11:40AM, Thursday 21 July 2022
Free swimming sessions for teenagers are set to be available from this coming Monday to help young people stay safe and swim in a safe environment this summer.
The safer summer swim for teenagers project has been set up quickly in response to the news of young people losing their lives in rivers and open water.
The scheme is being run by Leisure Focus Trust, the non-profit that manages several gym facilities in the Borough including the Braywick and Windsor Leisure centres, and is being supported by the Royal Borough council.
It is looking to support teens aged 13-17 years old with access to free swimming throughout the summer holidays.
Working in partnership with the local authority and emergency services, the aim is to offer a swimming session every weekday from this coming Monday, July 25 to Friday, September 2.
In total, 2,640 spaces will be available during the project throughout the summer. The aim is also to support promoting the safer swim message within the community.
Swim tuition will be offered during certain sessions on the programme, and the Leisure Focus Trust will support the fire service with messaging around safety and the dangers of open waters.
Mark Camp-Overy, chief executive of Leisure Focus, said: “The team at Leisure Focus are committed to doing more to increase awareness and education in order to prevent further tragedy in our rivers and open waters.
“Last month we supported the RLSS National Drowning Prevention Week, providing assemblies for local primary schools and introducing lifesaving skills for all swimmers in our school Learn to Swim programmes.
“The [free swimming] sessions are available for young residents to just turn up – there is no need to book in advance.”
Cllr David Cannon, cabinet member for anti-social behaviour, crime, and public protection, said: “We want people to stay safe around water and we work with partners to raise awareness and highlight the risks, including visits to schools to talk about cold water shock, submerged hazards and the lifesaving ‘float to live’ advice.
“We also have additional safety and warning signs at key locations along the Thames, and our community wardens are doing routine patrols along the river in order to check buoyancy aids and speak with anyone in the water about water safety.
“Hopefully this summer we can further reduce the risk of young people choosing to swim in the Thames or other open water and sadly getting into trouble.”
To help get set up, Leisure Focus successfully applied for a grant of £2,000 for the Louis Baylis Trust.
In total, there will be 2,400 daytime swim spaces available and 240 evening leisure swims at Windsor for 13-17yr olds.
Drivers are being warned to expect severe delays following the earlier closure of the M25 in both directions between Heathrow and the M4 exit.