29 Aug 2007

Gerwyn Owen, Academy Manager for Disability Sports Wales, is throwing a lifeline to all parents and young people in Caerphilly by giving them a cheap alternative – free swimming – in keeping the summer-time blues at bay as the end of the holidays loom.

Backing the Welsh Assembly Government’s Free Swimming Initiative, Gerwyn is highlighting not only the Free Swimming sessions available at local authority pools in Caerphilly but also a range of aquatic sports, such as canoeing, snorkelling and lifesaving.

Gerwyn’s swimming credentials are some of the best in Wales. He was the Team Manager for the Elite Athletes with a Disability at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games and works with a number of professional swimmers including Paralympic medal winners David Roberts MBE and Liz Johnson.

David Roberts and Gerwyn Owen

Gerwyn said: "Young people enjoy the Free Swimming sessions at their local authority pool as well as signing up to a course in canoeing, snorkelling, lifesaving or water polo – all for free!

"Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise as it provides all-round fitness because it tones your entire body and gets the heart rate pumping.

"Learning to swim not only gives you a life skill but also the opportunity to experience other aquatic sports. Swimming gives youngsters the chance to catch up with their friends and most importantly have fun."

Swimming is recognised as one of the safest forms of exercise and has a wide range of advantages from keeping you fit and healthy to something you can do on your own or part of a group. Anyone can take part, from children and pregnant women to disabled people, making it the ideal ‘all round’ sport.

The health of children and young people in Wales is a key priority for the Sports Council for Wales and the Welsh Assembly Government as part of the Climbing Higher strategy. The overriding challenge is to see all primary school children and 90% of secondary school children participating in at least 60 minutes of physical activity five times a week – a target to be achieved over the next 20 years.

Minister for Education, Culture and the Welsh Language, Carwyn Jones 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 Governments free swimming scheme 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.

Click here to hear the latest podcast.