A FREE swimming scheme is continuing to be a splashing success.
The Hartlepool Borough Council scheme has so far encouraged thousands of under 16s to swim for free on weekday mornings during their six-week break from school.
The council says 538 more children have used the pool at the Mill House Leisure Centre in the first 10 days of the scheme this year compared to last year.
A total of 3,320 children took a dip in the scheme’s opening two weeks.
Youngsters are able to swim for free until August 29 between 10am and 12.30pm, excluding the Bank Holiday Monday.
The council also said that more adults are accompanying children which is also good news, according to Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher, the leader of Hartlepool Council.
Coun Akers-Belcher said: “There was a great response to the free swims scheme when it was launched in 2013 and we are really pleased that it is proving popular again this year.
“It’s also encouraging to see that the number of adults accompanying children has risen too.
“Swimming is a great way to keep fit and it’s an activity that all the family can participate in together and have fun.”
Of the 3,320 children attending Mill House, 2031 have travelled on the free buses - also provided by the council.
Both the free swims and free transport are operated on a ‘first come, first served basis’.
The scheme came under fire after parent Steven Widdowfield was unable to get in with his two children for a morning session.
It was because they had made their own way to the centre instead of using the free bus - which is given priority.
While the free transport on the bus is available to parents and guardians, adults will be charged to swim.
Anyone aged under eight must be accompanied both on the bus and in the swimming pool by a parent or a responsible adult over 16.
A leaflet giving full details of the scheme, including free bus timetable information is available from Mill House Leisure Centre, Headland Sports Hall, Brierton Sports Centre, Hartlepool Civic Centre and all libraries.
lA copy can also be obtained from www.hartlepool.gov.uk or by calling (01429) 223791.