National survey data suggests that 1 in 5 women and, in schools, half of girls say they would like to swim more.
Due to cultural and religious barriers women from many Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities living in Wales are unable to participate in mainstream mixed- gender swimming sessions.
BME Sport Cymru – a Sport Wales funded, multi-partnership project, managed and lead by Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) - have supported the initiation and development of women- only swimming sessions by utilising swimming pools at local high schools.
BME Sport Cymru has established two sessions, one at Fitzalan High school in Cardiff and the other at Bishop Gore High School in Swansea.
Both sessions have been very successful.
To ensure no compromise on cultural and religious beliefs, the session has a female lifeguard and female volunteers who assist with the running of the sessions.
The social aspect has been great for the younger girls who have had the opportunity to participate in leisurely swimming and play in the pool with their friends; an option we all take for granted but is not readily available to all members of our community.
The swimming project has made a huge impact on the participants helping them to improve their health and general wellbeing.
It's been a very successful initiative for the local community and as a way of generating some income for the schools. It's a Welsh Government aspiration to get schools to open their facilities more to the local community, and a Wales Well-being Indicator (38) to get people more active more often.
If you are interested or inspired to find out more about these initiatives, or to talk to BME Sport Cymru about the possibility of setting up something similar in your school, please contact Rajma Begum – Project Manager Rbegum@wcva.org.uk / 02920 431726.
To find out more about BME Sport Cymru please visit www.wcva.org.uk/bmesportcymru (external link).