MORE than 50,000 children in Scotland have taken part in a Learn to Swim programme since its launch six months ago.

Run by Scottish Water and Scottish Swimming, the programme for under-11s has been picked up by more than 17 leisure trusts and local authorities across the country.

Double Olympic silver medallist Duncan Scott, ambassador for the initiative, said: "To have reached 50,000 kids already is simply brilliant.

"This is a great start and long may it continue.

"Getting children into the pool so that they can have fun while learning how to stay safe is the number one priority.

"But I know from my own experience that loads of those children will be interested in taking it further.

"Whether they simply become regulars at the pool with their friends or whether they go on to enjoy competitive club swimming, nothing but good things can come from encouraging more and more children - and hopefully their families - into the water."

Earlier this year Scottish Water agreed to partner the programme for three years, which will allow it to be rolled out across Scotland. It hopes to reach more than 100,000 youngsters.

Brian Lironi, director of external communications at Scottish Water, said: "First and foremost, we're thrilled that so many children are learning how to swim and that this will help give them the confidence and skills to be safer in the water, whether at their local swimming pool, at the beach on holiday or just if they are out and about around Scotland's miles of coastline, rivers and lochs.

"Beyond that, it's a great way to show how water is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, from keeping hydrated with the clear, fresh drinking water at your taps, to taking the plunge in your local pool as the ideal form of exercise."

North Lanarkshire Leisure has seen the number of youngsters learning to swim increase from 3,200 in 2015 to 5500 in 2017 - an increase of 72%.

There have also been reported improvements in the transition of the keenest participants to club swimming.

Scottish Swimming chief executive Forbes Dunlop said: "There is no downside to getting more and more children learning to swim.

"It's good for health, it helps promote safety, it encourages children to higher attainment in their schoolwork and other areas of their lives and it's good for families and communities."