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More than one million children could leave primary school unable to swim

12 May 2021

More than one million children could leave primary school in the next five years unable to swim the minimum standards required under the national curriculum, according to worrying new predictions.

The startling figures have been published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Swimming and recognised national governing body Swim England, who are warning of a ‘lost generation’ of swimmers unless action is taken to halt the projected decline.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic around one in four children could not swim the statutory 25 metres when they left primary school. That could rise to three in five children by the 2025-26 academic year.

The Impact of Coronavirus on School Swimming and Water Safety report reveals that 1,186,555 pupils are expected to leave primary school between 2021-22 and 2025-26 unable to swim 25 metres unaided.

Swimming and water safety is a vital life skill that every child should have. Aside from the numerous health and wellbeing benefits of swimming, learning how to swim and practice water safety, are skills that could one day save a life.

Cold Water Shock

Pupils must be taught about the dangers of cold water shock as recent data shows that the number of young people drowning accidentally rose by nearly a quarter last year. Inability to swim in clothes makes this much worse.

Data from the National Water Safety Forum shows that the number of people aged 19 or under who drowned accidentally in the UK increased significantly over the years. To mark Drowning Prevention Week, which takes place in June each year, the Local Government Association has issued a water safety warning as rising temperatures may tempt people to swim in open water.

The LGA has also called for the dangers of cold water shock to be taught in swimming lessons in UK schools, or during PSHE lessons if schools do not arrange swimming lessons for pupils.

Not Enough Swimming Lessons

Statistics (May 2012) show that drowning is the third most common cause of accidental death of children, mainly because many youngsters do not know how to swim. Swimming is the only school subject that can save your life, yet is no longer part of the National Curriculum.

According to a report by the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) and Kellogg's, around 200,000 school leavers cannot swim, and over a third (39%) of them have never been offered lessons at school. This is despite swimming being part of the National Curriculum which states that children 7 to 11 year old should be able to swim unaided for at least 25m, about the length of a regular pool.

The report also includes a survey of more than 1,000 parents which shows that only 40% thought their children would be able to swim to safety if they got into danger in the water.

Around a quarter (24%) of parents paid for private swimming lessons but another 24% said they could not afford either lessons or pool admission. One in six parents never take their child swimming. Multiply that with the drowning statistics above and you realise what we are up against.

This situation requires smart teachers in schools and pools to take action who create more interesting swimming lessons, including survival and lifesaving skills.

Too many lifesaving clubs focus on competitions or passing exams rather than training for real life situations. Survival swim classes are a lot of fun and could bring more people to playful swimming lessons.

Free Lifesavers in Brighton England

Welcome to our Survival Swimming and Free Lifesaving Team in Brighton and Hove, England. We bring the fun back into Brighton swimming. Club committees and silly rules are a thing of the past.

Training Schedule

Ask us for details as they change with the seasons.

Pool Training
Most Monday and Friday evenings, 20:00 to 21:30.

Sea Swimming
Wednesday mornings, 7:00 to 8:00 Saltdean Beach, subject to weather conditions.

We welcome swimmers from ethnic and social minorities. Everyone is encouraged to learn and develop valuable skills based on their personal best in fitness, skills, leadership, and teamwork.

Our training includes personal survival, rescue skills, water safety, plus regular resistance and endurance swim training. You set your own goals for your desired fitness level.

Realistic Swim Training

Lifesaving training consists of the best elements from British, Dutch and German lifesaving courses with a focus on realism rather than a rigid plan. It involves some theory and lots of practice in the water.

Survival swimming sessions are based on the Dutch "Zwem ABC", which provides the best introduction into aquatic survival we have found so far. We've added a few bits to make it more fun and more challenging.

Survival swimming and lifesaving is all about being prepared for the unexpected. You may not have the opportunity to change into your surf shorts when an emergency arises.

Therefore, we swim in clothes to prepare for this with realistic training, something most clubs overlook. Being prepared can save lives.

Give it a try sometime. It is terrific fun. You'll be amazed. If you don't have some of the gear needed, let us know and we may be able to lend you some survival swimming kit.

Stay Hydrated and Nourished

During our training we hydrate properly to keep performance levels up. This is important to keep performance levels at their best.

Afterwards we enjoy a yummy big Herbalife Protein Shake to rebuild muscles and get strong.

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