Swimming in Welsh gets the thumbs up





It's not just understanding how to do a front crawl and breaststroke that's getting more children swimming in Caerphilly.

Lessons in Welsh are making a big splash and even encouraging youngsters from other counties to cross the border to learn in their first language.

"We wanted to improve our links with our Welsh language schools and that was our initial motivation," said Jared Lougher, Caerphilly County Borough Council's Sport and Leisure Development Manager.

"I had some really good discussions with the Urdd about building on our partnership and the resources and strengths we could bring to the table.

"We agreed to integrate one of the Urdd sports development staff into our sports development team and it paid dividends for both of us. We had access to facilities and staff and the Urdd had the links with our Welsh language schools - it was a win-win for both of us.

"Immediately we found that there was latent demand for swimming sessions through the Welsh language. We identified some pool space and the officers were able to advertise the sessions and work with the schools.

"Over 50 people expressed an interest in participating in the sessions, which we were really pleased with, and so the programme was set up initially at Bedwas Leisure Centre with the aim of focusing on other areas later in the year."

The Urdd are responsible for recruitment of new participants and the sport and leisure department for the up-skilling of swimming teachers, the programme and arranging pool time.

Local Authority Partnership Agreement (LAPA) funding was given by Sport Wales through the Caerphilly Local Plan for Sport, to keep the costs affordable.

 "The partnership is key because this is genuine collaboration and bringing your strengths together to provide opportunities," adds Lougher. "It's clear now that there was a gap in provision.

"Research is important so you know exactly what demand is there before you commit.

"We weren't exclusive either. We've had people come to lessons from other counties because they want to take part in lessons in their first language. We're all about getting more people doing sport so that is all good with us."


Key Success Factors:

1. Partnerships that bring genuine benefits. In this case, the Urdd sports officer being integrated more closely into the Caerphilly team.

2. Research. Knowing what the demand is and where your customers are.

3. Make sure your provision is sustainable before moving on.

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