‘intensive’ lessons get more kids swimming
“Intensive” courses for school kids are getting more youngsters swimming and winning awards, a council claims.
Conwy council has been giving pupils the one-hour swimming lessons on each school day over a two-week period, instead of a single hour each week. The result, it says, has been more children learning to swim and gaining badges.
The initiative was developed after numbers taking up the chance to swim for free under a Welsh Government funded scheme dropped by 30% in two years in the county.
A change in policy this year means most of the funding for free swimming time must be directed at the over-60s and children from disadvantaged areas. So the authority has targeted eight schools to get extra “intensive” lessons and drawn praise from a water safety charity founder.
Debbie Anne Turnbull set up River and Sea Sense (RASS) after 15 year-old son Christopher died at Cyfyng Falls on the Afon Llugwy, Capel Curig, in August, 2006.
He died of cold water shock after being sucked into an icy whirlpool.
Mrs Turnbull, from Holywell, said the tragedy “urged” her to teach children of the dangers of water. More than 400,000 have heard her talks to date. She received a special achievement award from the National Lottery in 2017 for her work.
She said she was “disappointed” by the reduction in numbers of kids swimming for free and urged the council to run water safety lessons alongside the scheme.
She added: “I’m pleased Conwy have introduced the two week intensive swim sessions.
“However the need for water safety education should also be taught at the same time – just simple points raising awareness of things like cold water shock, which is the main reason people drown, and ‘tombstoning’ in our seas, rivers and quarries.
“It takes seconds to lose a life and so many lives are still needlessly lost. I am so pleased with the initiative by Conwy.”
New funding rules for extra free swimming lessons means 60% of the cash has to spent on children under 16 years old and living in deprived communities.
Conwy council has given five mainstream schools, one pupil referral unit and two special schools extra swim lessons. The authority said it’s using the extra cash to target schools with a high percentage of non-swimmers.
The remainder of the free swimming grant will go to fund sessions for the over-60s although free swimming foir under-16s during school holidays.
The schools receiving extra hours of swimming are:
Ysgol Maes Owen, Kinmel Bay – 20 hours free structured swimming lessons
Ysgol St Elfod, Abergele – 10 hours free structured swimming lessons
Ysgol Swn Y Don, Peulwys, Old Colwyn – 10 hours free structured
Ysgol Nant Y Groes, Colwyn Bay – 10 hours free structured swimming lessons
Ysgol Ffordd Dyffryn – five hours free structured swimming lessons
Ysgol Gyffin pupil referral unit, Llandudno – five hours free structured swimming lessons
Additional learning needs unit at Ysgol Ffordd Dyffryn, Llandudno – five hours free structured swimming lessons
Ysgol Gogarth, Llandudno – five hours free structured swimming lessons
For more information go to: https://www.conwy.gov.uk/en/Resident/Leisure-sport-and-health/Swimming-and-Activities/Free-Swimming.aspx
By Jez Hemming – Local Democracy Reporter
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