Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington is launching a £1 million project to help schools in the West Midlands to improve their swimming pool facilities. The four-time Olympic medallist is spearheading an initiative to keep pool facilities open and help children develop their swimming skills.
Recent data shows one in three children leave primary school unable to swim 25 metres – and Rebecca fears this number will be much higher due to the rising trend of school pool closures. The mum-of-two is launching The Movement Project, an initiative from Total Swimming Academies and Vivify Venues, offering schools in West Midlands a £1million investment fund to help them remain open.
The funds can be used for a range of maintenance works including new changing room facilities, viewing galleries, pool plant works or to build a reception area. The Movement Project will support schools in managing facility operations to ensure school pool and dry side facilities stay open outside of school hours, providing vital access to the local community.
Read more Coventry news
Rebecca said: “There aren’t enough pools in the country as it is, and the impact of so many public pools closing this past year is catastrophic. The reason school pools are important is because their main priority is national curriculum swimming.
“They’re absolutely fundamental to achieving national curriculum swim targets, and equipping children with the basic skill set they need, when they leave for secondary school. Research has shown that if children don’t learn to swim in primary school, then they never will.
“It’s very worrying that we are seeing so many pools close, many of which are in deprived areas – families rely on them – if they don’t have access to school pool facilities then we are going to see the number of children unable to swim rise rapidly.”
Rebecca is pleading with schools to fast-track swimming to the top of the agenda, saying swimming should be prioritised just as much as core subjects as it’s a life-saving skill every child deserves to have. She added: “I can’t see that there is a more important activity that children should be doing in schools than learning to swim at primary age.
“We know that physical activity is key to tackling the obesity crisis and supports mental health – I implore headteachers and governors to take this seriously.”
According to the RSPCH, there has been a record rise in obesity amongst children since the start of the pandemic. One in four (27.7%) children of reception school age are overweight or obese; this rises to 4 in 10 (40.9%) in Year 6 (ages 10-11), according to the latest data.
Rebecca added: “I’m a big believer that the more active you are, the more mentally alert you will become, and we know the impact that sport has on helping children to achieve their life goals, both in and out of the classroom. I’m imploring headteachers, PE departments, governors, parents and local authorities to stand behind these valuable community assets and contact us about The Movement Project, whether it’s investment to upgrade the pool or dry side facilities or both, we can help.”
Keep up with all of the latest local news with our daily newsletter.