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what is the cost of not knowing how to swim?

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What is the cost of not knowing how to swim? 


Shockingly, in the UK, 1 in 4 children leave primary school unable to swim, despite being the only sport which can be considered a life-saving skill.

Although encouraging news has been forthcoming concerning children and young people’s activity levels overall, having recently recovered to pre-pandemic levels, swimming levels remain 5.6% below pre-pandemic according to worrying statistics published in Sport England’s latest Active Lives Children and Young People report.


Are enough children learning to swim in schools?

The national curriculum stipulates that key stage 1 and 2 pupils must be taught to:

  • “swim competently, confidently and proficiently over a distance of at least 25 metres 
  • use a range of strokes effectively [for example, front crawl, backstroke and breaststroke]
  • perform safe self-rescue in different water-based situations”

However, just 72% of children meet these guidelines by the time they reach their first year of secondary school. That’s about 1 in every 4 children who are at a high risk of drowning if they were to fall into the water, whether they are playing with friends, on a family holiday or just by accident.

Perhaps even more shocking than children not achieving the National Curriculum target of swimming 25 metres unaided by age 11, 40% of those children who can’t swim haven’t even been offered the opportunity of learning to swim. This highlights the strain on local facilities and how the pressure the education system is facing is negatively impacting schools in teaching this essential life skill. 

To read more about what is happening to UK swimming pools in 2023 you can read our exclusive blog here.

Are enough children learning essential swimming skills?

To make matters worse, this study released by the national governing body Swim England found that 96% of young people are stopping swimming lessons before becoming proficient in essential skills! 

The research also found that “while 81 per cent of parents want their children to learn to swim so they can look after themselves if they get into trouble, the majority of mums and dads are taking their children out of lessons before they are able to do so.”

Therefore, it’s essential that parents and guardians keep their children in swimming lessons to ensure they become competent swimmers instead of stopping lessons as soon as they display water competence.

Is swimming still an essential life skill?

Absolutely! Learning to stay safe in the water is a vital, life-long skill. It’s important that kids become competent swimmers and knowledgeable about water safety so that they can enjoy the water safely on a family holiday, or to ensure they would know what to do if they were to get into trouble. 

Our swim! centres are the perfect learning environment for children of any age, from swim! baby sessions, through to our innovative swim! programme. Our programme focuses on great technique before distance, with water safety and lifesaving skills designed to take your child from splash to swim! Our experienced and highly qualified teachers will support your little one every step of the way on their swim! journey only moving them on to the next level when they’re confident your child is ready. 

Come along to one of our FREE swim! taster swimming lesson 

At swim! we offer every child aged 0-11 a FREE taster swimming lesson to place them in the correct group for their ability so they enjoy their swim! experience from day one. As well as take a look round one of our brilliant centres and meet the team too! 

Book your FREE lessons here 

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