An Olympic legacy scheme and the aim to reduce obesity and promote healthier lifestyles have been brought together to provide free swimming for some younger and older people. The initiative is an example of how joined up government can work, with local councils delivering the result, backed by a pool of funding from the Departments for Culture, Media and Sport, Health, Work and Pensions, Children, Schools and Families and Communities and Local Government.
More than twenty million people aged 16 and under and over 60 will be able to swim for free from next April. Free swimming will be a post code lottery, but 82 per cent of councils have signed up to the scheme. Some councils will offer free swimming to both the over 60s and those aged 16, while others will restrict the offer to those over 60.
Councils that have opted in to offer the scheme to both age groups have received a share of a 10 million pounds capital fund to spend on modernising or improving pool provision in time for the start of the two-year scheme in 2009. Those offering free swimming to both age groups are also set to benefit from a further 25 million pound capital challenge fund in both 2009/10 and 2010/11 to spend on improving pool provision.
The initiative is a key part of plans to leave a lasting legacy from London 2012, giving people up and down the country more opportunities to get active.