Paralympic gold medallist to meet hundreds of young swimmers in Walsall

18th June 2013

Josef Craig, together with London 2012 Olympians, will meet and swim with hundreds of children at Oak Park Leisure Centre in Walsall on Saturday 22nd June.

The visit comes just one month after the largest ever learn to swim survey released by the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA), revealed that 47% of children aged 7-11 in the West Midlands cannot swim 25 metres unaided.  A result that shocked safety experts with drowning one of the leading causes of accidental death in children.

Craig, 2012 BBC Young Sport Personality of the Year, together with Olympic diver Nick Robinson, Olympic Water Polo player Rob Parker and Olympic swimmer Amy Smith will be in Walsall to kick off the first leg of the ASA Trunx Tour. 

The initiative will see the ASA’s water loving elephant mascot, accompanied by a host of swimming and aquatics stars, touring the country to help celebrate the efforts of youngsters learning to swim.

The visit will also celebrate the recent commitment by Walsall Council to implement the Swimming Governing Body’s learn to swim programme – the British Gas ASA Learn to Swim Pathway - across four swimming pools the Town. This will see more than 30 swimming teachers deliver the programme to nearly 2000 children.  During the visit to Oak Park Leisure Centre over two hundred children will joined in the pool by the British aquatics stars.  They will also talk to the children about their experiences and encourage them to continue learning this life saving skill, before presenting those present with a limited edition certificate to recognise their efforts.  

Cllr Harris, Portfolio holder for Leisure and Culture at Walsall Council, said, Launching the ASA learn to swim pathway across four Walsall leisure centres has given the 1800 children on our swim school a great framework to follow in order to develop their aquatic skills, be safe and able to enjoy  water based activities in the future.”

“All our instructors have really benefitted from the programme of training and support they received in the transition. These days it’s all too apparent that for children to be safe in the water and to learn to swim as a life skill attending lessons outside of the minimum instruction schools provide is really important.  Hopefully the ASA’s pathway will encourage more children to learn to swim and stay safe in the future.”

David Sparkes, CEO of the Amateur Swimming Association, said:This initiative is about raising the awareness of the importance of children learning to swim and encouraging their efforts as they try and achieve the required level of competence and confidence in the water.  Perhaps we may even inspire one or two of our future Olympic and Paralympic stars along the way.

“We also are delighted that Walsall Council has announced their commitment to the British Gas ASA Learn to Swim pathway.   It is clear that the Council believes that supporting children to learn to swim will help achieve a fitter, healthier and perhaps above all a safer generation of young people”.

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