Published August 02, 2017 3.39pm
Swimming pools throughout County Durham have launched some splash-tastic new water-based activity sessions, designed to keep kids entertained throughout the summer holidays whatever the weather.
Newly-introduced sessions see a giant inflatable obstacle course invade the county's pools. Aimed at eight to 14-year-olds, they're already proving a hit as youngsters battle the challenge and their own laughter to reach the end.
For younger water lovers new aquafun sessions feature floats and water toys including floaters, sinkers and balls which entertain and help develop aquatics skills.
Families can enjoy quality time together as part of adult and child sessions where they play and invent their own games in the water and meet Brock the badger, who's been learning to love water at the same time.
Brock and friends are the central characters to the instructor lead sessions, helping children with their aquatics skills this summer.
Find out more about the sessions on our In the pool this Summer! pages.
Cllr Ossie Johnson, Cabinet member for tourism, culture, leisure and rural issues, said: "Swimming is already the largest participation sport in the county with many of our residents swimming at least once month, and we are delighted that we now have the funding thanks to National Lottery players to help this number grow.
"We hope that the pilot will re-invigorate swimming as an activity and encourage residents to embrace water-based activities at their local facility."
The roll out will continue over the next 12 months and, later in the year, further improvements will include transforming changing rooms, creating new reception areas and introducing water-based fitness classes including spinning and trampolining.
The project has been made possible thanks to a £1.5 million investment from Durham County Council alongside £540,972 funding from Sport England.
The lottery-funded Swim Local Pilot was created following feedback around local swimming experiences, which was gathered at 16 focus groups and through a satisfaction survey.
Customers' views on swimming and the barriers they face in taking part in activity were used to shape leisure centre refurbishments, new programmes and sessions.
As one of 12 Swim Local Pilots across the country, the project is aimed at increasing participation in the sport and delivering better outcomes for physical activity across County Durham.
Lisa O'Keefe, Sport England's Director of Insight, said: "Sport England is proud to be providing funding and support to Durham County Council to help more people get active through swimming.
"A lot of research has gone into the development of the Swim Local projects to make sure we're giving the local community what they want and need.
"We know swimming is one of the ways many people prefer to get active.
"At Sport England we want everyone to enjoy the benefits that exercise brings, and hope people in County Durham take advantage of the exciting new swimming opportunities in the area."
The research and insight helped identify who from local communities would swim more if the right activities were on offer.
This includes families who want to swim for pleasure and fun, people who are thinking of using swimming to improve their fitness levels and water-based fitness classes, which offer an alternative to traditional studio based activities.
Four pools are included in the pilot project: