Swim England

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Key figures from aquatics visited Downing Street on World Drowning Prevention Day

A number of key organisations throughout the aquatics sector recently visited Downing Street to raise awareness on the important topic of drowning prevention.

The visit marked World Drowning Prevention Day – a day which highlights the impact of drowning on families and communities, and offers life-saving solutions for prevention.

All involved in the event attended a roundtable discussion on water safety, access to swimming facilities and plans to increase participation in aquatic activity so that more people can feel safe and confident in and around water.

Swim England was represented by its chief executive, Jane Nickerson, who stressed the importance of school swimming remaining a priority on the national curriculum.

She said: “I was honoured to be part of the discussion at Downing Street.

“Everyone at Swim England supports World Drowning Prevention Day and the notion that swimming is for everyone.

“As part of the discussions, I highlighted school swimming and the need to ensure that this curriculum activity is delivered in every school.

“This would, at the very least, provide an opportunity for every child to learn to swim a minimum of 25 metres. Coupling this with targeted water safety messaging is vitally important.

“The group came away united on the need to explore every possible solution to ensure everyone understands basic water safety, learns to swim and is safe in, on and around water.”

Some of the other key organisations in attendance were the National Water Safety Forum, the Black Swimming Association (BSA), the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK).

All of the partners play an important role in raising awareness of drowning prevention, and there has been a number of recent projects and research which are helping to shape the future of the aquatics sector.

One of those research projects, entitled #OurSwimStory, was launched at the event in Downing Street by the BSA.

It looked at the barriers to aquatics faced by individuals of African, Caribbean and Asian heritage, following the recent data released by the National Child Mortality Database (NCMD).

The data highlighted the major disparity in drowning rates amongst children of ethnic minority backgrounds when compared to children of White or White British ethnicity.

Findings of the #OurSwimStory report identified the following barriers: water safety awareness, a lack of aquatic skill, early experiences, fear of water, cultural differences, socio-economic, structural and practical barriers, as well as awareness of local opportunities to participate in aquatic activity.

As a result, the BSA has outlined a series of recommendations, which were discussed at the event in London.

Swim England also launched the England Swims campaign in 2022, which asked those from ethnically diverse communities to share their views and experiences of aquatics.

The key data and findings from this work are being used to help break down long-standing barriers among ethnically diverse communities which prevent participation.

It also helped to shape the national governing body’s recently published 10-year strategy, Access Aquatics, which was the most ambitious yet in terms of increasing diversity in the water.

Swim England’s long term aim is to make its sports and activities accessible, inclusive and welcoming for everyone.

In turn, this will help towards improving participation levels and water safety awareness.

The sector will continue to build on projects such as England Swims and #OurSwimStory to ensure a future where swimming can be enjoyed, safely, by all.