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Free swimming lessons for thousands of Norwich adults

PUBLISHED: 15:00 25 March 2010 | UPDATED: 09:07 02 July 2010

Lifeguard Jo Balfe dives into the pool at the new Riverside Swimming Centre.

Lifeguard Jo Balfe dives into the pool at the new Riverside Swimming Centre.

Kim Briscoe

Free swimming lessons are to be offered to thousands of adults in Norwich from next month as the city's popular free swimming scheme is extended.

Kim Briscoe

Free swimming lessons are to be offered to thousands of adults in Norwich from next month as the city's popular free swimming scheme is extended.

The initiative to get low-income families and pensioners swimming was launched last year, and has so far paid for 19,000 free swims.

Now Norwich City Council has set aside around £40,000 to continue it from April 1 and has also unveiled a new free swim lessons programme. This is primarily aimed at mature adults who never learned to swim when they were younger, or may simply have a fear of the water which they desperately want to conquer.

Steve Morphew, leader of Norwich City Council, said: “It's a real achievement that we've helped to fund the best part of 20,000 free swims, an average of more than 1,500 per month, since the scheme began.

“Providing access to free pool time was something we were desperately keen to offer low-income families and the over-60s. It's been a real success story and we're thrilled that story can continue with a new injection of cash.”

An estimated 25,000 people in Norwich, or about a fifth of the city's population, are believed to be eligible for the scheme, which gives full time students over the age of 16, families on benefits and over-60s the chance to swim free of charge using their Go 4less cards.

Close to 3,000 junior swims and 16,000 adults swims were funded in its first year.

Currently the Riverside Swimming Centre is the only swimming pool which can be used, but in the long-term the council hopes the free scheme will help it to secure funding for more pools by demonstrating there is a demand for more facilities.

Do you have a story for the Evening News? Contact reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email kim.briscoe@archant.co.uk.

Q&A on the new free swim lessons:

Who qualifies for free swim lessons? If you have a Go 4less card or a Norwich City council national bus pass, lessons will be free.

What is the Go 4less free swim lessons scheme? It offers tailor made lessons for non-swimmers and anyone who may be nervous of the water.

Where will the lessons take place? Riverside Leisure Centre.

How often are the lessons? Weekly. First sessions will be on Fridays, 2pm to 3pm, beginning just after Easter.

Who will be in charge? The lessons will be delivered by fully qualified swimming teachers who are experts with non-swimmers and helping people to combat their fear of the water.

What's the aim? To gain confidence, learn different strokes, improve fitness and, above all, have fun while learning.

How do people register? Call the city council's sports development team on 01603 212112, by email at swim@norwich.gov.uk, or visit Riverside Leisure Centre and pick up a form from reception.

Other info…the free swim lessons programme will run in six week blocks and continue according to demand. Places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. Funding will come from the existing free swim allocation.

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