Last month brought us a wave of unsettling news stories and media warnings as to the dangers of being a weak swimmer, and the risks of drowning across the nation. Make sure that you and your family are kept safe this Summer while you beat the heat by brushing up on your swimming skills.
Swimming lessons are a compulsory part of primary school education today, with children in Key Stage 2 (aged between 7 and 11) required to be able to swim unaided for at least twenty-five metres. Despite this statutory requirement of the National Curriculum, it is still speculated that one in every three primary school leavers is unable to swim. Research conducted by breakfast cereal giant Kellogg’s, in association with the Amateur Swimming Association, has revealed that 200,000 students will finish year 6 this year without the necessary training to swim safely unassisted.
Of these children, 80,000 will not even have been offered swimming lessons.
This lack of concern shown for the importance of teaching kids to swim is contributing to a worrying rise of drowning-related deaths. Every year, the United Kingdom loses over three hundred children younger than age five in swimming pool accidents – with over three thousand others ending up undergoing emergency treatment following a narrowly-averted tragedy.
Keep your kids safe this summer – enrol them in a swimming class, if they’re young or inexperienced in the water, and speak to the headmaster or headmistress of their primary school, to confirm that swimming lessons are provided for students. Most importantly, though, never leave young children unattended in (or even near!) a swimming pool.
Children can drown in less than two inches of water, and may be unable to raise the alarm, if you are too far to see what’s going on. Never allow children to be left alone near a swimming pool, unless the pool is completely inaccessible (behind a fence or a locked gate, etc.)
But kids will be kids – and in case your little ones do manage to slip past you into the swimming pool area, keeping some basic but essential supplies close at hand down by the pool can avert disaster. Ring buoys are a flotation device that can be thrown to toddlers (or any swimmer) in trouble to prevent them sinking below the surface, and a reach pole is used to pull struggling swimmers to the side.
As vital as it is to teach children of the dangers the water can pose, it’s equally important to teach them not to fear swimming unduly. Splashing around in a pool is one of the greatest and simplest joys a child can experience, and swimming is a skill that can be of huge benefit later in life. It would be a great shame to have that experience go to waste.