Swimming champions back free swimming lessons for children in Ashington

17 April 2012

Olympic champion Duncan Goodhew and Great Britain junior swimmers Jess Thielmann and Phoebe Lenderyou will join Ashington school children to mark the return of the British Gas Pools 4 schools initiative at Ashington High School.

The scheme which is supported by British Gas and Speedo brings an innovative portable pool to the area to teach more than 1,000 children to swim for free. This will be the third time the pool has visited the site where more than 1,300 children have previously been taught to swim. The Pools 4 Schools project brings swimming right to the heart of areas that really need it such as in Ashington where limited capacity has caused children to miss out on learning this vital life saving skill.

One in five children in the UK leave primary school unable to swim and this figure rises to four out of five in some communities with limited pool access. With drowning being the third most common cause of accidental death in children in the UK it is crucial that the number of children leaving school unable to swim is tackled. It is hoped that the temporary pool at Ashington High School will help to combat this and ensure children achieve the National Curriculum target of learning to swim 25m unaided by the time they leave primary school.

Duncan said: “It is scary to think of the number of children in the UK that leave primary school unable to swim. The British Gas Pools 4 Schools programme ensures children have the opportunity to learn a vital life skill, improve their fitness and have fun in the water. Nationally more than 30,000 children have been taught to swim through the programme so far, I’m really pleased to be supporting such a revolutionary scheme.”

Jess added: “As a swimmer I can’t imagine not having learnt to swim when I was younger. I think that every child should have the opportunity to have swimming lessons which is why I think the Pools 4 Schools scheme is so fantastic. I’m really looking forward to getting in the pool with the children today, making a splash and having some fun!”

The 12m x 6m portable and temporary pool being used in Ashington is built by Total Swimming which is headed up by Olympic bronze medallist; Steve Parry. The pool provides a range of activities from swimming lessons to mini-polo and aqua-aerobics delivered by experienced teachers.

As a part of the scheme Speedo UK provides Sea Squad Learn to Swim equipment to help build the confidence of all participants; as well as providing a swimming cap and wet kit bag to encourage participants to continue swimming. The water for the project was provided for free by Northumbrian Water.

Liz Armstrong, PESS (P.E. and School Sport) Network Manager at Ashington High School who has helped to organise the pool coming to Ashington said: “The arrival of the pool at Ashington High School has created a real buzz around the school. The students were very interested to see it being built and are now swimming, playing water polo and learning personal survival skills during PE lessons, at lunchtimes and after school. Many of our students are not strong swimmers and this will give them a very worthwhile opportunity to develop their aquatic skills. We are especially excited that the pool has come back during an Olympic Year and will support all the sporting activities we will be doing around London 2012 later in the year.”

Media contact

For more information please contact:

Kelly McHugh or Faye Callaghan in the ASA Marketing Department Email: Kelly.McHugh@swimming.org or faye.callaghan@swimming.org Tel: 01509 640236 m. 07795 251917

About British Gas Pools 4 Schools The British Gas Pools 4 Schools pool is a portable teaching facility designed to accommodate a full class of children in a specially designed teaching tank. By placing a swimming pool at the centre of schools and communities with intensive teaching support Total Swimming has taught over 20,000 young people to swim all over the UK. British Gas Pools 4 Schools programme is a highly innovative solution to school swimming. One in five children leaving primary school are unable to swim and this can be down to a number of factors, no swimming pool or closing swimming pools in the area, cost of transport and leisure centre hire and swimming not placed as priority in that community By constructing temporary pools in schools (gyms, halls and play grounds) Total Swimming is able to bring swimming right where it is needed and tackle, head on, this worrying statistic.

The pools are also used out of school hours by the wider community. In Birmingham these community sessions range from single sex and Mother & Toddler sessions, to aqua aerobics and water polo. The British Gas Pools 4 Schools programme is revolutionising the way swimming is delivered in schools and communities with some amazing results.

About Total Swimming Total Swimming is a business with a passion for innovation, learning and excellence. We are committed to revolutionising swimming through tackling the way in which swimming is delivered.

Total Swimming was set up in 2005 by Olympian Adrian Turner and Steve Parry, following the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Steve and Adrian recognised that their love for swimming was shaped from great teachers and great coaches. Total Swimming’s vision is to make the ‘aquatic journey’ as enjoyable and rewarding for everyone else as it was for us.

The vision has stayed much the same with a dynamic team dedicated to positively impacting on a million individuals through aquatics by 2012

About British Gas The nation′s leading energy supplier, British Gas, is the Principal Partner of British Swimming and has pledged £15m to support the sport at all levels. From helping children learn a vital life skill, to giving British athletes the best chance of gold medal success, British Gas is committed to swimming in Britain, from paddling pool to podium. For more information visit www.britishgas.co.uk/swimming

British Gas, the biggest energy supplier in the country, has the lowest carbon intensity of any of the major UK energy suppliers in terms of tonnes of CO2 emitted per megawatt hour of electricity supplied to customers.

British Gas is committed to energy efficiency. Our Energy Savers Report provides free expert advice on how you can cut energy use in the home and, in turn, save money. So far, the report has shown over 2 million people how they could make an average saving of £175 a year. To complete a report go to www.britishgas.co.uk/energy-efficiency/energy-savers-report

About the ASA (Amateur Swimming Association) The ASA is the English National Governing Body for Swimming, Diving, Water Polo, Open Water, and Synchronised Swimming. It organises competition throughout England, establishes the Laws of the Sport and operates comprehensive certification and education programmes for Teachers, Coaches and Officials as well as its renowned Learn to Swim Awards scheme. The ASA supports 1,220 affiliated swimming clubs through a National/Regional/County structure. The ASA aims to ensure everybody has an opportunity to learn to swim.

About Speedo The UK’s no.1 swim brand, Speedo® is passionate about life in the water, creating revolutionary new technologies, designs and innovations. Speedo is proud of supporting swimming from grass roots through to elite level, including the phenomenal Michael Phelps, in the 1920s Speedo® made history with the Racerback: the world’s first non-wool suit. Speedo is the official swim partner of British Swimming; and as a part of the brand vision are looking to inspire people to swim.

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