Swim England

A nation swimming

Swim England to extend it's popular Club Links programme

A pilot project set up to help bridge the gap between learn to swim programmes and clubs has proved to be so popular it is being extended.

The Swim England Club Links initiative aims to encourage closer working relationships between clubs and learn to swim provider.

Clubs and operators offered introductory link sessions which built on skills from learn to swim and gave learners a taste of the ‘club experience’ in a safe and fun environment.

An evaluation completed following 15 of the pilot swimming programme has shown 80 per cent of respondents agreed it had improved or maintained the club/operator relationship – while 73 per cent said it improved local pathways.

Everyone who completed the survey said they would recommend the programme to other clubs, while 87 per cent found it a useful initiative.

Other positives included 73 per cent agreeing that it had increased awareness of the club to the community.

Karen Byram, the chair of City of Wakefield Swimming Club, who were involved in the pilot project, said the Club Links programme had helped to provide continuity.

She added: “It was really clear and easy to run and it helped our relationship with our local council develop.

“It’s given us focus to move forward in partnership to provide continuity for young swimmers in their transition from learn to swim to a competitive environment.”

‘Supporting our clubs and pool operators’

The Clubs Links Programme adopts a flexible approach as it is run jointly by swim teachers and club coaches.

The programme is for all four aquatic sports and each programme will be tailored to the needs of the local club and partner.

Programmes aim to increase the visibility of clubs and our aquatic pathways and to help establish trusted exit routes from learn to swim environments into the club system.

The programme hopes to engage a range of different partners including local and national operators, private swim schools, schools, community groups and a diverse range of local clubs which reflects the aquatic landscape across the country.

Holly Wheat, Swim England’s growth officer, said: “We’re excited to extend this programme to more clubs and learn to swim providers, following our successful pilot programmes.

“We want to continue to support our clubs and pool operators to give participants the opportunity to continue their aquatics journey in their chosen aquatic sport, whether that be artistic swimming, diving, swimming or water polo.

“Providing an exit route for learn to swim participants into our aquatic clubs is beneficial to both the individual and the clubs to support and sustain long-term growth.

“By working in partnership with learn to swim providers, we hope to see club link programmes become an integral part of club and pool operator programmes.’’

For further information on the Club Links programme – with 50 per cent towards start-up costs available on a first come, first served basis – please visit: www.swimming.org/swimengland/club-development.