In the swim
Almost 1 in 3 children leave primary school unable to swim, according to research from Swim England. That amounts to two million children across the UK. And Covid could be to blame for the continuing decline in children attending swimming lessons. The pandemic caused a huge shortage of swimming teachers, as swim schools lost staff to other industries.
Another issue is ageing public swimming pools. Many are past their expected lifespan and are not energy efficient. Since 2010 more than 1,000 publicly accessible pools, including around 450 local authority owned pools, have closed either permanently or temporarily. Swim England forecasts that almost three-quarters of local authorities could have a shortage of swimming pools by 2030.
Children’s swimwear brand Splash About is calling on the government to make long-term investments in swimming pools. ‘Swimming is a key life skill with major health benefits, encouraging physical development and social interaction,’ says Bernadette Spofforth, CEO at Splash About.
‘Children’s swimming lessons are still on the UK school curriculum, but the uptake is limited as they’re only compulsory in local authority primary schools. Free schools and academies are not required to follow the curriculum and many opt out,’ she adds.
It's a life skill
Drowning is still one of the most common causes of accidental death in children.
It fosters physical development
Even just splashing about in the pool can encourage children to be more active. Swimming also helps to regulate metabolism, tone muscles and improve the strength of the heart and lungs.
It improves balance and coordination
Being in the water helps babies to move independently before they can crawl or walk. It’s a safe place for them to explore their balance.
It encourages social interaction
Swim classes provide a great opportunity for children to socialise with their peers in a fun and supervised environment.
It can help to manage health problems
Swimming can provide significant benefits for children with health problems. Children with juvenile arthritis and other health issues affecting joints may not be able to participate in high impact sports. Swimming offers a perfect low-impact alternative.
Visit www.splashabout.com and www.swimming.org/swimengland/