Sarah takes the plunge to get youngsters swimming

November 25, 2013 12:37 PM

Sarah Brown at Parkside PoolsWhen Cambridge Lib Dem Councillor, Sarah Brown heard how the number of disadvantaged youngsters unable to swim was increasing she decided to do something about it.

She had just taken over running Cambridge City Council's swimming pools, public health and children's services and she decided a new initiative was needed to tackle the problem.

Sarah, Executive Councillor for Community Wellbeing brought together council officers from public health, the council's play service (ChYpPS) and leisure management and asked them to work together to develop a scheme to target those children least likely to have strong swimming skills.

The aim was to deliver free, targeted swimming lessons tailored specifically at them and a new scheme is expected to be up and running early in 2014.

Figures show that increasing numbers of children reach secondary school age unable to swim or cannot swim at least two lengths of a pool. This is a particular problem among children from poorer families, children with certain disabilities and some ethnic minority groups.

"When I heard about the increasing number of children who couldn't swim, I was shocked", said Sarah. "Swimming is a vital life skill. Not only is it a fantastic way to keep fit and healthy, and great for mental health, but knowing how to swim can also save your life.

"We have contact with children from all communities and backgrounds through ChYpPS. Working with the city council's new leisure management partners, GLL and other partners we're going to get kids swimming who otherwise would never learn."

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