Babies as young as just a few weeks will soon be able to take part in multi-award winning swimming classes starting at the North East Autism Society Pool  in Newton Aycliffe. The specialist classes, designed to make the most of babies’ natural affinity with water, teach confidence and safety, using expert techniques that have been enjoyed by children from just two days old! Christine Dempster, Director of Education for North East Autism Society said:  “NEAS are focused on building stronger links between the centre and local community, The North East Centre for Autism is not only a fantastic environment for our learners, but a hub for the local community with a range of facilities available for public hire. We are delighted to host the Water Babies swimming lessons in our pool at Newton Aycliffe”. Classes are run by Penny & Paul Gordon, who were originally introduced to the concept of baby swimming through taking both their children to Water Babies classes. ‘Swimming was a big part of my life growing up,’ Penny explains ‘so when our first daughter, Abigail, was born I was determined to get her swimming as early as possible.  We are so excited to offer even more local Water Babies and their parents the chance to bond and gain skills through swimming, when we start classes at NEAS this November.” While Water Babies lessons are fun for both parent and little one, the course also has an extremely serious added benefit. “Worryingly, research we commissioned this year revealed that 75% of parents are unaware drowning is the third highest cause of accidental death in children in the UK”, Penny explains.  “In most cases it’s the shock of sudden submersion that causes children to panic. We passionately believe by introducing babies to water as early as possible, they’ll be less likely to experience fear if they do fall in. Our research also showed that the average age children start swimming lessons is four, despite the fact they can start from birth.” “With progressive training, babies can be taught lifesaving skills very early on such as turning onto their backs or, following a sudden submersion, swimming to the nearest solid object.  In the last few years at least ten tiny Water Babies pupils have saved their own lives, five of whom were just two years old at the time. It’s fantastic what vital skills children can learn, and it’s so important they do so as soon as possible.”      Another key focus of the halfhour sessions is bonding and generally having great fun together.  Penny adds: “With research showing that new mothers are less likely to suffer from post natal depression if they can gain support from their peers, that’s another reason why we’re very proud of what we do.” Water Babies classes have started at NEAS (former Aycliffe School across the A167). For more information, please phone Penny  and her friendly team on 01325 728 728, email splash@ or visit