A FREE swimming scheme for youngsters made a splash with more than 1,700 children accessing sessions in its first week.
Hundreds of children under 16 have been taking advantage of the free swims at Mill House Leisure Centre in Hartlepool every day.
In the first five days of the council-run scheme, a total of 1,724 youngsters swam for free, with many using the free buses laid on.
Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, 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.
“In the first five days of the scheme, 1,724 children have benefitted from free swims with 1,037 children travelling on the free buses.
“This equates to an average of almost 350 children per day which is very encouraging.
“We’ve also had many parents accompanying their children on the buses or making their own way to Mill House to swim with their children.”
The scheme came under fire last week 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 baths instead of using the free bus which is given priority. Coun Akers-Belcher added: “As we stated in our initial publicity, children travelling on the free buses are given priority, but we have also been able to accommodate the very large majority of those making their own way to Mill House.
“Swimming is a great way to keep fit and if we can encourage all children to be active in their early years there is more chance of them staying fit and healthy as they grow older.”
The scheme operates on weekdays until Friday, August 29, excluding Bank Holiday Monday on August 25, between 10am and 12.30pm.
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, all libraries downloaded from the council’s website.