New swimming initiative launched

FIFTEEN local Muslim women recently took part in a pioneering swimming programme at Craigavon Leisure Centre.

Organised by Craigavon Borough Council’s Sports Development Unit and funded by the Good Relations Department, the 10 week programme aimed to help the women learn how to swim, gain water confidence and increase their physical activity levels leading to improved health and well being.

The programme was devised as participation in physical activity among ethnic minority communities in Craigavon is well below the national average and there was a specific need to ensure that Muslim women have the opportunity to participate in sport and physical activity. The programme also acted as a social gathering improving community cohesion and social interaction among the local Muslim community.

The ground breaking initiative focused on water awareness, water safety and developing basic skills like floating and regaining standing position. After increasing the participant’s confidence in the water, the programme introduced basic swimming techniques such as the front crawl, back crawl and breast stroke.

Michael Ruddy, Craigavon Borough Council’s Community Sports Development Officer, said: “This excellent programme was the perfect opportunity for local Muslim women to become more water aware and enjoy the many benefits of swimming. Their culture promotes good health, fitness and well being, however, there are certain aspects to their religion which affects the way in which sports can be practised, in particular men and women cannot mix freely together in a swimming pool. The programme provided a chance for the ladies and children to use the swimming pool privately, with female life guards, and learn vital swimming techniques which they can use in the future.”

For further information, please contact Michael Ruddy Community Sports Development Officer, on 028 3832 2205 or email