Free Friday swimming sessions in North Tyneside have been extended after proving a hit with over 60s.

Hundreds of residents aged 60 and over have taken up North Tyneside Council’s offer of free swimming on Fridays at all of its pools since the scheme was launched in September 2017.

It was initially funded through Sport England’s Swim Local project for a year but has been so successful that the council has decided to continue the initiative for a further 12 months.

‘Free swim Fridays’ are a great way of encouraging regular use of the pools among older residents, with the associated benefits that swimming offers to health and wellbeing.

Swimming supports body weight, with no pressure on joints. It’s ideal for those with injuries or illnesses like arthritis and studies show that half an hour of swimming, three times a week, can significantly reduce blood pressure. There’s also the social side of getting to know other swimmers and the rhythmic nature of swimming helps to boost psychological wellbeing too.

Since launching the scheme more than 1,600 over 60s have taken up the free swimming offer – 39 per cent of whom are new users to the council’s facilities.

More than 15,000 swims by over 60s have taken place on Fridays over the last year, compared to 8,000 the year before.

And senior swimming has increased by 15 per cent across council-run pools compared to the previous year.

Cllr Sarah Day, cabinet member for Sport and Leisure, said: “We know how much these sessions mean to North Tyneside’s over 60s community and that is why I am delighted that we are going to be running them again.

“Swimming is a fantastic pastime and a great way to stay healthy, so we want to give all of our residents the chance to take advantage of North Tyneside’s outstanding facilities.

“We have four fantastic pools, with friendly staff and tutors to support people who may not have been swimming for a while. So regardless of how long it’s been, or your past swimming experience, we can support you in your journey.”

Free swim Fridays run every Friday at Waves in Whitley Bay, Tynemouth Pool, The Lakeside Centre in Killingworth and Hadrian Leisure Centre in Wallsend.  There’s no need to book – just visit any pool with proof of age.

To find out more, visit www.northtyneside.gov.uk or ask at any pool.