A question mark hangs over a £52,000 pilot scheme offering Fife schoolchildren free swimming lessons.
Later this year councillors will decide if the scheme, offered to primary one youngsters in the Cowdenbeath area, should be continued.
Having cost £52,000, the programme launched last year benefitted 275 of the 495 primary one children in the area.
However, by March this year, the number of participants had fallen to 220 – a drop off rate of 21%.
Cowdenbeath Area Committee convener Linda Erskine said outlay on teaching a life-saving skill to local children had been “well worth it”.
However, she said more information was needed before a decision was taken on the future of the scheme.
“One needs to be careful. I think it’s a fantastic scheme, as one of the people who pushed it right at the beginning with Mark Hood,” she said.
“It’s a skill which could save your life.
“There is an expectation in our community that we will continue to roll out free swims.
“There is some time for this to run and I think that when we go back to the ward meetings we have to really consider this very carefully.
“If we are intending to continue with it, and I hope that we do, we need to be aware of how much it is going to cost.”
Cowdenbeath councillors will look at the matter again when they meet in June, ahead of a final report being available in August.
It is likely, if it goes ahead, that changes will be made to the programme.
The sport’s governing body Scottish Swimming has made a number of recommendations, including raising the age of participants to eight or nine years.
This suggestion was endorsed by Conservative councillor Darren Watt.
“I fully support this but the implementation of it could be much better,” he said.
“I think that the pilot was put forward for the right reason, to teach children how to swim, but I think it was aimed at the wrong age.
“At that age range, I don’t think they are physically or mentally ready, or emotionally ready, especially as swimming lessons take place after what is a long day at school for primary ones and twos.”
Scottish Swimming also advised that offering free lessons would reduce Fife Sport and Leisure Trust’s income generated by its Learn to Swim programme, which supports wider activities in the region.