2 Aug 2005

Free SwimmingAs the summer holidays get underway, Sports Minister Alun Pugh has urged young people across Wales to take advantage of the Welsh Assembly Government’s Free Swimming scheme.

If you’re 16 or under, a swim in your local pool will cost you nothing during the holidays.

The Minister said: "The Free Swimming scheme has been running since summer 2003 and has proved hugely popular. The challenge now is to keep that momentum going and ensure that young people continue to get active and lead healthier lifestyles.

"Swimming is an enjoyable way to get fit and the Free Swimming scheme can also be a great introduction to all the other activities that your local leisure centre has to offer.

"With the Olympics coming to London in 2012, we can look forward to a renewed interest in sport at all levels. Who knows, some of the children taking advantage of our Free Swimming scheme now could be future Olympians.

Neath swimming sensation Thomas Haffield applauds the initiative and is hoping that it will encourage youngsters across Wales to follow in his wake.

He said: "Swimming is perfect for fitness as well as fun. The summer holidays can drag without finding ways to keep children occupied and active – the Free Swim initiative is a great way of doing both.

"I hope that everyone eligible to swim for free makes the most of the six week scheme, with the incentive of one day making it to the top and rivalling me for what I hope will be a place in the 2012 Olympics. "

Tom, 16, who is also Olympic medallist David Davies’ team-mate from the City of Cardiff swim club, swam the race of his life at the European Junior Championships in Hungary earlier this month to secure a bronze medal in the 400m individual medley. He smashed the Welsh record and his personal best and now stands in good contention for a place in the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006.

The Sports Council for Wales Chief Executive Dr Huw Jones said:

"This is a positive step towards building a fitter and healthier nation and I hope that young people right across the country will be making the most of the Free Swimming initiative this summer."