A council-run free swimming scheme for youngsters in Hartlepool during the summer holidays is going from strength to strength.
So far, 4,659 children have benefitted from free swims this year - up from 4,358 for the corresponding period last year.
Under the scheme, which runs until Friday, youngsters under the age of 16 can swim for free on weekday mornings at the town’s Mill House Leisure Centre.
Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “We are absolutely delighted that once again there has been a great response from the local community to the free swims scheme.
“In the first 14 days of the scheme, 4,659 children benefitted from free swims - up from 4,358 for the corresponding period last year.
“Swimming is a great way to keep fit and we hope many more children benefit from the scheme this week.”
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 are being held between 10am and 1.30pm.
As part of the scheme, 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 8 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, chair 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 are three bus routes - North, South and Central. There are two buses on each route with the first buses setting off at 9.10am. After arriving at Mill House, youngsters 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 remember that there is a second bus pick-up later in the morning.
For further information call (01429) 223791.