Why is it important for children to continue swimming?

4 February 2014

Swimming is one of the most popular forms of exercise in the UK, providing a safe and healthy way of taking part in physical activity.

It is essential that young people have the opportunity to learn to swim, primarily for their own safety, but also because children that do not learn to swim are unlikely to take part in swimming or other forms of physical activity in later life.

In 2013, figures were released which showed that around 1.1 million primary school leavers were unable to swim the mandatory distance of 25m, with just under 40% of these children never having taken part in a single swimming lesson.

Many people assume that reaching the 10m milestone is an acceptable level; however those children who cannot swim 25m will not be safe in and around water. Although many parents rely on school swimming to help their children achieve basic swimming targets, not every school has the means or facilities to incorporate the recommended hours of swimming lessons.

40% of primary school leavers have never had a single swimming lesson.

The Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) partnered with British Gas provides a comprehensive training framework for teaching children of all ages to swim with confidence; the British Gas ASA Learn to Swim Pathway.

This covers all of the basic skills required for children to stay safe while they are around water. The Learn to Swim framework is the second stage of the Pathway offered by the ASA, which focuses on helping young children to pass essential milestones and is aimed at children between 4-11.

With the use of swimming aids, expert support from qualified staff and coaches and a safe, clean environment, young children can begin to hone their basic skills into more confident and competent swimming techniques.

The swimming essentials covered in the Learn to Swim Pathway include entry and exit into water, improving a child’s ability to float and balance themselves in water, aquatic breathing techniques and water safety.

These skills will allow young children to develop into skilled swimmers, increasing the likelihood of them continuing to pursue an active and healthy lifestyle as they grow up. They will also learn transferrable skills for other areas of the curriculum and be awarded with achievements and certificates which will grow their confidence in their abilities across the board.

Swimming is one of the few activities which is suitable for people of all ages.

The Learn to Swim framework also opens up possibilities to continue their pursuit of swimming, allowing them access to more advanced stages such as the Aquatic Skills framework.

Swimming is one of the few activities which is suitable for people of all ages and is a skill which, once learned, is not often forgotten. This is why it is so important to get children learning to swim as early as possible. It offers a number of health benefits including maintaining a healthy heart and lungs, improving stamina, balance and posture and allows them to socialise and make friends.

The Learn to Swim framework offered by the ASA is made up of seven stages taking children through FUNdamental Movement which develops their ability to move in water, their awareness of pool hygiene, safety around water and, perhaps most importantly, how to have fun while exercising.