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Youngsters will benefit from free top-up lessons as part of legacy project

More than 70 youngsters who missed out on school swimming lessons due to the coronavirus pandemic are being offered free top-up sessions as part of a new collaborative project.

The youngsters are from five primary schools in some of the most deprived London boroughs and each child will receive nearly four hours of additional free lessons to help them reach the national curriculum target for swimming.

The sessions are being held as part of the London Legacy Project which aims to make aquatic sports more accessible to hundreds of people.

Swim England, Swim England London Region, Everyone Active, Fusion Lifestyle, Enfield Council and the Greater London Authority are working together on the London Legacy Project.

Children from schools in Southwark, Barking and Dagenham and Enfield are being offered the lessons in a bid to help reduce social isolation, improve mental health, get them more active and also create a lifelong love of the water.

The project, which has secured £20,000 from the Mayor of London’s Sport Unites Fund, hopes to build interest and excitement in aquatic activity ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham later this year.

Stephanie Gadd, Swim England programmes officer – growth, said: “I am really excited about this project. 

Excellent opportunity

“The Covid-19 pandemic has meant many children missed out on their normal school swimming lessons so it has been great to be able to work with primary schools in some of the most deprived areas of London and offer these children free top-up swimming lessons. 

“Hopefully this will help them be safer and more competent in the water so they can enjoy swimming and other aquatic sports in the future. 

“A big thank you to all our delivery partners for all their hard work to pull this project together too.”

Tony Rosa, business development and quality manager at Enfield Council, said the project would help youngsters who missed out on lessons and whose families cannot afford to take them swimming.

He added: “As part of the London Legacy Project, we are excited to work alongside Swim England who have given children attending primary school in the London Borough of Enfield the chance to have additional swimming lessons. 

“The need for this was even more apparent as swimming pools in the borough were closed for up to 14 months due to Covid-19. 

“A number of children were unable to complete their school swimming lessons, so this is an excellent opportunity for two of our Enfield schools supporting some of their pupils who regrettably come from impoverished families and would not normally be able to afford swimming lessons to learn this vital life skill”.

Alison Sutherland, Everyone Active’s regional swimming development manager, said: “Everyone Active is excited to be working with Swim England to deliver free top-up swimming lessons for school children at two of its fantastic centres – The Castle and Becontree.

“As a business, we are passionate about teaching children to swim so this, coupled with our long-standing relationship with Swim England, makes for a great new project.

Chance to catch up

“So many children have missed out on their school swimming lessons due to lockdowns over the past two years, so this will be a great way to ensure they have a chance to catch up and meet the national curriculum.”

Anthony Cawley, CEO at Fusion Lifestyle, added: “We know how important it is for children to learn to swim.

“It’s an essential life skill that the pandemic has meant many children have missed out on.

“We are delighted to be part of this campaign and look forward to welcoming young swimmers at Edmonton & Southbury Leisure Centres.”

The lessons will be held between 14 and 18 February at four different pools across the capital.

This is the first strand of the London Legacy Project – with two other strands to be launched later this year. 

They involve offering free tester sessions for learn to swim, water polo, diving and artistic swimming to community groups in Haringey, and a diving development and talent identification project in South West London.

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