The closure of swimming pools due to the Covid pandemic has led to an increase in the number of children in Blackpool who cannot swim.
The council’s leisure services department has seen a 24 per cent increase in non-swimmers, according to a report to councillors.
But since pools reopened in March, efforts have been increased to get youngsters swimming again, the council’s annual leisure services report added.
Figures show the number of non-swimmers increased by 24 per cent from 60 per cent in 2019 to 84 per cent in 2021 “demonstrating that the impact of Covid on swimming abilities in children is expected to be significant.”
Moor Park Health and Leisure Centre
But the report, which was presented to members of the tourism, economy and communities scrutiny committee, adds: “Active Blackpool are keen to improve the swimming ability of Blackpool residents and are working with schools, children’s centres, and Better Start to raise awareness of the importance of learning to swim and developing this life skill from an early age.
“Some schools have acknowledged this by increasing their pool time and establishing after school clubs.”
Blackpool was the first local authority in England to get pupils back into the pool after restrictions were lifted in March.
Although Palatine Leisure Centre was closed for longer to enable investment in the facilities, schools in the south of the town took youngsters to swimming classes at Moor Park Health and Leisure Centre in Bispham.
Currently around 30 schools take part in sessions organised by the council’s Active Blackpool School Swimming Service.
The report adds: “The impact of the pandemic is evident on the children who are attending school swimming for the first time.
“Whilst some schools have continued to bring the same children as pre-Covid, other schools have bought new year groups.
“Leisure Services have seen a significant increase in non-swimmers with the number of non-swimmers increasing by 24 per cent from 60 per cent in 2019 to 84 per cent in 2021, demonstrating that the impact of Covid on swimming abilities in children is expected to be significant.”