Changes to the Free Swimming Programme in Gwynedd

Gwynedd Council
A reduction in a Sports Wales Grant will lead to changes in the free swimming sessions offered to children and people aged over 60 in Gwynedd swimming pools.

Following an independent review of the Free Swimming Initiative, Sport Wales have informed Gwynedd Council and Byw’n Iach.cyf  of a change to the grant scheme that currently funds Free Swimming Sessions for young people and the over 60s in Gwynedd pools. Gwynedd Council receives the grant and distributes it to the 7 pools under the management of Byw’n Iach.cyf and Harlech Swimming Pool.

The current level of funding received through Sport Wales will be reduced by 50% from October 2019 and new conditions will apply in relation to how the funding can be used by councils across Wales.

In response, Gwynedd Council and Byw’n Iach.cyf are currently working with Sport Wales and Swim Wales to develop an offer that meets the new objectives set out by Welsh Government, is affordable in light of a significant reduction to funding and also responds best to the needs of local residents. Current Free Swimming sessions will remain the same until 1st October 2019.

Councillor Gareth Thomas on behalf of Gwynedd council said

We are naturally disappointed that the grant that funds free swimming is to be halved, but work is underway to ensure the best use of the funding that will be available to us.

In light of the reduction and change of priorities, we have ensured that there is minimal change to the sessions available to children and young people.

But unfortunately there will be an unavoidable and significant reduction in the free swimming sessions offered to those over 60 years of age. Based on the available funding and new objectives, the current provision will be reduced to a single timetabled Free Swimming session in each pool each week from October onwards.

On a more positive note however, these weekly sessions will continue throughout the year including during school holidays, for the first time.

We also hope to work with partners to offer targeted free swimming to particular groups of older residents that face specific barriers to participation at the moment e.g. health and disability charities and programmes. We also hope to offer Courses of Free Swimming Lessons for adult non-swimmers. These additional targeted interventions will depend on available funding.

Amanda Davies, Managing Director at Byw’n Iach.cyf said:

We greatly value our customers and appreciate that for some, free swimming has enabled them to access a service that wouldn’t have been accessible previously. We are working to minimise the impact to current users by consulting regarding timing of sessions.

We have consulted with users of the 60+ free swimming sessions regarding possible alternative slots in each pool and the opinions of users has been used to select the most convenient slots. Our centre staff will also be able to help customers to find alternative ways of accessing affordable swimming through our concessionary prices, membership card or direct debit packages.

The list below confirms the weekly Free Swimming Sessions that will be available for over 60s in each pool from 1st October onward:

Byw’n Iach Arfon, Caernarfon Wednesday: 12:00 – 13:00
Byw’n Iach Bangor Friday: 11.30 – 12.30
Byw’n Iach Bro Dysynni, Tywyn Friday: 11:00 – 12:00
Byw’n Iach Bro Ffestiniog Tuesday:  11:00-12:00
Byw’n Iach Dwyfor, Pwllheli Wednesday: 12:00-13:00
Byw’n Iach Glaslyn, Porthmadog Monday: 09.00-10.00
Byw’n Iach Penllyn, Bala Tuesday: 10.00-11.00

Information regarding the timing of all swimming sessions is available on this website and within the relevant centres.

If members of the pubic have any further queries regarding the changes to the Free Swimming scheme , please contact Byw’n Iach Swimming Development Officer, Dyfed Davies / 01286 679471.

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