More than a third of children in Lancashire leave primary school unable to swim.
A recent survey showed that 51 per cent of children nationally aged seven to 11 are unable to swim the recommended 25 metres unaided.
In Lancashire the figure is 64 per cent – but Danielle Frazer, pool programme manager at Piranha’s Swim School, is keen to help boost this figure.
Danielle, who launched the swim school 18 months ago at 3-1-5 Health Club in Caton Road, Lancaster, is offering schools the chance to use the pool for free as part of a competition she hopes all local schools will join in with.
She said: “We want to do something in the community.
“We have got the sea, the river, canal and lakes all around us and it’s important that children can swim.
“We have got a really good facility and we ensure a 100 per cent pass rate.”
Piranha’s is launching a competition to give a local school, nursery or playgroup the chance to win a year’s free swimming.
Danielle is asking children to create a sculpture of a piranha (such as in papier mache) and also write about what swimming means to them.
These will be displayed at the swim school, and Lancaster mayor Coun Susie Charles will be invited to pick the winner.
She said: “We want to see all local schools, nurseries and play groups involved.
“We’re doing this to raise awareness that there’s a problem and how we can change it.
“We have asked people why they don’t take their children swimming locally, and they have told us the pools are unwelcoming, cold and have poor facilities. There’s also the cost involved.
“Also, some parents are not confident swimmers themselves and a lot of them don’t know how to start teaching their child.”
From January, Piranha’s is also starting ‘splash sessions’ on a Tuesday and Saturday for £5 per parent/child.
The team of swimming instructors, many of whom are RNLI lifeguards in the summer, also go into schools and nurseries giving free beach safety lessons.
Damielle is hoping local businesses will also get involved with the competition by supporting schools with the cost of the materials needed for their sculptures (which must be able to fit through a door!)
They will then have their names on the models when they go on display.
The winning children will also be invited to go on the 3-1-5 Morecambe carnival float and join in Kendal torchlight procession.
The closing date for entries is January 31.
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