Hundreds dive in for free swimming sessions in Hartlepool

Parents and children enjoying the swim at Mill House Leisure Centre
Parents and children enjoying the swim at Mill House Leisure Centre
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A council-run free swimming scheme during the summer holidays is making a huge splash with youngsters.

Children under 16 can swim for free on weekday mornings at the town’s Mill House Leisure Centre under the scheme Hartlepool Borough Council has run since 2013.

In the first five days of the scheme, launched on August 3, 1,839 children benefited from free swims, up from 1,724 for the corresponding week last year.

Last Tuesday was a record-breaker when 503 children took part – the highest number in a single day since the scheme began.

Council leader, Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher said: “We are delighted that once again there has been a great response from the local community to the free swims scheme. The buses are also being well used again, which is very pleasing, and lots of parents are accompanying children too.

“Last week’s figures equate to an average of over 360 children per day, which is very encouraging.”

The scheme operates on weekdays and will run until Friday, August 28.

Following the success of last summer – where 5,147 children accessed the free swims programme – this year’s sessions have been extended by an hour and will be held between 10am and 1.30pm.

The council is also providing free bus transport to and from Mill House Leisure Centre for under 16s with pick-up points from every school across the town.

Parents/carers can also travel free on the buses but have to pay to swim. Also, anyone under eight must be accompanied both on the bus and in the swimming pool by a parent or responsible adult over 16.

Children can choose to make their own way to Mill House but priority will be given to those travelling on the free buses.

Councillor Chris Simmons, chairman of the council’s Children’s Services Policy Committee, said: “The free swims initiative is proving once again to be a huge success and it’s great to see so many people involved in a physical activity.

“The council is fully aware of the financial pressures facing many families, which is why we introduced the scheme to make facilities like Mill House more accessible to all the community.”

In total there will be three bus routes – North, South and Central. There will be two buses on each route, with the first buses setting off at 9.10am. After arriving at Mill House, youngsters will have an hour in the pool before getting back on the bus for the return journey.

The free swims and the free bus transport are operated on a ‘first-come, first -served’ basis, and each of the free buses to the swimming pool has a set quota of passengers to ensure that the pool doesn’t become over-full. If people aren’t able to get on the first bus in their area, they are asked to please remember that there is a second bus pick-up later in the morning.

l For further information, call 01429 223791.