Swimming and Water Safety in Schools

Aquasplash

Aquasplash is a fun, inclusive aquatic festival for primary school pupils of all abilities. It’s made up of eight team-based activities that encourage healthy competition and cover skills across the aquatic disciplines. Aquasplash not only forms part of the School Games, it’s also a great celebration event for skills learnt during school swimming lessons.

Designed for pupils aged 5-11 years, Aquasplash encourages children to:

  • Demonstrate and celebrate their skills as individuals and teams.
  • Enjoy fun and games in a coordinated environment.
  • Be signposted to other aquatic activities in the community, including links with clubs.

It also provides an opportunity for older pupils to practise their skills as young leaders and achieve their Swim England Young Aquatic Leader Certificate (YALC).

All activities for Aquasplash are based on skills learnt through the Swim England School Swimming and Water Safety Charter and Awards.

Download your free Aquasplash Festival Activity Cards and find out more about how to use them by tapping or clicking on the headings below. You will find more free templates, including certificates, at the bottom of this page.

Organising your festival

Aquasplash festivals can take place in any pool, regardless of size or layout. Once you have identified the pool, you will need to arrange a suitable date with the facility provider. This should be booked as much in advance as possible to benefit from preferential booking rates and to secure the time slot.

The pool where you usually hold your school swimming lessons is ideal for continuity, but there are plenty of other options to consider should this be unavailable. These might include local private pools, mobile pools, or other centres where pupils take after-school swimming lessons.

Note: consider access to the pool for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). Liaise with your chosen centre to organise additional support equipment where required (e.g. hoists, appropriate changing areas, etc).

Roles and responsibilities

Below is a list (not exhaustive) of the key roles required for your festival:

  • Festival Organiser. This person will be in charge of finding and negotiating a suitable pool space and date for the festival. The Festival Organiser may also notify teachers, pupils and parents/ carers of the event and invite local swimming clubs and swimming development groups to get involved.
  • Festival Co-ordinator. This person will oversee the event on the day to ensure that people are clear on their roles and the event runs smoothly.
  • Team Manager. This person will take responsibility for the teams and cheer them on.
  • Scorer. This person will record the team scores on the day. Download the scorecard template.
  • Timekeeper. For the event to run on time, a timekeeper is needed to move pupils on to the next activity when required.
  • Activity Leader. This person will support the pupils in each activity, offering swimming tips and supervising.
  • Place Judge. This person will be responsible for placing the pupils.

Note: Young leaders should be encouraged to shadow or lead on any of these roles.

Delivery

Aquasplash does not require a qualified swimming teacher to lead the activities, although those leading should have an understanding of the day and specifically what the activities entail. Pupils with or working towards a Young Aquatic Leaders Certificate (YALC) are permitted to lead the festival with the support of teachers, school support staff and/or swimming teachers.

How you deliver the festival will depend on the pool space, pool depth, abilities of your pupils and expertise of your leaders.

The following template models are based on having three or four disciplines per Aquasplash Festival, but you can choose as many or as few disciplines and activities from the Aquasplash Festival Activity Cards as you wish!

Aquasplash Extreme

Pupils are split into four groups. Each group spends 10 minutes per activity and then moves round to another area of the pool for the next activity.
At the end of the Aquasplash Festival, each swimmer will have experienced three activities and have used different spaces/depths within the pool.

Aquasplash Same Time

Pupils are split into three groups. Each group does the same discipline and activity (selected from the Aquasplash Activity Cards) for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, pupils stay in the same area of the pool but try another Aquasplash discipline and activity, and so on, until three activities have been completed.

Aquasplash Freestyle

You design your own Aquasplash environment! This option allows you the flexibility to come up with new and innovative ways of using pool space, timings, groupings and running a festival. Be creative and share any examples of how you did this with other festival organisers.

Equipment

The festival requires basic equipment that most pools will have as standard. If not, then substitutions can be made with suitable items that are available. The main items required are:

  • Floats of various sizes.
  • Noodles.
  • Hoops.
  • Egg flips.
  • Sinking objects.
  • Floating objects.
  • Water polo balls, size 3 or similar.
Numbers

Activities are flexible so they cater for the majority of class sizes and pool spaces available.

Ideally teams should be made up of four.

On this basis, an Aquasplash Festival could run with a minimum of eight pupils, and up to 40. For larger festivals, additional consideration must be made regarding swimmer:teacher and lifeguard ratios. Where there are pupils requiring additional support, in-water assistants /carers should also be considered.

Duration

One hour and 30 minutes is ideal for the festival. Each activity will take approximately 5-10 minutes depending on the ability of the pupils, class size and the time you have available.

The event should include time for changing, a warm up, and an opportunity for presentation of awards at the end.

Aquasplash could take place during a block of lessons to build and develop confidence, or at the end of a block of swimming lessons to celebrate the skills that have been learnt. It could also be:

  • Hosted at a local club at a weekend/after school.
  • Hosted at a separate time during the curriculum and seen as a special event.
  • Hosted at a facility to tie in with a school or community sports event.
  • Preceding/linked to summer or half term activity sessions.
  • Linked to local club recruitment sessions.
Financing

Schools can use their PE and Sports Premium to secure improvements and increased participation in competitive school sport. Therefore, you can use your funding to support pupils’ participation in the School Games. An Aquasplash Festival aligns with the first two School Games formats:

  • Intra-School Primary: Challenge Card.
  • Intra-School Primary: Competition Card.

Find out more and download the School Games format packs for swimming and aquatics.

Health and safety

The organiser must ensure that provision is made for lifeguarding. The number of lifeguards and requirements will be dependent on the normal operating procedures (NOP) for the pool. In any case, it’s recommended that at least one qualified lifeguard is present and that the event is their sole responsibility.

For all events, the safeguarding of your pupils is of utmost importance, particularly those taking place in a facility with public access.

Read and download Swim England’s safeguarding policy.

Links to the Learn to Swim Programme and clubs

Aquasplash activities are a great way to make links with the Learn to Swim Programme and clubs, creating a pathway for pupils after the festival. Inviting a local swimming club or swimming development group to help with planning and delivery helps build relationships with the wider community and establish key points of contact for pupils wishing to try club sessions or other aquatic activities.

This could be through swimming teachers, coaches or swimming development managers attending the day to identify suitable exit routes, or assisting with running the event.

Rewarding success

For pupils

To celebrate achievement and development of skills, we recommend awarding pupils with Aquasplash certificates after the event has ended. These could be given out as part of an awards ceremony. Swim England certificate templates can be downloaded in the Free Templates section at the bottom of this page.

For teachers

An Aquasplash Festival is a great way to encourage team working, mentoring and professional development amongst your teaching staff. Offering CPD courses relevant to the roles involved in your festival provides support to staff wishing to expand their skillsets and try new things. We recommend the School Swimming and Water Safety free online course with Institute of Swimming.

Skills learnt during the planning and delivery of your festival can then inspire their teaching and lesson planning across the curriculum.

For clubs

Partnering with an Aquasplash Festival can help raise the profile of local clubs amongst schools, pupils and their parents/carers. Helping with the planning and delivery of the festival will give club coaches the opportunity to spot talent and increase their membership base.

For young leaders

Supporting younger pupils and helping to coordinate an Aquasplash Festival is perfect experience for secondary pupils working towards the Swim England Young Aquatic Leader Certificate (YALC).

Free templates
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