Trust takes up the slack on swimming

Eyemouth and District Amateur Swimming Club are about to celebrate their 40th anniversary
Eyemouth and District Amateur Swimming Club are about to celebrate their 40th anniversary

The Scottish Government’s decision to cut funding school swimming lessons has left Borders Sport and Leisure Trust, who work in local primary schools, “disappointed”.

Perrotine Orr, head of Active Communities with Borders Sports and Leisure Trust, said this week: “We heard the news through Scottish Swimming, our key partners along with the council.

“We were providing swimming activities to three primary schools, including Eyemouth, where we worked with pupils from Primary 4-7.”

Speaking of the decision to remove the ‘top-up’ funding that provided £1.7 million nationally towards school swimming lessons, Ms Orr said: “Obviously we are very disappointed but we keep looking to make sure swimming lessons are as accessible as possible.

“We have a review underway at the minute into how we can have as great a reach into schools in the Borders as possible. We are trying to minimise the impact [of the funding cut] and I think from our perspective that we have such extensive programmes that we are sure school pupils can achieve the competence in the water that they need.”

Scottish Government has said that swimming was still well funded.

Sports Minister Jamie Hepburn said: “Although the top-up programme has now ended, Scottish Swimming received more than £5m (over four years) in the latest funding round from sportscotland.”

However, Scottish Swimming warned the government this week that annually, around 40 per cent of schoolchildren - nearly 15,000 - make the move from primary to secondary education as non-swimmers.

Local MSP John Lamont criticised the move, saying: “This is a really disappointing decision which will inevitably mean pupils from more deprived backgrounds will no longer get swimming lessons.

“I know swimming is a great way to get fit. It’s also easier to learn as a child and without this funding more children are going to grow up as non-swimmers.”