Almost 140,000 children cannot swim the statutory 25 metres when they leave primary school. That’s a concerning one-in-four and, when you consider more than 400 people accidentally drown in the UK every year (one every 20 hours), the need for education and increased safety awareness in and around water is vital.
The worrying statistics are included in the latest available data from Swim England’s Active Lives Children and Young People report, while research findings released by the Royal Life Saving Society paint an equally disturbing picture.
In addition to the 400 lives lost each year, thousands more have near-drowning experiences, some resulting in life-changing injuries. And to add further to concerns, just 33 per cent of parents were confident their child knew how to be safe near water and 80 per cent of respondents to a survey conducted for Drowning Prevention Week felt water safety skills should be on the national curriculum.
“Drowning is the third highest cause of accidental death in children in the UK and in many cases, it would be avoidable if we placed more emphasis on education and safety awareness in and around water,” says Sencio Community Leisure chief executive Jane Parish.
“More than 60 children drown every summer in the UK and it’s possible to do so in as little as five centimetres of water. It is unacceptable that young people are losing their lives as a result of drowning and that two-thirds of parents aren’t confident of their child’s ability to remain safe in the pool, while on holiday or playing around water.”
Sencio Community Leisure runs an extensive programme of swimming lessons at its three centres offering up to 40 classes designed for everyone from parents and babies to juniors and adults.
They are all taught by professionally trained teachers following Swim England’s Learn to Swim programme – the leading national syllabus for the delivery of safe, inclusive and effective swimming lessons for all ages.
Mark Horne, a swimming instructor for Sencio Community Leisure, says:
“Swimming is, of course, a fun pursuit as well as a fantastic, gentle-on-the-joints way for people of all ages to stay fit and healthy. However, we must also take seriously that being equipped with the training to keep yourself safe in and around water – even to a basic level – is an essential life skill every single one of us should possess.
“Sencio has a comprehensive swimming and water education programme that runs in conjunction with school term times and is designed to offer a structured route through which children can progress under a nationally recognised scheme,” explains Mark.
“It’s also important to recognise there are many adults who never learnt to swim – or swim adequately or with confidence – when young and are therefore also at risk. It can be hard to admit to addressing a lack of basic skill in certain areas as we get older but our teachers can help anyone of any age make themselves safer when it comes to swimming and being in or near water.”
Sencio Community Leisure’s next course of swimming lessons begins the week of Monday January 6 and enrolment opens on Monday December 16.
A version of this blog was written for – and was first published on – the Sencio Community Leisure website: https://www.sencio.org.uk/being-able-to-swim-is-a-matter-of-life-and-death/