South Ayrshire Council has become the first local authority in Scotland to adopt the innovative kids' swimming aid Turtle Pack into its learn to swim programme.
Currently teaching over 2,300 per week to swim at its five locations, South Ayrshire will begin using the Turtle Pack Swimming Aid in all lessons from this week onwards.
Originally developed by acclaimed swimming teacher Michael Harkins, Turtle Pack has won a number of competitions and prizes including Scottish EDGE, support and funding from the Royal Society of Edinburgh and a personal endorsement from Sir Richard Branson (whose grandchildren have their own Turtle Packs for use on his island in the Caribbean). The company appointed Dr Lena Wilson CBE – the former head of Scottish Enterprise – as its Chair earlier this year and has been sold to customers in 23 countries worldwide.
Made up of a neoprene vest and a set of three stacked foam shells that decrease in size, the Turtle Pack Swimming Aid is worn in the pool with shells being removed as the child grows more confident in the water. This arms-free approach teaches children the correct swimming strokes, whilst the backpack-like setup ensures that they maintain the correct horizontal body position in the pool. The shells themselves are multi-functional and can be used as pool floats or toys; meaning that learning to swim with Turtle Pack is fun for swimmers of all ability levels.
Katie Campbell, Aquatics Development Officer for South Ayrshire Council said: "Our Learn 2 Swim programme is really successful with around 2,300 children taking part every week. We're always looking at ways to make the programme even better so we started to trial the Turtle Packs. We found the packs are a fun way to promote the advantages of swimming to children; armbands and discs can be quite restrictive and the Turtle Packs allow much more freedom of movement so they are really practical too. I hope our new Turtle Packs encourage even more children to take the plunge."
Turtle Pack's Chief Executive Ryan Carenduff said: "We started trading in January of 2019, so to end the year with a local authority completely adopting Turtle Pack into its lessons is something we're hugely proud of. South Ayrshire are leading the way, not just in Scotland but in the UK as a whole, embracing innovation and ensuring that local kids will have the best possible start as they learn to swim. It's really encouraging to know that our product will play a role in helping kids in South Ayrshire be safe, active and healthy."
Ryan added: "Turtle Pack is revolutionising the way that children learn to swim and now, so is South Ayrshire Council."