All over 60s in Manchester will be eligible for free swimming in Manchester's pools including the flagship Manchester Aquatics Centre from 1 June 2008.
Manchester is the first city in England to offer such a comprehensive package for the over 60s. The overall aim of the Manchester scheme is to increase the number of people over 60 in the city who swim regularly as part of the Healthy Ageing Strategy.
The scheme will start on 1 June 2008 and run initially for one year and will include access to all Manchester pools including the Aquatic Centre and the Forum. A full assessment of the impact of the scheme will be undertaken.
Councillor Mike Kane, executive member for arts and leisure, said: "With the 9th FINA World Swimming Championships looming, Manchester's Valuing Older People Programme, Manchester Primary Care Trust and Manchester Leisure have joined forces to reach an agreement to provide funding for free swimming for people aged 60 or over. Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise and in Manchester we are lucky enough to have some state of the art pools."
Dr Sally Bradley, director of public health for Manchester Primary Care Trust, said "Free swimming will give all older people in the city the opportunity to take up this important form of exercise. Swimming helps to reduce high blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease - still the biggest killer in Manchester, tones the body and improves muscle strength, posture and flexibility. It is very important when trying to retain and improve mobility as we get older."
Councillor Basil Curley, executive member for adult services added: "This is great news for Manchester residents. Swimming has many health benefits including helping people to lose weight -a swimmer can burn as many calories in an hour as a runner can in 6 hours. It is also a relaxing pastime giving mental health benefits and improving well-being and offers the opportunity to meet other people through group activities such as aquafit."
Councillor Val Stevens, deputy leader and lead member for valuing older people, added: "This is a great idea - I would encourage all residents over 60 to apply for their free pass, get down to their local pool and start enjoying the many health and social benefits of swimming."
Juliet Appleby, tel: 0161 234 3237
Martin Hellewell, tel: 0161 234 3729