Rossington £1 swim scheme improving residents’ health and wellbeing

Residents of a Doncaster village have praised a swimming initiative funded by ward councillors.
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Users of Rossington Community Swimming Pool have discussed the health and wellbeing benefits of the centre’s £1 swim scheme amidst hopes to secure external funding.

Since March 2023, Rossington and Bawtry councillors have funded the scheme through the ward budget to allow adults to swim for £1 rather than £5 previously paid.

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Councillors Rachael Blake, Bob Anderson and Ken Guest contribute £1000 of the budget to the scheme every 10 weeks.

Councillors Rachael Blake and Bob Anderson with General Manager Lewis Smart and residents who have used the £1 swim scheme.Councillors Rachael Blake and Bob Anderson with General Manager Lewis Smart and residents who have used the £1 swim scheme.
Councillors Rachael Blake and Bob Anderson with General Manager Lewis Smart and residents who have used the £1 swim scheme.

During the latest 10-week period ending in January, 472 swim sessions were discounted through the scheme.

Funding equates to around half of the ward’s total £9000 annual budget.

While councillors have stated that the scheme does not prevent other projects from being funded, they hope to secure external funding based on the testimony of residents who say the scheme has improved their health.

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Rossington resident Diane stated: “I’ve tended to swim more at The Dome but I’ve definitely used this more since the scheme was introduced.

“I’m getting on a bit so something supportive like water swimming is better for my joints and my back and everything that’s giving out with age, obviously my cardiovascular system will have improved too because that’s one of the main benefits of swimming.

“I met a lady here who was swimming with one of her older children and bringing him up to the deep end and back down and he was doing really well because he couldn’t swim a few weeks before.

“She said she taught him herself and all of her children who are homeschooled using the £1 swim.

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“It’s crucial because if children ever fall into water they’ve got to be able to know how to swim, it’s a lifesaver.”

Another resident Gaynor praised the scheme, adding that she takes part in several projects in the village led by Coun Anderson.

Gaynor said: “I think it’s a really good thing for health and mental health, I have been a few times myself although I should come more often.

“It’s beneficial what the ward councillors are doing, it gives the opportunity for more people to come for all different sessions.

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“I also do the wellbeing walking group and the gardening that Bob runs. They’ve all definitely improved my mental health and fitness a lot.

“I’ve seen more people in the pool since the scheme, it’s great for everybody in the village and I think it should continue.”

Gaynor runs the free community initiatives Rossington Community Repair Workshop and Keep Rossington Tidy.

The scheme was first introduced to women only following the refurbishment of the pool in 2022 to improve women’s health amidst the cost-of-living crisis.

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Following its popularity, councillors opened the scheme to all adults, working with Doncaster Culture and Leisure Trust (DCLT) which manages all leisure sites across the borough.

Rossington Parish Council also funds £1 swimming for children who live in the village.

Coun Anderson added: “It could be a family of five coming in for £5 which is what we need in the cost-of-living crisis.

“Because the £1 has been affordable you do see new people coming, they’ll come three or four times and you can see that confidence grow.

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“They might not talk to anybody for a few sessions and then all of a sudden they’ll be chatting away and it’s great.

“I hear the stories every day of people now who have formed friendships in here, they now have coffees mid-week and stuff like that. So many good stories have come from it.”

Coun Blake added that the scheme also enhances the council’s Choose Kindness initiative which she founded as Cabinet Member for Children’s Social Care and Equalities.

The initiative encourages businesses, schools and individuals to take part in small acts of kindness to improve community wellbeing.

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She added: “We’ve always said with Choose Kindness that it’s not the big things that matter it’s the fact that somebody’s said hello to somebody or just smiled at somebody and that’s what we’re really encouraging people to do.

“We’re one of the areas that’s trying to develop that more and it can make all the difference. In the village we’ve got some amazing groups that are going on but most people don’t know about them.”

Diane added: “Some things you just can’t measure, like how many people had been isolated and lonely and had nowhere to go.

“Going from being a non-swimmer to a swimmer is a completely life changing thing.

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“Ive never been a very strong swimmer when I was younger and I was only motivated to learn by bringing my children to lessons, and I saw how well they were doing and thought, I want to be able to do better. I’ve definitely improved.

Lewis Smart, General Manager of Rossington Community Swimming Pool, oversees a variety of operations at the site with a small team of around 10.

He said: “There’s been a better difference since the £1 swim, I still think we could do some more in terms of reaching out as there’s a lot of people in Rossington who don’t know about it, but we still get new faces come through just enquiring. I think It’s just about spreading the word.”

All adults in the Rossington and Bawtry ward can use the £1 scheme by bringing proof of address to the centre or completing an online form on the DCLT website.

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