Everyday Swim is a pioneering national programme, led by the ASA and funded by Sport England, which aims to look at the barriers to swimming and provide best practice examples to affect a culture change across the country and get more people into our pools, for leisure, fitness and fun.
The successful seven were whittled down from a list of more than 30 applicants and represent a wide variety of leisure providers in different communities. Ranging from smaller districts such as Easington in County Durham to inner-city areas like Islington and large rural counties such as Suffolk, the chosen pilots will take place in facilities run by local authorities, trusts and private providers.
With each pilot focussing on a different aspect, projects vary from addressing obesity in children and tackling barriers facing those with disabilities to making swimming a real alternative to the gym and widening the appeal of swimming to older adults.
Paul Irwin, the senior cultural development officer at Easington DC is looking forward to getting the project off the ground.
'The district council and its partners are pleased to have been chosen as a pilot for the Everyday swim campaign,' he said. 'The pilot will provide an opportunity to demonstrate how swimming can contribute to improving the health and well -being of our residents.'
Everyday Swim ambassador and Olympic gold medallist Duncan Goodhew believes the chosen pilots have real potential for making a difference.
'The pilot areas have embraced the concept of a culture change in swimming and I am really excited about seeing the ideas on paper come to life over the coming months,' he said.
ASA swimming activity manager Kate Sargant highlights the importance of these pilot projects:
'The selection of pilot areas is just the start of some pivotal work for swimming,' she explained. 'Significant challenges lie ahead for the pilots, but each had a clear rationale for tackling the issue they have chosen and we are confident that Everyday Swim can deliver both in the pilot areas and as a national project.
'We have such strong support from key partners such as Department of Health, as well as genuine drive from the top of both Sport England and the ASA, and the commitment from the pilots is impressive.'
Stephen Baddeley, interim chief executive of Sport England, said:
'Swimming has such great health benefits and we are delighted to be supporting Everyday Swim as part of our drive to get the nation more active through sport. The programme is linked to other Sport England activities, including our Everyday Sport physical activity campaign, and we look forward to working closely with the ASA so that we can build on the lessons learned through the pilots. This will help us understand better the steps needed to get more people into swimming and other sports.'
Pilot projects will be further developed over the coming weeks and it is anticipated that project coordinators will be in post by the summer when the projects will be formally launched.
ASA chief executive David Sparkes invited expressions of interest in hosting a pilot project in February this year.
'The response has been great,' he said. 'Clearly the industry wants to work with the ASA and it is encouraging that everyone recognises the need to do more to get people more active and into our pools and provide the culture change that will keep them coming back.
'The chosen pilots stood out among the proposals we received, but the ASA will also be looking at ways of working with all those who have shown such a clear interest in getting people swimming.'
--The seven pilots will run projects focussing on the following areas:
Easington (North East): children and young people at risk of obesity Islington (London): bringing the success of the gym to the pool Kirklees (Yorkshire and the Humber): tackling health inequalities through swimming Lewisham (London): addressing issues facing black and minority ethnic communities, 10 -19 year olds and older people, based initially on a single facility Suffolk (East): delivered through the County Sports Partnership, addressing a variety of issues throughout the county, including rural access Telford and Wrekin (West Midlands): focussing on people with disabilities and disadvantaged families Wirral (North West): improving access and opportunities for older people.
--Further work will take place in the three regions not represented (East Midlands, South West, South East) to ensure they are able to be a part of Everyday Swim.
--Sport England will invest£3m into Everyday Swim over the next three years.
The Amateur Swimming Association is the English National Governing Body for Swimming, Diving, Water Polo, Open Water, and Synchronised Swimming. It organises competition throughout England, establishes the Laws of the Sport and operates comprehensive certification and education programmes for Teachers, Coaches and Officials as well as its renowned Learn To Swim Awards scheme. The ASA supports 1,600 affiliated swimming clubs through a National/Regional/County structure. The ASA aims to ensure everybody has an opportunity to learn to swim.