Refurbished pool is making a splash

Witney Gazette: Pupils with headteacher Jill Meyer-Young, left, Water Babies regional franchise owner Saz Sunthareswaran, front right, and Water Babies staff Abigail House, far right, and Caroline Gibbs, back Picture: OX65577 Desmond Brambley Buy this photo Pupils with headteacher Jill Meyer-Young, left, Water Babies regional franchise owner Saz Sunthareswaran, front right, and Water Babies staff Abigail House, far right, and Caroline Gibbs, back Picture: OX65577 Desmond Brambley

A SCHOOL swimming pool has re-opened after four years thanks to a £130,000 investment.

Swimming lessons firm Water Babies Oxfordshire gave the cash to re-open the pool at Witney Community Primary School, Hailey Road.

Now it plans to open the facility – closed because it was structurally unsound – to the wider community.

Pupils at the school have also been using it since it opened in January and more renovations are planned.

It was previously only open from May to October and was too shallow for older children.

But it is now open throughout the year and a section has been made deeper to take a wider age range. It is also heated and covered.

Saz Sunthareswaran, 33, who owns the regional franchise of Water Babies, said: “It’s a good combination.

“We wanted to renovate it partly for our business but also because there has been a lot in the national press about how children were leaving school not being able to swim 25m, which is the Government’s required standard.

“It’s never too late to start, and being able to teach them on-site – so it doesn’t interrupt their school education – has been brilliant.”

She added: “It’s gone really well so far and it was a proud moment to see it completed.

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“When it first opened you could hear the schoolchildren screaming in excitement from outside.

“The kids absolutely love it and have had an amazing time.”

The Chesterton mum-of-four teaches children from newborns to four around the country.

The project included refurbishment of the changing rooms and toilets as well as the addition of disabled facilities.

Water Babies, which teaches more than 100 children, has also provided instructors for the school.

Mrs Sunthareswaran said: “Our priority was to get the school and our lessons running but it will be open to everyone in the future on weekdays and at weekends.”

The school’s parent-teacher association raised £12,000 for the project.

Headteacher Jill Meyer-Young said: “It’s great for the town. Apart from Wood Green School, I don’t know anyone else who has a swimming pool all year round.

“It’s very important because swimming is potentially a life-saver and something I believe in.”

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