More than 10,000 free swimming sessions were taken up by youngsters during the school holidays in Dudley borough this summer.
Free swimming was made available throughout the break at Dudley and Halesowen leisure centres and has been heralded a success as the borough continues with its Child Friendly Dudley initiative.
At Crystal Leisure Centre, where the pool was undergoing works for some of the break, free swims were also made available for the last fortnight of the holidays. Any youngster aged 16 and under who lives in Dudley borough was eligible to take advantage of the offer by registering online at freeswimindudley.co.uk.
In addition, for the first time at all centres and following requests from parents, the council also ran family fun sessions specifically for youngsters with disabilities or special educational needs, such as quieter sessions for children with autism. Councillor Simon Phipps, cabinet member responsible for leisure centres, said:
"The free-swimming programme is always really popular and is a fun way to stay active and help families enjoy time together.
"Covid meant that we were unable to offer free swimming at all last summer and although we have still had to restrict numbers this year to keep people safe, we are delighted to see such a good uptake.
"I would also like to thank Leisure Services staff for delivering another successful initiative under difficult circumstances. As expected sessions proved extremely popular and we will be reviewing how we can increase attendances and reduce waiting times."
Councillor Ruth Buttery, cabinet member for children and young people, said: "As the cabinet member who originally pushed for the introduction of free swimming for children in our borough, I was really pleased to see it back in time for the summer holidays.
"Swimming is a great way for children to be active and have fun and it’s fantastic to see that so many children took advantage of the offer this year.
We have had fantastic feedback from parents on the offer of separate provision for children with disabilities and special educational needs and this is certainly something we will look to do again in the future.
"Thanks must go to the staff for all their hard work and efforts over the school holiday."