot more comfortable around and in water.

“This year, there is unfortunately no funding available for Top Up Swimming and a small group of Year Seven non-swimmers will not receive the extra support they need in order to be able to swim 25 metres confidently.”

The cost to run the Top Up scheme was around £270 a week per school and five secondary schools in the area use it. Up to three weeks of sessions can be required, depending on the number of non-swimmers identified.

  • Anyone interested in supporting the programme can contact Ms Wright at Furness Academy.
Have your say

Surely as the need is shrinking it would be possible to combine the five schools requirements into one week of sessions. Thus saving money and allowing the service to be funded by a benefactor company/individual/charity/whip round in the schools etc?

Posted by Tony on 21 October 2011 at 14:59

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