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Swim England attends World Conference on Drowning Prevention

Swim England News

Swim England attended the World Conference on Drowning Prevention in Vancouver, Canada last month.

The conference takes place every two years, and brings together the world’s biggest experts. Their expertise covers research, systems and information on preventing drowning.

We had the opportunity to present the important work being done through our Swim Safe programme. The poster presentation was one of over 100, which detailed the success of the programme in the UK. It was an informal presentation, but it gave the chance for people who were interested to discuss and feedback on the information about the project.

  • Click here to find out more about the Swim Safe project.

Huge turnout of global delegates

The conference saw presentation about research and good practice from around the world. 850 delegates from over 60 countries listened to 256 presentations over the three days. The topics covered included prevention, rescue, disaster, global drowning, data, medical, partnerships and swimming.

The keynote presentations focused on the global impact of drowning in both high, medium and low-income countries. Each presents their own vastly different challenges, including the tragedy of drownings as a result of the refugee crisis.

372,000 people drown worldwide each year. Drowning is among the ten leading causes of death for children and young people in every region of the world. For example in Bangladesh around 18,000 children die every year from drowning.

The importance of water competence

A large proportion of the research in the topic of swimming focussed on what makes a person water competent. Research from Kevin Moran and colleagues based at the University of Auckland redefined the approach to swimming and water safety.

It took a more holistic concept of water competence. He and his colleagues defined water competence as having 15 components, many of which aligned with our Swim England Foundation and Learn to Swim frameworks. The emphasis is on teaching the foundation of core aquatic skills rather than being too quick to focus on achieving competition stokes and distances.

School swimming in high-income countries

The importance of state funded primary school swimming was another recurring theme of research presented from high income countries.

In Iceland pupils currently receive over 40 hours of government funded swimming and water safety lessons through eight school years. This meant 84 per cent of Year 5 students were deemed water competent. They measured this in a test including safe entries, floating, treading water and a 200m swim. This shows a stark contrast to the 54 per cent of UK pupils that achieve just 25m of continuous swimming.

  • Click here to find out about the work we have been doing around curriculum swimming.