London 2012 Olympians swim with hundreds of young swimmers in Walsall

26th June 2013

More than 200 young swimmers were given the opportunity to meet and swim with four London 2012 Olympians on Saturday 22nd June at The Oak Park Leisure Centre in Walsall.

Gold medal winning Paralympian Josef Craig was joined by fellow Olympians Nick-Robinson Baker (diving), Rob Parker (Water Polo) and Amy Smith (Swimming) to kick off the first leg of the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA), Trunx Tour.

The ASA Trunx Tour will visit many pools across the UK along with the ASA’s water loving elephant mascot to celebrate the achievements of young children learning to swim on the ASA British Gas Learn to Swim Pathway.

The visit came just one month after the largest ever learn to swim survey released by the ASA revealing that 47% of children aged 7.11 in the West Midlands cannot swim 25 metres unaided.

ASA Chief Executive Officer David Sparkes said: "This initiative is about raising the awareness of the importance of children learning to swim and encouraging their efforts as they try and achieve the required level of competence and confidence in the water.

This initiative is about encouraging children's efforts as they try and achieve the required level of competence in the water.

“Perhaps we may even inspire one or two of our future Olympic and Paralympic stars along the way.

"We also are delighted that Walsall Council has announced their commitment to the British Gas ASA Learn to Swim pathway. It is clear that the council believes that supporting children to learn to swim will help achieve a fitter, healthier and perhaps above all a safer generation of young people."

As part of the Trunx Tour athletes and children took part in a fun-filled aquatic morning, trying out different pool activities such as Mini-Polo, Flip ‘n’ Fun, Swim skills as well as learning how to be safe in the water in a Rookie Lifesaving master class.

Josef Craig said: "The Trunx Tour in Walsall was a fun way to introduce youngsters to learn to swim. The day gave a huge insight into other disciplines within swimming. I'd like to see the tour being run in every town."

It was a fun way to introduce youngsters to learn to swim - I'd like to see the tour run in every town! - Paralympic champion Josef CraigThe recent commitment by Walsall Council to implement the Swimming Governing Body’s learn to swim programme – the British Gas ASA Learn to Swim Pathway has seen 30 swimming teachers deliver the programme to nearly 2000 children in accross four local swimming pools.

Councillor Anthony Harris, portfolio holder for leisure and culture in Walsall Council coalition, said: "Swimming is not only a great way to keep fit but it is also a vital lifesaving skill and we want to encourage more children to take up the sport from as young an age as possible.

"It's not every day you get to meet an Olympic gold medal winning star and I'm sure the children really learnt a lot from Josef and his colleagues about how hard work can really pay off and also why it is so important to learn to swim.

Launching the ASA learn to swim pathways across our leisure centres will give 1800 children a great framework to follow

"Launching the ASA learn to swim pathways across our four leisure centres will give the 1800 children enrolled in our swim school a great framework to follow in order to develop their aquatic skills, be safe and enjoy water based activities."

"Hopefully this programme will also encourage more children to learn to swim and stay safe in the future."

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