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Three-time Olympian brings swimming to Birmingham

22nd March 2013

Commonwealth gold medallist Ross Davenport yesterday joined a group of lucky school children to launch the British Gas Pools 4 Schools initiative at The Broadway School in Perry Barr, Birmingham.

Davenport, who competed for TeamGB at the London 2012 Games, joined the children in a special assembly followed by a world class demonstration in the pool.   

The scheme, which is supported by British Gas and the Amateur Swimming Association, brings an innovative portable pool to the area to teach hundreds of local children to swim for free.

To have a pool like on their doorstep is a great way to build confidence and get correct instruction from qualified swimming teachers.

The pool is returning to Birmingham for the third time, recognising the cultural barriers to increasing community participation through new opportunities in the pool. 

For many children who take the lessons this will be their first experience of getting in the pool to learn this vital life saving skill, despite swimming being a statutory National Curriculum subject.

At the Broadway School in particular it was noted that only 3% of children leave school able to swim 25m. However, following the introduction of the temporary pool each of their 1,200 pupils can now swim.

Three-time Olympian, Ross Davenport is urging parents to ensure their children learn to swim and said: “I remember learning to swim at six years old in my local pool after my brother decided to take up the sport. I was fortunate because my parents would drive me to the pool and we had a good facility close to home.

“Many children however aren’t this lucky, so to have a pool like on their doorstep is a great way to build confidence and get correct instruction from qualified swimming teachers; who knows one day we may see a future Olympian who started their journey at one of these very sites.

“However, it’s not just children using this pool. Adults are learning to swim here as well which is absolutely fantastic. This is about raising the numbers of people participating in swimming – it doesn’t matter how old you are, it’s great for everyone.”

Ron Skelton, Headteacher at The Broadway School added: “As a keen swimmer myself, I was taught from an early age the importance of learning to swim and how to be safe in the water.

"Unfortunately due to the lack of facilities in the area swimming is not a priority within the community, but with this pool we are hoping to change that and in the long term look at plans to build a permanent pool.

We’ve been delighted with the usage of the facility so far, not just for the school but also for the local community.

“We’ve been delighted with the usage of the facility so far, not just for the school but also for the local community.

"We have had over 2,000 users a week since it was built which includes before school lessons, curriculum time lessons and after school classes. Other primary schools have also come in to use the pool.

“Only 3% of children from this area in Aston leave school being able to swim 25m, so having this pool enables us to ensure that these kids can develop this essential life skill and be confident and, most importantly, safe in the water.”

The 12m x 6m portable pool, built by Total Swimming and headed up by Olympic bronze medallist Steve Parry, will also be available out of school hours so its benefits can spread throughout the whole community providing a range of activities from swimming lessons to mini-polo and aqua-aerobics delivered by experienced teachers.

More than 2,000 people in the local community have used the facility each week since the introduction of the portable pool.

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