Mayor and swim stars ‘Make a Splash’ with Camden kids at mobile pool

30 May 2013

• Mayor joins kids and swimming stars at Camden’s Maria Fidelis School during mobile swimming pool session

• More than 19,000 kids taught to swim as part of Mayor’s ‘Make a Splash’ programme

• Programme set to continue as Mayor urges communities to bid for mobile pool to come to their area

Youngsters in Camden were today encouraged to take the plunge as part of the Mayor of London’s continued drive to encourage more people into swimming.

The Mayor revealed that 19,000 young people have been taught to swim as part of his ‘Make a Splash’ initiative, which for the past three years has taken mobile swimming pools to communities that need them the most. So far, the programme has been to 18 venues across London and is set to visit a further eight during its next phase.

With recent figures from the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) showing that more than 50 per cent of seven to 11 year olds are unable to swim 25m, the Mayor confirmed today that ‘Make a Splash’ is set to continue for at least the next two years and that communities across the capital can step forward and bid for the pool to come to their area as part of the next round of the programme.

This morning the Mayor was joined by Team GB synchronised swimming stars Katie Dawkins and Jazmine Stansbury, who dropped in to check out the pool in action at Maria Fidelis School in Camden. The pool will be at the school until 11 July, with school swimming lessons and free sessions for the rest of the community on weekday evenings and Saturday mornings.

The initiative, run by Total Swimming in conjunction with the ASA, forms a key part of the Mayor’s £40m Sports Legacy Fund. The fund was set up to help encourage more people into sport after the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “The Make a Splash campaign has seen kids of all ages taking the plunge and trying a sport that offers one of the best forms of exercise known to man. We know that young people in particular often don’t get the chance to learn how to swim and so it’s really encouraging to know that thousands of kids from all over London have taken part in this fantastic programme. As we continue to build on the momentum of last year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games, I’m delighted to confirm that the mobile pools will be making yet another tour of duty across the capital so that more people can get the opportunity to take a dip. If you think this scheme could make a difference to your school or local area, then get online and tell us where the pool’s next stop should be.”

The Mayor’s Sports Commissioner, Kate Hoey MP, said: “Make a Splash has been an integral part of our Sports Legacy Programme and I am delighted that its future is secure for at least the next two years. The Mayor and I have a shared commitment to ensuring that all Londoners get the best possible access to sport and physical activity, and Make a Splash is a perfect example of what we can achieve – bringing together the national governing body, the local authority, schools and the wider community to make a real difference.”

David Sparkes, Chief Executive of the Amateur Swimming Association, said: “Swimming is one of the easiest, safest forms of exercise for children of all abilities, and school swimming is the single most effective way of teaching children how to be safe in and around water. 59 per cent of children in London aged 7-11 years cannot swim 25 metres, so the Make a Splash project is invaluable in helping to target this group as well as those who sadly reach both secondary school and adulthood without this life saving skill.”

Katie Dawkins, said: “I'm delighted to be at Maria Fidelis today. It is the second time I have visited a Make a Splash project and it is fantastic to see the kids in the water having a great time and learning to swim. Having competed at London 2012, I think it's really important to deliver a sustainable legacy for children across the city, and the Make a Splash programme is a fantastic way to do this.”

Councillor Tulip Siddiq, Camden’s Cabinet Member for Culture and Communities, said: “Swimming provides fantastic health benefits and a fun activity for families. Camden is committed to increasing swimming provision for our local communities and we welcome the Make a Splash programme to Maria Fidelis School. This is the third time we have hosted the temporary pool in Camden, due to its success in providing pupils and local residents opportunities to learn to swim. Its community swimming programme has seen more than 540 Camden residents taking part in over 3,200 swimming lessons! This is a great offer for over the summer, as we look forward to the opening of the new pool and leisure facility in Kings Cross next year.”

Notes to editors

According to the Amateur Swimming Association more children may drown without better school swimming provision. Half of seven to 11 year-olds in England, some 1.1 million children, cannot swim the length of a standard pool, the research suggested. To read more visit http://www.swimming.org/asa/news/school-swimming/children-at-risk-as-report-finds-more-than-half-cannot-swim/17182/

About Make a Splash: The Make a Splash programme is sponsored by the Mayor of London, the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) and Total Swimming, which also built the pool and delivers all of the swimming lessons. The programme is also sponsored by Thames Water.

If you would like the mobile pool to come to your school or community facility, then visit www.totalswimming.co.uk and follow the relevant links

Sessions include swimming lessons for children, adults and women only, plus parent and baby and family fun sessions. All of these sessions can be booked online through the Total Swimming website. On weekdays between 8.30am and 5.30pm, bookings can also taken over the phone.

About the Mayor's Sports Legacy Fund: The Mayor's Sport's Legacy Fund, which is aimed at encouraging grassroots sport and encouraging more Londoners into physical activity has seen £16m invested across the city out of a fund totalling £22m. This rises to more than £40m with match funding from other organisations.

So far, it has helped to support 75 sports facilities, train 13,000 sports coaches and officials and supported a huge range of projects from athletics to zumba. His ‘Freesport’ programme is providing 17,00 people with 6 hours (min) of free sports coaching.