LIVERPOOL’S Olympic medallist Stephen Parry is helping the city council teach 2,000 school children to swim in just two weeks.
The 29-year-old bronze medallist is supporting the project, which is the biggest scheme of its kind in the country and was initiated by Liverpool’s School Sports Partnership.
The Top Up Programme started on July 3rd and is taking place until July 14th at five pools across the city.
The aim is to improve the percentage of youngsters in the area who can swim before they start secondary school. The national average of 11 year olds unable to swim is 17%, but in Liverpool that figure is around 60%.
Council leader Warren Bradley said: “This is a central part of the city council’s campaign to try to improve children’s health.
“Swimming is an essential life skill and we are determined to ensure all young people in Liverpool can maximise their swimming potential and enjoy the sport for life as a result of this programme.
“The youngsters are also able to get access to all Lifestyles centres thanks to our free leisure passes scheme, and will be able to make full use of the pools when they learn how to swim.”
The initiative has been funded by Lifestyles leisure centres and the government and is a partnership between the city council and Stephen Parry’s company Total Swimming, which is providing the tuition. Knowsley based YOUR TRAVEL based is providing the transport to the swimming pools for pupils with their fleet of coaches and minibuses.
Stephen Parry said: “A lot of schools go swimming once a week for a term and kids forget a lot of what they have been taught. But this is a 30-minute session every day for two weeks.
“It can save lives and there are knock on effects in terms of tackling asthma and it also opens up sports like wind surfing and water skiing and is a brilliant life skill.
“In terms of fitness, just being able to go down to the pool and do a few lengths is fantastic. I feel it is so important that everyone has the right to learn to swim.”
Schools across the city were invited to sign up to the scheme, putting forward youngsters in Year 6 who cannot swim 25 metres.
Over the course of the fortnight, youngsters will receive a 30-minute session each day with one coach for every eight pupils.
Austin Rawlinson, Peter Lloyd, Ellergreen, Everton Park and the large pool at Park Road Lifestyles will be out of use on weekdays from 9-12noon and 1-3pm until Friday July 14th while tuition takes place.