Double Olympic Champion Rebecca Adlington Launches British Gas Pools 4 Schools in Coventry

Double Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington joined a group of lucky Coventry school children to mark the return to the city of the British Gas Pools 4 Schools initiative at Barr’s Hill School.

Rebecca, who in just two months time, hopes to become the first British swimmer ever to defend two Olympic gold medals took part in a special assembly, followed by a swimming lesson in the pool at which she showed her world record breaking front crawl stroke. 

The scheme, which is delivered by Total Swimming and supported by British Gas, Speedo and the ASA, brings an innovative portable pool to the area to teach local children to swim for free. This is the third time the pool has visited Coventry, where more than 1,000 children have previously been taught to swim. 

The arrival of the pool is particularly important to this area of Coventry as it recognises and overcomes cultural barriers to increase community participation through new opportunities in the pool. Barr’s Hill School in particular is very multi-cultural, with 59 different languages been spoken there. For many children who take the lessons this will be their first experience of getting in the pool to learn this vital life saving skill. 

The ASA believe that every child should have the opportunity to learn to swim at primary school where swimming is a statutory National Curriculum subject. Despite this, startling new research undertaken by Kellogg’s and the ASA as part of the 2012 School Swimming Census has revealed that one in three children in the UK leave primary school unable to swim, and with drowning being the third most common cause of accidental death in children it is now even more important than ever to ensure that every child is given the opportunity to learn. 

The pool is also available out of school hours so its benefits can spread throughout the whole community. More than 3,400 people in the local community have used the pool during its previous two visits to the site. The community programme is managed by the Coventry Sports Foundation, and has proved very popular so far.

Double Olympic gold medallist, Rebecca Adlington said “It is scary to think of the number of children in the UK that leave primary school unable to swim. As a swimmer I can’t imagine not having learnt when I was younger. I think that every child should have the opportunity to have swimming lessons which is why I think the British Gas Pools 4 Schools scheme is so fantastic. 

“I hope in 2012 with the Olympics coming to London more children will be inspired to take the plunge too.  I’m really looking forward to getting in the pool with the children today, making a splash and having some fun!” 

Selwyn Calvin, Headteacher at Barr’s Hill School added “Having a swimming pool on our doorstep is a fabulous opportunity for both our students and the community we serve. The ability to swim is a life skill which everybody should have and we will be encouraging as many students as possible to take advantage of the lessons. 

“The school is used throughout the week by community groups including supplementary schools at weekends who are also keen to take advantage of this facility. We are grateful to the support of the Coventry Sports Foundation who have been great in helping to put a swimming programme together for all users with their staff providing instructors and life guards to help us make the most of the facility.”

The 12m x 6m portable pool being used in Coventry is built by Total Swimming and will remain at Barr's Hill School until 20th July.