A thousand children will have a unique opportunity to learn to swim in a revolutionary temporary swimming pool that has been installed in an old school sports hall in Lambeth, South London.
The 12m x 10m pool has been set up in the Sports Action Zone at Lilian Baylis (Old School). All local schools and the local community will be able to access it free of charge as part of the ‘Pools in Schools’ project, which achieved significant results last term in Birmingham, Sheffield and Manchester.
‘Pools in Schools’ is supported by the asa and is an initiative from Total Swimming, the company led by Olympic bronze medallist, Steve Parry. It aims to ensure every child has the opportunity to learn to swim and achieve the government’s learn to swim targets, which is why the scheme is backed by the Department for Children Schools and Families (DSCF).
The 0.9m deep pool, similar to a leisure centre teaching pool, is the first of its kind to be set-up in London thanks to the agreement of the Sports Action Zone, London Swimming and the ‘leisure trust’ GLL, although Lambeth is just one of a number of areas that will receive the temporary water space in the 2008/2009 academic year.
The pool was delivered to the site, constructed and filled with 65,000 litres of water in just four days thanks to Thames Water, ensuring that it was ready for the start of the new term on Tuesday 6th January 2009. It will welcome children for six weeks until Sunday 15th February.
Steve Parry said: “The focus of the programme is to support young people in achieving the National Curriculum target of swimming 25m and to gain an understanding of water safety. Lambeth is a key target area for this project, partly based on its estate based population. It will ensure that children are given an opportunity that they might not have had.
“The results in Aston, Birmingham, were excellent. Less than 20% of children in some schools had previously met targets, but after one half term of lessons 84% in one year group achieved them. Many children also swam following the project, signifying a legacy effect when the pool moved on. We hope to achieve similar results in Lambeth.”
Delyth Morgan, Children’s Minister, said: "Swimming is a great opportunity for young people to keep fit and to gain confidence around water. The innovative ‘Pools in Schools’ scheme means more young people have access to a swimming pool in order to learn to swim.
“We want every single child to be able to swim well by the time they are 11-years-old. We have made excellent progress towards achieving this target with help from ‘Pools in Schools’.”
Brian Dickens, Director of Sports Action Zone, added: “Swimming is a key life skill and this project offers a wonderful opportunity for up to 1000 local school children and adults from the local community in Lambeth to learn to swim.
”The Sports Action Zone has a wonderfully diverse community programme which includes lots of dry provision for football, basketball, boxing but this will be first time we have done anything like this and will be a real landmark for this community.”
photos Janos Schmidt