Merton Council in partnership with its leisure provider GLL will be offering free swimming from 1 April 2009 to people 16 years and under as well as those over the age of 60.
The council is investing its grant of around £300,000 from central Government in providing this service at its three leisure centres for the next two years to encourage youngsters and people over 60 to participate in sport and active recreation and to increase their levels of health and well being. Sutton and Merton PCT has also contributed £30,000 over 2 years to the initiative.
Swimmers will be able to take advantage of free swimming at the designated daily public swim times. Those interested in free swimming should check their local leisure centre’s timetable.
Merton Council cabinet member for community services Councillor Maurice Groves said: “This is great news for a large number of people, particularly in the current economic climate. We are always looking to put the needs of our residents first and provide them with good value for money. Free swimming will enable many local people to enjoy the benefits of this wonderful sport and not worry about cost. We are very grateful to the PCT for their substantial financial contribution to this special two-year offer.
“Swimming is wonderful exercise for the whole body, working the muscles and improving circulation, and will undoubtedly help our young and older residents maintain a healthy body and mind. It’s also very sociable as people can go to the pool with their friends. I am pleased to be working closely with our partners at the PCT and our leisure providers, GLL. I would like to thank GLL for all their help with making free swimming possible. Their contribution in the form of providing marketing materials and manpower has played an important part in making this initiative a reality.”
GLL managing director Mark Sesnan said: “We are strong supporters of the Government’s ‘Free Swimming’ initiative and expect that it will increase demand for swimming facilities across the capital. The scheme will impact everyone from non-swimmers dipping their toe into the water for the first time, to competitive club swimmers.
“Not only is swimming an essential life skill, but also a social and healthy recreational activity that can be enjoyed by all members of the family regardless of age or fitness level.”
Note to editors
1. To be eligible for the free swimming customers need to provide proof of age.
2. The offer is for one free swim per day.
3. Swimmers need to present their membership card at the leisure centre reception.
4. Swimmers wanting to take advantage of the free swimming offer and who currently don’t have a membership card can register online at http://www.gll.org
5. Information on all the council leisure facilities can be found at: http://www.merton.gov.uk/leisure/sport/facilities/leisurecentres
6. GLL is a not-for-profit leisure operator.
7. GLL offers special monthly and yearly concessionary membership rates for Merton residents who receive income support, housing benefit, council tax benefit, jobseekers’ allowance, incapacity benefit or severe disablement allowance. Full time students living or studying in Merton also qualify for these rates. Where junior concessionary memberships are available a junior dependent of any of these is applicable (off-peak only).