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Swim England launches 'exciting' new Club Links Programme

An ‘exciting’ new national programme is being piloted by Swim England to help bridge the gap between learn to swim and clubs.

The new Club Links initiative aims to encourage closer working relationships between clubs and learn to swim providers by introducing people in the upper stages of learn to swim to local aquatic clubs.

Clubs and operators will work together to offer club based taster sessions which build on skills from learn to swim and give learners a taste of the ‘club experience’ in a safe and fun environment.

The funding provided will be used to help pay for coaches, teachers and pool time to help the programmes run smoothly. It can also be used to help upskill local club volunteers with coaching qualifications.

The Clubs Links Programme will adopt a flexible approach and it will be run jointly by swim teachers and club coaches. The pilot will involve all four aquatic disciplines and each programme will be tailored to the needs of the local club and partner.

Programmes will run for a minimum of 6 weeks at a time with the aim of increasing 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.

Ahead of the launch of the programme, Stephanie Gadd, Swim England’s programmes officer – growth said: “We strongly believe that every child and adult who is learning to swim should have the opportunity be able to join one of our Swim England clubs in any discipline if they wish to take that step.

“The transition of learners from learn to swim programmes to clubs is key part of the long term growth of our clubs and our sports. This pilot programme will help clubs become more visible in their local communities and provide a trusted exit route from learn to swim programmes.”

‘A prime opportunity’

The pilot scheme will be run in a variety of different settings and communities to test the model ahead of a planned extended rollout in 2023/24.

The first Club Links Programme with Brimhams Active and Harrogate District Swimming Club has just been launched in Ripon and Knaresborough.

Brimhams Active’s Aquatics Development Manager, Gail Foyle is excited to work on the project.

She said: “Brimhams Active are committed to a comprehensive aquatic pathway.

“Working with Swim England and our partner Harrogate District Swimming Club to introduce link squads gives us the perfect opportunity to further enhance the relationship between learn to swim and competitive swimming across the district.

“It extends our learn to swim pathway, ultimately increasing aquatic activity and providing us with a prime opportunity for talent identification.

“We are delighted to be working with Swim England on the pilot programme in particular given Brimhams Active commitment to the health and wellbeing of our residents of which we fundamentally believe swimming can be a key component.”