Last week I met with Swim England and Olympic medallist and BBC poolside reporter Sharron Davies to discuss the issue of swimming pool closures and the urgent investment needed for swimming lessons for children.
We know that swimming can be great fun, especially for families with young children. But swimming is also a fantastic way to keep fit, maintain positive mental health and teaching children how to swim can save lives. Unfortunately, after more than a decade of Tory austerity and severe cuts to council budgets, we have a seen a continued decrease of children in swimming classes, especially children from low-income families. During this pandemic, a record number of pools have closed and currently, there is a shortage of 8,000 swimming teachers. It is vital that councils have enough funds to hire teachers and maintain pool conditions to prevent unnecessary closures. This change can only come from central government, and action is needed now.
It was fantastic talking to Sharron, who was part of the 2012 London Olympic bidding team, as she told me about her early memories of attending Olympic games and seeing diversity amongst all athletes. This year, our Team GB swimming team are young and determined athletes who are ready for the challenge ahead. I wish them all the best and I am sure they will make us proud!
As Chair of the APPG on Swimming, I will continue to speak on issues surrounding school swimming and access to affordable swimming lessons, as well as to promote the restoration of swimming baths and the uptake of outdoor swimming and water safety. This summer, I would encourage everyone to visit their local swimming club and take a dip!