Swim England

A nation swimming

Swim mum explains 'essential' reason her son continues swimming lessons

Mum Rachel Owen has explained why she felt it was ‘essential’ for her son to complete Learn to Swim Stage 7 of the Swim England Learn to Swim Programme.

Nine-year-old Joshua had been attending lessons since he was four-months-old – but Rachel insists he needed to hit at least Learn to Swim Stage 7 to become a competent swimmer.

This comes after research found that 96 per cent of youngsters are stopping swimming lessons too early.

As the national governing body, Swim England is recommending that parents and guardians only consider stopping lessons for their children when they are ‘competent’ swimmers, rather than just displaying confidence in the water.

Rachel explains why she has ensured Joshua continues his swimming lessons and says that he has ‘always loved the water’.

She said: “Joshua started swimming lessons at four months old and has progressed steadily through the Learn to Swim journey.

“He’s always loved the water, particularly chasing his sister and friends in the pool on holidays.

“Stage 7 is a true benchmark of water safety and competence. It’s also still fun and instils the benefits of learning to swim whilst not feeling like a chore.

“In order for Joshua to take part in other activities that he enjoys, it was essential to ensure the Stage 7 competence and ability was achieved.

“Swimming is a core basic skill in life really – it’s lifesaving. That’s why I’ve kept him on in his swimming lessons.

“His technique’s fine and he’s competent, but there’s also a difference in having that stamina in being able to swim a longer distance without then coming into difficulty.”

Family moments

Joshua has now moved onto Learn to Swim Stages 9 and 10 and his mum says that him being able to swim and being safe in and around water has led to some unforgettable family moments.

“One of those elements that I don’t have to be as worried is if he slips and falls into the pool,” Rachel added. “I know that he can get himself out of it.

“I don’t have to mollycoddle him all the time, I don’t have to worry about him going off with friends.

“Because he’s got an older sister as well, he’s always seen that as a bit of a challenge – he wants to be able to do what she can do.

“He sees her snorkelling and even when he was still in armbands when we were perhaps out in the sea or even in the swimming pool, he was always keen to try and emulate what she’s doing.

“Having the snorkel on and getting used to that breathing which is obviously very different to what you might learn in a swimming lesson, you get the benefits of that even if it’s just looking at the bottom of a swimming pool sometimes or finding a random hair band.

“Last year, my husband and my daughter went scuba diving and me and Josh were able to follow along snorkelling and see everything that they were able to see but obviously at a higher level – he’s just itching to get scuba diving now.

“Sometimes he perhaps doesn’t realise that it’s dependant on some of those other things but obviously he can appreciate, seeing school swimming now, that not everybody in his class is at the same level as him and wouldn’t be capable of doing some of the things that he’s been able to do.

“So it’s getting a little bit more awareness of ‘oh I can do that because I’ve been doing lessons’.”

Continuous learning and improving

As a result of the coronavirus lockdowns and the closure of swimming pools, Joshua ‘started to miss his friends in his class and the energy that he gets after a lesson’.

Rachel added: “He also missed the continuous learning and improving. He says it was just like going back after a holiday!

“He’s not fazed by the changes to process at the pool and is just pleased to be back.”

When asked whether she felt it was important for Joshua to get back into the water to finish his Learn to Swim journey and awards, despite already having surpassed Learn to Swim Stage 7, she said: “Absolutely!

“The stamina and lifesaving elements that are key in Stage 9 and 10 are really important and even more so after an extended break.

“Joshua has continued to enjoy the benefits of his swimming through leisure activities, coasteering and surfing this summer, and also in his journey into club swimming.

“Swimming lessons have helped him to continue to improve his stroke and stamina, especially when club time and availability has been squeezed.”

Swimming water competency standards explained: