Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Over 60s dive in for free swimming

Local public swimming pools will open their doors free of charge to people aged 60 and over from 1st April as part of the Government’s Swim4life initiative.

Part of the nationwide Change4Life campaign, Swim4life aims to get people to lead more active, healthy lives and free access will be available at any public casual swimming sessions at Lancaster City Council’s Salt Ayre Sports Centre and the community swimming pools in Heysham, Hornby and Carnforth.

Lancaster will receive £44,400 from central government funds to cover the predicted loss of income and increased administration costs and additional swimming lessons and is one of almost 300 local authorities across England to take part.

“Swimming is one of the most popular ways for people in this country to keep fit," said Coun Jane Fletcher, Cabinet member with responsibility for sport, welcoming the news. "Your body works harder in the water, so 30 minutes in the pool is worth 45 minutes activity on dry land.

"This is a great way of staying healthy, however good a swimmer you are. And because it’s low impact, it’s great for people who have problems with their joints or find exercise difficult.”

A council spokesperson told virtual-lancaster the Swim4life scheme will operate differently to free senior citizen concessionary travel, which has contributed to financial problems for the Council because it is being used by so many pensioners and they have not had enough funding for it.

"It's an entirely different situation to the concessionary travel because, with that, we reimburse the bus companies as per the number of passengers who use the scheme," the spokesperson explained. "With free swimming, we own the pools so the major cost is the loss of income."

To access the scheme, customers will first need to register at any of the swimming pools by completing a short form and by providing proof of their eligibility. A passport, the Lancashire Now Transport Card, driving licence, pension book or birth certificate are all acceptable forms of identification.

As the scheme is sure to prove popular, customers are being encouraged to pre-register for a personal swipe card prior to 1st April. All four swimming facilities will be offering pre-registrations from Wednesday 18th March.

• For information on the opening times of the swimming pools please visit www.lancaster.gov.uk/leisureinfo

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