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Department for Culture Media and Sport

free swimming programme

We are giving 20 million people the chance to swim for free in pools the length and breadth of England.

From 1 April 2009, 261 local councils are providing swimming free of charge for people aged 60 and over – and almost 200 are offering free swimming to those aged 16 and under, too.

David Walliams helps Culture Secretary Andy Burnham launch the Government's £140m Free Swimming Programme.

Top swimmers Jo Jackson, Mark Foster and Heather Frederiksen also backed the initiative that will see over a thousand local pools offer free swimming to people aged 60 and over and 16 and under.

London 2012 Inspire programme - opens in a new browser windowSwimming is the country’s most popular sporting activity. The Government’s free swimming initiative is an important part of our plans to secure a long-term legacy from London hosting the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games - and to get two million people more active and more healthy. As such it is recognised through the Inspire Programme. The Free Swimming Programme is in support of Change4Life – the nationwide movement to help everyone eat well, move more and live longer.

It is a partnership between the Government, local councils of all political colours, Sport England and swimming's governing body.

City, district and unitary councils are responsible for providing free swimming so you should contact them in the first instance.

Group of children at a swimming pool

 Please note:

  • To take part, you may be asked to prove your age
  • Councils may ask you to apply for a free swimming membership card – at no cost or for a minimal fee
  • If your own council does not offer free swimming and you are in either age group, you can use a pool owned by any participating local authority, whether nearby or anywhere else in England, please also see out Frequently asked questions for swimmers
  • For more information about the free swimming initiative, please see our Frequently asked questions for local authorities
  • For more information about swimming, see the British swimming website
  • Find out what Sport England is doing to get us more active.  


Over 60s - Smiling man and women in a swimming pool

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