The NSW Government’s new learn to swim program will be expanded from preschool aged children to include kindergarten kids who missed out on lessons due to COVID restrictions.

Under the ‘First Lap’ program, eligible children from the Cootamundra region can access a $100 voucher for swimming lessons with an approved provider, with businesses able to register for it next month.

Member for Cootamundra, Steph Cooke, welcomed the program to the region.

“Every child in our area should have the opportunity to learn how to be safe around water, especially with the wide range of waterways around,” Ms Cooke said.

“This program will help teach young children essential safety skills from one of our skilled swimming instructors in our region.”

Premier Dominic Perrottet said the program, which starts December 1, would be extended to cover children in kindergarten this year, or who are starting kindergarten in 2022.

“Because of COVID restrictions, our kindy kids have missed a crucial window of being able to develop the skills they need to stay safe in the water,” Mr Perrottet said.

“It’s really important they don’t miss out, so we’re making sure they can also access the First Lap voucher program now that our pools are back open for lessons.”

Minister for Sport Natalie Ward said the NSW Government will invest $54 million over two years in the program, which will also ease cost of living pressures for families.

“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,” Mrs Ward said.

The vouchers can be downloaded by families from Service NSW soon.