Young people aged 13 to 17 years old will be able to enjoy free swim sessions at two popular leisure centres during the school summer holidays, thanks to a water safety initiative.
Leisure Focus, the Royal Borough’s leisure operator, in collaboration with local partners including the council itself, is launching its “Safe Summer Swim” initiative, with a mission to reduce the risk of young people getting into trouble in lakes and rivers.
The programme offers free one-hour fun swim sessions for 13- to 17-year-olds at Windsor Leisure Centre and Braywick Leisure Centre (weekdays only), from Monday 24 July to Friday 1 September, making swimming accessible and promoting water safety.
With up to 40 spaces available per session, this initiative seeks to provide local teenagers with an opportunity to learn essential water safety skills, improve their swimming abilities, and foster a greater appreciation for water-related activities.
Safe Summer Swim is funded by Leisure Focus Trust, Louis Baylis Trust, Shanly Homes, Baylis Media CIC, and Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead.
Mark Camp-Overy, CEO Leisure Focus, said: "The team at Leisure Focus is committed to doing more to increase awareness and education in order to prevent further tragedy in our rivers and open water.
“Last month, we supported the RLSS National Drowning Prevention Week, providing assemblies for local schools. The free swimming sessions are available for young residents to just turn up; there is no need to book in advance."
Councillor Simon Werner, the Council Leader, said: “In recent years, there have been some tragedies where young people have sadly got into trouble in the water and lost their lives. Offering these free summer swim sessions for teenagers to use the supervised pools at our leisure centres is a great water safety initiative, and can only further reduce the temptation to swim in the Thames or other open water this summer, which might help to save a life.
“We want everyone to stay safe around open water and we’re working hard with partners to highlight the risks of entering rivers and lakes. Even if you’re a strong swimmer and it’s a hot day, you are still at risk from cold water shock, hidden depths and currents, and submerged objects.
“We have safety and warning signs at key locations along the River Thames, and our Community Wardens do routine patrols along the river, carrying throw lines to assist if they come across a water incident. They’ve also been checking the buoyancy aids to ensure this lifesaving equipment is ready to use if needed, and speaking with anyone in the water about water safety.”