Swim England

A nation swimming

Swim England launch challenge to stress importance of keeping children in lessons

Swim England has launched a new challenge to highlight the importance of children remaining in swimming lessons until they become a competent swimmer.

The ‘swimming competency challenge’ saw a group of parents, who are all regular swimmers, take on the four minimum water competency skills – ‘float to live’, treading water, swim in clothing and swim 100m without stopping and with ease.

It demonstrates how difficult these water competencies can be to complete, showing why children should remain in swimming lessons until they have completed Learn to Swim Stages 1 to 7, as a minimum.

This comes following the research conducted by the national governing body in 2021 which found that 96 per cent of youngsters are stopping lessons too early.

Only 142,000 seven to 11-year-olds – four per cent – were meeting the required grade.

By Learn to Swim Stage 7, children will have achieved all four water competencies that are shown in the challenge video below and will be much safer in and around water.

Kerem, Elaine, Gareth, Dawn and Dan all took part in the ‘swimming competency challenge’ and were fairly confident before performing each of the competencies.

However, they weren’t as easy as expected, even for the experienced and talented group!

Ahead of the ‘float to live’, Kerem said: “I think doing the star float should be fine.”

But the dad of two later added: “My legs seemed to fall down, it was hard to keep them up actually.”

After completing the competencies in clothing, Gareth described it as ‘a lot harder than you think’ and went on to say that ‘even staying afloat is hard work’.

Head over to our page on ‘understanding how the four competencies fit into the Learn to Swim Programme’ to learn more.

Although last year’s research found that the majority of parents do want their children to learn to swim so they can look after themselves if they get into trouble, most are taking their children out of lessons before they are able to do so.

Elaine, who has three children and now teaches swimming herself, shared an urgent message for parents and guardians.

She said: “Learning to swim – please treat it as important as you would teaching your children maths or English. Swimming is up there!”

Hosting the ‘swimming competency challenge’ was Leon Taylor, Olympic diving medallist and dad of one youngster who is currently learning to swim.

After the contestants had completed their challenges and a winner had been crowned, Taylor finished with an important message, saying: “Although this has been a bit of fun, there’s an important message for you to take away.

“You of course, saw the difficulties our teams had completing the challenges in clothing. Taking it further, many don’t realise that swimming in a lake, a river or the sea is far more difficult than in a swimming pool.

“The obvious difference is the temperature. The swimming pool doesn’t really drop below 28, 29 degrees and the average summer sea temperature is 16 degrees Celsius. But let me tell you, in the winter it is much, much colder than that.

“You need to factor in currents, physical hazards, the weather and even in some cases, some wildlife.

“So the point is simply making sure you and your children are able to perform these competencies easily in a swimming pool and it’s vital for them to know exactly what to do if they get into difficulty in and around open water.”

To find out more information on ‘how to know when your child is a competent swimmer’, please click here.

Want your child to start swimming lessons? Please click here to find your local Swim England swimming lessons provider.