10:20pm Saturday 6th February 2010
By Jo Winrow
More than 280,000 people have taken advantage of free swimming sessions in Bradford since they were introduced in April.
The latest figures show that 218,493 under-16s have taken the plunge in the first nine months of the two-year programme. And on top of this figure 61,877 over-60s have used Bradford Council-run pools for free.
Between October and December the number of under-16s using the scheme fell against the previous two quarters to 43,354, which left Bradford with the fourth highest figure in the country. This compared with third overall for the total figure since April. In addition during the same period there were 19,548 over-60s swims which saw Bradford places fifth nationally that quarter, and fourth when the overall figures were taken into account.
Similar Government figures released after the first three months of the free swimming scheme showed that more Bradford youngsters had taken up the offer than anywhere else in the country.
The idea for the programme is to provide a legacy of free swimming ahead of the Olympic Games being held in London in 2012.
Government funding of £470,000 will help pay for free swimming provision for both under-16s and the over-60s for two years. The district’s waterslides and Ilkley Lido are not covered by the free programme.
Bradford Council’s executive member for environment and culture Councillor Anne Hawkesworth said: “It is good to see so many people taking advantage of the free swimming initiative the Council has subsidised – it is exactly what our b-active campaign sets out to do and hopefully more people will get inspired and try more sports and exercises.”
A Department for Children, Schools and Families spokesman said: “The number of young people aged 16 and under in Bradford who have taken up the free swimming offer is fantastic.
“Swimming is a great, healthy activity that parents and children can do together, or that young people can enjoy with their friends.”
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