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Olympian helps school learn to swim with ‘Make a Splash’

Olympian James Goddard has helped youngsters to ‘Make a Splash’ at Curwen Primary School in Newham, London, where over 95% of their pupils could not swim 25m unaided.

The school is actively trying to reverse this worrying statistic through the ‘Make a Splash’ programme which will be giving their pupils as well as the local community the chance to learn this life-saving skill.

The programme, run by Total Swimming and the ASA, has already taught over 20,000 young people at 20 venues across London and is set to visit a further six during its next phase. It aims to teach 1,000 children to swim during its time in the London Borough of Newham.

The pool will remain at the venue for 12 weeks, with school swimming lessons during term time and swimming lessons at just £2 per session on weekday evenings. During the summer holidays, weeklong crash courses of swimming lessons will also be available.

Figures released last month by the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) revealed that 59% of seven to 11 year olds in London are unable to swim 25m unaided, with 45% of children not having access to any type of swimming lesson.

Double Commonwealth champion, James Goddard, dropped in to check out the latest pool based at Curwen Primary School and praised the school for taking the necessary steps to ensure all their children are confident and safe in the water.

“It’s fantastic that Curwen Primary School are being so proactive in making sure that all their pupils can swim, and the project here has been a real success so far. The kids really enjoyed themselves today and many of them are developing into strong swimmers.

“This project is quite personal to me because I have a five year old daughter and for me it’s essential that she can learn to swim so I that know she is always safe in the water. This is the only sport that is a life-saving skill so it’s absolutely crucial that parents get their kids learning to swim as early as possible. It also keeps them fit and active so it’s fantastic sport to burn some energy and have lots of fun at the same time.”

Head teacher, Paul Harris, said: “At Curwen, sport is a vital part of the curriculum. Swimming is a key aspect in this and, prior to getting this pool, we felt that we were not providing our pupils with enough opportunities to develop their skills in this area which is an essential life skill.  The opportunity to have the swimming pool within our school grounds is allowing us to meet the needs of the whole school as well as the local community.

“At the start of this programme, a very, very small number of children could swim up to 25 metres and many had never even experienced swimming before;  this is something we are confident will have changed by the end of the programme.

“Every child from reception to year 6 is now getting the opportunity to swim on a regular basis, along with adults and community members, and many have already rapidly developed their swimming skills and confidence. And most importantly, they love it!”

The ‘Make a Splash’ campaign forms a key part of the Mayor of London’s £40m Sports Legacy Fund. The fund was set up to help encourage more people into sport after the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The programme is also sponsored by Thames Water, who provide water for all of the pools.

It is set to continue for at least the next two years and communities across the capital can step forward and bid for the pool to come to their area as part of the next round of the programme.

The Make a Splash campaign has seen kids of all ages taking the plunge and trying a sport that offers one of the best forms of exercise known to man.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “The fantastic Make a Splash campaign has seen kids of all ages trying a sport that offers one of the best forms of exercise known to man. We know that young people in particular often don’t get the chance to learn how to swim and so it’s fantastic to know that thousands of kids from all over London have already taken part in this fantastic programme.

“As we continue to build on the momentum of last year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games, I’m delighted to confirm that one of our mobile pools is on its way to Curwen Primary School so pupils get the opportunity to take the plunge.”

Jon Glenn, Head of Youth and Community at the ASA said, “Swimming is one of the easiest, safest forms of exercise for children of all abilities, and school swimming is the single most effective way of teaching children how to be safe in and around water. We are delighted to be working with Curwen Primary School to reverse the worrying number of children aged 7-11 years that cannot swim 25 metres. The Make a Splash project is invaluable in helping to target this group, as well as those who sadly reach both secondary school and adulthood without this life-saving skill.”

To book swimming lessons at the Make a Splash pool at Curwen Primary School or to put your school forward to receive a mobile pool, visit www.totalswimming.co.uk/make-a-splash

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