FATHER AND DAUGHTER GET INTO THE FAST LANE

21 Aug 2007

A Denbighshire father and daughter duo have teamed up to take advantage of the Free Swimming programme on offer as part of the Welsh Assembly Government’s Free Swimming Initiative.

Bethan Roberts, 12, and dad Andrew, from Denbigh, took part in a recent event at Denbigh Leisure Centre that linked Swimming Teacher Instruction & Coaching with Disability Swimming Lessons.

Bethan and her father, Andrew

Bethan, who became a double amputee after suffering Meningitis as a baby has gone from strength to strength since she starting swimming lessons through the Free Swim programme 18 months ago.

The youngster, who has a future ambition to compete in the 2012 London Para-Olympics, has already represented Wales in national competitions.

Since becoming a fully integrated member of the Denbigh Dragon’s where she trains up to six times a week, Bethan has recently been selected for the Welsh Academy for Disabled Swimmers.

Bethan and her father, Andrew

Her father Andrew, who originally started swimming instructor training to be able to support Bethan in the sport, is currently completing his ASA Level 2 coaching qualification through the Free Swim programme.

Andrew said: "The program on offer at Denbighshire is unique because it not only provides excellent support for children with disabilities, but provides quality training for people that want to be involved in the sport.

"Had it not been for the Free Swimming Initiative, Bethan would not have had the wonderful opportunity to learn to swim. Denbighshire leisure centre have been a tremendous support in helping her achieve her goals.

"I was drawn into swimming because of Bethan, but I’ve realised that there is a great need for more swimming teachers across North Wales so that more children can get the same opportunity and access to swimming as Bethan."

Lucy Jones, Swimming Development Officer for Denbighshire County Council, said that this year’s programme had been a great success and encouraged children of all abilities to get into the water.

"Taking part in sport and physical activity is a great way to spend time together as a family and this is what the Free Swimming Initiative encourages.

"An active child is more likely to become an active adult, and can help them to develop an understanding of how regular activity can lead to a healthy lifestyle.

"By educating, inspiring and facilitating the next generation to enjoy sport and physical activity, they will have a healthier and brighter future.

"Already over 2,000 children have participated in the Denbighshire Free Swimming Initiative this summer in a huge variety of activities".

The Welsh Assembly Government Minister responsible for Sport, Rhodri Glyn Thomas said:

"Swimming is a great way to have fun, socialise and be active. And because it's free it's good for parents, and means that children and young people can swim regularly throughout the summer.

"Since its inception the Welsh Assembly Government’s Free Swimming Initiative has been extremely popular and I look forward in the future to removing more barriers to creating a fitter and healthier Wales".

For further information on the Welsh Assembly Government’s Free Swimming Initiative, visit www.free-swimming-wales.org.uk or contact your local authority leisure centre.

The Sports Council for Wales manages the delivery of the Free Swimming Initiative on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government.

Picture 1 – Candidates and swimmers attending the ASA Level 2 Swimming Teachers Course

Picture 3- Bethan and Andrew Roberts working as one for their Country

Picture 5 - ASA Level 1 Disability Swimming Session

Children and Swimming Teachers having fun at the recent Aquatic Disability Training session held at Denbigh Leisure Centre as part of the Denbighshire’s Sports Development programme funded by WAG and SCW.