BUSINESSES are being asked to splash the cash to help build a temporary swimming pool for children in Paulsgrove.
Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt is seeking £10,000 to help secure the facility.
If she is successful, hundreds of youngsters from Paulsgrove and Cosham could be treated to coached sessions in a 12mx6m portable steel tank swimming pool fitted at King Richard School before the end of the year.
The pool would be provided by British Gas, which runs a Pools 4 Schools scheme.
It is estimated that 60 per cent of 11-year-olds in Paulsgrove cannot swim 25 metres unaided due to a lack of facilities.
Ms Mordaunt said: ‘This is an amazing opportunity to introduce children to swimming in the area.
‘The nearest pool to them is at the Mountbatten Centre and there are no direct buses that go there, while a coach can cost up to £300 to hire.
‘I hope local businesses give generously.’
Miss Mordaunt is being supported by the city’s school sport partnership manager, Madeleine Campbell, who believes all children should learn to swim.
She explained the pool would be open to schools during the day and for after school clubs, as well as to elderly, disabled or pre-natal classes in the evenings and at weekends.
Mrs Campbell said: ‘A lot of the children in the Paulsgrove area haven’t been to a swimming pool before.
‘The national target for 11-year-olds able to swim 25m unaided is 80 per cent, but in Paulsgrove it’s more like 40 per cent.
‘Swimming really is for everyone. You can do anything from water polo to synchronised swimming and it’s one of the best mediums to suit all shapes and sizes.
‘Children in Paulsgrove deserve that opportunity.
Howard Payne, head at Medina Primary in Cosham, said he backed the bid. At his school, up to 70 per cent of nine and 10-year-olds are non-swimmers.
He said: ‘We’d love to start swimming lessons a lot earlier because it is a life skill. The number of children in this area that can’t swim is concerning, so I welcome this temporary pool although I do believe we need something more permanent.
‘We’re all working on getting target grades in English and maths, but a level four in English won’t save your life.’
Any businesses which would like to donate should call Miss Mordaunt’s office on 023 9269 7266.