MORE than 8,000 people have now signed up for swimming lessons with the Fife Sports and Leisure Trust.

Their aquatic programme caters for everyone from babies to adults and it's the highest number of participants they've ever had – although they could face a lengthy wait before they can begin.

The trust said they're now Scotland's biggest provider of swimming lessons which, in West Fife, are offered from pools at Carnegie Leisure Centre in Dunfermline and Cowdenbeath, as well as community-use facilities at Woodmill and Inverkeithing high schools.

Lee Cunningham, the trust's aquatics manager, said: “The success of the Learn to Swim programme, particularly considering the pandemic and associated lockdowns and restrictions is a fantastic reflection on the quality of the programme and the staff delivering it.

“Since launching the programme in partnership with Scottish Swimming in 2016, we have seen a steady and consistent increase in participation levels.

"And I’m really pleased that Fife is leading the way nationally in engaging more people to learn a lifesaving skill and to improve their aquatic skills.”

The number of learner swimmers has climbed from 6,900 at the turn of the year to over 8,000, ahead of the trust's targets.

However it's not all good news as anyone signing up now could face a wait of up to 18 months before they can actually get in the water and start lessons.

In mid-February there was around 250 people on the waiting list at Carnegie, which offers roughly twice as many sessions as Cowdenbeath where 140 people were on the list.

There's also a shortage of qualified swimming instructors while two of the community-use pools, at Woodmill and Inverkeithing, may well close when replacement high schools open.

The Dunfermline Learning Campus, which will host a new Fife College as well as replacement schools for St Columba's and Woodmill, is due to open in the summer of 2024 and will not have a swimming pool.

It's highly unlikely the new Inverkeithing High, to be built in Rosyth, will have a pool either while there's no guarantee the council will keep the existing one open at The Wing, despite a concerted local campaign to save it.

Fifers obviously believe the Learn to Swim programme, which is delivered in partnership with Scottish Water and Scottish Swimming, is worth the wait.

It's proved successful at helping people of all ages to get in the water and progress through class levels, either building confidence, becoming a competent swimmer, moving onto club level or learning new disciplines like water polo or lifeguard training.

Kids who enrol can also enjoy free swimming in any of the trust pools.

For further details on the Learn to Swim programme, visit