21 Aug 2007

Neath Port Talbot is celebrating swimming success for its disability Free Swimming sessions that have been running as part of the Welsh Assembly Government’s summer holiday Free Swimming Initiative.

Activities on offer as part of the disability programme include basic swimming classes to enhance swimming confidence and beginner’s skills, as well as advancing into other aquatic activities such as mini water polo and diving classes.

Neath swimmers take advantage of Free Swimming

Marc Brinkworth, one of the swimming teachers at Neath Leisure Centre, used to compete as a disability swimmer and is now teaching swimming classes as well as a lifesaving course.

Marc said: "It’s really important that all children are provided with same opportunities and the Free Swimming Initiative does just that. The classes enable young people to take on a new hobby and life skill that they can use to compete in aquatic sports or simply enjoy with friends and family."

Attendance for this years programme has been high and both children and their parents have been impressed with the number and quality of activities available in the area. Some of this year’s attendees have even taken their swimming to another level by joining local swimming teams including the Swansea Stingrays.

Rhiannon Thomas, mother of Lloyd Thomas, who takes part in the Free Swim programme as well as swimming for Swansea Stingrays said: "It is so important to have these links to local leisure centres to ensure equal opportunities in provision. We would like to see more sessions in the future."

Hannah Guise, Swimming Development Officer for Neath Port Talbot County Borough 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."

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.