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Drowning Prevention Week aims to ensure everyone is able to enjoy water safely

A rise in the number of people drowning has prompted a charity to encourage parents to ensure their children are taught how to stay safe and enjoy water safely this summer as part of a nationwide campaign.

The Royal Life Saving Society UK’s Drowning Prevention Week takes place from today until Saturday 26 June.

It aims to raise awareness of what do if people get into difficulty in the water and promote the importance of learning a vital life skill.

Accidental drowning takes an average of 402 UK and Irish citizens each year, and RLSS UK fears that with lockdown restrictions lifting and staycations on the up, families will flock to inland water locations and beaches this summer – potentially without the right knowledge and skills, putting themselves and others at risk.

Fourteen-year-old Teya Davies tragically died after slipping into Sniggy Pond in Widnes – while she was trying to help her friend who had fallen into the water before her.

RLSS UK has teamed up with Teya’s friends and family to create a powerful video highlighting the importance of water safety, in Teya’s honour.

Liv Eren, Teya’s friend, said: “We sadly lost our friend, Teya, at the age of 14.

“When looking back on Teya’s story, we now know how preventable her death could have been if only she knew how to swim, or to keep herself safe in the water.

Truly saddening

“We are pleased to do our bit to prevent others from going through the heartache of losing a friend like we have.”

Swim England is a supporter of Drowning Prevention Week and has previously highlighted the fact children have missed out on vital swimming lessons and water safety education throughout 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Young people from low incomes and ethnic minority communities have been the hardest hit.

A staggering 95 per cent of black adults and 80 per cent of black children do not swim – and this gap has widened still further as a result of Covid-19.

Jane Nickerson, Swim England chief executive, said: “Any drowning is a tragedy and yet so many could be prevented.

“Being in and around water brings so much enjoyment to people of all ages but it’s crucial everyone knows what to do if they get into difficulty.

“Learning how to swim and be safe in and around water is a key part of the national curriculum yet it is truly saddening to see so many leave school unable to do that.

“We are working with schools and the Department for Education to ensure they are able to catch up with these vital lessons that so many have missed due pools and schools being closed during lockdowns.

Develop essential life skill

“Any campaign highlighting the importance of learning how to swim is most welcomed and we thank the RLSS UK for continuing to raise awareness during Drowning Prevention Week.

“It’s never too late to learn.”

RLSS UK’s Charity Director Lee Heard, said: “We are surrounded by opportunities to be in or near water.

“Whatever their age and activity level, everyone should be having fun, creating memories and feeling at ease around the water.

“The inequality in access to swimming and water safety education, and subsequent lack of potential interaction with the water is a big concern.

“RLSS UK believes that through free, accessible education and training, everyone can enjoy water safely, have fun in the water and develop an essential life skill.

“We urge as many parents and carers as possible to get involved with the campaign, use our free online resources and give children the skills to enjoy a lifetime of fun in the water.“

You can find swimming lessons near you by visiting www.swimming.org/justswim/love-swimming-campaign/