Learn to Swim

A guide to the Learn to Swim Programme

How learning to swim has improved my child's confidence

A parent who has won a year’s worth of swimming lessons for their son has stressed the importance of learning how to swim and told how it has improved his confidence

Sally Lean was one of 10 people to win the competition run by Swim England last year to raise awareness of learning to swim and ensure more children are safe in and around water.

“This is just the first step to making sure he’s safe, confident and has lots of fun exploring the Cornish beaches,” – Sally Lean

And Sally, who takes her son Eric to sessions at the Sir Ben Ainslie Sports Centre, Cornwall, said the lessons were vital to ensure he was safe.

She added: “Eric is enjoying his swimming lessons and it was so amazing for me to see his confidence growing whilst in the water.

“For me, living in Cornwall means he has incredible opportunity for various water sports and play time in the sea as he grows older.

“This is just the very first step to making sure he’s safe, confident and has lots of fun exploring the Cornish beaches!”

Confidence to jump in the pool

Another winner, Debbie Smith, said swimming lessons at the Princess Royal Sports Arena had helped increase her son Bobby’s confidence.

She said: “Our son has only been going a couple of months to swimming lesson.

“We did it to help his confidence as he has disabilities and he loves the water. He has come on so well and has just got the confidence to jump in the pool.

“The centre is a lovely place and the staff are great. By winning the prize, it means our son can keep having lessons.”

For Donna Kirk, ensuring her nine-year-old daughter Matilda could learn at Lincoln Vulcans Swim Club, was the main reason for entering the competition.

“Matilda has only been swimming about four months,” said Donna. “But she has grown in confidence and enjoys going.

“I wanted her to learn as I’m terrified of water and didn’t want this fear passing on.”

I know how important swimming is as a life-saving skill

Charlotte James-Cook was chuffed to win for her daughter Eirys.

She said: “Eirys is nearly three-and-a-half and has been swimming with Aquatots since she was four months old.

“Having both lived by the sea and worked in Flood Risk Management for years, I have so much respect for water and know how important it is to have this life saving skill.

“I want my children to have this too. We were so chuffed to win.”

Miriam Harding, who will be taking her daughter Amalie to sessions at the Victoria Education Centre, in Poole, Dorset, said: “We live on the coast and whether sailing, surfing, crabbing or swimming, we are happiest in the water. We’ve had our daughter Amalie sailing with us since she was three months old.

“We have a great respect for the water and it’s dangers so we signed up Amalie for swimming lessons to help her stay safe. She has taken to it so well and, with great instruction, I’m already sewing badges onto her swimming towel!

“Swimming skills are so important. Not just for the times when you are doing water sports but those unexpected times if you fall in water by accident or are pushed in by a friend for ‘fun’.

“We want Amalie to be able to stay calm in water, kick to the surface and float or get herself to safety. She’s no longer needing floats to swim and so is on her way to achieving this.

“You can’t protect your children from everything but helping them learn to swim is a huge step in the right direction.”

Josh Hardy, Swim England head of commercial development, said: “Congratulations to all our lucky winners.

“We had hundreds of wonderful entries into the competition and we’re thrilled the prize means so much to those who have won. We hope the lessons they have leads to a life-long enjoyment of the water.”

Competition winners

The winners of the competition were:

  • Sally Lean and her son Eric;
  • Charlotte James-Cook and her daughter Eirys;
  • Debbie Smith and her son Bobby;
  • Donna Kirk and her daughter Matilda;
  • Miriam Harding and her daughter Amalie;
  • Becki Knight and her son Tyler;
  • Sarah Taylor and her son Thomas;
  • Anna Clark and her son Dylan.

Two further winners haven’t claimed their prize and will be announced in due course.