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Bitterne Leisure Centre first to receive Water Wellbeing accreditation

Swim England are delighted to announce Active Nation’s Bitterne Leisure Centre as the first facility in the country to achieve its Water Wellbeing accreditation.

The awarding of the accreditation demonstrates the high standards and quality of aquatic provision offered by facilities to both health partners and members of the public.

The Southampton-based pool was one of the first to join the Water Wellbeing programme in 2018 and it has allowed the centre to provide opportunities for those with long-term health conditions to become more active in the water, through a range of programmes including Adult Learn to Swim and Good Boost.

Bitterne Leisure Centre was also successful in securing funding for a Poolpod as part of Swim England’s inclusive swimming initiative funded by the London Marathon Charitable Trust in 2019.

Swim England chief executive, Jane Nickerson, explained that she is ‘delighted’ that the first Water Wellbeing accreditation has been awarded.

She said: “I am delighted to see our Water Wellbeing accreditation moving forward and congratulate Bitterne Leisure Centre as our first successful partner.

“We know the programme is hugely beneficial to those with long-term health conditions and it is great to hear the stories from our partners on how it is helping communities up and down the country.

“I look forward to seeing more sites receive this accreditation as they progress through the scheme and supporting more operators and owners of pools to increase the accessibility and inclusivity of their facilities.”

NHS referring into Water Wellbeing programmes

The Water Wellbeing accreditation scheme, which is open to any pool, offers a range of resources, training and support to help staff better understand the customer experience and personalise the aquatic offer to suit the needs of those with long-term health conditions.

More than 30 additional sites are currently progressing through the accreditation, with more who are already delivering elements of the Water Wellbeing programme and are waiting to start the process in 2022 and beyond.

On receiving the accreditation, Active Nation’s health and wellbeing manager, Karen Tillyer, said: “Active Nation are delighted to have been able to work with Swim England on this important programme.

“We have seen many examples of where being in the water has been life changing. For example, the Good Boost programme has been the only type of exercise Nola was able to do.

“Another participant had knee surgery cancelled as a result of taking part in the Water Wellbeing programme due to increased muscle mass which helped support the knee and weight loss from regular exercise.

“We have had an increase in participants reporting an improvement in mobility and weight loss from water activity.

“Taking part in this programme has also opened up the opportunity to link up with health care professionals. With the reduction of hydrotherapy pools available for hire, the NHS are referring into Water Wellbeing programmes to ensure patients are continuing to exercise after being discharged from treatment.”

Stuart Martin, Active Nation’s managing director, re-emphasised the organisation’s delight in being the first to receive the accreditation, adding: “It’s testament to the dedication of the team and their passion for ensuring we are offering a fully inclusive proposition that demonstrates Active Nation’s commitment in continuing to persuade people to be more active by swimming.”

Truly inclusive and accessible

Swim England’s Water Wellbeing programme has been expanded to more pools across the country following a formal partnership with Good Boost.

The company creates personalised programmes for people living with health conditions such as arthritis, back pain and pre/post joint replacement surgery in a bid to get them physically active.

Good Boost CEO, Ben Wilkins, described the programme at Bitterne Leisure Centre as a ‘truly inclusive and accessible community aquatic health and wellbeing service’ that has ‘hugely benefited’ local people.

He said: “Working with Bitterne through Good Boost’s digital technology, we have been able to track and measure the pool’s positive health impact.

“This data has been reported back to the community and is receiving the recognition by local health services that it very much deserves.”

Joe Thompson, facilities grants lead at the London Marathon Charitable Trust, added that it has been ‘fantastic’ to see the difference the Poolpod at the Active Nation pool has made.

“Poolpods help to create inclusive facilities and enable more people with long-term health conditions to participate in regular aquatic activities,” he said.

“It’s been fantastic to see how Poolpods have inspired activity in communities across the UK, and the contribution installing one has made in supporting Bitterne Leisure Centre achieve Swim England’s Water Wellbeing accreditation!”

To express an interest in becoming an accredited Water Wellbeing facility contact health@swimming.org.

You can find more information on the scheme by clicking here.

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