Children offered a great deal in the pool

SCHOOLCHILDREN in west Suffolk have been offered a summer of virtually free swimming in a bid to improve their water skills as a national survey has revealed that one in three youngsters under eleven years cannot swim.

The outdoor swimming pool at Great Cornard Sports Centre will open its doors this Friday evening and then continue to offer swimming sessions to children aged under 17 through to September.

Children just need to pay �4 to register and will then qualify for free swimming during this period.

The offer has been made possible through funding from Babergh District Council, South Suffolk Community Development and Great Cornard Parish Council.

Sports centre manager, Dan Lawrence said it was the third summer that local children have been offered free access to the pool and he is convinced it goes a long way to helping them improve their swimming skills.

He said: “During previous summers I have seen children start the holidays confined to the shallow end because they can’t swim but by the end of the holidays they are jumping in the deep end and getting themselves back to the side.

“They may not have a perfect stroke technique but they are learning to swim through play and that could make all the difference if they fell into the rivers near here.”

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Mr Lawrence was speaking less than a fortnight after the Amateur Swimming Association published research, which shows that around 200,000 children around the country will leave primary school this summer unable to swim.

The report also revealed that of the children unable to swim, nearly 40% have never been offered school swimming lessons despite it being a statutory element of the National Curriculum.

For more details of the swimming offer visit www.gcsportscentre.co.uk or contact the sports centre on 01787 374861.