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Last Updated: Wednesday October 01 2008 06:19 GMT

Maddy splashes into a pop-up pool

Maddy with her swimming group in the pool

An Olympic swimmer is so worried not enough pupils are taking swimming lessons, he's helped organised a pop-up pool to travel around schools in England.

You can put it together in a school gym, main hall or even a canteen!

Steve Parry wants at least 30,000 kids to have a go in time for the next Olympics in 2012. But what's it like to take a splash in?

Maddy popped on her cossie to test it out...


"From the outside, the gym at this school in Birmingham looks like so many others. Grey bricks, a tall roof, and a few pairs of smelly trainers lying around by the door!

If there wasn't a sign outside, would you guess there was a pool inside this building?
The gym doesn't look unusual from the outside
As I sniffed my way down the corridor I could smell a swimming pool. Experts had really managed to take in all the equipment, and more than 60 tonnes of water to make it! Apparently they did it all in just three days.

It looks a lot like a typical swimming pool. But it's only 12 metres long, which is a bit shorter than the pools you get at most leisure centres. There is no deep or shallow end, so it's about one-metre deep wherever you swim.

Staying in

I was worried it might be a bit cold, but it was lovely and warm. Once I was swimming around I didn't want to get out!

Kids in the pool
Kids from several local schools have been able to use the pool
Kids from different schools around the area have been coming here every day for the last few weeks. There aren't many pools nearby, so some of them had never been to one before.

I joined in a lesson on how to swim on your back. The trick is to make sure your ears are in the water and you stick your tummy out! Everyone in my group did really well. Lots of children managed it with a float, and a few got to the other side without any help at all.

Olympic support

Next, I got to meet Olympic swimmer Steve Parry. He's very tall, and I'm not! So we sat on the edge of the pool to have a chat!

Olympian Steve Parry with Maddy
Olympian Steve Parry helped to organise the pop-up pool
He's worried because hardly any schools have got their own swimming pools, and not every city or town has a leisure centre either.

So he's hoping pop-up pools will give more kids the chance to get wet. This one is travelling to Sheffield next.

The only problem is how much they cost. It is cheaper to use a pop-up pool than to build a permanent one. But they are still expensive, so at the moment there isn't enough money to try out the project in every area.

Steve is hoping to raise some more cash though. He wants 30,000 kids to be able to swim 25 metres by 2012.

Underwater somersaults

After chatting to Steve I couldn't resist one more dip. Lessons were over so I had the pool to myself!

Usually I'm scared of putting my head under water because I have to take my contact lenses out and I can't see very well without them. But today I didn't have to worry about bumping into people.

I did some front crawl and even a couple of under water somersaults. My friends will never believe me!