new swimmersA new, state-of-the-art learn to swim centre has welcomed its first wave of swimmers. PaddlePod @ Newcastle, at Silverbirch Drive, near Gosforth Park, is the first of two new swim centres devised by North East entrepreneur and former swimming coach Phil Groom. And along with swimming lessons for babies, toddlers, children and adults, it offers a range of other activities, therapies and classes – from yoga and music to cookery and dance.

At the heart of the purpose-built centre is a 25m pool, with modern changing facilities, where more than 450 swimming lessons will be held each week. Parents and family members can also watch the lessons from an on-site café, with an integrated play area, to keep siblings engaged and entertained. The aim behind PaddlePod @ Newcastle – and its sister site, PaddlePod @ North Tyneside, scheduled to open at New York Road, Shiremoor in spring 2020 – is to create a truly family-centred environment, where swimming sits alongside other educational and developmental activities. “The idea was always that this would be more than just a swimming pool,” said PaddlePod founder and director Phil Groom. “We wanted to make swimming lessons a positive experience for all involved – whether they are in the water, a parent watching from the side, or a younger sibling being brought along while their older brother or sister swims.”

Phil, a former swimming coach, drew on considerable experience in setting up PaddlePod, having founded SwimNE in 2006 for adults and children, followed by Nemo Swimming in 2009 for babies, toddlers and preschoolers to learn to swim. “Over the years we’ve absorbed a great deal of feedback from parents, our own teaching teams and families,” he said. “Now, with these new, purpose-built sites, we are finally able to meet the demand that we know exists among families, for premium venues that offer first class swimming tuition alongside a whole programme of activities and classes for children of all ages.”