Pools 4 Schools is Back in Birmingham!

Olympic swimming hopeful and Commonwealth Games medallist Grant Turner joined a group of kids in the pool at King Edward Playing Fields in Aston yesterday to announce that the youngsters will have the opportunity to swim at the London Aquatics Centre next year.

This exciting news comes as the British Gas Pools 4 Schools programme, supported by British Gas, Speedo and the ASA, returns to Aston with a commitment to teach over 1,000 children to learn to swim.  The programme has already taught over 4,000 children at the King Edward IV Aston playing fields site.

Children from Prince Albert School joined Grant in the temporary swimming pool of the programme to Aston, and to hear the news that they will swim at the London Aquatics Centre.  The lucky group of children will be special guests at the British Gas Swimming Championships in March 2012, where Grant will be competing in the freestyle events.

Turner said: “Nationally, one in five children leave primary school unable to swim, and in communities with limited pool access this figure can be as high as four out of five.  The British Gas Pools 4 Schools programme ensures children have the opportunity to learn a vital life skill, improve their fitness and have fun in the water.  I’m really pleased to be supporting such a revolutionary scheme.”

The British Gas Pools 4 Schools programme is a highly innovative solution to school swimming, which nationally has taught 30,000 children to swim over the last two years in areas with limited access to swimming facilities. 

The 12m x 6m portable and temporary pool being used in Aston was built by Total Swimming and provides a range of activities from swimming lessons to mini-polo and aqua-aerobics delivered by experienced teachers.  The facility is available to local schools and community groups to learn to swim within a safe environment.

Alex Smith, School Games Organiser at King Edward VI School Sports Partnership is managing the project in Aston.  Smith said: ‘We are really excited to have British Gas Pools 4 Schools once again at King Edward VI. Over the past three years, the project has had a massive impact on the local community. As well as thousands of school children learning to swim, many adults in the area have never learnt to swim, and having the pool here has meant we have taught people of all ages to swim and be confident in water”’. 

Olympic bronze medallist and Total Swimming director Steve Parry is the brains behind British Gas Pools 4 Schools. Parry said, “I’m really excited that Total Swimming, British Gas and Speedo are back in Birmingham to continue the success of the scheme and our mission to teach school children and members of the community to swim”. 

Jon Glenn, Head of Learn to Swim at the ASA, said: “The ASA is delighted to welcome Speedo on board as a programme partner and to continue to join British Gas in supporting the British Gas Pools 4 Schools programme. Swimming lessons in school could be the only opportunity for some pupils to learn to swim and gain water safety knowledge.  The importance of swimming is reflected in the Government’s commitment to retain physical education as a compulsory National Curriculum subject with the expectation that all children learn to swim”.

The pool will remain at King Edward beyond the 12 week British Gas Pools 4 Schools programme until the end of of the summer term in July 2012 as part of a special deal between Total Swimming, Birmingham City Council and King Edward School Sports Partnership. In total over 3,000 school children should benefit from the facility.

More photographs from this event can be found on Total Swimming's Facebook page.