By ANNA USHER

Local kindergarten students who missed out on swimming lessons during the Covid lockdown will be able to access a $100 voucher under an expanded learn to swim program.

The ‘First Lap’ scheme will now include kindy kids this year, or those starting school in 2022.

Previously only preschool children had been eligible.

Addressing the media on Monday, Sports Minister Natalie Ward said: “Summer in Australia is all about swimming, at your local pool, beach or river.”

“We know families have been doing it tough during the Covid lockdown and the First Lap program will also ensure family budgets aren’t stretched so our kids have these crucial skills.”

The new initiative is another financial bonus for parents, who will benefit from hundreds of dollars’ worth of incentives as the state re-opens.

Last week, Premier Dominic Perrottet announced a $250 “thank you” voucher for families who’ve home-schooled children. This comes on top of a $50 “Stay and Rediscover” token, and an extra $100 to add to the existing “Dine and Discover” program, extended until 2022.

BlueFit CEO Todd McHardy, who operates Mosman Swim Centre, said the $100 incentive will assist our youngest residents in learning an essential life skill.

“The NSW State Government has always been supportive of sport and recreation for school aged children with the Active Kids Vouchers widely used by our families.

In recognising the importance of learn to swim, the additional Learn to Swim Voucher program for preschool and kindergarten children is wonderful news,” he said.

The voucher program will cost the state government $54 million over two years.

Families can apply for the First Lap program from December 1, through Service NSW.

“Covid has significantly impacted community leisure over the last 18 months, forcing the closure of the Mosman Swim Centre during lockdowns,” Mr McHardy said.

“So it’s great to have the facility reopened for the Mosman Community and to see the return of vital learn to swim classes.”

Mr McHardy added the local indoor pool is on a recruitment drive for swimming instructors, who can obtain free training through Southern Education, a nationally recognised water safety program.

School leavers, stay-at-home parents and retirees are all invited to register for a job with the Mosman Swim Centre.

You can apply HERE.