Swim Safe, a national programme offering free outdoor swimming and water safety sessions for children aged 7-14, will be in more locations than ever before this summer. For the first time, there will be sessions in Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as in Wales and England. There will also be new inland locations for 2017 including Birmingham, London and Salford Quays.
Swim Safe teaches children aged 7-14 how to stay safe when swimming outdoors, which is often more challenging than swimming in a pool. The programme was created by Swim England, the national governing body for swimming in England, and the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution), the charity that saves lives at sea.
The free, hour-long Swim Safe sessions are run by qualified swimming teachers and lifeguards, supported by a team of trained volunteers. The first 20 minutes covers land-based safety and then it is into the water for practical tuition with a swimming teacher. Wetsuits, swimming hats and a free goody bag with a t-shirt are all provided. Children must be able to swim at least 25 metres to take part.
Since Swim Safe started in 2013 with just one site in Bude, over 18,000 sessions have taken place across the country – last year over 7,000 took part. Now in its fifth year, the programme continues to grow and in 2017, Swim Safe sessions will take place at 20 sites across the UK and Ireland including beaches, lakes, reservoirs and other inland locations.
In addition to public sessions, there are also Swim Safe sessions for schools, allowing teachers to bring an entire class to a free session.
Guy Botterill, Swim Safe Project Manager, RNLI, said: ‘Children love swimming outdoors, but swimming in the sea, rivers and lakes is more challenging than swimming in a pool, where most lessons take place. Thanks to Swim Safe, thousands of children will learn how to keep safe when swimming outdoors and know what to do if they get into trouble.’
Jon Glenn, Swim England, Learn to Swim Director, said: ‘We are incredibly proud of Swim Safe and the thousands of children who have so far had the opportunity to learn how to enjoy swimming outdoors safely.
‘Each year the programme is able to expand further thanks to the commitment and support of our partners and volunteers. We are especially pleased that for the first time this year, Swim Safe sessions will be held in Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as at more inland locations. This gives even more young people the opportunity to take part and learn these important life-saving skills.’