Today marks 125 years of School Swimming and the ASA were joined by Sports Minister, Tracey Crouch to celebrate the occasion.
Also attending the School Swimming anniversary at Everyone Active’s Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre were double Olympic gold medal winner Rebecca Adlington OBE, former World Champion Mark Foster and 2004 bronze Olympic medallist Steve Parry.
The Olympians dressed in Victorian costumes and gave 125 school pupils from the local area to a Victorian-style school swimming lesson. They then changed into 2015 costumes to teach a modern lesson to the children. They taught speed swimming, water polo and synchronised swimming.
The ASA also released the 2015 School Swimming Survey results. These showed that there are still a high number of children in England who leave primary school unable to swim.
As part of the day there was a panel discussion about how we can make school swimming better. The panel included Jon Glenn, ASA Head of Learn to Swim, Tracey Crouch, Rebecca Adlington, Mark Foster and Steve Parry.
Plans to help raise awareness of school swimming throughout the year were also announced. The ASA plans to run the ‘Biggest School Swimming Lesson’ in the spring. There will also be a School Swimming National Awareness Week in February, led by Everyone Active and Becky Adlington’s SwimStars.
Adam Paker, ASA Chief Executive, said: “Swimming is such an important lifesaving skill and gateway sport that it must remain a priority for schools. We all need to work together to ensure that schools have access to high quality swimming provision so that all children learn to swim and are able to continue to enjoy the water throughout their lives.”
“Today’s event has given the school children a very memorable swimming lesson as they got a sense of how Victorian children learned to swim, before learning a variety of new skills from some of Britain’s best athletes.” said Rebecca Adlington, who runs Becky Adlington’s Swim Stars, an exciting Learn to Swim programme.
“Swimming is such a wonderful life skill and I think every child should have the chance to learn to swim, which is why I created my own Swim Stars programme in 2013, and it is fantastic we are now working with Everyone Active to raise awareness of the importance of school swimming.”
Jacqui Tillman, Group Swim Manager for Everyone Active, which runs an award-winning Learn to Swim programme across its 117 leisure centres in the UK, said: “As important as it is to celebrate how far school swimming has come over the past 125 years, we still have a lot of work to do to get more children and adults engaged in swimming.
“Not only does swimming bring health and sporting opportunities for people of all ages and abilities, it is also an essential life skill and we must continue to keep lessons at the forefront of our minds.”