Daddy Cool:' I hated the verrucas and the socks and the freezing water'

I have always loathed swimming. I hated lessons, hated the bullying, tracksuited harridans who taught me during my primary school years by bellowing unintelligible instructions from the side of the pool,

lobbing rubber bricks at me for no apparent reason, wielding a pole with a hoop on the end which I thought would be used to fish me out when I found myself struggling to stay afloat only to realise its real purpose was to prevent me making contact with the safety of the sides. I hated the verrucas and the verruca socks, and the freezing water and the freezing changing rooms.

And outside school time, as a typically ungrateful brat, I never recognised the sacrifice my dad made in devoting long hours of his sparse spare time after work to take me to Trinity baths, when all the while I just wanted to get out the pool as fast as possible and get back home for a mug of hot chocolate and, if I was really lucky, the chance to watch Pot Black or It Ain't Half Hot Mum.

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But I guess deep down I knew he wasn't doing it for fun. He was doing it because one day it might just save my life.

And I've tried to do the same with my children (well, at least with our first-born son, aged eight, and his six-year-old brother - not our three-year-old daughter, two's company three's a crowd and all that). I paid handsomely for useless small group lessons for years, but for the past two years have instead taken the children to the local baths a couple of evenings a week, where their confidence and swimming skills have blossomed.

Now their fun evenings, aquatic fitness and potentially life-saving skills are in jeopardy thanks to Edinburgh Leisure's brainless decision to start charging primary school children to swim. Currently it costs me 3.90 and the kids go free, but from January it will cost them 2 each and thus land me with a bill for more than 8 in total - a rise of more than 100 per cent.

Can Edinburgh Leisure provide evidence that this pricing structure will address its funding shortfall without impacting negatively on the swimming ability and health and fitness of a generation of youngsters? If it cannot, it should hang its head in shame. n

This article was first published in the Scotland on Sunday on December 5, 2010