South Somerset District Council awarded Sport England grant to enhance swimming opportunities in south Somerset

Residents in the Wincanton and Yeovil areas are being encouraged to dive in and test the water following South Somerset District Council's successful funding bid of £193,000 to Sport England.

South Somerset District Council's successful funding bid of £193,000 to Sport England

The funding, which was made possible thanks to the National Lottery, will be used to transform the swimming facilities and programmes at Goldenstones Leisure Centre in Yeovil and Wincanton Sports Centre.  Swimmers will receive an additional boost as SSDC will also be investing additional funding in the refurbishment of the changing facilities at Goldenstones.

Councillor Sylvia Seal, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture at South Somerset District Council was delighted with the successful funding bid and commented, "This is great news for everyone interested in swimming in and around Wincanton and Yeovil. 

"Working with our facility operators, LED Leisure Management Ltd, we have listened to our residents and will respond to specific feedback about improvements to our pool facilities at Wincanton and Yeovil that will increase customer satisfaction. We will also use the funding to help launch new swimming programmes and initiatives to inspire more people to take part in and enjoy swimming, whatever their age or ability. We must thank all National Lottery players who have helped make this funding possible."

Both facilities are operated by LED Leisure Management Ltd, who has been instrumental in carrying out local research among residents and customers in both towns, and in developing the funding bid to Sport England.

The research focussed on the need to make sure swimming promotions, facilities and programmes were relevant and appealing to local people. In particular, LED identified the need to provide dedicated activities for less confident swimmers who need some support to "dip their toe in" or use swimming to improve their health.

There are some residents who would like more opportunities to improve their swimming technique and perhaps challenge themselves further, whilst others simply wish to spend quality family time together in the pool. In order to meet everyone's needs, LED will be providing more high quality dedicated sessions.

Sport England wants everyone to be able to get active, no matter their age, background or level of ability.  Participation rates for swimming have declined over the last few years and the Swim Local Pilots are one of the many ways Sport England are able test what solutions are best fitting to rectify the decline.

Swimming remains a strategically important activity for Sport England. It's the sport with the largest female participation levels and Sport England research shows people who are inactive state an interest in swimming above other activities. Swimming is also highly accessible to all - if disabled swimming was a sport in its own right it would be the 9th largest in England.

LED's CEO, Peter Gilpin said, "When applying to Sport England for funding, our aim was to provide relevant, innovative swimming activities for local customers in modern clean and inspiring facilities.

"Customers at Goldenstones were particularly concerned about the standards of changing facilities including the lockers and tiling. Work is already underway to refurbish the changing areas and will be completed ahead of the summer holidays.

"More than half of our Wincanton customers suggested the need for an improved café facility area in which to chill and relax. Through this project, a new coffee pod development will now be installed and ready for use in September."

Lisa O'Keefe, Sport England's Director of Insight, said, "Sport England is proud to be providing funding and support to SSDC to help more people get active through swimming. A lot of research has gone into the development of the Swim Local projects to make sure we're giving the local community what they want and need. We know swimming is one of the ways many people prefer to get active. At Sport England we want everyone to enjoy the benefits that exercise brings, and hope people in South Somerset take advantage of the exciting new swimming opportunities in the area."

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Further information:

LED Leisure Management Ltd (formerly Leisure East Devon) is a charitable trust established on 1 January 2006 to manage leisure, entertainment and cultural facilities and activities. LED manages a large number of facilities throughout East Devon and South Somerset on behalf of the respective local authorities, as well as numerous community and health projects. Please see: www.ledleisure.co.uk for more details.

The funding has been possible thanks to National Lottery money and the people who play the National Lottery each week.

Sport England is a public body and invests more than £300 million National Lottery and government money each year in projects and programmes that help people get active and play sport.

It wants everyone in England, regardless of age, background, or level of ability, to feel able to engage in sport and physical activity. That's why a lot of its work is specifically focused on helping people who do no, or very little, physical activity and groups who are typically less active - like women, disabled people and people on lower incomes.