€500k Funding Scheme Announced For Outdoor Swimming Facilities

Picture of lake with two people  on left of image holding a Sport Ireland sign, three people in the water holding signs and two other people on right hand side holding Healthy Ireland signs.

The Minister for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy Hildegarde Naughton TD recently announced a new €500,000 funding scheme for outdoor swimming facilities across Ireland.

The Healthy Ireland initiative recognises the growth in popularity of outdoor swimming in recent years, and the many health benefits associated with it.

Grants of up to €30,000 will be awarded for projects that enable broader participation in outdoor swimming, such as improving access, developing and enhancing changing facilities and procuring equipment to assist people with disabilities.

The funding will be administered by Sport Ireland on behalf of the Department of Health, with applications open to Westmeath Sports Partnership from Friday 5 April to Friday 17 May, in order to facilitate the commencement of works ahead of the summer season. Swim Ireland will provide guidance and support to the Local Sports Partnerships in the application process.

Minister Naughton said:

“The popularity of outdoor swimming has grown in recent years, and as a swimmer myself I’m keenly aware of its many benefits for our physical and mental wellbeing.

“This funding will support improvements that will make Ireland’s rich network of outdoor bathing spots more accessible to more people. This will provide increased opportunities for people of all ages to come together to enjoy physical activity, and will greatly enhance the social fabric of communities around the country.

“This initiative also builds on Healthy Ireland’s strong partnership with Sport Ireland, through which we work to increase participation in physical activity.

“I am encouraging Sports Partnerships and other interested groups to apply for this funding and I look forward to seeing the results that will hopefully encourage increased numbers to take to the water this summer.”

CEO of Sport Ireland Dr Úna May said:

“The Minister’s announcement is hugely welcomed by Sport Ireland ahead of the publication of Ireland’s first National Swimming Strategy later this year. Participation in sport and physical activity is hugely important for the physical and mental wellbeing of our population. Open Water swimming overcomes many geographic and economic barriers, and through the Local Sports Partnerships and the Local Authorities, we will work together with Swim Ireland and Healthy Ireland to increase the use of river, lake and sea swimming locations across the country.”

Swim Ireland CEO, Sarah Keane said: “I would like to thank the Minister for her commitment to the National Swimming Strategy, through immediate action, by providing this funding support to the Local Authorities and Local Sports Partnerships. Swim Ireland is delighted to work with them and Sport Ireland to provide guidance and direction as to what might assist in increasing Open Water participation, and how to make it more accessible. It is great to live in a country where we have access to such incredible outdoor spaces, and where public health and wellbeing is a central consideration in a Ministerial portfolio.”

Chief Medical Officer Professor Breda Smyth said:

“Outdoor swimming provides an opportunity for individuals of all ages and backgrounds to improve their physical and mental health and well-being. Making it more inclusive and accessible at community levels across the country will bring a wealth of benefits, and adds to the range of supports we have promoted and developed in recent years with Sport Ireland. These efforts are an important step in our aim of achieving the Healthy Ireland vision of a more active Ireland.”

People at jetty on lake.

The Process

Local Sports Partnerships (LSPs) are eligible to apply for Healthy Ireland’s Outdoor Swimming Infrastructure Fund. Facilitated by Sport Ireland, LSPs will work closely with local authorities and local swimming clubs and groups to identify the most suitable swim zones in their locality for support under this scheme, which opens on 5th April and closes for application on 17th May.

For the purpose of this fund, LSPs can apply for support under two streams of funding. The aim of each stream is listed below:

Stream One – Strengthening Open Water Swimming Infrastructure

  • Provide funding support up to a maximum of €30,000 to innovative and creative solutions to improve changing facilities at outdoor swimming locations.
  • Provide funding support up to a maximum of €30,000 to improve general accessibility to safe swim zones.
  • Provide funding support up to a maximum of €30,000 to improve storage facilities for beach wheelchairs and/or inclusive equipment to support accessibility to safe swim zones for all.
  • Provide funding support up to a maximum of €30,000 to innovative and creative solutions to improve access to safe swim zones for people with disabilities.
  • Provide funding support up to a maximum of €10,000 for access improvements specifically relating to steps and handrails to aid support entering and leaving the water for the purpose of swimming.

Stream Two – Open Water Swimming Equipment

  • Provide funding support up to a maximum of €10,000 to equipment such as buoyancy aids, specialist wheelchairs, equipment to support people with disabilities to enter the water to swim.
  • Provide funding support up to a maximum of €10,000 to beach mats that support wheelchair users onto the beach to access water.
  • Provide funding support up to a maximum of €10,000 to innovative and creative solutions for small scale swim equipment at outdoor swimming locations to create more opportunities for people to take part in outdoor swimming.

Applications developed in conjunction with the Water Safety Officer in Local Authority and local swim clubs will be given priority in assessment.

Please note to ensure a comprehensive allocation, this capital funding will cover a geographical spread and may be implemented in areas with varying levels of outdoor swimming opportunities.

Please note that specified areas listed under Failte Ireland’s Facilities for Outdoor Water-based activities are not eligible for support under this scheme.

Applications

You can apply for funding by clicking the image below

Sport Ireland image promoting Outdoor Swimming Infrastructure