Ensuring your children's safety at swimming clubs

As a parent you play a key role in ensuring your children’s safety at swimming clubs.

Wavepower is our child safeguarding policy and procedures manual. For a full copy click here.

While we are confident the majority of its clubs, and specifically those with SwimMark accreditation, have very good, proactive child welfare policies, we acknowledge that sometimes problems can develop that require action.

So to ensure you feel reassured that your club is a safe environment, we have developed guidance based on Wavepower.

Below you will find information to help ensure your child’s safety at swimming clubs. Items covered are who to contact and advice on raising issues of poor practice or child welfare. For greater detail download the full policy using the link above.

Raising issues with your child’s club, coach or teacher

To help ensure your children’s safety at swimming clubs here are a few questions you ask relevant people at the club.

Questions for child welfare officer and coaches

Some questions you may wish to ask the club welfare officer:

  1. How do I contact you should I need to?
  2. Is the club SwimMark accredited?
  3. Ask to see the club copy of Wavepower and specifically section six which is written for parents.
  4. Are there any procedures in place for dealing with concerns, complaints and disciplinary issues and do I need to approach to raise such issues?
  5. Are all coaches and teachers suitably qualified and experienced?
  6. Does the club follow Swim England guidance in Wavepower on away events?
  7. Does the club follow the Swim England anti-bullying policy?
  8. Does the club arrange for all appropriate coaches, teachers and volunteers involved with the supervision of children at the club to attend approved child safeguarding training.
  9. Are parents encouraged to watch or become involved in the club and their child’s training in an appropriate manner?

Some questions you may wish to ask the coach or teacher:

  1. What time is my child expected to train and who is their coach or teacher?
  2. What are the opportunities for them competing for the club and how are teams selected?
  3. Will I have the opportunity to discuss my child’s progress with you on a regular basis?
  4. What is the opportunity for my child to move up lanes as they develop their swimming skills and how are these decisions made?
Why you need to make a commitment to your child and their club

The club you choose will make a commitment to your child. Remember, many people are volunteers and give their time to help ensure your child develops his or her swimming skills in a safe, protected environment.

We ask in return that you make a commitment to the club in line with the club’s commitment to your child. It doesn’t have to be very time-consuming and can be as simple as ensuring your child turns up for training on time.

Here are a few ways in which we ask you show your commitment:

  1. Take an interest in your child’s activity and progress and be supportive.
  2. Find out what the club has to offer in terms of coaching sessions and competitions.
  3. Be punctual when dropping off and picking up your children for/from coaching and competitions.
  4. Take an interest in your son/daughter’s swimming and have clear lines of communication to keep up with your child’s progress.
  5. If you are unable to stay at training/competitions, ensure your son/daughter have all the required equipment and ensure that the club has an emergency contact number for you. A mobile would be preferable, and ensure you leave it switched on so you can be contacted in an emergency.
  6. Advise the club welfare officer/junior organiser if your child has any particular needs, such as allergies or learning difficulties, to ensure they are provided for in the best way possible, and ensure any relevant new concerns/illnesses or ongoing treatments are reported appropriately to the club welfare officer or coach.
  7. Sign and adhere to the club’s Parent Code of Conduct.

Once your child starts to feel comfortable at a club you may wish to get more involved yourself. Feel free to offer your services as a volunteer. People giving time freely are the lifeblood of any club.

You may have specific skills that you can offer. Clubs are always looking for people to help run it, assist at galas, join the committee, or take part in fundraising activities.

Alternatively, you may wish to train as a swimming teacher or coach, Swim England timekeeper or judge. Many clubs will assist in this, both by finding suitable courses and in sometimes assisting with the cost involved.

The club can only run with the help of the parents like you who become willing volunteers. Please do not hold back from offering to help.

Speak to any of the committee members about what help is required and see if you can assist to help in the smooth running of the club for your child as well as all club members.

What to do if you have a concern for your, or another, child in the club

While everything will be done by your club welfare officer, committee, coaches and teachers to ensure best practice at all times, you may at some point have concerns you wish to raise.

  1. If the concern is about your child’s training at the club you should arrange to meet with the coach / teacher to discuss your child’s training and development.
  2. If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of any discussion with the club coach / teacher you should approach the head coach or welfare officer for advice on what to do next. Please remember the training offered may be in the interests of the majority of the swimmers but not meet the needs of an individual swimmer. If this is the case you need to discuss whether a change of lane, squads or even club is appropriate to ensure you child’s needs are met.
  3. If you have a concern regarding what you consider may be poor practice by a coach / teacher, the Swim England signposting helpdesk is a helpline available to all Swim England members who need guidance on who to approach for help and advice if they have a concern. The helpdesk can be contacted at signposting@swimming.org.
  4. Issues of poor practice not addressed by the club should be reported to the Swim England Office of Judicial Administration (OJA). If a formal complaint is made the judicial regulations are followed and the OJA deals directly with all the parties involved.
What to do if you have a child welfare concern

Concerns raised will be dealt with following the Swim England guidance on confidentiality.

  1. If your concern is about a child you consider may be in immediate risk of injury or harm, or has been injured or harmed, do not hesitate and immediately contact the local Children’s Social Care Team, the police, or the Swim England Safeguarding Team. They will ensure action is taken without delay to ensure the wellbeing of the child or young person. The club welfare officer and the Swim England Safeguarding Team must be informed as soon as possible of a referral to the statutory agencies.
  2. If there is no immediate risk as outlined above it is important you raise your concern as soon as possible with the club welfare officer. They will advise you as to action to be taken and if necessary refer the matter to the statutory agencies or the Swim England Safeguarding Team.
  3. If you do not wish to approach the club directly you can call the Swimline number 0808 100 4001. You will need to leave a number for a Swimliner or the Swim England Safeguarding Team to call you back or if you wish to speak to someone immediately, hold on and you will be put through to the NSPCC Helpline.
  4. If the matter is involving your child you will be advised of what you should do and kept fully involved of all action taken.
  5. If the matter is about a child unrelated to yourself information will only be made available to you in line with appropriate confidentiality.

Three tips for parents

As a parent you also play a key role in the welfare of your child and their development at the club:

  1. Ensure that you always show support and encourage to all young people at the club along with their coaches and the volunteers working hard to run the club and activities.
  2. By becoming involved in the club they will see how you value the club and the activity that your child is undertaking.
  3. Ask if the club run workshop for parents and how you can help.