Swim Safe returns to UK beaches

23 May 2014

With summer just around the corner, a new study released today by the ASA (Amateur Swimming Association) shows many children may be missing out on the joys of swimming in the sea, because their parents are worried they are not confident enough in the water.

The study saw less than a third of parents say they are completely happy to let their children swim in the sea, while one in five won’t let their children into the waves at all because they feel it’s too dangerous.

The study has been released as the national governing body for swimming and the RNLI join forces for the second year running to bring Swim Safe, a swimming and beach safety programme for children to the beaches of Bude, Bournemouth and South Shields.

The Swim Safe initiative is aimed at children aged 7–14 years who are already able to swim a minimum of 25 metres unaided. With over 2,300 children taking part in last year’s event, the initiative will run six days a week from throughout August and will be open to both holidaymakers and local children.

Swim Safe, provides children with a practical understanding of swimming in open water situations. Each 40 minute session is provided completely free, and includes beach safety talks with RNLI lifeguards and in-water tuition from qualified ASA swimming teachers.

Coastal areas attract tens of thousands of children from all parts of the UK each year, with lots of children desperate to get into the water and have fun. Swim Safe will provide these children with the essential skills and safety information they need to enjoy themselves safely in open water. Research by the ASA shows 10% of children only swim when they are on holiday. It might come as no surprise that two thirds of incidents RNLI lifeguards respond to on some of the UK’s busiest beaches involve children.

Commenting on the initiative, Jon Glenn, Head of Youth and Community at the ASA said, “Although many children learn to swim the basic 25m set out in the national curriculum in their local pool, open water situations have their own set of dangers and challenges which cannot necessarily be recreated during lessons. While pool swimming is important to help improve safety for our children in general, we often forget that many children swim most often while they are on holiday.

“Some of the tragedies the country saw in 2013 were a result of children not understanding the differences between swimming in an indoor pool and swimming in an open water environment.  We believe that Swim Safe is an effective intervention to ensure children get a practical understanding of the differences.” 

Pip Hare, RNLI Coastal Safety Manager, said, “Swim Safe is a fun interactive programme, giving children the chance to learn key safety messages and practice survival skills, under the watchful eye of qualified lifeguards and swimming teachers.

“We were really pleased with the success of last year’s programme and hope to equip even more children this year with valuable knowledge and skills which they will hopefully share with their parents.”

Swim Safe began in 2013 and ran for five weeks in in Bude, Cornwall, teaching 2,300 local children and those holidaying how to be safe in and around open water. This year the programme is running again in Bude, as well as being rolled out in Bournemouth and South Shields. The ASA are expecting 8,000 children to take part in the programme this summer across the three Swim Safe sites.

Click here to see session dates and times and register your interest.

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