Pupils from a remote island are swapping their windswept loch for a modern city pool to enhance their swimming skills.
The children from Tiree – the most westerly isle in the Inner Hebrides – usually learn to swim next to 5,000 year-old settlement in the icy waters of Loch Bhasapol as they don’t have a pool on the island.
But this week, the 14 children from Tiree Primary School ditched their usual and wholly necessary wet suits to make the 180-mile journey to participate in Scottish Water and Scottish Swimming’s Learn to Swim lessons at Glasgow Club Gorbals.
Ruth Budge, a teacher at Tiree Primary School, said: “Trips to the mainland are a big highlight in our school calendar and we always try to fit in a visit to a pool for swimming and water confidence lessons.
“Living on an island, swimming becomes an even more important skill to have.
“We usually hold lessons in Loch Bhasapol but with staff changes at the school, it just hasn’t been a possibility this year.
“Some of the children really only get the chance to go swimming when they’re on holiday once a year and because it’s not something they’re doing regularly, it’s really difficult for them to maintain and improve their abilities.”
Ms Budge added: “We’re very grateful that everyone has been so accommodating to us.
“The kids have been so excited and they even started a countdown leading up to the trip.”
Brian Lironi, director of corporate affairs for Scottish Water, said: “The Hebrides are surrounded by water so it’s so essential that children have the skills to be safe in the water.
“We’re extremely proud to be supporting the Learn to Swim project and to be giving children the opportunity to develop their swimming skills even when pools aren’t within easy reach.”
The framework helps to create quality learn to swim environments for children from birth, enabling them to become competent, confident and safe in the water.
The island children will be given lessons later this week by Glasgow Sport, which delivers the national swimming framework to the local area and has helped to coordinate the trip.
Andrena Hammond, swimming participation manager at Glasgow Sport, said: “It’s fantastic having the children here. Seeing their enthusiasm and enjoyment in using our pool has been heartwarming.”