altJuly 20 - The ASA today revealed how it will help shape the Government’s Free Swimming initiative, one of the main legacy promises of London staging the 2012 Olympics, and help encourage more people to take it up.


The ASA will work with local authorities and pool operators across England to ensure that the Free Swimming initiative, which is funded by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the Department of Health (DOH), Department for Work and Pensions, Department for Children, Schools and Families and Communities and Local Government, will drive up attendances at pools and lead to more people swimming more often and having more fun, it said today.


The ASA will be building upon its work with Sport England on Everyday Swimming to ensure that the customer experience of the swimmers taking up their Free Swimming opportunity is one that inspires them to swim more often, the chief executive David Sparkes said.

Throughout June and July the ASA has been holding ‘Free Swimming Roadshows’, to share with local authorities and pool operators the vital lessons the ASA has already learnt and to give pool providers participating in the Free Swimming scheme further details on the significant financial support available from government, via the ASA, for Free Swimming lessons.

Sparkes said: “The ASA has always enjoyed strong relationships with local authorities, who with their swimming pools are a very important partner in swimming, and now we are working together on a shared agenda to get many more people swimming to be more active and healthy.

“The investment of £140 million into Free Swimming affords us both with a massive opportunity and one we should grab and use.

“But the ASA knows that Free Swimming on its own is not the only solution.


"We need to change the customer experience, change public perception of swimming and move towards placing the customer at the heart of everything we do.”

The ASA, working in partnership with Sport England and five Government departments including the DCMS and the DOH, has been commissioned to put in place a network of 49 swimming co-ordinators, who will be working at a county level with pool operators to further develop swimming.

Already 41 of these County Swimming Co-ordinators are  in post and the ASA has also appointed Neil Fender as its new director of partnerships.

Fender has 22 years of varied commercial experience, the last 15 spent in a team-leading director capacity.


He has a long background in swimming, firstly as a competitor from the age of eight and retiring at 35 and secondly in teaching, coaching and chairing at Lutterworth Swimming Club.

In total, 259 councils across England - 79 per cent of those eligible - have been offering Free Swimming from April 1 for the over-60s.alt


Meanwhile, 190 local authorities - 58 per cent-  have been providing the scheme for children and young people aged 16 and under.

Sparkes said: “This will be the first time that there has been a national structure to share best practice on how to deliver Free Swimming and will provide exciting opportunities to those councils that have opted in.

“The Department for Culture, Media and Sport still has the ambition to expand the scheme to every person who wants to swim by 2012 and we hope that those councils who currently haven’t opted in will soon see the benefits rather than the costs of Free Swimming.”

Swimming has been outlined by the government as a key activity because it remains the number one participation sport with close to 12 million people swimming regularly but is also an activity that those who are inactive would consider more than any other.