THOUSANDS of children and teenagers will be able to enjoy free swimming for another year.

Brighton and Hove City Council is one of only a handful of local authorities in the country to keep the scheme going since the Government stopped its funding in 2010.

It is working in partnership with Freedom Leisure to offer the facility for people under 16 who live in the city.

The council, which is spending £108,000 on the scheme, has said it has continued to be popular across the city.

The number of free swims undertaken between April 2015 and February this year was 49,222, a 22 per cent increase on the year before.

City council lead member for culture and sport, Alan Robins, said: “I’m delighted that we are able to offer another year of free swimming for our children and young people.

“As a seaside city, it’s vital that we encourage them to think about swimming as a great way to have fun and keep fit.

“It is great that through our partnership approach with Freedom Leisure young people from all over the city are now being encouraged to take a life-long interest in fitness and healthy lifestyles.”

Freedom Leisure area manager Chris Lovelock said: “Swimming is not just a fun activity that inspires a healthy attitude, it’s a life skill and potential life-saving skill.

“We are only too pleased to subsidise this initiative to ensure children continue to enjoy free swimming at our Brighton and Hove facilities.

“I hope that parents will make the most of this opportunity and encourage their children to make frequent use of our pools.”

Free swimming is part of a range of sports and activities available in the city which are available to help encourage children to get healthy and reduce obesity.

Figures published by the National Child Measurement Programme, which weighs children at the start of the school year, showed 7.5 per cent of Reception pupils in Brighton and Hove are obese and 10.6 per cent are overweight.

This is below the national averages of 9.1 per cent and 12.8 respectively but health bosses are keen to reduce numbers even further.